For $5, residents of one of the city's hardest hit neighborhoods received three tennis balls Saturday - and a chance to vent 15 months of frustration at the slow pace of rebuilding since Hurricane Katrina.
The object of their annoyance sat perched atop a dunk tank - Bob Josephson, director of intergovernmental affairs in Louisiana for the reviled and much-lampooned Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Politicians invited to be dunked who politely declined included Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Blanco. No shows included City Council President Oliver Thomas and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in charge of fixing the city's levees.After spending nearly 45 minutes in the dunking booth, FEMA's Josephson took off his sopping shirt and tried to warm himself with a towel.
He explained that FEMA is a part of the community and allowing himself to be dunked was an attempt to show that he and his much-criticized colleagues are not so different from their neighbors.
"It's all in good fun," he added, as residents thanked him and offered dry clothes and a place to change.
Of course, real justice would have been served had the vat contained carbolic acid, or had the FEMA officials been held under water so long after being dunked that they turned into one of the bloated corpses that floated through the ninth ward in the days following Katrina. But I guess we should be happy to pony up our five bucks and take whatever His Highness gives us.