Spring is the season for big parties in New Orleans (we don't require a special season for little parties... or medium parties... or medium-to-large parties...): first Mardi Gras, then Jazz Fest. And every year at this time I ponder the mystery: why do I love Mardi Gras but feel kind of "eh" towards Jazz Fest?* (Sarah has similar reactions.)
Conventional wisdom would, I believe, hold that people generally like/dislike the events in roughly equal proportions: they're both big, crowded spectacles with lots of music and lots of beer. You love them or you hate them, right?
A graph, perhaps? Allow me to define a two-dimensional Mardi Gras/Jazz Fest-space, with the x-axis indicating love of Mardi Gras on a scale of 0 to 10 and the y-axis indicating love of Jazz Fest on a scale of 0 to 10:
Pan-Curmudgeons—those who universally hate loud, crowded, boozy events, who go out of town during Mardi Gras and stay far away from Mid-City during Jazz Fest—reside in the bottom left corner of the graph. Pan-Partiers—those who universally love loud, crowded, boozy events, who put on their crazy hats and bright shirts in February and don't take them off until May—reside in the top right corner of the graph. And more generally, Proportional-Partiers—those who like or dislike the events to a roughly equal degree—plot closely along the central diagonal stretching from the origin (0, 0) to the Party-Peak (10, 10).
So what's to explain the outliers, those of us who reside in the bottom right or (particularly baffling to me) the top left quadrants? And are we so rare? Is Party-Proportionality truly the norm? Or is the human animal far more complex, the actual scatter-plot far more varied and unpredictable (forming, perhaps, the outline of a wacky jester's cap)?
Slimbologists, bring me data!
* I get positively giddy as Mardi Gras approaches—the sound of practicing marching bands , the clusters of police barricades blossoming on the neutral grounds—I can't get enough. I like Jazz Fest well enough, for a few hours, maybe on a Thursday, but beyond that I start to get the jitters and feel like I need to go hide in a dark closet with a large glass of ice water.