Mardi Gras is my favorite time of year. Contrary to what the Mobile Chamber of Commerce might plead, what happens in New Orleans during Carnival time is unique to anything staged anywhere else.
There’s more to Nola Mardi Gras than bead throwing, in the case of four krewes (Chaos, Muses, Krewe d’Etat and Krewe du Vieux) there’s an artistic presentation of political satire that no gridiron show could ever hope to compete with.
Krewe du Vieux’s floats are not included not because of any lack of creativity (in art or mechanics) but due to the risqué and profane displays that probably sent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to counseling after last year’s parade.
10. Body Shot- The Jacobin-themed Krewe d’Etat, whose presiding figure head is not a king but a dictator clothed in Napoleonic garb, tends to be the bawdier of the three satirical parades that run the St. Charles Avenue route. Their theme for 2014 was “Under the Influence” and featured floats related to alcohol and alcoholic behavior. Featured on this float was the world’s most infamous twerker Miley Cyrus, complete with giant foam finger.
9. Snake Charmer- The floats of Chaos “Went to Hell” in 2014, making connections between deviltry and contemporary figures and news stories. Louisiana’s decreasingly popular governor of Indian-lineage was referenced in a not so positive light on a float depicting his “snake basket” agenda items, concluding with one titled “Jindal 2016” next to another that read “Snowball’s Chance in Hell”. I think the 2016 float designers might leave at least one of their canvasses on wagon-wheels blank until the results of the Iowa caucuses come in.
8. Running a Tab- Another booze-soaked reference by d’Etat mocked the profligate spending of the Obama regime. While the rear of the float featured an impressive painting of Harry Reid handing the president the country’s all ready maxed out credit card, the most endearing aspect was the “Special Man” art work on the float’s sides. Ah say, ah say, ah say.
7. Zombie- d’Etat showed that they could be bipartisan in their humor on their Zombie float, which featured a giant sculpture of a “brain hungry” John Boehner roaming a GOP graveyard.
6. Manhattan on the Rocks- Once again d’Etat scored (the relatively young krewe didn’t introduce Carnival satire but they have mastered the art) this time mocking a state whose politics and politicians have outdone Louisiana and dare I say Illinois’. Featuring a “portly” Statue of Liberty holing a Big Gulp and including pictures of Nanny State advocate Michael Bloomberg holding his list of things he tried to ban, a nude former congressman and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner reclining like the Kate Winslet character in Titanic and a disapproving stocky Hillary Clinton calling her top aide’s husband a pervert (she should know). Someone should leave this float in the middle of Central Park on Ash Wednesday with compliments from “Flood Over Country”.
5. White Russian- The planet’s most nuclear armed Beefcake is nude upon a horse, besting his adversary in position though not in statecraft in political chess and manipulating his pawn Ed Snowden.
4. The Emperor’s New Clothes- This year the ladies at Muses “Went Off the Rack” on their theme, featuring floats with clothing references. Known (and often ridiculed) for their text heavy floats, Muses seemed to have either run out of time or creative gas, with some of the floats being practically blank aside from one or two words related to the float’s theme. However they did start off strong with a float mocking John Georges, former candidate for governor and mayor and publisher of The Advocate, the established newspaper in Baton Rouge and challenger to the Eastern Time Zone –owned Times Picayune. Georges was lampooned by everyone for his lack of success as a candidate (d’Etat’s “Know When to Say When”) and for his perceived less than altruistic agenda (Chaos’ “Devil’s Advocate). However Muses had the best send up on Georges’, caricaturing him as a vain parvenu whose headlines include “Video Poker Becomes State’s New Sport” and other cracks at his diverse business interests. The ladies concluded their send-up with a reference to the Times Picayune’s managing editor.
3. Alla Have Another- The float was not so much political but the most biting local satire of Mardi Gras, featuring unflattering representations of West Bank parades abandoning their “best bank” homes in order to promenade down the more prestigious oak tree lined avenue. It harkened to d’Etat’s devastatingly mocking float from a few years ago that went after Nola’s female parades, one that led to an act of vandalism and hurt feelings. To truly capture the spirit of the float, one should read the commentary included in d’Etat’s bulletin. Pure genius.
2. Canadian Club- Our friends to the north might or might not be amused that the mayor of their largest city with muffs on his ears and a bong in his hand was prominently featured on d’Etat’s Canada float. Included were newspaper headlines highlighting some of mayor Rob Ford’s most notable quotes including “I got enough to eat at home” (not a reference to microwavable popcorn). The embattled crack smoking mayor, who might just be re-elected, was joined with Canada’s better known figure, Justin Bieber. In a testament of either how good of a job he has done or how the press focuses on the wrong things, there were no references to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
And the top satirical float of Mardi Gras was Chaos’s Seven Deadly Sins, which featured a sculpture of a good likeness to Mayor Mitch Landrieu (portrayed as a pope) with each of the council members represented by one of the “7”, mostly spot on, though the personification of “wrath” was perfect.
Lagniappe- Though it was not so much satire as it was an homage, d’Etat’s Samson of the Sidelines dance troupe of Rob Ryan lookalikes, complete with bulging guts and Norse-like flowing gray hair was highly amusing and appreciated by the masses.
Happy Mardi Gras Louisiana…and a tolerable Tuesday to the rest of le monde.