Last night, Morgus the Magnificent had a rare live appearance, speaking before an adoring crowd at the Orpheum Theater. Because my flight from Transylvania was late, I was not able to attend, however his appearance prompted me to dust off some notes from an interview I did with him several years ago. (Morgus cautioned me that Homeland Security rules prohibit me from revealing when and where the interview took place.)
I will say this: During the ‘60s Morgus was the rage in local television when, on each Saturday nights, he would introduce horror movies on television. Between segments he would have skits featuring his towering hooded executioner servant, Chopsley, and a skeleton-headed computer named Eric (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” and, as he reminds us, he was the one to calculate the speed of dark.
Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus still claimed to live in his laboratory located atop the “old city icehouse” in the Quarter 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 claimed 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 about being slighted, instead he preferred to use the interview time to speak of the world’s problems, number one 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 (Morgus never reveals 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 is Mardi Gras all year round, it will be good for tourism.” Pure brilliance.
It is time for us to start respecting Morgus for the scientific star that he is. After all, it was he 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 he 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.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s books, “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” and “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2017 and 2013), are available at local bookstores and at book websites.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 p.m., REPEATED AT 11:30 p.m..WYES-TV, CH. 12.