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The Original Masked Observer

For 20 years he strutted the halls of the Civic Center, Convention Center, Fort Whiting, and places you don't even want to know about, all in pursuit of a Mardi Gras column.

He has hobnobbed with Carnival royalty and interviewed passed-out drunks. Folly once told him that he was crazy.

He is the Original Masked Observer.

If you'd like to learn his name, see his face, and read a Q&A with him, well, you'll have to get a 2014 Mobile Mask magazine.

As the exclusive distributor of the musings of the OMO, Mobile Mask has been posting daily messages from him during the Mardi Gras season on its Facebook page. This web page is a compendium of those postings, and it will be updated periodically.

We now turn you over to the wit and wisdom of the Original Masked Observer. Enjoy.

March 4, 2014
"OMO wishes you the happiest Mardi Gras and the safest trip home. And to the new Masked Observer, who's been attending balls for the last month, you now know why Ash Wednesday can be as blessed as it is solemn."
 
March 3, 2014
"I got paid for 20 years to drink on Lundi Gras. No wonder I had a little trouble finding my next job after that. It looks odd on a resume."
 
March 2, 2014
"The OMO theorizes that men of a certain age value one thing above all else on Joe Cain Day: parking like a boss. They'll pretend to socialize, but all the while, they're thinking, 'That sweet block off Church Street. I've got barricade-free surface streets in three directions and more clear freeway space than O.J. Simpson fleeing a murder scene. I am the man!'"
 
March 1, 2014
"Great weather. Great parade tonight. Don't forget to stay hydrated. Original Dark Hallway forgot to hydrate one time, and for the rest of the night it was make an observation, drag ODH. Make an observation, drag ODH."
 
February 28, 2014
"If you studied the olden times Press-Register coverage of Mardi Gras, you would notice that as the final weekend of Carnival began, some headline writer would always say, 'The lid's coming off!' I was never sure where the lid was or who was in charge of removing it or replacing it. But if you were a headline writer and you said the lid was coming off Mardi Gras before the final weekend, other editors would mock you. I hope the new bunch understands and observes this ancient and honorable rule."
 
February 27, 2014
"In his new life, the OMO has somehow been encountering a lot of OOMs. They are such a big deal, of course, and they seldom invited our stubbly, questionable crew to their grand soirees, which made us admire them all the more for their exquisite taste. The OMO's hope now? That they'll come to his dooowa and ask him to go upland boiwd huntin'."
 
February 26, 2014
"The Order of LaShe's took their 25th anniversary ride last night, and it made the chandelier shake at the Church Street cottage of Original Floral Headpiece. The OMO's personal secretary and charge d'affaires is well acquainted with the LaShe's, having bailed a few of them out of County because they all belong to the same Corvette owners club. Don't mess with the LaShe's, they change their own oil."
  •
February 25, 2014
"You could tell John Nodar was feeling bad this morning when he was forecasting the weather for tonight's parade. We don't blame you, John, we love you man. When you add SuperNodar to Mobile's Fantastic Four of news celebrities: Bob Grip, David Holloway, Renee Dials and Darwin Singleton, you could theoretically solve any problem in Mobile based on their superpowers. What are their superpowers? Throwing that one to you, JD Crowe."
 
February 24, 2014
"The OMO isn't completely sure, but he believes he might have missed the first ball that Neptune's Daughters ever had, and the daughters got kind of annoyed at him. But they eventually forgave him, and ever since then, it's been bliss and contentment under the sea. No doubt, they are lovely ladies."
 
February 23, 2014
"The OMO is suffering hay fever and has asked the Original Dark Hallway to report instead. 'Following along with Mobile Mardi Gras from my condo on Goat Island. Seeing pictures of lots of good-looking women in strapless gowns. I just know one of them has GOT to be a Waffle House waitress on her night off  and would thus be my next perfect bride. After five or six divorces, a man has to start choosing more carefully.' "
 
February 22, 2014
"The Incas on Float 3 had lighted capes last night. Why is Float 3 always the float that does new things first, like have lighted capes or not wear underwear or skip the Coke when they make a Jack and Coke? Some mysteries are too far beyond our feeble human minds to comprehend. I'm not even sure we should try. Instead, just let genius like that pick you up like a mighty wind and carry you along until 11:59 p.m. on Fat Tuesday, when it deposits you in a heap at Dauphin and Jackson streets."
 
February 21, 2014
"We're now in full-on Mardi Gras. This is what you've been training for all year. Those people with the 26.2 and 13.1 stickers on their Subaru Foresters are mere shadows of you. Your liver extends from your chin to your ankles, and it's made of polished titanium. You look good in your purple sheath ball gown, both you ladies and you gents down on lower Conti Street. Now go out there and rouler some bon temps before Death spots you at Waffle House looking for Folly."
  •
February 20, 2014
"The OMO heard about it a little yesterday when he said you should attend the tableau when you're invited to a Mardi Gras ball. He knows a lot of you don't, and your secret is safe with him. But keep in mind, a lot of people work hard on this stuff year round. Besides, if you invest in a $5 flask from Publix, you'll always have a little friend in your pocket for emergencies."
 
