Monday, February 12, 2018

America, Brace for a Global Thrashing as Carnival Speaks Truth to Power


-by Skip Kaltenheuser

Hoo-boy! It’s that time again. Carnivals around the world are gearing up to pay tribute to Fearless Leader. He’s back, and it’s as if he never went away.

These are not the parades Trump had in mind.

I’ve experienced plenty of Carnivals in a good chunk of the world. Sense of duty. Their varied traditions, some back to the ancients, provide fascinating insights into their cultures. The spirituality from cascading influences is inspiring. Satire poking fun at authority and at society’s excesses is Carnival bedrock.

Mom, 100, lives with us. Like the rest of the household she's under the weather with a local plague. So no venturing out to a Carnival for Skip this year. But I’ll be taking Internet surf breaks to see how America is being viewed abroad. Carnival is a terrific barometer of world opinion. Do your own explorations, starting with Germany’s festivities, including the Rose Monday parades of Cologne, Mainz and Dusseldorf, to see where Donald lurks. Fat Tuesday will see a load of Carnivals, not just in New Orleans. Basel, Switzerland launches on Feb. 18th. Various Italian offerings are getting underway, as in Viareggio.

Nice kicks theirs off on Feb. 17th. The artists go wild. Here’s a Reuters video of the creation of a float take-off on Planet of the Apes, featuring Trump as a gorilla, joined by Erdogan, Putin and May. Pity the astronaut who lands to discover primitives behaving badly.

To give the artful flavor of Nice, here’s a slideshow with a Carnival from the wayback.

In years past, Berlusconi was a favorite carnival target in Basel and elsewhere. Then he went away, again and again, the last time the presumed finale. Perhaps inspired by his American counterpart in the Trump era, he’s managed to pull out the stake and is making a comeback. Here’s a slideshow including glimpses of how the Swiss dealt with him, and with George W. Bush, a contender at the time.Thankfully W. won’t be making a comeback. What?

Last year I did a whimsy on Washington’s carnival potential, it includes some images of Trump portrayals in 2017. Catch it here, with some worthy sub-links. I borrowed a common theme for Carnival, redemption and renewal. What city is more in need of a do-over than Washington?

Early on the prowl, from Torres Verdras, Portugal, one of my favorites

DWT readers, do you want to help hold a mirror up for a buck-naked emperor? If you’re on safari somewhere in the Carnival world and photograph a loosely-defined presidential portrait, or if you find one tucked in foreign media, send it in to Don’t forget Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, (March 15-19). Here’s what happened last year when Trump was building the wall. And here. As the season ebbs, we’ll put up a representative sampler that Americans might ponder.

One from Mainz, from February 2016, before reality crashed the party.

Not on Carnival, but I like the sentiment, also in short supply in Washington:

Damn everything but the circus!
…damn everything that is grim, dull,
motionless, unrisking, inward turning,
damn everything that won't get into the
circle, that won't enjoy, that won't throw
its heart into the tension, surprise, fear
and delight of the circus, the round
world, the full existence…

- e.e. cummings



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