Home Politics Ode to Carnival Past and Future, Sadly Not Present.

Ode to Carnival Past and Future, Sadly Not Present.

dancers preparing for a carnival parade, on Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Patiently awaiting their next carnival parade, on Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SKIP KALTENHEUSER.

Are you mourning this year’s lack of Carnival’s spiritual cleanse, its satirical sorting of society’s woes to give us perspective? I am. And so I retreat now to past frolics. It’s hard to overstate how rotten the past year has been, in so many ways, or the dim prospects it left us, as we await whatever next escapes Pandora’s Box. The shakeups underpinned by carnivals around the world, with their myriad styles and cultural melting pot histories, would be damn welcome now. But as they’d be world class superspreaders, we must make do with echos, such as New Orleans refugees in my DC neighborhood paying homage by decorating their houses, and more robust statements throughout homes in New Orleans, where there’s no shortage of Mardi Gras artifacts and artisans.

Below is a past take that imparts a bit on the roots of Carnival, and reprises a musing on the potential of Washington, DC as a target-rich Carnival city. It ricochets off the 2012 election, which then seemed the heights of improbable political folly. Little did I know it was merely bedrock for the jaw-droppers to come. I thought of taking a stab at what an imaginary Washington Carnival would look like this year. My circuits quickly overloaded. But you can put your imagination to work. The 800-pound orange gorilla in the room, and his gang of grifters, presents a smorgasbord of choices. How to satirize a President so beyond the pale he ought to present a plausible Covid brain-fog defense? Picture him in a medieval plague mask. Or an executioner’s hood. Serial killers are where you find them. The real costs of breaking down government oversight in every way possible at the command of looney Koch-minded operatives. And the tragedy-tinged grand finale of the stop-the-steal con. Challenging, but I guarantee that when they are given the opportunity, Carnival satirists around the world will be skinning America alive, so perhaps we dodged a hail of Carnival bullets. The Biden Administration, already hamstringing itself by whittling down promised $2,000 relief/stimulus checks, looks ready to line up new themes. Ah, Joe. Designated OMB hitter Neera Tanden, a gift of the Clintons that keeps on giving, so deep in so many big-money pockets, emblematic of an influx of people into Washington willing to do anything, advocate anything, for money. And there is so much money. So much of it dark and well-laundered. The bundlers lining up at the revolving door. Legions of them as eager as Eric Holder to profitably insulate Wall Street from consequences as it sets the country up for another fall. Check out the art of Nancy Ohanian, for a wealth of float concepts.

The eye-teeth have it! A jury of our peers, in the traditional phallic nose masks of Basel, Switzerland. PHOTO COURTESY OF SKIP KALTENHEUSER.

Everything old is new again. Washington’s potential never runs dry. Tens of millions in dark money promoting Supreme Court Justices like Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, as if in a John Grisham plot. The collapsing pillars of media narratives that Putin dictates the results of multi-billion dollar elections. Relax, Putin remains a prime target as an underwear poisoner. Media scampering on to the QAnon freak show. And in Congress! Fascist Proud Boys as the Lost Boys. Guns, guns and guns. Missing foreign influence? Netanyahu and the Saudis, anyone? The world’s richest union buster unleashing his corporate opinion stylists on progressives like Bernie, undermining Medicare-for-All, even as the pandemic loomed. How will they pay for it? should be their epitaphs. The calculated media stovepipes thrashing about without their profitable Donald, the orange-hued goose who laid their golden eggs. The Kafkaesque plight of Julian Assange reaping the whirlwind after daring to expose the horrors of forever wars. And the tandem future of investigative journalism. National intelligence alumni morphing into cable media talking heads with undisclosed clients. Monopolies as far as the eye can see. Political correctness on crack. In newsrooms! The DNC and the Lincoln Project, bipartisan grifters together again. Mitch and Chuck. Nancy as a vendor — ice cream cake for the masses! Renegade cops as unaccountable Amokiteers. Compounding climate catastrophes. Oh, and our ham-handed handling of wild and free-roaming microbes. Bellwethers warning of other microbes to come knocking. So much to cleanse from our souls. Let your imaginations wonder, what Carnival might gift us when our Carnival world is finally released from pandemic hibernation. Let’s hope America can take a joke, because Carnival will be coming for us.

Read Skip Kaltenheuser’s Carnival Beckons: A Carnival Musing for 2013

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