Death Was the Theme

ANDREI CODRESCU

March 01, 1993|By ANDREI CODRESCU

New Orleans. -- The Krewe de Vieux Carre, the first one to march, chose Death as its theme this year. It paraded funereally through the French Quarter featuring black chiffon angels, executioners, coffins, wreaths and a guillotine.

This isn't all that unusual in New Orleans, a town where death enjoys respect and familiarity, where people take their picnics to cemeteries, bury each other with jazz bands, and live as if there were no tomorrow. Which could pretty well be the case if the Mississippi River levees break.

But this year's parade was unusually mortuarial, even given the town's proclivities. The Krewe de Vieux's official newsletter, Le Monde De Merde, listed various recent deaths under the headline, ''Posthumorously Yours.'' The greatest was the death of several old-time marching societies, Comus and Proteus chief among them, because they wouldn't go along with desegregation.

Some of the krewe's officials found these deaths tragic, while other thought that racism deserves to die, so good riddance. Consequently, while some sub-krewes laid wreaths at the door of the Boston Club, headquarters of the defunct parades, and called for a moment of silence, others blew whistles and threw rubber eggs and plastic turds at the hallowed locus.

Other than that, the Krewe of the Mystic Inane, Krewe of Space Age Love, Krewe of Underwear, and especially the Mystick Korpse of Komatose mourned or celebrated the death of education in Louisiana, the death of New Orleans by casino and the demise of Republicans. Statements were issued by the Transylvanian Liberation Front, against vampire discrimination and by the Mystick Korpse of Komatose against discrimination of any kind.

It was also announced that the ''Shroud of Turism'' was discovered in New Orleans. The parade proceeded without incident almost to the end, when a sudden wind picked up the guillotine and destroyed a tourist. A cold rain fell but by then most marchers were full of firewater and the music never stopped playing.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of Exquisite Corpse.

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