NEW ORLEANS, LA – You’ll meet more interesting people at bars at 8:30 in the morning than you will at 8:30 at night. I found that out this past weekend while visiting New Orleans for the Annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. Igor’s Lounge & Game Room might be one of the only places in the world where you can find a woman having a drink complaining about having to drop her kids off at school 30 minutes prior. It’s the epitome of a New Orleans dark, smoky dive bar. You can order whiskey and a burger while deciding if you’d rather use your quarters at the Joker Poker machines in the front or the laundry machines in back.
Sure, we visited a few other establishments and when we did we found the one common thread between the lowly dives and 4-star restaurants in The Big Easy are the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. It has been nearly three months since they won but that is the one thing everyone wanted to talk about. Oil spill? What oil spill? Didn’t you see the Super Bowl? Who cares about Katrina when we have Drew Brees. Sports are funny that way. It doesn’t matter which social class you come from when you are a die hard fan you’d just as soon high five the petty thief sitting next to you as the preacher on your other side.
Maybe it was because the town has been through so much recently, but this year there were no riots after the Saints’ victory only the biggest parade in the history of New Orleans, which has to be the biggest in the country – if not the hemisphere (I think Rio de Janeiro might have had a bigger one or two). People told me they believe the city came back because the Saints came back. Without them the city might not have survived. These folks didn’t feel the need to burn cars in celebration like they do in Detroit. There were no riots for the sake of looking tough like Laker fans did last year. No, they just celebrated. In New York we are blessed with multiple home teams to root for. So it stands to reason when there is a NY champion like last year’s Yankees, a good many of the town’s baseball fans don’t feel like celebrating.
So while I was looking at a city on the mend, I also thought of a team the helped it rebuild. I was never a Saints fan before this trip but am now glad they pulled it off this year for their city and for people like Tommy The Incoherent Cajun Cabbie. Pearl Jam was fantastic by the was as was the Crawfish Strudel but my few bites of Cracklin (a fried piece of pork fat with a small amount of attached skin) probably raised my cholesterol 100 points and shortened my life a good year. But that’s Nawlins for ya.
Vikings fan Angry Ward tomorrow…