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Fight for your right to Mardi! 

Mardi Gras is alive and well sans parade!

It’s Friday, Jan. 6, also known as Twelfth Night, and I’ve got so many strands of beads around my neck I feel like a plow horse in a harness. It’s 6 p.m., and my paramour Anna Robertshaw and I have just arrived at Bon Temps Creole Café, which is having a special Mardi Gras dinner with music by Val Johnson & Her Voodoo Doodads.

click to enlarge GETTING’ READY :  Al B Blue warms up before the Twelfth Night dinner and dance at Bon Temps Creole Café. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • GETTING’ READY : Al B Blue warms up before the Twelfth Night dinner and dance at Bon Temps Creole Café.
click to enlarge IN DISGUISE :  Beleza Sol krewe goddess Liz Rhoads Cordoba goes deep undercover—replete with wig and sunglasses—but she can’t hide her 1000-watt smile! - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • IN DISGUISE : Beleza Sol krewe goddess Liz Rhoads Cordoba goes deep undercover—replete with wig and sunglasses—but she can’t hide her 1000-watt smile!

It’s the official kick off to the Mardi Gras season, and if you’ve been around SLO Town for a few years, you’re probably thinking, “I thought the city killed Mardi Gras.” Well, guess what, people? You can’t kill Mardi Gras, you can only drive it underground. There’s still a cadre of die-hard revelers and even a couple of still functioning krewes—Beleza Sol and the Sybarites—who are in attendance to the tune of about 50 people strong. Woo hoo!

Anna and I order a couple beers and peruse tonight’s special menu: balsamic marinated heirloom tomatoes with parmesan cookies, shrimp and grits with red gravy, panko crusted Hawaiian Wahoo with tasso cream sauce and garlic sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes, and blackened andouille-wrapped filet mignon with mustard hollandaise, roasted fingerling potatoes, and brussel sprouts with bacon and cream.

click to enlarge MAN ABOUT TOWN :  Bon vivant, wine connoisseur, and Mardi Gras stalwart Archie McLaren soaks in the sights and sounds. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • MAN ABOUT TOWN : Bon vivant, wine connoisseur, and Mardi Gras stalwart Archie McLaren soaks in the sights and sounds.
click to enlarge BLOW, KEVIN, BLOW :  Harmonica master Kevin McCracken sits in with Valerie Johnson & Her Voodoo Doodads. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • BLOW, KEVIN, BLOW : Harmonica master Kevin McCracken sits in with Valerie Johnson & Her Voodoo Doodads.

 

When the waiter returns, Anna says, “We’ll have one of everything.” And that’s why I’m marrying her!

Meanwhile, I spot Liz Rhoads Cordoba positively glowing from across the room. After George Griffin gave up asking her to marry him after trying a dozen times, she recently popped the question to him. Love conquers all!

And speaking of love, Jeff and Cathy Bague take to the dance floor and are tearing it up in their matching tri-cornered hats (think gaudy pirates, not Tea Partiers, people!). Then Dead King Jay Mueller hits the dance floor with his new gal Deborah Maggipinto. It’s heating up in this joint!

 

- JOIN THE FUN!:  Aside from the super secret underground Mardi Gras happenings known only to some select insiders and krewe members, there are two more open-to-the-public events happening this season. - On Saturday, Feb. 18, ARTS Obispo presents its annual fundraising Arti Gras celebration at 6 p.m. in the SLO Elks Lodge. This year’s theme is “Head Over Heals,” and will feature Mardi Gras revelry, good people (the best, really), appetizer food stations, a no-host bar, a great raffle (with $10 tickets), people decked out in their Mardi Gras finest, cash prizes for the best costumes, bidding on ARTI Parties, and a silent and live auction (10 local artists are donating pieces inspired by this year’s theme). Tickets are $50 per person, and $500 tables (that seat 10) are also available for this very good cause. Remember, nonprofit Arts Obispo fills in art curriculum for our under-funded local schools, so if you believe in the arts and you want to let the good times roll, this is the event for you. Call 544-9251 to reserve your tickets! - Then, on the actual Fat Tuesday celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 21, revelers return to Bon Temp Creole Café for another round of great food, great music, and great fun starting at 6 p.m. -
  • JOIN THE FUN!: Aside from the super secret underground Mardi Gras happenings known only to some select insiders and krewe members, there are two more open-to-the-public events happening this season.

    On Saturday, Feb. 18, ARTS Obispo presents its annual fundraising Arti Gras celebration at 6 p.m. in the SLO Elks Lodge. This year’s theme is “Head Over Heals,” and will feature Mardi Gras revelry, good people (the best, really), appetizer food stations, a no-host bar, a great raffle (with $10 tickets), people decked out in their Mardi Gras finest, cash prizes for the best costumes, bidding on ARTI Parties, and a silent and live auction (10 local artists are donating pieces inspired by this year’s theme). Tickets are $50 per person, and $500 tables (that seat 10) are also available for this very good cause. Remember, nonprofit Arts Obispo fills in art curriculum for our under-funded local schools, so if you believe in the arts and you want to let the good times roll, this is the event for you. Call 544-9251 to reserve your tickets!

    Then, on the actual Fat Tuesday celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 21, revelers return to Bon Temp Creole Café for another round of great food, great music, and great fun starting at 6 p.m.

Archie McLaren makes a grand entrance in his purple slacks. Here’s a man who's never been afraid of color, whose Avila Beach house makes the Partridge Family’s van look sedate, and who let an artist take a paintbrush to his Jaguar. Lucky those pants are baggy, because you know this guy’s got a couple boulders between his legs.

Then Anna and I see our pal Mano Gil, the awesome Brazilian expatriate and DJ, who joins us at our table. He’s nibbling at his food.

“Aren’t you hungry?” I ask.

“It’s spicy!” he says.

“But you’re Brazilian!”

When he finally finishes a while later, he smiles and says, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Meanwhile Valerie Johnson & Her Voodoo Doodads (Al B Blue on guitar, Dr. Bob Brenman on saxes, and Kevin McCracken on harmonica) are just tearing down the house!

There’s past queen Elaine Genasci holding court at a table, and there’s clear-eyed Kelly McCleary looking radiant. Mardi Gras brings out the beautiful people, that’s for sure!

Then Bon Temps owner Chef Phil Lang comes out and takes a bow for turning out an amazing meal, and the music and drinks flow, and ARTS Obispo’s Mary Kay Harrington announces the details of this year’s Arti Gras fundraiser (see box), and the music and drinks flow. And everything seems right with the world. With a parade or without, Mardi Gras finds a way!

Glen Starkey takes a beating and keeps on bleating. Keep up with him via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at Myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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