Thoughts on the Death of Jeremy Galmon

When I was changing planes in Philly I got two pieces of bad news from New Orleans, the second of which was so harrowing it made the first seem trivial.

First, I learned the Saints suffered their first defeat of the season, in overtime, no less; to the Atlanta Falcons, no less; at the Superdome, no less.

Next, I learned a that a young boy had caught a bullet and had been rushed to the hospital. When I landed in New Orleans I read the news that he had died. His name was Jeremy Galmon. He was two years old.

That certainly does put things in painful perspective, like Cliff says. It’s hard to get too worked up about a football game when you’re confronted with such an atrocity.

And yet when I picked up the paper Monday morning, what did I see? Yes, the story of Jeremy’s death made a front page headline. So did the football game. But the football headline was two or three times as big. I felt a painful dissonance, looking at that front page.

In the days that have followed, we’ve had more coverage of the story of Jeremy’s murder, the grief of his family, the circumstances of his death, the response by authorities, the arrest of one suspect, the hunt for another. We’ve also had plenty of continuing coverage of how the Saints are responding to their loss, bringing in other kickers, and so forth. I haven’t done a serious analysis, but it’s clear that more ink has been spilled on the latter story over the last four days.

I’m sure the folks at the TP would say that they are giving the people what they want. I buy that, but only to a certain extent. Does our media reflect our culture or create it? I believe it does both. It may be true that, as a society, we are more concerned with professional sports than the murder of a child. But this is a time for our media to exercise some leadership. This is a time to provide some in-depth reportage on the underlying causes of violence. Look at the amount of analysis that fills out the Sports section every day. If we had half that much analysis of social problems we’d surely make some progress.

The tragic death of Jeremy Galmon is a story that people will respond to. Such tragedies are also learning opportunities, and we desperately need to learn some lessons. Across the political spectrum, people understand that violence is a problem. We also need to share an understanding of the root causes of this endemic social problem, if we are to come to consensus on solutions.

I’ve been beating up on the media here, but I want to be clear that the real villain in this story is whoever pulled the trigger. Yet the media do have a role to play, and it is a vital one. They need to engage the issues when the public is engaged, and this story is an example.

And why does Jeremy’s story move us so? Every loss of life is regrettable, regardless of age. If a victim is 20 or 200, it’s still tragic. But there’s something especially wrenching when a toddler is a victim of violence. Few of us are completely innocent; we’re all caught up in a web of social complicity to some degree; we all bear some guilt for what we’ve allowed our culture to become. The main exception to this is children. They are truly and unquestionably innocent. (And please don’t talk to me about “original sin.”) I know very little really, about Jeremy, but I can guarantee you this: He never hurt anyone. He didn’t deserve this.

Brett Favre Retirement Party

Is there any point in even trying to talk about anything else today? No. There’s not, not here in New Orleans anyway. Tonight the Saints play the Vikings in a re-match that is being hyped beyond all belief. And yet the massive hype feels perfectly natural and entirely appropriate, here in New Orleans anyway. I don’t know about the rest of the country.

Grandpa Farve [sic]

I saw this truck in the brickyard parking lot yesterday morning. You can’t see in this shot, but this gold pickup is decked out in Saints regalia, including a big “Who Dat Nation” marquee on top of the cab. This little diorama is in the bed. Yeah, so they spelled his name wrong. Can you really blame them? They get extra points for creativity.

A sign on the back of the truck said “Brett Favre Retirement Party.” Or so I thought. When I passed by this morning I saw the same truck but no sign. So maybe I imagined the sign, or maybe it fell off.

I for one plan to tune in and watch the retirement party on television tonight.

Update: Howie jogged my memory. I did not imagine the “Retirement Party” concept — I saw it on Facebook thanks to the fabulous Mary H. Gotta give credit where it’s due. If my memory continues to deteriorate it may be time for my retirement party soon.

I should also note that Howie had a cool Favre voodoo doll.

