while sufing the web last night i came across a posting on bostonist about the carnival parade down in roxbury. i've become quite the festival goer recently, and this was an opportunity too good to pass up; scantily clad women dressed in outrageous costumes dancing to awesome music marching down the street? how could i say no? so when i woke up this morning, after tending to julie's garden (picked another bag of tomatoes, gave them to my parents, i already have too much), i made my way down to jamaica plain, to roxbury. probably in the past i would've taken the T, but now that the motorcycle is my transportation of choice, whole new worlds are opening up for me. places i would never consider driving to (like anywhere in the city, where parking is impossible for anyone with little patience), now are easy bike trips; motorcycle parking spots are everywhere, and it's easy to stash my ride.
i started walking from one end of martin luther king boulevard, and it wasn't long before i came across the members of the procession, still getting ready for the parade, adjusting their costumes, making last-minute fixes to the floats, doing sound checks of their massive speakers (literally, walls of speakers) mounted on the back of semi-trucks. i should've known that in their laid-back caribbean ways, when it says carnival starts at noon, that's probably not the case.
i was there for over an hour, standing underneath the shadow of a street lamp to stay cool in the hot sun, before the procession started marching down the road. having never been to a carnival celebration, it was everything i could've ever imagined and more. it was like the most insanely awesome party happening on the street, the kind of thing that's so cool it made me want to call up all my friends and tell them what i was doing. the only person who came to mind was rob house, who was in JP. he had a yard sale and i told him i'd come visit after the festivity was over.
there were a lot of caribbean flags being flown, the three most common ones were jamaica, trinidad, and barbados. there were many others but i didn't recognize them. the semi-trucks would drive down blaring music, with the costumed dancers stepping behind them. the music was so loud, the bass would literally lift up your clothes with every beat. there was dancing everywhere, from people in the procession, to the casual observers on the street. young and old, black and white, on the street or in the house, people were dancing. even for somebody like me, who never dances, i felt the boogey in my butt.
the people watching was amazing. besides the ones that were in the parade wearing costumes, a lot of spectators got dressed up as well, to show solidarity with a particular caribbean nation. there were photographers and videographers everywhere, and girls were asked to be photos, all of them more than willing to pose.
once the procession went by, i ran down to the end of the street so i could catch it a second time, that's how much i was in love with carnival! once i had my fill of eye candy, i bought a hot dog and a root beer and ate lunch before going to rob's place.
rob massaging sarah
david with beverages
after a quick shower and looking over the map, i headed out to andrew's place in malden for a barbecue. maura his girlfriend had just recently moved in and it was also her birthday. i brought a large watermelon which i carried with me in a small backpack. i made it as far as the medford fells before getting lost and pulling over (in stoneham) to look at the map. a man walking his dog saw me and gave me some directions. i continued riding, not really sure where i was going, operating from memory and familiar-looking landmarks. through some miracle i was finally able to make it. as i was late in arriving, most of the guests were already there, although nothing had been grilled on the barbecue yet. i had one of andrew's homemade burgers ("i'd kill for this burger," i told andrew), along with some dom's steak tips ("like candy made of meat") and a hot dog. andrew's brother todd and his family dropped by, haven't seen them in a whole. i also saw andrew's old friends like yentz and meghan. afterwards we cut a birthday cake made by katie (we didn't have any birthday candles though).
the last people left at the party were andrew and maura, her childhood friend sarah, and andrew's coworkers mike and kwame. i got all excited when kwame told me he was from trinidad and we talked animatedly about carnivals. he told me the best carnivals happen in trinidad, although you can't beat brazil in terms of raw sex-appeal. there's also going to be a carnival down in NYC on labor day, i'm seriously thinking about going. i learned about the "bitters," this trinidad spice you add to your drinks. by evening's end everybody was pretty wasted and we stayed only long enough to sober up. mike was in no shape to drive home and ended up sleeping over at andrew & maura's place (he even had an aerobed in his car for just such an occasion). i followed kwame back to route 93 (wouldn't have been able to get out of malden otherwise), where i dangerously sped down a real highway for the very first time (up to now i've only been on small highways), quickly getting off at the next exit to medford center and back to cambridge.