February 28, 2006

How The New Yorker Snubbed Mardi Gras

William Joyce Katrinarita Gras

I was both moved and embarrassed by William Joyce’s piece on the NOLA weblog.

Titled “How Dick Cheney Stole The Thunder From One Louisiana Artist,” it explains how Joyce’s Mardi Gras illustration slated for last week’s New Yorker cover was pulled at the last minute in favor of the Bush/Cheney Brokeback Mountain offering.  (Yes, it’s the one I’m now sheepish to say I posted just down the page.)  Given the relative absence of New Orleans from the national spotlight, some stirrings of renewal, and the essential and bittersweet celebration of Mardi Gras, this seemed like an important image to offer now.

Since I (all too innocently) promoted the Bush/Cheney cover, I’m all too happy to highlight the artwork it superseded, as well as direct you to  the full size version, and to Joyce’s explanation of events.  (I think it’s the second piece down).  I’d also be interested in your thoughts on the image itself, the New Orleans saga, and, especially, the editorial politics on display.  (I really do love this illustration, by the way.  Doesn’t the Katrina dress conjure the tornado scene in The Wizard Of Oz?  And what about that lightening bolt!)

I guess the political cover was both sexier and more salable.  But perhaps it also allowed The New Yorker to duck a confrontation with what will surely be regarded as one of America’s profound humanitarian failures.  (It could also be for this shame that the green man steps on the face of tragedy.)

(illustration: William Joyce.  February 2006.  Shreveport, La. nola.com.)

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Michael Shaw
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