Carnival time is synonymous with showers of trinkets and beads, rolling floats, marching bands and terrible traffic. But mixed in with the frivolity are a few krewes who have been mocking current events and politicians long before Jon Stewart became America’s first bogus news anchor.
Of the almost forty parades that ramble down the substandard roads of New Orleans, four are satirical, with the French Quarter-centric Krewe du Vieux generally incorporating NSFW designs and float themes into their production while the “family route” uptown krewes Chaos, Muses and Krewe d’Etat parades utilizing slightly tamer and more subtle references.
So here are the 10 best satirical floats skewering Louisiana’s politicians…
10. Battle of N.O. The theme for the “wagon wheeled” Knights of Chaos parade was “Chaos Says N.O.!”, a play on New Orleans’ initials and perhaps the ubiquitous “No Bars”, “No Stadiums”, “No Condos”, “No School Expansion”, no everything that involves progress and growing the tax base in the City of N.O. Chaos saluted the recent bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans with a float depicting a white flag waving Pakenham running from a cannonball blasting alligator (a reference to the iconic Johnny Horton tune). The Krewe of Thoth also had a float commemorating the American victory on the plains of Chalmette, though in a less comical tone.
9. Spin the Bottle I will admit the ladies of the shoe-flinging Krewe of Muses stumped me and I had to reach out to a female Republican political activist for an explanation as I didn’t grasp their theme “God, Are You There? It’s Me, Muses”. For those who were also confused by the theme, it’s a play on Muses’ 15th year of parading, referencing a teenage girl coming of age book. In the same vein, the floats worked in experiences from adolescence. The drama between “Team Gayle” and “The Three Rs” parodied with a large bottle spinning at the float’s front to determine which side would win control of the Benson Family sports empire.
8. Padding I expected some fun to be had at the expense of New Orleans’ neighbor to the east this Mardi Gras but to my surprise the suburb that ended up getting caught in Muses’ crosshairs was St. Tammany and their former district attorney Walter Reed, who ran into legal trouble on multiple fronts, including for contracts he had for private legal work he did for a public hospital. The float featured Reed wearing a bra stuffed with cash.
7. Frenemies Muses used the social media era term for people who hang out with others they dislike to mock the political partnership between one time presidential opponents Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and the relationship between a few Nola Mardi Gras krewes with a rivalry.
6. N.O. Balls Chaos upbraided our perpetually golfing president for not only the time he spends on the course but his failure to tackle “bogeys” including ISIS, Ebola and Benghazi.
5. N.O. Common Core Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was targeted by two of the three Uptown satirical parades and even one whose main shtick isn’t political mockery as the party crowd at Tucks featured two “Piyoush (sic) the Boy Wonder” floats in their superheroes themed parades. Chaos blasted Jindal on their “rotten” apple float, featuring the governor with a large dunce’s cap for opposing a system that has led to an increase in test scores and school ratings. Another prominent Louisiana politician who swapped positions on Common Core also got tagged on the float.
4. House of Shock The Krewe d’Etat and their 26 floats took to the streets of uptown with a vengeance on the evening of Friday the 13th with the appropriate theme “Frid E’tat the 13th”, flaying politicians and clergy, both foreign and domestic. The krewe were bipartisan in their mockery, poking fun at the new Republican dominated US Senate, with a Morgus inspired float with a Mitch McConnell mad scientist whipping up “government shutdown” and “tax cut” lab concoctions.
3. No Popcorn for You While d’Etat’s “Silent Night, Deadly Night” Interview/Kim Jong Un themed float was amusing, what stole the show was the dancing Kim Jong Uns that preceded it. I hope the North Korean Information Ministry puts out a stern rebuke on this on their geocities-esque website.
2. Bloody Mary Remember the old childhood dare of reciting “Bloody Mary” into a bathroom mirror with the lights off? Krewe d’Etat did, having fun with Louisiana’s former Democratic US Senator, her quote about challenging the Louisiana electorate to unelect her for backing ObamaCare and a Lurch-like representation of the Republican who won the election. Two snaps up.
1. Hellraiser Krewe d’Etat wins the Mardi Gras. And not just for this float but also for the non-political ones, including the hipster invasion of Bywater, the swarm of panhandlers positioned on certain street corners, the Fat Albert float where the Cosby Kids refuse to accept “questionable” pudding pops. The Krewe poked fun at the recent changes being made in the Church of Rome under the white zucchetta of a man who has not had kind words for capitalism and opaque commentary about others that are not only consistent with millennia of church teachings but Biblical as well. The Argentine’s predecessor was depicted on the float’s sides expressing that maybe he should have stuck around. The float closes on an exclamation point as Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam is reimagined with his holiness lighting the cigar of Fidel Castro.