Monday, November 9, 2009

Just Another Magic Monday

If he'd gone to the Saints game,
Ed Blakely might understand us a little better

By Chris Rose, New Orleans Times-Picayune

It would be overstatement to suggest that last Monday night was just like that Monday night in '06, that unforgettable night so fraught with implication, hopes, doubts and triumph.

Such a night.

But I think it's fair to suggest that the whole vibe, the streets, the Dome, the city, the game, even the opposing team had an eerily similar feel to it. The nation's eyes were upon us, once again focused through the skewed lens and overblown spectacle of sport, an arbitrary yet somehow fitting representation of more, so much more.

One apparent difference, to be sure, was that there were a lot more people in the streets outside and around the Dome four years ago -- people without tickets to the game -- just milling around, soaking it in, being a part of it because being there was better than being home because home might be a trailer, a gutted house or a slab.

This may have also been due to the fact that a lot more people didn't really have anywhere else to be that day. Jobs, all that stuff, so much of it was still waiting or elsewhere. Or not there at all.

However: Then, like now, we relied on a group of muscled, hyperactive and wildly overpaid athletic mercenaries to represent, to front, to make a stand and a statement for our city. That would be that we, the people of New Orleans, demand and deserve respect.

That our messengers wear shoulder pads and eye black should in no way diminished the importance of this declaration.

So, despite the Monday Night Football theme blaring over the public address system and chants of "Who Dat!" echoing across the void and amid the wildly divergent and creative ensembles that pass for NFL game day "fashion" these days, somehow it seemed there was more on the line last Monday night than just determining which - the Falcons or the Saints - are the better team in the NFC's South division.

All of which, of course, necessitates the requisite hand wringing and uncertainty about our "priorities." What's the call here? Are there valid re-enforcing emotional rewards to be gained by going bonkers over the Saints? Or, is former recovery czar Ed Blakely right when he says we are the laziest, stupidest and most tragically unformed community in the continental United States, mouth breathers and knuckle draggers all?

Well, I've researched the matter. I've looked at it from every angle. And I can tell you exactly what I have concluded about Ed Blakely.

But my editor won't let me print it.

So suffice it to say that if you've ever been inside the Superdome on a game day, then you have witnessed the unity, community and revelry of our city, our region - our people "" at our finest. It doesn't take a graduate degree in sociology or psychology to recognize the benevolence, spiritedness and pride that evolve in conjunction with the Saints success in that building.

Misplaced priorities? Perhaps. But the fact is: It feels good. And if it feels good, do it.

What a difference four years "and an undefeated team" makes. I don't imagine your job was any easier this week than it was last week, nor do the next nine weeks look like one long three- martini lunch at Galatoire's, but still... didn't that hammer in your hand seem to weigh just a little less this week?

As part of my insufferable habit of looking for the Deep Meaning in the commonest details of life around here, I stopped by an out-of-the-way photo exhibit inside the Dome Monday, at some obscure spot near the escalators on what I think was the 300 level.

As people streamed past me, oblivious to the images that unflinchingly document the horrible disfiguring of the building during and after Katrina, and the subsequently swift and stunning repair of same, the photos spoke words and ideas that I that we all, I suppose tend to sometimes forget or neglect as the memory of The Thing fades over time and circumstance.

Yet, underneath a photo of the finished project the massive gleaming white orb that dominates our skyline and identifies our city the metaphor was spelled out for me. Literally. The caption under the photo reads:

"The Superdome serves as a beacon for the rebuilding of New Orleans; a symbol of hope, pride and inspiration for all New Orleanians."

Yeah, you right.

Some day, these games, this team "" the Deep Meaning of it all - won't have anything to do with all that bad stuff that went down here in the late summer of 2005.

Some day.

And with all due respect to Mr. Blakely's opinion that we - as a community irrevocably torn by differences in race and class - are unable to find common ground on anything, perhaps we could all agree on a date when everything finally does change around here for the better. And for good.

May I suggest February 7?

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