Sunday, we headed to the theatre to see The Muppets on the big screen. The movie was great, reminding me of everything valuable about Hollywood. On the way home, we had to choose between turning or getting stuck while a parade passed. You can guess which one we picked. The super-cool Original New Orleans Lady Buckjumpers were the focus of the parade, but the second line included Junior Buckjumpers and 3 brass bands – Young Fellaz, then Stooges then Rebirth Brass Band. I thought of how many of us attend festivals or go to clubs to hear these bands and here they were, just playing in the street.
I used to get aggravated by traffic delays in L.A. Heck, that city invented road rage. Live there long enough and you’ll only be surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Parades block traffic in New Orleans all the time. I swayed to the music, delighted in the dozen or so people on horseback, giggled at the adorable fancy-suited Juniors, and understood the beauty of women as a float full of bright-green clad women rolled by, one shaking what her momma gave her in feminine glory. God bless this city.
The Saints played the Giants in the Superdome for this week’s Monday Night Football game. NOLA is used to our Sunday afternoon games and most people have jobs so there were some last minute ticket deals too good to resist and off we went to the Dome. There’s a tunnel of buildings on the way to the Dome called the “Who Dat Tunnel.” I didn’t know why until we were walking through and a big group of people started chanting “Who Dats” and enjoying the acoustics.
Bag of Donuts, the band playing Champions Square was singing Jambalaya when we walked up. Despite the fact that they were painted like superheroes or Kiss members, I recognized the lead singer from The Morning Life, a band I saw at the New Orleans Beatles Festival last July.
With the recent cool front, we decided to go in early. Because the Dome is filled entirely with season ticket holders, each time we take our seats, we meet a bunch of people who already know each other. To my right was a a guy who lived across the lake in Mandeville. His sister was visiting from L.A. We spoke only briefly about it but she made it very clear she longed for her hometown of NOLA. To my left was a woman who lived in Baton Rouge, over an hour away. She’d been a season ticket holder for 28 years but confessed it used to be hard to find people willing to make the drive back when the team lost game after game, season after season. She stayed in her seat until the men entered the field to shake hands, long after the team had made our victory certain. She’s my new favorite fan.
But the Saints are a long way from their “Aints” days now. It was good to be there early and watch the warm-ups, to watch the team huddle up for quarterback Drew Brees’ chant while bobbing their shoulders to a thick, sticky helmet-banging hip hop song.
The tunnel was erected and Saints came running through to cheers, but when Drew Brees comes out, we all yell, “Drew.” To the untrained ear, it must sound like we’re booing him. The entire stadium chanted our 3 “Who Dat” chants on cue and the game was on. Sean Payton, still recovering from his sideline hit weeks ago, paced the sidelines on crutches and the Monday Night Football theme song filled the stadium.
Native New Orleanian and Giants quarterback, Eli Manning, didn’t get much of a homecoming. Despite referees who can most politely be called, “frustrating,” the Saints pulled off a 49 – 24 win for an 8-3 season thus far. Of the 7 touchdowns, 2 were passes to tight end Jimmy Graham, 2 were to wide receiver Lance Moore and 2 were run in by running backs Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. But, by far the most fun was when Drew Brees, right in front of our seats, ran in his own touchdown. What a thrill! With 49 total points, I got to dance to When the Saints Go Marching In, Second Line and Stand up and Get Crunk 7 times each. What a night.
Between the Saints and the 12 – 0 LSU Tigers, it’s a great year to be a football fall in the great state of Louisiana.