So it’s August and the big anniversary is coming up. Me and the family usually head to Gulf Shores, Alabama to lie on the beach, count our blessings, and forget. We really don’t need a flashy annual reminder of what turned our lives upside down.
I understand the desire to commemorate what happened, and to pay tribute to the lives that were lost. But that’s really not us, y’know? This is the land of jazz funerals; where the usual drill is to look death in the eye, thumb our collective nose at it, and strike up the band. All this commemoration stuff is a just a flat-out bummer, and it’s out of character.
This year, let’s do what we do. Turn the beat around. Take a sad song and make it better. Transform the blues into a turbo-charged, sugar-frosted luv-mo-sheen. Let’s take the anniversary of the worst thing that’s ever happened to this city and make it a day that promotes change for the better and celebrates the power of redemption over catastrophe. Let’s be a city of wise-aching smart alecks. Yes, this is what we do.
I have a proposal for my fellow New Orleanians.
This year, on August 29, instead of mulling over our misfortunes, let’s take a cue from the president. Let’s follow his lead – with an act of solidarity and tolerance that will push the boundaries of human comprehension.
This August 29, let’s shuffle off the collective gloom by having a citywide party that celebrates the birthday of John McCain.
Pop quiz: Where was President Bush when the big storm hit, on August 29, 2005?
(actual photograph taken on August 29, 2005)
He was in Arizona having a piece of birthday cake with his buddy, John McCain.
The president didn’t get caught with his pants down, the storm did not take him by surprise. Everyone saw it coming, knew exactly when it would make landfall. The president’s master plan for zero hour was, apparently: Gotta get me summa that cake!
I’m not sure if I blame the president. Think about it. John McCain, in effect, lured a mentally-disabled manchild to Arizona with the promise of a tasty hunk of birthday cake. How can we expect a feeble-minded person to resist such yummy temptation?
I’m not sure if I blame Senator McCain either. When you reach his age, you really have to celebrate each birthday as if it might be your last – bodies floating down the streets of a major American city be damned!
So this August 29, let’s follow the example of these two great Americans – one who is president, and the other who will be the next president if we’re not careful.
Let them eat cake. And let’s have some, too!
Start making plans. I want to see McCain birthday parties popping up all over the city this August 29. It will be a chance to turn a frown upside-down, and to provide the sort of high-minded, outrageous political mockery that New Orleanians have always been famous for.
Start blogging about your McCain Birthday Bash plans, set up websites, and spread the word!
Come as you were: life preservers and air-mattress-as-flotation-devices are optional but recommended! Don’t forget those pointy little paper birthday hats – and be sure to bring lots and lots of candles!
If our citywide McCain Birthday Bash makes the national news (as it should!), it will be an opportunity for us to remind the rest of the country (in a very important election year!) what Candidate McCain really thinks of American citizens who are staring down the darkest moment of their recorded history: Not much!
He didn’t let us ruin his party, so let’s not let him ruin ours!
If we play our cards right, we can: pass a good time, make a point about the common-decency-deficit in the Republican party, help get Senator Obama elected, let the world know we’ve still got a sense of humor, and wish an old man a happy birthday.
That’s right, New Orleanians, this August 29th we can save the human race with a good old-fashioned hunk of birthday cake. It’s not been done before, but there’s a first time for everything…
NOTE: Please exchange ideas and hatch plans for the best August 29 McCain Birthday Bash ever at http://humidcity.com.
The Sound of Building Coffins by Louis Maistros is due for release from The Toby Press in March, 2009