First things first – Who Dat!?! It was like it ought be in the Superdome Monday night. The Saints beat the Eagles, keeping our play-off hopes alive for another week. Quarterback Drew Brees has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 51 straight games which breaks yet another NFL record. The one advantage to not having season tickets is that we meet new people every game. At this game to our right, a great gang of football-loving young men. To our left, 3 women over 60, including one over 80. Yep, some women go to the Saints games, not to appease their husbands, but to get a “girl’s night out.” SO many women attend the games. In fact, the demographics of the Dome aren’t so very different than those of our area – men and women from baby to death’s door in an array of skin shades.
The women next to me live in Pensacola. They used to split the driving but now they take a tour bus to use their season tickets. The “younger” ones wore radio headphones so they could hear the play-by-play on WWL. One of them said she comes to the games to “get away” from her husband and cheer on her team. But, my favorite was the senior of them, the woman in her 80’s who high-fived us then danced after every touchdown. Nothing like “getting crunk” with someone’s maw maw. Made me miss mine.
One section over was a giant clump of Eagles fans. I was surprised to see how many attended. They were throughout the Dome. I’ve seen a lot of fans from other cities come to the games here and they always wear their colors and enjoy our festivities, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen another group of fans embrace the spirit of the city as much as the Philadelphia Eagles fans. Yes, it’s touristy, but I loved seeing them in their giant green Mardi Gras beads or green boas. They came for their team but they chose this game for a reason – they clearly think we know how to show folks a good time.
Before the game, it was fun to tour the Batmobile exhibit featuring all of the Batmobiles from all of the movies, and my favorite, the original from the 1966 TV series. We ran into Manny Edwards from Django Unchained who was manning one of the tents.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence that we won, but I did finally debut my new rhinestone Saints helmet earrings from Fleurty Girl and postponed my pedicure to make sure I had my Who Dat toes right. And as an odd side note, there is a state trooper who works the Dome who makes me smile every time I see her. She’s 6 feet of armed charm with a radiant smile and she is probably one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen (which is really something considering my 10 years as a model and 20 as an actor in L.A.). Officer Who-ever-you-are, you make my day just thinking of you arresting some guy who’s not sure whether to fight you or fall on his knees in awe.
Now, to another wonderful week of HBO’s Treme. One of my favorite things about the show is all the ways it strives to capture what I LOVE about my city and the joy of revisiting my memories here through the show. One of this city’s finer, funner dining experiences is Friday lunch at Galatoire’s. The 2 most coveted Fridays are the one before Christmas and the one before Mardi Gras – which they featured in this week’s episode. The first thing you notice is few people are just seated at a table. They mill and table-hop. The Friday I went, in addition to the just-released from house arrest former 4-term Governor, Edwin Edwards, there was the annual “Gal at Gal’s Birthday Fete” for the tiara and boa wearing Louisiana-born Houston resident, Suzy Bergner. The guy holding court in the background of the TV episode wearing a foot-high king’s crown brought that whole magical day back.
I still haven’t attended the annual “Greasing of the Poles” at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, but I’m putting it on my to do list. For over 40 years, the Royal Sonesta has held an event, on the Friday before Mardi Gras, to grease the poles in front of their hotel so Mardi Gras revelers won’t be able to shimmy up them. Whether it’s Saintsations or news anchors, the event includes a group of beautiful women in fun, fancy costumes applying Vaseline to poles and is, therefore, very well attended. There’s a contest to see who gets the job done with the most flair.
David Morse‘s “Colson” (my character’s ex-husband) notes that New Orleans gets the difference between vice and sin. To paraphrase, vice is human frailty, sin is doing criminal damage to someone. In a city that can turn the task of putting Vaseline on poles into a fun and sexy event, vice can be virtue. And, yes, Heidi. I saw you laughing in the background. Heidi was the woman I danced until dawn with the night the Saints beat the Vikings in 2009, securing their spot in their first-ever Super Bowl so I will always picture her having the time of her life.
It was interesting to hear Emeril talking about becoming commercial as a chef. Success isn’t measured so much by money or occupation here as it is by how much of a good time you’re having being alive. Al Roker’s idea of fun at Jackson Square seemed to NOT be a lot of fun for Kim Dickens‘ “Janette.” Selling cooking is clearly cutting into her soul as a chef.
Wendell Pierce‘s marching band practicing in the street brought another flood of memories my way. In particular, I remember the day The Roots of Music‘s band passed nearby and we caught them practicing for their Mardi Gras parades in their regular clothes. You just never know when you’ll see a parade or hear music in New Orleans. We met a musicologist at K. Paul’s “deli-style” lunch the other day and he remarked that he couldn’t believe how much music there was everywhere you went here. True dat.
