Love NOLA: From the agony of da Saints to the ecstasy of the weekend
New Orleans experienced yet another epic disaster last week. Just like Katrina and the BP spill, this one was man-made. With lingering fall-out that could do us in yet.
I'm talking, of course, about the NFL's decision to suspend Sean Payton for an entire season. In one breathtaking act, the League managed to out-idiot the already idiotic bounty program. And, brace yourself, the idiocy could get worse if Tuna Parcells belly-flops into the Superdome.The whole thing stands as a harsh reminder of what happens when you let men who wear polyester suits ... and polyester hair ... make important decisions.
By week's end, we all were at our wits' end. And then, right on cue, the gods and goddesses who watch over our great city lifted our spirits by delivering a Hail Mary of an awesome weekend.
For starters, how about the weather? Dry, crystal clear skies, light breeze and a sun that has not yet taken on the scorching intensity of the summer. As the bartender who sold me the weekend’s first Abita said, it felt like "summer camp in New England" ... without all that New England uptightness.
And then there were the Fests. Now, I do know that we can go a bit overboard with Fests around here. But, last weekend's all-you-can-Fest buffet was just the over-the-top antidote we all needed. You could get all literary with Tennessee Williams or just chow down at the Roadfood Fest. You could do good by eating some Hogs for the Cause or get in touch with your inner whatever it is you would like to touch at the Healing Center's Sacred Music Fest. And if you were feeling festive, but not Fest-ive, you could still romp at Dog Day Afternoon or stomp at the Revolution Second Line.
By Friday afternoon, the entire city was chomping at the bit to play. Even the business teller at Chase asked me if I was going to Roadfood. Now. Listen. Is there any other city in America where a bank teller — a Chase bank teller — would ask if you were going to a Fest? Me thinks not.
And, of course, this being NOLA, each Fest had its "only in New Orleans" moments. In an excruciatingly painful ritual that would make Tennessee drop his purse (but not his flask), the Fest that bears his name sponsored its annual Stella shouting contest. The hit of the Congo Square Fest was a 5-year-old Louis Armstrong look-alike giving a slide trombone his all. For tips.
My favorite “only in NOLA” moment came Sunday night at the Healing Center. After getting all sweatily sacred on the first floor, I headed to the stairs to see what magic beckoned from up above. When I opened the stairwell door, I found both the stairs and a very obviously used coffin. Now, in any other city such a sight might have caught me off-guard. But this is New Orleans ,people. Nothing shocks us. Even used coffins next to stairs!
A little while later, as I headed home across Esplanade, I realized I was hungry. I detoured over to a certain corner market in the Quarter to order a corned-beef sandwich and cole slaw. After standing there for about 30 seconds, pondering the entire zoo I had eaten in the past two days, I asked the woman behind the counter to just give me the slaw.
“So, no sandwich?” she clarified. “That’s right,” I replied.
Five minutes later, she cheerfully handed me my cole slaw.
Given that she looked as if that might have been her coffin over at the Healing Center, I just as cheerfully accepted both.
“I guess the Universe wants me to eat some corned-beef,” I told myself.
Once home, I sat down to eat the cole slaw I wanted and the corned-beef I did not. Except there was just one problem. My corned-beef sandwich wasn’t corned beef. It was ham. That’s right, not only did I get a sandwich I did not order, I got the wrong sandwich I did not order.
Which made me burst out laughing. And give thanks that I live in a city that reminds me, daily, not to let the little things -- or even the occasional big things -- get in the way of living life. And loving New Orleans.
Brett Will Taylor writes Love: NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his blog at thestoryblogbwt.wordpress.com.
Brett Will Taylor is a southern storyteller whose previous column, Love NOLA, appeared weekly on NolaVie. He now shares his stories at Brett Will Taylor: A Storyteller and his Stories. Follow him @bwtshaman.