February 19, 2014
"As we approach full-on ball season, here's an important thing to remember. One person at every table or in every row needs to keep an eye on the bar just before the tableau fires up. If you're the one who rousts everybody to go get two drinks apiece before the lights go down, you'll be the hero 50 minutes later when the announcer is recognizing the queen's hairdresser's half sister who did the flowers. Your table will ADORE you. And don't even get me started on skipping the tableau, it ain't fittin. It just ain't fittin."
 
February 18, 2014
"Welcome back, humidity, thine infernal implications on personal comfort are as traditional to Mobile Mardi Gras as Moon Pies or magnificent mounted marshals."
 
February 17, 2014
"From pictures the OMO is seeing on Facebook and the Mobile Mask, this year's ball gowns are a good batch, and they're all cut way down to 'there.' The Original Observer always hoped he'd get there one day."
 
February 16, 2014
"Don't jump the ding dang barricades. Just don't do it. Especially if you're in a ball gown. If you're a guy in a ball gown, it's a really bad idea, but most Mardi Gras seasons have their share of really bad ideas."
 
February 15, 2014
"The Original Dark Hallway asked me this at breakfast: 'Will they be able to use Government Plaza as a venue for Mardi Gras balls this year? WIth that leaky roof, they have all those buckets on the floor, right? I know a few maskers who you wouldn't want to put buckets around when they've been drinking. They are path of least resistance kind of guys, if you know what I mean.' Could get ugly."
 
February 14, 2014
"When you've spent as much time as I have in the back of a limo with the Original Dark Hallway, Valentine's Day can be awkward. Thank God for the Original Floral Headpiece, who kept everyone in line and told us where to go. In a nice sense."
 
February 13, 2014
"During Mardi Gras, depending on the day, the mystic society, and the weather, Evan Williams just might be considered Top Shelf Liquor. You've got to keep an open mind."
 
February 12, 2014
"We've had so much rain this week, it's hard to believe the downtown Mardi Gras parading season hasn't started yet. The Original Dark Hallway says when those Cavaliers hit the streets, you know it's time to pack the wife and kids off to Florence.
 
February 11, 2014
"Today we're giving out Original Mellow Moon Pie Awards to everyone who can remember and mentally describe this classic Mobile Mardi Gras icon: The Press-Register Throw-O-Meter. To activate your prize, stand up, turn around three times, click your heels and say: 'There's nothing like a Moon Pie. There's nothing like a Moon Pie. There's nothing like a Moon Pie.' "
 
February 10, 2014
"I hope it stays cool enough this season that gentlemen can still partake in that most debonair meteorological gesture: removing their tailcoats and placing it over their freezing inamoratas. Plus, it's a win-win. He usually doesn't want to wear the coat anyway."
 
February 9, 2014
"I never recorded this in the column, but one year I encountered an absolutely beautiful young woman in a gorgeous gown, all by herself. Naturally, considering myself an unofficial ambassador of Mardi Gras, I engaged her. She said she was a hostess at one of the local Ruby Tuesdays, and as such, often got invitations to Mardi Gras balls from aging, portly gentlemen willing to help with wardrobe expenses. Her date that night had imbibed a little too much and was catching a table nap. You never know what hidden economies lie beneath the mighty waves of Mardi Gras. She was also quite a conversationalist."
 
February 8, 2014
"If you think about it, king cakes should be an all-year thing. But the Original Floral Headpiece has always been freaked out about the plastic baby Jesus choking hazard. So, good that they kind of don't hide them that well anymore."
 
February 7, 2014
"Dauphin Island's getting ready to party again, so somebody might want to call the U.S. Geological Survey in case they get funny readings on their scratchy pen machines."
 
February 6, 2014
"Like a lot of big-deal companies and organizations, the Masked Observer column had a Mission Statement. And this was it: It's 5 o'clock somewhere."
 
February 5, 2014
"You know, what Goat Island lacks in tree cover, it more than makes up with the view of the battleship. The Original Dark Hallway is talking about building a vacation condo."
 
February 4, 2014
"People who figured out I was the Masked Observer, and a few did, used to ask me: How was it that I trained to be a serious journalist and wound up being paid to go to elaborate parties and drink and carouse, surrounded by beautiful women in strapless gowns? Just lucky, I guess."
 
February 3, 2014
"Ah, come oh rains of early Carnival and wash away the lingering road sands of Snowmageddon, that floats may move in their proper environment of crushed hard candy, spilled popcorn and recycled beer."
 
February 2, 2014
"Looked like great fun on Dauphin Island Saturday as they kicked off the honest-to-Cain parading season. Historically speaking, it's no wonder Dauphin Island leads the way in reveling here. They always party like it's 1699."
 
February 1, 2014
"As we start the cycle of frivolity that inevitably ends with us face down on Conti Street at 12:01 a.m. Ash Wednesday, remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Save a little something for that last burst on Fat Tuesday. And reconnect with your friends in Midtown so you can crash on their couch."

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