Rituals & Roundtables

Over the long weekend I was privileged to observe and even participate in some bizarre graveyard rituals to ensure a victorious season for the New Orleans Saints. These were organized in large part by college professors. There were at least three profs in attendance — maybe more. With getups like these it’s hard to tell.

Graveyard Ritual

I also had the opportunity to sit in on a roundtable discussion organized by the New Orleans Lamplight Circle, a local pagan group. This is the second such discussion I’ve attended. The previous was on “Existentialism and Spirituality.” This one was a true roundtable, with participants bringing their own topics for discussion. We talked about everything from the nature of divinity to the proper texture of brownies, and all points in between.

I thought this was a funny sort of inversion, since one typically associates academics with roundtables, and magic rituals with pagans, rather than the other way round.

Settling for Less — No More

New Orleans Saints Fans High-Five Each Other

Today I’m offering a rare guest post by my friend David. Take it away, man.


B, I agree with all your points, but as someone who grew up here, the win means even more.

We all know that historically the Saints were a lousy team. The first Saints game I attended was in the 1980 season, when the Saints posted a 1-15 record, a record that remained the NFL’s worst until last season’s Detroit team went 0-16. The Saints went decades without a winning season followed by thirteen years in which they could not win a playoff game, modest accomplishments that are pro forma for most teams. Before Katrina, I frequently said, “Being a Saints fan is like trying to convince yourself you’re in love with a woman who’s been sleeping around on you; you know, sooner or later, you’re going to be let down.” By any empirical basis, on an intuitive level, the Saints’ winning the Super Bowl was simply impossible.

New Orleans’ culture possesses a unique ability to transmute disappointment into some kind of celebration, and so we did with the Saints. We wore our paper bags in the Superdome and turned our embarrassment into a hilarious, iconic joke. But we settled. We settled for less, for a real embarrassment. New Orleans does possess qualities that are precious and entirely too rare, chief among them are wildly creative imaginations, sublime beauty, and a humbling, profound love for this place. But the dark side of our city’s joyous resilience is that we’re willing to settle for less — from our government, from our corporations, from our civic discourse.

We all know that the Saints’ victory “means more than football.” In fact, it matters very little to me that the Saints beat the Colts or that they stand on top of the nation’s most prestigious sports league or that sports fans the world over are in love with our team. The reason my eyes well up when I think about the Super Bowl is because our team achieved something truly grand, despite every challenge, circumstance and history that would have excused them for settling for less.

So we have witnessed a sports champion becoming a people’s champion. Entrenched mindsets have fallen away; insufferable difficulties have been overcome. And now I cannot help but dream and dream big, of the city’s overcoming its oldest embarrassment, the ethnic divisions between her citizens created by their economic exploitation. We caught a glimpse of it every Sunday in the Superdome as the Who Dat Nation stood shoulder-to-shoulder, regardless of race, to rock the Dome in one voice. My dream is that, in this city of passionate love, each New Orleanian comes to love all New Orleanians and view the plight of their neighbors as the plight of their beloved city. Of course, fate handed us a new mayor on the eve of this victory, one who fortunately made unity his mantra. My dream is that, in this city of such imagination and creativity, we imagine and create a government and society based on economic and social justice. Such accomplishments are harder than winning a Super Bowl. Many would say they’re impossible. But Sunday, the Saints showed us that impossible is nothing.

Not a Football Fan

A number of friends have remarked recently at how surprised they are to see me writing about sports, and about football in particular, since they remember when I didn’t know anything about the game except that the ball’s shaped funny.

It was not that long ago, really.

One thing I should perhaps clarify: I am not a football fan. I am a Saints fan. There is a difference.

I’ve already recounted how I came to appreciate the game of football in my fortieth year. If you missed this fascinating disclosure, I suggest you revisit my Confessions of a Football Skeptic. Most everything I’ve learned about the game has come from watching the Saints. I still haven’t taken much of an interest in watching other teams play.

