By Angus Lind, Staff Writer for Times-Picayune

         “Last year, my patented X-Ray, X-Rated Covert-O-Camera had a few kinks in it,” Deep Float was explaining, “but I got together with Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus, a remarkably gifted scientist, and we made some adjustments. I think you will find the spy work of this camera is nothing short of remarkable.”

         Float was displaying his clandestine pictures of the floats in Le Krewe D’Etat, which parades tonight on the traditional New Orleans route, after the vaunted Krewe of Hermes. In its third year, the infra-purple/green/gold pictures reveal that D’Etat will continue its cutting-edge satire on politics and news events, the way Carnival used to be.

         “The first thing you notice is that the floats all have titles of movies, and they are adapted to current events,” said Float. “For instance, this one, entitled ‘From Here to Eternity,’ features a figure of Father Time with a countenance that looks remarkably like a certain mayor of New Orleans. It could depict the drama of a love affair between a man, an office, a voting public and an ever so slightly changing charter. But remember, this is top secret. MMMs (CQ) the word.”

         “Now this one is more of a challenge,” Float said, holding up another picture, not quite as clear. “It appears to be ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ – I hesitate to say this for sure because this movie has been hailed as the worst movie in history – but it may fit here because . . . it appears to be about the Orleans Parish School Board.”

         “You know, Float, with all the school board people and bad plans over the years, they may get their plans from bad movies with dead people. Things are so bad over there they ought to send in the Marines.”

         “They did, but they only sent one. Doesn’t appear to be enough. Let’s move on,” Carnival’s greatest spy said. “We don’t have much time. People are always tailing me. Now, check this one out – it’s totally raunchy -- blood, vomit and urine at your doorstep.”

         “It must be the French Quarter,” I said.

         “Could be, but it looks a lot like that Uptown bar, ATII, (CQ) where the music is loud and you party till you puke. You’re 15? Come on in, welcome. And love thy neighbor.

         “You know, I’ve spied on a lot of krewes in my time,” said Float, “but these guys, D’Etat, are the real deal. The floats look like something from the turn of the century, with the detailed floral work, the old-time features, and the humor, well, it’s scathing. People who see this parade should concentrate on the floats, not the throws.”

         One non-traditional aspect that sets D’Etat apart from other organizations, he said, is that there is no king. No king? Sheer heresy! Not really. In place of the king there is a dictator, apropos for an organization whose name sounds all too much like coup d’etat, which is the sudden and victorious overthrow of an existing political machine.

         “He rules with an iron fist inside a velvet glove,” said Float. “He is the leader of what they call The Revolution, but keep in mind The Revloution is allegorical. The krewe steadfastly opposes the renting of floats to out-of-towners, any commercialism, and it’s not exactly fond of super-floats either. They want Carnival to be the way it used to be.”

The Dictator’s float features the krewe symbol, the daunting and haunting logo of a skull in a jester’s hat, with darkened eye sockets and crossed bones that could be mistaken for drawn sabres. Last year the krewe unveiled electronic blinking skull logo beads and this year, Float said, there could be something mystical that has to do with . . . antennas?

“Not certain about that,” he said. “But what we have been able to ascertain, working through reverse counter-intermediaries, is that this organization is double secret all the way. No names will ever be revealed, especially the Dictator’s. All we know is that an official dubbed ‘The Kingfish’ takes the place of a normal organization’s president, ‘The Special Man’ replaces the vice president, and there is no treasurer, no bean counter, but there is a ‘Keeper of the Bones.’”

There is an elusive and mystical behind-the-scenes genius who likes to call himself Sarcophagus I, said Float, “but we have information this is one Henri Schindler, one of the most demented satirical minds in the business. He apparently gets together with Mac Cantrell, the floatbuilder, on nights when the moon is full, and they sit at the den and drink secret concoctions for inspiration.”

“They’d have to, to come up with some of this stuff,” I said. “What is this a photo of?’

“It appears to be Dracula’s Daughter,” he said.

“It looks more like Anne Rice.”

“You know, you could be on to something,” he replied. “The Children of the Night, such books they write, such real estate they amass. She certainly qualifies as a creature of darkness.”

“We have time to look at one last photo,” said. “Here, this one came out almost perfect. This camera is something else, capturing these images through den walls.”

“It looks like that movie, ‘The Mummy,’” I told Float.

“Look closer, check the likeness, check the oversized earrings, the hair. Does it not look like . . . Chris Owens?”

“Well, it just might.”

“As ageless as the sands of time, as hot as the sun-baked pyramids. She sings, she dances, but do not look too closely and do not touch her – for she might turn to dust. Come now, we must go – we’ve been here too long,” said Float. And with that, he was off in the darkness. As he disappeared, a lone piece of paper fell from his trenchcoat.

On it, I realized, was the motto of Le Krewe D’Etat: “Vehite ut Vivitas. Vivite ut Vehatis,” Or, “Ride to Live. Live to Ride.”

 One double secret out of the bag.

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