Halloween approaching reminds me of the interview I did with Morgus the Magnificent two and a half years ago. During the 1960s Morgus was the rage in local television when, on each Saturday night, he would introduce horror movies on television. Between segments he would stage skits featuring his towering, hooded executioner servant, Chopsley, and a skull-headed computer named E.R.I.C. (Eon Research Infinity Computer). Morgus wore a tattered white lab coat and always looked a little ghoulish. Some thought him to be a spoof, others recognized him as the genius he claimed to be. After all, only he had the intellect to write a scientific book entitled Molecules I Have Known.
When I interviewed him, Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus still claimed to live in his laboratory located atop the "old city icehouse" and Chopsley was still by his side obeying his commands. In 1962 a movie about him was made called The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus. To this day, the Doctor scoffs at the word "wacky" in the title and claims that he did not know the film was being made, even as cameras and bright lights followed him around for a couple of months.
(Some students of cinema think Morgus should have won the Academy Award for best male performer that year; instead the Academy caved in and gave the Oscar to Gregory Peck for his role in To Kill a Mockingbird.)
Morgus is too important to the universal good to dwell on being slighted; instead he preferred to use the interview time to speak of the world's problems. Most critical at that time was then-Mayor Ray Nagin's threat to reduce the cleaning operation in the French Quarter. Since the old city icehouse is in the Quarter (apparently for security reasons, Morgus never revealed its exact location) the Doctor had come up with a plan to keep the streets clean,
"Get prisoners to do it," Morgus explained. "Tell them for every day they spend cleaning the Quarter they will get a day off their sentence. They will jump at the chance."
While the ideas is interesting, it is hardly novel. Prisoners have been doing work around town for years, but here is where Morgus showed a genius side far in advance of the rest of us:
"Have all the prisoners dressed as clowns,?" Morgus added. "That way the tourists will see them and think that it's Mardi Gras all year round. It will be good for tourism."
We should all respect Morgus for the scientific star that he is. After all, it was he, so he claims, who many years ago installed his own personal turbine at the bottom of the river which generates the electricity for his icehouse home. "I never have to pay Entergy," Morgus gloated. And it was he who dared to experiment with an "Instant People Machine" with the ability to turn people into sand and sand into people.
Mention has been made about his running for mayor next election, but Morgus the Magnificent may be too important for that. Nevertheless. the council and mayor should consider his street cleaning proposal and we should all feel confident in the city's recovery as long as the light is still burning atop the old city icehouse.