But there’s more to it than that.

People here love the team. I remember years ago seeing a statistical proof that Saints fans were the most loyal in the nations, as a ratio of ticket sales to losses, or some such. The fans are off-the-chain crazy devoted, and that’s somewhat infectious.

But there’s more to it than that.

Dare I say it? The Saints have a cool image. They have an unusual name, an awesome logo (which goes back to the 12th century if not earlier) and classy colors. Even before I started following the game, I could be seen sporting Saints gear occasionally, just because I wanted to look cool.

B Fat Stats
Editor B in Cypress Grove Cemetery circa 2003

But, again, there’s so much more to it than that.

I could go on and on in this vein, but I’ll cut to the chase. After the floods of 2005, when everything about this city was called into question, interest in every aspect of the local culture intensified greatly, and I too was caught up in that. I decided to actually check the Saints out and try to understand what all these incredibly loyal fans were on about. It just so happened that I started paying attention as the team started to catch fire under Brees and Payton. The success of the team has been, quite simply, an inspiration to just about everyone living here. The team’s public rhetoric about rebuilding together has supported this. They are more than a metaphor. They are an example.

If they can succeed, so can we. Here’s a video clip wherein Garland Robinette says “they have awakened us to our own recovery.”

Despite many positive aspects, New Orleans had been on the decline for a good century, and thus falling from the national consciousness, when the city flooded in 2005. All of a sudden we were thrust into the spotlight, and it wasn’t pretty. Everything negative about the city, all our failings and shortcomings were on display — even as the nation was reminded of all the unique things New Orleans contributes.

So now here we are in 2010 and New Orleans is again a focus of national media attention, only this time the story is positive. More people watched this Super Bowl than any televised event in human history. As the saying goes, you can’t buy that sort of publicity. This is huge, and we need it.

But maybe even more importantly than how this makes us look to others, is how this makes us look at ourselves, like Garland said. It’s a reminder of the simple truism that if we pull together and work hard we can accomplish great things. We need that reminder.

Has there ever been a time when an NFL team has meant so much to a city, to a region, as what the Saints have meant over the past four and half years to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast? I don’t know enough about the history of the league to answer that question. But I suspect not.

The closest I can imagine is the Detroit Lions. Now that the Saints have made it all the way, the Lions are the only old team to never play in the Super Bowl. And furthermore the Detroit area has been weathering an economic storm for years that has in some ways been worse than the flooding New Orleans experienced. If the Lions were ever to mount a resurgence such as the Saints have done, it might have a similar feel to it.

Until then, I think it’s safe to say that New Orleans has a very special relationship to its team. Sure, there are plenty of football fanatics here. But I believe there are also a great number of fans, like myself, who simply would not be following any team if they lived elsewhere.

To reiterate, I am not a football fan. I’m a Saints fan. There is a difference.

A Few Choice Quotes

Toddler Abuses Peyton Manning
Toddler Abuses Peyton Manning

The Saints won a decisive victory against a worthy opponent, and people in New Orleans couldn’t be happier. To be perfectly honest I’m still having a hard time believing this is real. I had been anticipating defeat. I’d thought about what I’d say here if New Orleans lost — how it still felt like victory just to be in the game, how we’d still have a bigger party than Indianapolis. I even had a title for today’s entry: “Blue Monday (Not).” But I really didn’t expect… this. I didn’t expect I’d be writing from this perspective. I find I’m at a loss for words. So I will let some other people speak for me:

Text messages from my sister last night:

A win for pitty aint shit. Ur livin a 4 yr old wet dream all the way out.

Let me guess, u orleanians r going to riot n loot over a win? Whodat?

(For the record, no.)

Comments posted on yesterday’s column about me in the Bloomington Herald-Times:

Bart Everson was, is, and will always be a self-styled schmuck whose only claim to fame is his own hot air, seasoned with chronic halitosis.

