By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Brett Koshkin
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Riverfront Times
By Danny Wicentowski
By Pete Kotz
Ain’t misbehavin’ we ain’t, for Wednesday the next ceases the season of our debauchery. The village sits in the shadow of the castle of the King, the fourth of his august name. His Majesty’s well-hung steeds issue forth from the palace gates to sate us, his goodly serfs, with his golden suds. And drink them we shall. Then lift up our shirts. And our chests — be they perky, petite or the slackest of dugs — will waken in winter’s blustery breeze as the strapping young lads on fanciful floats will toss us their strings of cheap little beads. Yes, Mardi Gras is upon us and ours, the second-best of its kind (or so we are told), sings to us its siren song. Herein find the wisdom and wit, culled from countless carnivals past (for we likes our liquor, yes indeedy we do), to make best use of these times in this humblest of hovels, most Frenchish of quarters, this rehabber’s delight, this brick-ed realm, this Soulard.
Your (Not Our) French Heritage
The story of St. Louis' founding is primarily a French one, with a bit of hand-holding from the Spaniards and a spot of bother from the English. The short version is this: The French were here, the English approached, the French quelle shock! surrendered, and St. Louisans began speaking a debased form of English (i.e. "warsh" and "farty") instead of the debased form of French they were speaking (interesting aside: your native St. Louisan will even to this day revert to the old corrupt French when giving directions, i.e. "Show-toe" and "Grav-oy"). St. Louisans also started playing baseball instead of thumbsucking, eating red sauce-heavy Italian food instead of cream sauce-heavy French food and drinking light beer instead of wine. And yet two weekends a year they pretend like they're French again at what they claim is the "Second Largest Mardi Gras Celebration in the World" go figure.
Why do St. Louisans cling to this vestigial shred of French-ness? Pride? No, we have that World Series trophy for that. A sense of historical drama? No, we have the St. Louis Board of Education for that. Is it the exposed titties? Ah, mais oui. But to really enjoy those breasticles you need the proper context for them. In ignorance, a pair of jugs on display along Geyer is merely flesh whipped red and raw by early February winds, a momentary thrill (?) at best. But with a deeper understanding of why that broad has unleashed her tetons in a moment of drunken bonhomie, they become swollen with historical significance, pendulous with symbolism and, um, possessed with areolas of cultural enlightenment. And so, in the interest of fulfilling our public mandate as a source of information (not necessarily accurate, but timely), Unreal offers this Guide to Your (not our) French Heritage!
The French establish New Orleans as part of their Mississippi River-based trading empire, and break it in with a party.
The French realize that they're going to lose the French-Indian War (should've surrendered, huh, Jacques?). In a fit of Gallic pique, they give everything west of the Mississippi to Spain so England can't have it.
Pierre Laclede heard there was good beaver up north (a true Frenchman can always find beaver), so he canoes upriver. He stops at roughly where the Arch is now. Looking south along the river, he notes to his manservant Gilles that "If we had a road right there, we could probably talk some ladies into lining up along it and taking off their blouses." He then does that "huh-huh-HUH!" Maurice Chevalier laugh all Frenchmen do and eats a snail.
August Chouteau, Laclede's stepson, hits town. Well, first he and some African-American workers build a town, name it St. Louis in honor of the King of France, and then he hits town. It's technically a Spanish town, since they built it in Spanish territory, but fuck that shit they're French, and if you don't like it, they'll surrender.
St. Louis is attacked by a group of Englishmen and Indians from the East Side, who were still pissed at not getting to live on the West Side, where everybody does that cool "w" thing with their hand and rocks the gangsta lean. Somehow, the French citizens fight them off without surrendering. The British go back to the East Side and drown their sorrows in a strip joint, thus taking the bloom off the French rose of victory. The French St. Louisans vow to never make that mistake again and they consider hitting up the East Side, but only after midnight and only if their wives are out of town.
France sells Louisiana to Americ
A. "Louisiana" in this case means everything west of the Mississippi River. This is essentially why St. Louis claims Mardi Gras as its own right here: The real Mardi Gras is in New Orleans, which is in Louisian
A. This used to be in Louisiana, hence we must be New Orleans also, so we get to have Mardi Gras. It's the sort of behavior anyone with a little brother will recognize right away and call bullshit on, but hey look at those tits over there!