Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

Take Mardi Gras to Washington



New Orleans is famous for its crude political satire at Mardi Gras. So where is our Carnivalesque imagination in these days when we are orphans in our own country?

Tell me, what is more effective: 300,000 signatures on a petition asking the Bush Administration to build a Level 5 Levee, or 1,000 New Orleanians dressed only in paper gowns held at the waist by a rope, flying to Washington to chain themselves to the White House fence?

What is more effective: pleading politely with our government to rebuild the only city in America worth escaping to -- not from -- or a convoy of gaily decorated floats carrying taped refrigerators to deposit by the Washington monument -- to be opened all at once when the presidential motorcade goes by.

What is more effective: endless meetings of befuddled officials with angry citizens or angry citizens wearing masks of public officials 24 hours a day until something is done? Everyone in America who cares about us should wear black in public. Everyone in America should wear the masks of uncaring officials in public. Where is our black fleur-de-lis ribbon pinned to every lapel and dress in the Republic?

What is better: playing our dirges on empty streets or sending millions of moldy water-damaged instruments to FEMA to see if they can get a sound out of them?

Where are our bobbing obscenities, so ubiquitous during Mardi Gras, directing their blistering contempt at those who treat us like the enemy? Take them to Washington. Please.

What is this phony argument about whether we should have Mardi Gras this year or not? We should have Mardi Gras NOW until our nation comes to our aid, and we should not cease having Mardi Gras until the last of our bumbling elected impotent non-leaders are replaced by men and women who know how to roll up their sleeves.

We are the city of ghosts and ghouls, so let's haunt this nation. We are a city in mourning, so let's draft all our ghosts, including the ghosts of Carnivals past, for the creepiest parade anyone's ever seen.

The Mardi Gras floats sit bereft and ruined in the necropolis of New Orleans. Fit them with motors and let us roll on to the seat of power.

Not have Mardi Gras this year? Who are they kidding?

Where is our genius for political theatre?

Let's take Mardi Gras to Washington.

Andrei Codrescu's book, New Orleans, Mon Amour: 20 Years of Writing in the City, has just been published.

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