Wednesday, February 10, 2010

J's Report: How To Tell If Your City Has Lost Its Mind*

Dear George,

Something remarkable and mysterious happened here in New Orleans last Sunday night.  K went out to meet some friends at our neighborhood watering hole, Finn McCools.  Around 9 p.m. or so I stepped outside for some fresh air, and you wouldn’t believe the visions in front of me: fire crackers were blasting, my neighbors were hollering, a young man ran down the street in his underwear, shouts and screams were emanating from homes all over Cortez street and even from houses several blocks away.  It was clear that something horrible was happening.  I’d read about mass hysteria like this, but when it’s happening in your own back yard, in a major urban center, it’s a bit of a shock.


I grabbed my camera, locked the door, and ran over to Finn McCool’s to rescue my poor wife who I feared had been kidnapped or drugged.  At Finn’s the scene was wild but not scary.  The patrons were screaming and jumping; one particularly limber man in his 20s was performing gymnastic feats on the neutral ground; a grown man in his 50’s was weeping; glasses of beer were being splashed over the crowd but no one seemed to mind.  Two dogs sat to the side watching these wild humans with an expression of fear and confusion as if they no longer knew who was in charge.  Virtually everyone was screaming at full blast, mouths agape, occasionally keeled over like they’d been kicked in the gut.  My first impression was that this might be a case of mass food poisoning.  So I followed them around for the next few hours trying to make the diagnosis and documenting their behavior with some photographs.  Here are some of the images I got:

These guys are typical of the crowd at Finn McCool’s.  They look happy, but notice how wide the mouths are.

To my dismay,  my own wife was just as affected as all the others.  Whatever the condition was, it was clear that she had it bad.  She grabbed me by the lapels and started screaming: “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Champions!  We did it!”

When people are in a state of hysteria and delusional, Rule #1 is to gain their trust.  So I faked a few “Yippees” and “Yahoos”, and it was enough to convince my wife and all the others that I was one of them.


We went downtown where a lot of people had an insatiable desire to sit on top of their cars…

…or to hang out the windows while screaming at pedestrians.

Many of the hysterics decided that it would be fun to disrobe.  Not to a degenerate level, mind you, but enough to elicit laughter, guffaws, shock.

And it wasn’t just the people who you’d expect to feel good about their bodies.

Time and again, I saw little groups of incapacitated individuals come together to make music, sing a song, bang a drum.  Many had that ragamuffin look that I call “chimney sweep chic”.  This was probably the most entertaining and interesting part of the night.

Normally you wouldn’t notice a simple metal pole, the kind that holds up a balcony, but on this night, for whatever reason, poles provided endless amounts of fun and exercise for the “happy zombies”.

Though not as common as many of the other manifestations, several young women decided it would be a good idea to juggle flaming goblets of lighter fluid while doing jumping jacks and somersaults.

Grabbing and hugging one another was the normal and expected form of interaction.  On any other day I would end up with a black eye if I initiated a hug with some of these guys.


So the good news is that now it’s a new day and things are improving quickly here in New Orleans.  I awoke on Monday morning and noticed that K was able to actually carry on a somewhat normal conversation using nouns and verbs and adjectives as opposed to guttural yelps and wild gesticulations.  I’m sure that this isn’t the first episode of mass hysteria and it won’t be the last.  My hope is that the data I’ve collected here can one day be used to develop a cure for this condition, maybe a pill that could be stockpiled in bars across America should there be an obvious outbreak.  Be on guard though, as this may happen in your town.  If it does, bring a camera, call the CDC,  and let me know asap.





*Condensed from a lengthier e-mail and a larger bank of photos sent by JML.

Gmail Comments:

-Jason L to JML:  J***, another colorful and enjoyable story.... I was here rooting for the Saints quietly in front of my tv while the girls slept. I managed to have a mini superbowl party complete with chips and salsa and all american beer - Miller Lite. Yes, I felt quite patriotic that afternoon. Anyway, I really hope you all are well and I'm so glad we got to see you this summer. While too brief, it was great to see you and feel the love!

-Vicki L (2-26): Enjoying your blogs as always – J**'s photos following the Super Bowl were a blast.

-Donna D (2-11): David this is hilarious.  He writes a lot like you by the way.

-Linda C (2-10): could you please explain to george that i was there to baby sit V*** during the festivities and i swear J*** was not studying his german, and i only saw him rarely when he was in costume going to a party or dragging home to bed from a party. i am afraid when V*** is in college and someone asks her what her child hood was like , she will say, for my early childhood my parents and all their friends were in a circus.  this is a very funny and colorful dream J*** had in which he missed out on everything fun.


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Lucy,
    Thanks for your feedback. One of the best things about doing a blog is when new readers say they've run across and enjoyed it.