Plus Bart lied about Timothy McVeigh being from Indiana. McVeigh was from the Niagara Falls area. He was executed in Terre Haute.

Barton P. Everson is a filthy, half-witted varlet, and his clothes are both malodorous and out of fashion! Were he in need of a napkin at a pumpkin-eating contest, and were I in charge of distributing napkins, not only I would not offer him a napkin, I would not give him one if he asked for it! I would pretend not to hear his pleas for napkins! That’s how scurrilous I find him! I am quite serious about this!

I, too, find his pustulent, malodorous nephariousness a preponderance of the ilk known abroad as a not-squeaky-clean person in his attributes and general bearing to be a massive run-on sentence. The injurious intent of his regular diatribitic misuse of community jocularity could only be interpreted as portential to the delusional meanderings of those whose socks could use a good wash…

Joe Flint for the Los Angeles Times:

Move over Hawkeye Pierce, looks like Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints just took your ratings crown along with the Super Bowl title.

Bill Simmons for ESPN:

On the heels of another third-down throw to Clark, Addai charges in for a 4-yard rushing touchdown (10 plays, 76 yards, 5:26 drive), followed by a shot of the Manning family’s luxury box and Archie sitting sadly before realizing, “Oh, crap, there are cameras on me, I can’t root for the Saints!” and belatedly applauding. That was fun.

Bill Barnwell on ESPN:

May the feeling you had watching Tracy Porter run the victory into the end zone remain on instant recall for generations

Jerry Izenberg for The Star-Ledger:

He is the one who triggered an early Mardi Gras, who wrote the ultimate comeback saga and hurled it directly into the teeth of the depression Katrina wrought. He is the one who gave new life into the age old New Orleans’ call to arms and revelry Sunday night: ‘‘Laissez les bon temps rouler’’ — “Let the good times roll.’’

Ohm Youngmisuk for the New York Daily News:

For Porter, this was incredibly sweet since he was born in Louisiana and played high school football there before attending Indiana University.

Andy Hutchins on The Sporting Blog:

Look, I know that Tracy Porter’s superb film study is what actually enabled him to pick off Peyton Manning’s fourth-quarter pass and return it for the Super Bowl 44-sealing touchdown Sunday night. If you believe that a mix of confidence and style can put karma on your side, though, join me in praising Tracy Porter’s hair.

Bob Kravitz, sports columnist for the Indianapolis Star:

But in the end, the Indianapolis Colts were left with nothing. Just a bitter, hollow feeling that will last well into the offseason.

Michael David Smith on NBC Sports Pro Football Talk:

And so it’s no surprise that Manning and Wayne weren’t in particularly good spirits after the game, and that they went straight to the locker room instead of sticking around on the field afterward to offer post-game handshakes to the Saints.

Maybe it’s time to stick in another pin…

Another Peyton Manning Voodoo Doll

Peter King for MySI:

It’s right, it’s fair, it’s just, it’s good, it’s shocking.

CBS/AP:

He said the Saints are not like a lot of NFL teams. Brees said the Saints “played for so much more than just ourselves. We played for our city … and the entire Who Dat nation that was behind us all the way.”

Simon Evans for Reuters:

The celebrations included the curious sight of Saints’ quarterback coach Joe Lombardi posing alongside the trophy named after his grandfather.

Judy Battista for the New York Times:

“This thing [the Lombardi trophy] laid in my bed next to me last night,” Payton said. “I rolled over; I probably drooled on it. Man, there’s nothing like it.”

Andrew Astelford for ESPN:

For many, [Ward McClendon] said, there remains a hole in lives in this area, where more than 75 percent of the pre-Hurricane Katrina population remains displaced. Here, he said, football has helped heal. Especially after a Super Bowl victory. “It’s doing a lot for our spirit,” McClendon said.

San Francisco Chronicle

Aside from bringing a championship to a hard-luck city, Sunday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts is feeding feelings the city can overcome the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and solve long-standing problems.