Mardi Gras is a great time to run into neighbors and friends. Rob Brown‘s “Delmond Lambreaux” ran into Kimberly Rivers Roberts AKA Blackkoldmadina. Her Oscar nominated, Sundance Jury Winning documentary Trouble the Water contains her first-hand account of the day before the storm, the flooding of her street up to the stop signs and her days in the Superdome followed by her odyssey into insurance and rebuilding. It’s truly remarkable. I fell in love with her music also and especially love Amazing. It’s so raw, it’s like she’s reading from her diary. This clip is Roberts rapping to her own track in Trouble the Water. WARNING – explicit lyrics and an amazing life story of a young hard-knock woman.
The Lambreaus watch the movie together and it brings it all back, just as it did for me. The other day, someone asked me when I moved here. I told them 3 years ago thinking it wouldn’t hold much weight. He replied, “So you’ve seen the city go through a lot of changes.” I have and Treme helps put that in high relief as the show is now up to just 9 months before my arrival.
Of course, watching Mardi Gras parades brings back a million wonderful memories of floats gone by. Watching Phyllis Montana LeBlanc pushing the crowd back to make way for the band, I thought, “They sure got the right person for that job.” I imagine most folks do what she tells them. It was fun seeing the ladder chairs lining the road and even watching the parade get stuck. For accuracy’s sake – parades don’t usually have bands back to back, but it was great watching the kids in the middle school marching band learn from the Marines as they moved from perfect and proper to a fairly funky version of Rebirth’s Do Watcha Wanna. Whether sitting in on a set or joining the Marines when the parade breaks down, one reason musicians here are so good is they get to play with people who are better than they are, sometimes even the greats.
The reporter (Chris Coy) eats a piece of King Cake and says it’s his “14th piece this week. They keep ending up in front of me and I just keep eating them.” The woman who served him replies, “That’s how we do.” True and I can’t wait to do it again.
Legendary music producer and 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Cosimo Matassa made an appearance as himself. You can find him, after a career dating back to the 40’s, working in his family’s store for 3 generations, Matassa’s Grocery. Yes, the man bagging your Zapp’s potato chips and 6-pack might have just been inducted to the Hall of Fame this year. Heck, I meet Grammy winners here all the time and some of our city’s best musicians might install your cable or repair your toaster. Success is different here. When once asked what defines the New Orleans sound, Matassa said, “It’s a party sound. New Orleans was a partying town because it wasn’t a very wealthy town. The ethnic makeup of New Orleans was such that music was part of everybody’s lives.”
The Neville Brothers appeared on the episode playing a gig at the D.C. Mardi Gras. They played Pocky Way and no one danced, no one sang along, no one even stopped chatting and pecking at hors d’oeuvres. It was like they thought the Grammy winning, and saturated in NOLA history, Neville Brothers were good background music – like in an elevator. Maybe the Nevilles are not everyone’s cup of tea but… give in a little, feel it for a minute. More people stopped to listen during the familiar hurricane dirge Louisiana 1927 by NOLA native Randy Newman.
Steve Zahn‘s “Davis” was up and fully costumed early Mardi Gras morning as he headed out to follow the Bone Gang. I LOVE that the world is getting an opportunity to see the Mardi Gras Indians in full regalia. They chanted Indian Red as they held their roll call, showing all the positions in the tribe. In the streets, the spy boy spotted another tribe and they battled, boasting their feats of strength and power, and displaying their amazing plumed and beaded masterpieces to be praised as “pretty.”
The colorful St. Ann’s parade honoring the dead with offerings to the Mississippi (ashes) brought back memories of Treme‘s painful and powerful first season. I missed John Goodman from the moment his daughter placed the needle on the record player and ran out the door to join the fun just as they always had.
I loved the costumes at the AA meeting. The giant roach was particularly hilarious and accurate as readers of this blog know I just took a photo of a guy dressed this way last week.
It was great catching the beautiful green-eyed percussionist Tambourine Green dancing down Frenchmen Street. I love all the accurate touches in the show and it gives the world a chance to meet some of our local characters. And seeing the Trojan horse in the background, I realized I was right there last Mardi Gras Day.
Washboard Chaz and Valparaiso Men’s Chorus ended the show with one of their rousing beer-drinking seafarer songs. It brought me right back to the raucous intimacy of Chaz Fest and I suddenly remembered that Steve Zahn was at Chaz Fest when I went. Life imitating art imitating life.