Gov. Bobby Jindal likely isn't a fan of the satirical Krewe du Vieux. In recent years, floats have depicted him dumping an old woman out of a wheelchair into the jaws of an alligator ("YoMamaCare") and having his way with a pelican. This year, the boisterous krewe has anointed historian and wetlands restoration advocate John Barry as king of its "Where the Vile Things Are" parade.
The author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 spent much of the last year championing a lawsuit, that Jindal opposes — a lawsuit against oil companies to pay for damages they caused to the wetlands. On Saturday, Barry will lead the irreverent krewe and its procession of brass bands and satirical, racy and offbeat floats. A regular viewer of the parade, Barry embraced the crown with his own theme.
"I'm going to be John of Arc, the Blade of Orleans," Barry says. "When I walked into the (Krewe du Vieux) den, it occurred to me. It seemed perfect. You have a crusade — trying to protect Orleans. Instead of the Maid of Orleans, it's the Blade of Orleans."
Did he have thoughts about Joan of Arc burning at the stake?
"I'm sure (retiring Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority chairman) Garret Graves would like that image," Barry says.
Is satire an appropriate weapon in the battle to save the coast?
"I think it's perfectly appropriate, because every argument the governor's office has come up with sounds like satire," Barry says.
"The (oil) industry is the most profitable industry in the history of the world. The law and the permits say they're supposed to fix what they broke. And the most anti-tax governor in the country wants taxpayers to pay instead of the industry. If that's not the subject of satire, I don't know what is."
Barry will costume as a knight, and he had visions of riding a float with twin pillars of an oil dredge and the scales of justice, though at press time, it was unclear how the king's float would be decorated. Artist Dawn DeDeaux will accompany Barry as the royal consort. She designed a John of Arc cup the two will throw.
As for the crusade, Barry may not want to watch the army that slouches toward French Quarter mayhem behind him. The 17 subkrewes are taking aim at a wide array of targets, from local government to popular culture. The Krewe of Comatose revisits the the nightmare BP unleashed on the Gulf of Mexico and coastal Louisiana.
Several subkrewes are up in arms about New Orleans zoning and permits issues, including noise ordinances, go-cups and other changes. The Krewe of Spank is riled up about the transformation of the city into "Disneylandrieu." Several krewes offer their own visions of the wonderland that is Sheriff Marlin Gusman's Orleans Parish Prison.
Last year's Krewe du Vieux parade featured a couple of floats mocking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, including one in which Goodell humped the boeuf gras. There are more sports-themed floats in 2014, coinciding with the Winter Olympics and the NBA All-Star game. A couple of floats torch (in effigy) Russian efforts to exclude gay athletes from the Olympics. But overall, the krewe is ready to let the games begin.