Chris Herring for the Wall Street Journal:

“Even sober people came here for this, and that’s not something you normally see this time of year in New Orleans,” said Tish Welch-Slusher, a Sulphur, La. resident, referring to Mardi Gras. “This is going to be crazy.”

Richard Fausset for the L.A. Times:

At the Crowne Plaza Astor Hotel New Orleans, at Bourbon and Canal streets, numerous wait staff failed to show up for work Monday morning, and management types were conspicuously bussing dirty tables at breakfast time.

Anthony on Facebook:

Who dat say they gonna beat them Saints?!? No one!!!

Indy Facts 21-30

The line just never stops!

My research continues to pay dividends. I’ve discovered things about Indianapolis that even I didn’t know, things that will make your hair stand on end. I started this list to help Saints fans, but when my friends and family up in Indianapolis read this, they will probably want to pack up the car and evacuate while the getting is good.

  1. Even though Jimmy Kimmel calls the score wrong, you gotta respect his take:

    Colts 31-21. I know New Orleans is the sentimental favorite, but I still think people who live in Indianapolis are worse off.

    Kimmel may have the score wrong but a gorilla and some cats pick the Saints. These animals are never wrong. Who’s laughing now?

  2. The benighted denizens of Indianapolis love to brag about how theirs is the only capital city located at the exact geographic center of their state — as if that was something to brag about in the first place. But as a matter of fact, like so many other pro-Indy talking points, this is a flat-out lie. Indianapolis is not at the exact center of Indiana. Not even close! It’s skewed a good 35 feet to the northeast. The founding fathers figured this was close enough — such is Hoosier laxity where matters of precision are concerned.
  3. And that leads us to another little-known but extremely relevant fact. Indianapolis was not the only name considered for the city. Because of the imprecise reckoning used to fix its location, the original name of the city was proposed to be Purtnearpolis because it’s “purt near” the center of the state. James Whitcomb Riley advocated strongly for this choice, but he was so drunk when he spoke before the legislature that no one could understand what he was actually saying.
  4. As an unfortunate consequence of the name finally chosen for the city, no one really knows what to call those who have the misfortune to live there. The official terms is Indianapolitan, which has more syllables than most Hoosiers can count. The problem is that no one can actually pronounce that word. Is that any way to conduct business in the 21st century?
  5. Hoosiers like to consider themselves well educated, but a recent poll indicates that 85% of Indiana residents can’t spell “Who Dat.” 63% weren’t even certain if it’s one word or two.
  6. Indianapolis is known as a breeding ground for terrorists and criminals. Jimmy Hoffa, Jim Jones, half of the original Symbionese Liberation Army, Timothy McVeigh, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Osama bin Laden are all from Indianapolis.
  7. There is a school on the west side of Indy that serves nothing but bacon in its cafeteria. Hard to believe but true! No veggies, no fresh fruit, no beverages even. Only bacon.
  8. Bourbon Street, probably the most famous street in America, is known across the nation for tawdry images of female Mardi Gras revelers baring their breasts in public. Here in New Orleans we know such behavior is the exclusive domain of tourists from out of town. What’s less well known is that 92% of those Bourbon Street flashers are from Indianapolis. It’s a statistical fact.
  9. The somniferous qualities of Naptown cannot be overstated. In 1992, the city council considered installing “wake up sirens” in the downtown area to prevent workers and tourists from nodding off due to sheer boredom. The project proved cost-prohibitive so today rampant snoozing continues unabated in the streets. Indeed it is not unusual to stumble over people sleeping on the sidewalk in downtown in Indianapolis, from which derives the customary Hoosier warning, “Mind you don’t stub your toe on that guy’s teeth!”
  10. The city of Indianapolis is so depressing, and its citizenry so lacking in moral character, that a Constitutional amendment was recently introduced to engineer a “reverse secession” which would effectively turn Indianapolis into an independent nation of its own. The amendment was narrowly defeated on humanitarian grounds.

