St. Louis leadership cultivates the dream that St. Louis is in the process of re-inventing itself. Newspaper articles and expensive studies have been thumping this drum for years. St. Louis can easily shed its backwater status and merge into the fast lane, they say. St. Louis is poised to do this, leadership implies.
The Soulard Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day shows this is a fable. Leadership’s endorsement of MG (Money Grab) is a symptom of the malaise and lack of imagination that grips this city.
The odd thing is that nobody has to explain how bad the whole event is.
Those with any amount of self-respect have sniffed the wind, noting the overpriced booze, the public urination, the projectile vomiting, the trashing of the neighborhood, the vandalism and the danger, and they have taken appropriate action: they avoid this pigfest like the plague.
They understand that Mardi Gras benefits a few, to the detriment of the many. Residential assets are sacrificed for the bars, the liquor interests, and, of course, the politicians.
They have observed that event boosters loudly and constantly brag that it is the second largest Mardi Gras event in the nation, a sure sign that it isn’t. It is a poor imitation of anything respectable - a blot on Soulard and St. Louis..
MG Grand Parade Day is a filter: anybody with any respect for themselves is screened out, and those stupid enough to attend the event are either not paying attention or they are charter members of the Mystic Krewe of Assholes.
Just like the myth of the re-invention of St. Louis, the local television stations and newspapers buy the smoke screen created by MG officials and boosters who say it is nothing but a good time, that it benefits the neighborhood and that it is safe. A whole bunch of residents flee the neighborhood on MG day. They just refuse to take it. A couple of years ago one resident was talking to a policeman, and the policeman asked: “Why do you let them do this to your neighborhood?”
Why, indeed? Who can fight it? Mayor Slay has earnestly promoted the event since he has been in office, and more and more people have moved to Soulard because of its reputation as a party neighborhood. Guess what: the bad drive out the good. The party people have displaced those who used to contribute to the neighborhood in a positive way. These party people do not have the ability to perceive that they are contributing to the splintering of Soulard, to the shattering of a neighborhood. Our alderperson, Phyllis Young, is silent on the matter, as she is on every issue.
And the neighborhood organization, the Soulard Restoration Group, is worthless. Their prime objective is throwing trivia pursuit parties, complete with booze. The membership is tone deaf when it comes to understanding the neighborhood, its problems and any solutions. They have a ready response: “If you don’t like Mardi Gras, then it is time to move,” they bleat. Guess what? Many good people have taken them up on that challenge.
One commentator noted: “People like the laid back party atmosphere in Soulard. That’s why they live there.” A telling observation. It seems to imply that “laid back” is a positive character trait. It isn’t. Laid back is the default position for galloping narcissism, an affliction impacting those unable to contribute positively to the neighborhood or to anything, for that matter. All they can do is drink, jack their jaws and admire themselves.
This makes them the perfect target for the lie that the rebirth of St. Louis is just around the corner, and that they are contributing to it. “Just do what I tell you to do one more time,” the con man says, and together we can walk under the rainbow.
Catering to the laid back is not going to rebirth anything. Never has, never will. Soulard Mardi Gras is for people who do not think. Its continued existence underlines the fact that St. Louis does not have the mental or leadership assets to successfully re-invent itself. The Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day is as good as it is going to get.