Bard to the bone

Krewe d'Etat is infused with Shakespearean spirit

Friday February 28, 2003

Angus Lind

"This infiltration stuff is getting tougher ever year," I told Deep Float as we slithered our way between closely parked floats, contorting our bodies to negotiate the small passageways. "There isn't any room to move around in this den, we can't see a thing and I know the alarm is going to go off any second and we'll be in handcuffs in a squad car. Is it really worth it?"

"Methinks thou dost protest too much," said the egotistical covert Carnival espionage agent. "Be not afraid of greatness, scribe. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

"And where do you fit in, Float?"

"All of the above. Nothing can come of nothing. No guts, no glory. We must get to the back of the den so we can see it all. So, once more into the breach, dear scribe, once more. Let every eye negotiate for itself."

"What is it with this Shakespeare stuff, Float?"

"What light through yonder window breaks?" he asked.

"It's the sun. We've been here all night."

"Good, now we can really see what Bard d'Etat has in store for his loyal subjects."

"Bard d'Etat?"

"All the world's a stage for Le Krewe d'Etat beginning Friday night when they parade," said Float. "And they have turned to Shakespeare for their literary theme: 'Tales Told by Idiots.' "

"Now there's a theme that really fits this group -- tales told by idiots. But are they full of sound and fury and signifying nothing?"

"They're full of some of the cleverest potshots any krewe has ever taken -- at politicos, newsmakers and shakers, even the church. And the floats are magnificent. It's like 19th century design with 21st century satire. Henri Schindler's touch is everywhere. Look at that one over there, the one with heads that look like Mary Landrieu and Suzie Terrell. What does that quote say?"

"She speaks yet she says nothing."

"Were it not for the fact that all campaigns must come to an end," said Float, "we would still be listening to slanderous mudslinging from these un-ladylike ladies' tongues."

"That looks like Yasser Arafat and it must be him because the quote is: 'All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.' "

"I think he will win the Ringo Starr look-alike contest again this year. Scribe, make a note of this float: 'First let's kill all the lawyers.' Looks like Morris Bart, doesn't it?"

"It's not Johnny Cochran, that's for sure."

"Look over here: 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.' Look what's on the float -- RTA, brake tags, cab drivers, permits, bribery. Looks more like the state of New Orleans than our Danish counterparts. The new Lord of the City, the Cable Guy, Ray I, has his hands full."

"What do you think 'I would not be a queen for all the world' is about?"

"In this city, who knows? That looks like Tom Cruise and John Travolta and you know what the tabloids say about them. It's more than just whispers."

"No mistaking this one: 'Thou odiferous beetle-headed maggot-pie.' Shakespeare didn't hold back," said Float, "and neither did Bard d'Etat. Le tyrant Saddam, methinks." He then snapped pictures of the float as he had for all the others.

"Float, I have a question. What would happen if we were caught with all this information or somehow it got out?"

"I have heard through intermediaries that the Dictator has issued his sternest warning ever. If any of this information got out before parade day, a draconian spell would be cast over all those involved with the theft of the secrets and their families for six generations."

"Does that concern you?"

" 'Cowards die many times before their death. The valiant never taste of death but once' -- Julius Caesar," said Float. "Though this be madness, there is method in it. As long as the secrets are not revealed before Vendredi Gras, there shouldn't be a problem."

"Vendredi Gras?"

"Loosely translated, Vendredi means 'Friday.' Very loosely translated, it means 'when ready.' Since d'Etat rolls on Fat Friday, we should have no problem with the Dictator."

"The Dictator looks intimidating, Float. I've seen the darkened eye sockets, the skull. Is he as bloodthirsty as he seems?"

"You don't want to know. Richard VII is the dread sovereign liege. Even though the bodies of last year's oppressive dictator and his family and mistresses were found bullet-riddled, the new Dictator assures us they were all suicides.

"But fear not, scribe, all of this is allegorical. The Dictator is the leader of what they call The Revolution, also allegorical. The krewe simply revolts against or opposes the renting of floats to out-of-towners, commercialism of any kind and it is not exactly enamored with super-sized floats. They want Carnival to be the way it was, with old-line floats and satire."

"Let copulation thrive -- is that Shakespeare?"

"King Lear," said Float. "That quote goes with this float, called The Fun House. That is where noble sires paid to play but whose names were never revealed when the deal went bad. The word is that this krewe's famous cross-dressing Dancin' Dawlins, the would-be dance team babes, will be doing their thing in front of this float."

"And what will they be called this year?"

"Why, the Canal Street Women's Business Association."

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