Posted 09 February 2010 - 11:42 PM
Fans find religion on Bourbon StreetBY DAN LE BATARDdlebatard@MiamiHerald.comNEW ORLEANS -- NEW ORLEANS -- Do you believe in this religion? In the pure and holy power of Saints?Stand here and bear witness, humbled servant, at the intersection of Bourbon Street and Canal, and listen to how joyful it sounds and feels when a desperate city finally has its prayer answered.Bourbon Street, epicenter of debauchery, was practically empty a moment ago. Unusually still. Impossibly quiet. Everyone was inside, watching the game, so the man bobbing at the center of the vacant street with his warning and his 15-foot white cross actually looked kind of lonely.But listen closely now. You can actually hear it approaching. The city is about to come to him. It is about to come to Jesus.The long-suffering New Orleans Saints, with all of two playoff victories in four decades before this year, have just won the Super Bowl, and now everyone is rushing here because the best celebrations are always the ones that are shared.Many of the city's residents are in such a hurry that they are sprinting. They come from every direction, North, South, East and West, all these rushing rivers of joy spilling and converging at the center of this ocean of overwhelming. Finally for New Orleans, mercifully, blessedly, a different kind of flooding.Bourbon Street is intoxicating. Everyone is drunk, even those who are not drinking. They are wearing masks and jerseys and team colors and jester's hats and costumes and beads and face paint and flabbergasted smiles. They are carrying parasols and tambourines and half-gallon beers and megaphones and cigars and signs and 42 years worth of gratitude. They are screaming and dancing and singing and chanting and hugging and crying and setting a record for failed, drunken high-fives.From raucous bars and horn-blasting cars, they converge here with such sudden insanity that three police officers on horses, here to keep control, gallop in a panic out of the way as soon as they hear the approaching rumble of noise, horses in full sprint. Once the cops reach the end of Bourbon Street and turn around to survey the chaos, all these people spilling in from adjacent streets in all directions, the cops can't even keep it inside, either. They start to laugh. And one cop, in uniform, lights a cigar.This is how it can feel at the emotional height of sports, where the magnetic pull of shared joy brings all kinds of people together. Think about it. There isn't a lot else in life that makes people feel quite like this. And precious few cities have needed this moment of healing the way this broken one did.An old black man and young white man begin dancing together at the center of the chaos, hips swiveling, getting low, jumping high, and they do this for five minutes. Then they embrace to take a photo to remember, arms around each other tight. They looked like friends. They had just met.And the noise, my God. It is hard to describe. Try to scream for a long time now. It is impossible to sustain. You have to stop, catch your breath and restart. And you are going to get tired and hoarse very fast. You can only do this for so long. But so many people are doing it now on this street, together, jumping up and down, up and down, calves burning, up and down, that the noise never drops even one octave, those who have to stop to catch their breath replaced by those who already have, a city breathing with one heartbeat. The screaming stays at that blissful height for a full 30 minutes without ever once diminishing. On a crowded street corner, a man breaks out a saxophone and begins to play ``When the saints go marching in.'' And now here come the drums. This is a musical city used to pulling the best out of the worst.Blues comes from that place. Jazz, too. Louis Armstrong grew up in an orphanage right over there on Canal. They've learned to party with their suffering here. Brothels. Slavery. Piracy. Voodoo. All the worst of the Deep South. No city in our country has its history more inextricably linked with its music, and what is rising up now, after 42 years of football pain and shame, sounds a lot like a beautiful and soulful song.It's impossible to miss this, too: This street was chilly a minute ago. But all these bodies gathering so quickly and so closely has made it all feel very warm.America rooted for the Saints in making this Super Bowl the most viewed television show ever. How could you not? New Orleans is so very poor. And so very rich. Any corner you turn, you'll find something interesting, though it is probably decaying.They have learned to live with death here more than most. It isn't just the above-ground cemeteries so prevalent that you'll find small plots in the middle of just about any neighborhood. It is that Hurricane Katrina hit this area with such force that, five years later, New Orleans hasn't really been able to get all the way back up. This game and happiness doesn't fix any of that, though it'll be framed that way by people who don't have to experience how parts of the Ninth Ward still smell. It just feels really good for a bit, a bandage on something broken, and that is enough if you are living in the now.The drink so many people had in their hands? It is called a Hurricane, and it is the most famous in a city that features a drive-through for daiquiris. Hurricane. It is responsible for the disaster that everyone around here remembers, and it is the drink that helps them forget.My brother and I walked all around New Orleans during the Super Bowl. Walked about eight miles. From downtown to uptown, through the Garden District. It felt like we had the city all to ourselves. Everyone seemed to be inside. Many establishments were closed -- with notes that they'd be closed Monday, too, when the Saints won. We walked past a McDonald's at 9 p.m. that didn't have a customer in it. How often do you ever see that? Strippers stopped dancing. Cab companies would not answer their phones. Never heard a siren, either.If you didn't know where you were, you couldn't have had any idea that you were minutes away from the happiest day in the history of this spiritual city. Or that savior Drew Brees -- known as ``Breesus Christ'' among Saints worshipers -- was minutes from producing something that felt a little bit like a resurrection. Of hope and rewarded faith, if nothing else.And the headline in big, black letters of the newspaper was four perfect letters.Amen, it read.
CAPITALISM: God's way of determining who is smart and who is poor. - Ron Swanson ---> Video:Ron's Pyramid of Greatness Picture: Poster Size
SuitedAces21, on 20 August 2012 - 11:14 AM, said:
Essay21, on 25 February 2013 - 08:32 PM, said: