Deep Float is a distant cousin of Watergate informant Deep Throat and an undercover source of Carnival themes and secrets. Longtime New Orleans columnist Angus Lind speaks with him again on the eve of Mardi Gras 2016.
A deeply tanned Deep Float, almost unrecognizable, stood at my front door, his signature stubble now a beard and a mustache. Coupled with his always disheveled look, sunglasses and hat pulled down low made him look as unsavory as ever.
“Where have you been for the last five years? In the slammer?” I asked the most famous covert Carnival espionage agent in history.
“Key West, baby. Like you, retired from the rat race. I’ve been hanging out with all the bikers, drifters, eccentrics, old salts and free spirits down there at places like Sloppy Joe’s.”
“Hemingway drank there” I said, flashing my literary knowledge of Papa.
“Hemingway drank everywhere,” said Float in his always raspy voice that sounded like a crow with the croup. “Let me in. We have things to talk about.”
“So what brings you back?”
“I had no choice. My intermediaries informed me that this is the 20th anniversary of the political satire kings of Carnival — Le Krewe d’Etat — the krewe that introduced blinking beads to Carnival in 1999, changing krewe throw packages forever. I had to find out what they’re up to in this monumental year for their organization. Couldn’t miss that. Or their parade this Friday night.”
“So what do you need from me?”
“I need you to document my findings, same as we used to do. Scribe, you’re the writer. I’m the thief, the break-in artist, the purloiner of secrets, the code-cracker.” And, he failed to say, the distant cousin of Watergate informant Deep Throat — not to mention the ongoing comparisons to the bumbling Inspector Clouseau — which he ignores because he sees himself as a brilliant Carnival supersleuth.
Within an hour, under cover of darkness, the man who gives egomaniacs a bad name had somehow picked the lock. Chalk it up to luck or a cheap padlock.
We entered the krewe’s new den. “Nice digs for a den,” he said after looking around. “The old place was a dump.”
Float came on the Carnival scene in the ’80s, back when Momus was about the only organization doing biting satire, leaking that group’s secrets to the media. When Momus stopped parading, D’Etat began and picked up the satire banner. So Float zeroed in on them, seemingly always intrigued that this is the only organization that has a Dictator and no king or queen, no court, no debutantes, no ball. Just an ongoing Revolution that has lasted two decades. And when Momus — flying under the new banner of Chaos — returned, Float had them in his gunsights also.
The man of many disguises who few have ever seen began carefully moving around the D’Etat den, checking out the floats. I followed, taking notes. “It appears the Dictator is playing games this year — card games, board games and television games — chronicling all the buffoons, villains, and idiots that masquerade as candidates, politicos, newsmakers and celebrities,” said Float. “Duly noted,” I replied as we perused the den.
“Ha! It’s the old parlor game, Pin the Tail on the Donkey — and the donkey’s face looks amazingly like Hillary Clinton on her absolute worst day with her Democratic derriere sticking it in your face,” said Float. “But one thing about this revolutionary group — they are equal opportunity satirists. You can bet the ranch they slam the Republicans also.”
We didn’t have to go far to prove Float’s prediction was accurate. There it stood: “Trump Card,” the key card in such games as bourré, where trump cards beat all the other cards in the deck. And atop the float stood “His Belligerence,” The Donald with a king’s crown, a red face spewing forth all his bluster and bombasts on his own card — right next to his plane — “Hair Force One.”
“He ought to start his own super krewe parade, make it the greatest parade ever and get Mexico to pay for all the floats,” said the supersleuth.
Moving on, we came upon “Survivor,” apparently a backhanded “tribute” to LSU’s Head Coach Les Miles’ puzzling ability to “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” everyone else and not get voted off the Isle of Baton Rouge — making The Mad Hatter a true survivor despite himself. “All of a sudden Lughead Les went from being toast at Tigerland back to Loveable Loser Les Miles,” Float said. “The LSU administration is as fickle as it gets. Go figure.”
“It looks like this isn’t the only football float,” I said, looking ahead of my leader. “Looks like we’re in Uptown New Orleans.” Float rushed over to a very green and blue float. “It looks like ESPN’s Saturday morning show, “Gameday,” is setting up under the giant Frostop mug on Claiborne Avenue across from Yulman Stadium.”
But what could be bringing Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and the gang to Tulane, I wondered aloud.
“Wonder no more,” said Float. “The name of this float is ‘Fantasy Football.’ Looks like the Green Wave has won a couple national championships, three Tulane players were chosen in the first round of the NFL draft, they’ve picked off a few Heisman trophies, the stadium is always sold out and Leonard Fournette transferred from LSU to Tulane! Wow! No wonder it’s named Fantasy Football!”
“Well, they do have a new and exciting head coach and athletic director,” I said.
“What are their names? Penn and Teller? Siegfried and Roy? It’ll take some magic, that’s for sure.”
“We have been here quite a while. The security patrol could be coming by at any moment,” Float said. “Time for a couple more, then that’s it.”
“Remember the game of Risk, the strategy board game?” I asked my sidekick. “Looks like D’Etat’s spin doctors have spun this into the ‘Risk’ of eating out in the city’s great restaurants. There’s a customer with his hands up, and a chalkboard menu sign for ‘Tonight’s Specials: Oysters-Rob-A-Fella and Crime Brûlée.”
Float nodded. “Instead of ‘Jacket Required,’ there’s a sign that says ‘Flak Jacket Required.’ ”
I spotted a pile of sketches on the floor, picked them up and handed them to Float.
“Aha! It’s the parade lineup, in detail. Looks like the Dictator’s Dancin’ Dawlins might be dancing monuments this year. Never seen a dancing monument before. How about you, Scribe?”
“You never know with this group. They don’t have the same old costume, year after year like some other dancing groups. Remember, they were the Dancin’ Dilibertos and wore red dresses, the Dancin’ Marinellos who wore fake mustaches and bad disguises and the Dancin’ Dawgfighters, and wore Michael Vick’s jersey No. 7. So, yeah, I can see Dancin’ Monuments. Who knows? Nothing would surprise me,” I said.
“There’s usually a float that has roughly the same theme,” Float said. “We’ve got about five minutes. Let’s take a quick look.”
“There — way over there!” I said. “Sure looks like some kind of monument. Could that be Hizzonner da Mayor on top? Hard to tell.”
“Someone’s here,” whispered Float. “Time to get scarce.”
“Quick — get your binoculars and take a look!” I said.
“Hilarious — it looks like we’re looking at ‘Me Circle’ with a new general on top,” said Float. “We’re outta here.” We slipped out the back door, ran to the Deepmobile, cranked it up and fled into the night. “Looks like we’re going to have to wait till the parade to see what that’s all about,” I said.
“I’m sure it will be monumental,” Float said. “I just have a feeling.”