Answer: Krewedelusion, an upstart Carnival group making its debut Saturday night about 7, following Krewe du Vieux’s procession through the French Quarter and Marigny.
Krewedelusion is a collection of new and old marching groups gathered under a heady, self-made philosophy and governance that declare the Big Easy the center of the universe and Shearer, the actor, filmmaker, commentator and part-time New Orleanian, its ruler.
Krewe spokesman L.J. Goldstein said the “rag-tag,” two-float parade hopefully will “plant the seeds” of something bigger — whether it’s just a welcome mat for newcomers or a benevolent autocracy.
Despite the heavy veneer of farce, the krewe, which is set up as a nonprofit, is putting its money where its mouth is, so to speak. Any extra money the krewe is left with after Mardi Gras “will be used at the discretion of Harry Shearer on behalf of the mission of the krewe, which is to save the world,” Goldstein said.
“Where most krewes appoint royalty to govern the pomp and circumstance of parades and balls, and most of our democratically elected leaders limit their administrations to similar fundraising endeavors, Krewedelusion intends to truly empower its leader to govern,” said krewe captain Oscar Diggs. “Govern everything. Period. Case closed.”
In explaining this philosophy, Goldstein invoked the political term “dictablanda,” a neologism of the Spanish word for dictatorship, “dictadura,” with the word for soft, “blanda.”
“Benevolent autocratic dementia is a form of government I can believe in,” Shearer, best known for his work as a voice actor in “The Simpsons,” said in a statement released by the krewe.
In effect, Delusion is taking the time-honored conceit of Carnival royalty and following it to its most literal and absurd endpoint. Against the backdrop of “one of the most important elections in the city’s history, where we’re determining who’s going to guide us into this next era of living,” the krewe is using the traditional structure of Mardi Gras as its own satirical platform, Goldstein said.
“All under the auspice of Carnival, to have the king of the krewe actually be the leader of everything, to give him that power, you’re going to have something different than politics as usual,” he said.
“It’s kind of taking this Carnival tradition and turning it on its head, without negating it.”
Over the past two months, the krewe obtained a permit to parade along a route similar to Krewe du Vieux’s, got Shearer to sign on as king and gathered its collection of sub-krewes.
Many sub-krewes, such as Krewe du Jieux, Noisician Coalition and the Camel Toe Lady Steppers, are contingents of larger outfits that have been in operation for years. Some, such as the Krewe of Bananas, were formed specifically for Krewe Delusion.
What most of them have in common is an enthusiasm for the city’s peculiar magic, and a desire to spread it around.
The satirical Krewe du Vieux, which steps off today at 6:30 p.m. with Dr. John as its king, was founded in 1987 from the ashes of the Krewe of Clones, which was sponsored by the Contemporary Arts Center and disbanded in the mid-1980s.
The Krewe of 6t’9 formed after Hurricane Katrina and puts on an annual Halloween parade. Amigos de los Amigos formed last year to pay homage to the city’s expanded Latino population, hosting a Cinco de Mayo parade that it plans to repeat this year. The Amigos will serve as security escorts for the Delusion parade, donning Mexican wrestler outfits and holding up wrestling ring ropes.
“We’re definitely looking to represent, to bring parading to the Latino communities,” said founder Antonio Garza. He said the krewe’s members come from all ethnic backgrounds.
One sub-krewe, the AllKreweists, was founded by a group of transplants who came to New Orleans to do recovery work and fell under the city’s spell.
“There’s so many people who came here to New Orleans to help rebuild our city,” Goldstein said. “They fell in love with our unique offerings, and they’ve made this city their home.
“Carnival krewes, some of them, it’s not easy to gain access,’’ Goldstein said. “Memberships are closed. How do the people who moved here and want to be a part of those activities get involved? Being in a parade, in a marching parade, is a unique experience.”
Molly Reid can be reached at email@example.com or 504.826.3448.