MY Satire’s Better Than YOUR Satire
Oh. My. God.
To hear Creighton go on about Davis’ – “that bozo” ‘s – city council campaign, you’d think the man had come up with some form of Korsakov’s syndrome regarding his own parade plans and preparations. His daughter’s making a sperm costume, for crying out loud. The float the Bernettes march behind depicts then-mayor C. Ray Nagin in a masturbatory pose. I mean, really.
All of which begs an important question: whose satire reigns more supreme?
Oh, come on, I hear friends say. It’s apples and oranges. Public good versus putting on a show for the hell of it (yeah, Toni gets caught up in that one). Shedding some “sun light” on city corruption versus crude sex-and-possibly-drug-fueled commentary. No contest. Spare us.
Pardon me, but there was definitely something in the air other than mold spores and cold temperatures in the early months of 2006. Despite the displacement of large numbers of the city’s population, New Orleans went ahead with its Carnival season anyhow, which brought back many locals, even if only for a day or two for a ball, or for riding on a float, or for standing in garbage to see Bacchus and Endymion coming one after the other down St Charles Avenue. Maybe you were marching as an Indian or a Bone Man, or you decided to turn yourself out on Mardi Gras day with a merry band of people all dressed as 45s of the Greatest Hits of the Federal Flood (which included classics such as “Up On The Roof”, “When the Levee Breaks”, and “Louisiana 2005” (instead of “Louisiana 1927“, of course)).
At the same time, our hurting city was gearing up for a mayoral election, and said election initially attracted at least 23 -yes, 23 – candidates. Who on earth would want to take control of this crazy mess? Politically, City Hall was a black hole of corruption and cronyism (and, in too many ways, it still is), but people who paid their candidates’ fees in that election and took their chances banked on having, at the very least, a temporary soapbox on which to stand and shout out how slowly recovery was going, how horrific it was that hospitals, schools and various city services had gone straight to hell and that it was time for major changes to be made. Oh, sure, there were some folks running who were so delusional, they actually thought they had a chance despite their past misdeeds. There were characters from the city’s political past that reared their heads again for a shot at the Mayor’s Office. A circus atmosphere reigned, complete with a zookeeper (well, the CEO of our zoo and aquarium, anyhow) and an out-of-work actor and comedian who billed himself as “A Troubled Man For Troubled Times”. For those needing a more detailed snapshot of those campaigns, I recommend this Washington Post article from April 2006.
The result of disaster plus political campaigning multiplied by Carnival season? A pageant of satire that seemed to know no bounds. There was so much material, and to let it all just sit there would have been criminal in this town.
Considering how many people were still mentally shocked and physically and mentally exhausted from their struggles rebuilding their homes, lives, and neighborhoods, to not even attempt to see the black humor in many of the situations we found ourselves in each day could well have proven to be hazardous to our health. See, the mayor – the supposed leader of this city – parading his incompetence for the world to see was abominably awful and ultimately damaging for New Orleans – but the ability to take his extreme vanity and translate that into a float of his pleasuring himself for all to see helped put Hizzoner the Walking Id into perspective, not just for the float builders and the krewe that came up with the idea, but for the folks watching the float as it passed by. At the same time, presenting oneself as a fringe candidate in a race for a local office of some renown and basing a platform on satirical observations in such a serious setting gave the fringe outsider’s message more weight…hell, people are still talking about Manny “Chevrolet” Bruno today, and not just because he keeps entering the mayor’s races, but because making suggestions such as that of getting the Amish to come in and rebuild New Orleans, since they can build a barn in a day without electricity, rang especially true in post-flood 2006.
I’m not saying everybody thought the same things were funny. And I’m not saying Carnival and the elections were the cures for all that ailed us, because they weren’t. What they were, however, were indicators that however completely messed and screwed-up the city was at that time, we were still here, keeping the traditions going and doing our civic best to get this town back on its feet. Mardi Gras was something to work towards. The elections were a chance to put some real, competent change in the office on Perdido Street. These were signs that New Orleans and its people were not going to go quietly into the Gulf.
And whether we’re running for office just to make a point or marching as some highly politically incorrect person, place, or thing in a Carnival parade, New Orleanians are still going to let you know where we’re at – if only because we’ve learned the hard way what happens when we don’t make our voices heard.