Throw Me Something FEMA

It’s THE Big Day in THE Big Easy. Fat Tuesday in the City of Our Lady of Perpetual Decay. It is such an important period that coverage of the revelry, parades, and balls has pushed any news of 400,000-plus suits against the Army Corps of Engineers in the Katrina aftermath off the front pages and to the bottom of the locally beloved Times Picayune Web site (Even victims have priorities.)

We wrote last week that a federal judge ruled in favor of the Corps saying, in essence, the suits as filed were trumped by a 1928 law giving the Corps virtual immunity from such actions. No big surprise. Now the hoards of plaintiffs and lawyers seeking another day in court, not to mention a few quadrillion dollars, will alter their approach, probably alleging decisions made by the Corps regarding the levees and flood walls in the 1960s in the aftermath of big hurricanes Betsy and Camille were not approved by Congress. Toss in the Flood Control Act of 1965 and it gets a event murkier. One source tells us this approach is their only avenue of attack but sees little to no chance of success (and, based on precedent, predicts a 9-0 decision in favor of the Corps, if it goes to the Supreme Court).

However, on The Big Day in The Big Easy, a city obsessed with The Big Storm and The Big, Bad Feds, laissez les bon temps roulez rules.

One famed King Cake baker has been known to hide a porcelain replica of a FEMA trailer in his traditional Mardi Gras delicacy.

Artist and Blue Dog master George Rodrigue juxtaposed both post-Katrina and traditional Mardi Gras mantras with his “Throw Me Something FEMA” creation (above). This work captures the cultural convention that mandates mortals clamor for freebie throws from the denizens of Mardi Gras (Rex, Zulu, Endymion), just as they clamored after the storm and continue to demand the equivalent of colorful plastic beads, go cups, and maybe the prized coconut from Rex’s nemesis-from-the-north FEMA and its queen — the Corps. In fact, at this point FEMA and the Corps of Engineers should have their own parade — Mid City would be a good route. Love it or hate it, this one little poster ($850 — yes, we’re serious — is available online) captures the irony and absurdity that fuel the city’s thirst for drama no matter the cost.

Old traditions die hard.

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