Wednesday, February 29, 2012

GQ does a ridealong with NOPD during Mardi Gras

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 12:15 PM

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Writer/photographer Rafi Kohan shadowed several New Orleans Police Department officers during Carnival to get a sense of what their jobs were like, spent a few hours in Orleans Parish Prison to see what that was like, and turned in an absolute slam-dunk of an article to GQ. (Note to NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas: Your officers really hated wearing those fluorescent yellow vests this year.)

There are too many great quotes and vignettes to cite them all — you really have to read it all —┬ábut here's just two of them:

Some of the most common Mardi Gras injuries, according to Palmisano, come as a result of falling drunks, the aforementioned beads, and kids toppling off of ladders, where they've been perched for a better view. But that's never the extent of it. "We've already had one cardiac arrest today," he says. And over the weekend, after the Zulu ball, some guy "was having the big one, passed out in the driveway." He coded on the way to the hospital, but they got him back.

It's sort of a given that folks don't have their own safety in mind during Mardi Gras. Just last Saturday, Smith tells me, some drunk climbed the back ladder of the command van, to surf on the moving vehicle. Now the ladder is boarded up, and that idiot is facing charges of criminal mischief and public drunkenness.

Palmisano's radio crackles. A kid just got hit in the head, it seems, with a coconut—"an infant," he clarifies—which sparks a debate over whether Zulu, the krewe known for tossing coconuts, will be able to keep its insurance. "They've got to get rid of them coconuts," Bourgeois insists.

The officers and I reenter the river of humanity, journeying further away from Iberville, and finally discover a woman beyond the moral-tightening effects of any color neon, vest or otherwise. She has the wild, standing-on-end hair of what I can only assume is recent electroshock, nipples for breasts, and a washcloth-sized loin cloth-slash-skirt. She's perched on a second-floor balcony and is grinding on a handrail. To her right, a middle-aged white woman with Harry Potter hair suctions her mouth to the exhibitionist's chest—I try to imagine these women in Walmart, bargain-hunting. The cops decide now would be a good time to turn me off Bourbon Street. We make a right on Toulouse, then another on Royal. A brass band is playing. From a balcony a handful of pranksters are dangling what appear to be furry puppet tails on fishing line. The crowd is hysterical to grab them. One house over, I see a wisp of a man materialize from behind translucent curtains. He looks pale, misunderstood. Next to me, a guy with long hair and a polo shirt glances up, sees the apparition, hollers to his buddies: "Does he look like a faggot or what?"

Read the whole thing. It's fascinating.

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