These facts are backed up by a thorough research of the historical and scientific literature and are guaranteed to be pretty goshdarn accurate.

Hoosiers Fight Back!

angry mob

It’s almost heartening to see the Indianapolis folk awaken from their torpor and struggle to mount a defense against the mountains of factual evidence I’ve been compiling over the last couple days.

Of course, in typical Hoosier fashion, their counterattacks fall somewhat short of the mark, to say the least. Unfortunately ineptitude is sort of a tradition up there in Indy.

First we have some guy name Chris who’s all in a huff, man. He’s formulated a list of “5 Reasons New Orleans (and Louisiana in general) SUX” (typical Hoosier spelling) which he posted on this blog — twice.

He says we’re violent, ignorant, fat, corrupt, and racist. I fervently wish I could deny those allegations, but I can’t. I’m nothing if not a stickler for the truth, and I’m not one to gloss over serious problems.

However — and this applies to all who hate on NOLA — you really need to think twice about that strategy. It won’t work, and it might even backfire.

See, after our city was flooded in 2005, we got help from people all over the country. Along with that help, we also saw an outpouring of internet-hatred which I don’t think those elsewhere in the country can really imagine.

In other words, we’ve heard it all before. We’ve read it all before. We’ve chosen to make a stand, and we’re battle-hardened. As we’ve struggled to rebuild we’ve had to re-examine every aspect of life here, and we are more aware of our flaws than you — painfully so. Some of us are fighting to make it better.

Meanwhile, beyond the Crescent City, everybody’s rooting for us. We’re the underdog, and America loves an underdog. So disparaging NOLA just makes you look like a poor sport.

Hey, I warned you at the outset this wasn’t going to be fair.

Furthermore, Chris, I have to point out that your list stops at a scant five items. I’ve compiled twenty facts about Indy, and I’m only just warming up. You’ve got your work cut out for you. Despite what your Hoosier math skills might tell you, posting the same list twice doesn’t make it ten.

OK, next up: This blog also got a comment from the Marketing Director for the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association. Her remarks were so sincere and so heartfelt they almost made me cry. Almost. It does occur to me that this poor woman has one tough job. She has to try to get people to come to Indianapolis. Who wouldn’t feel sorry for her? You’d have to be a hardhearted curmudgeon indeed.

The real shitstorm (sorry Mom) has been on Facebook. There has been a group formed called Bart Everson is not welcome in Indianapolis. Unfortunately for poor Nate, the founder, it was quickly flooded (oops, bad choice of words) by New Orleans residents and Who Dats from around the country. On last review, I see Nate is considering signing ownership of the group over to me. “Maybe I should just surrender… I’m a stranger in my own group!”

Ya gotta feel sorry for these Hoosiers. You really do.

Meanwhile, that Chris Huff Man has been huffing and puffing on Facebook as well. He commented on my status — again and again and again and again — on every status update I’ve posted over the past couple days.

Chris commented on my status.

And it was the same comment each time. Not much content actually. Just a link. A link to a picture…

Colts = Katrina?

What’s that? It appears to be a Colts logo superimposed on Hurricane Katrina as it bore down on the Gulf Coast five years ago.

Classy.

However, this is yet another example of Hoosier strategy gone terribly wrong. You see, the game isn’t in New Orleans. It’s actually in Miami. Y’all are welcome to send “Hurricane Coltrina” our way to join the party, of course.

This graphic is much superior.

Hurricane Whodat

I’m sure all will agree that “Hurricane Whodat” shows greater creativity and subtlety. But that’s the kind of quality — the passion — the attention to detail — I’ve come to expect from Saints fans.

I can only hope the Colts bring a stronger game on Sunday. Really, I mean that. I want the Saints to win, of course. But if the Colts come as weak as their fans, it won’t be much of game.

Footnote: I don’t even have the heart to ridicule these guys:

Stay tuned — more important and incontrovertible Indy Facts are coming soon.

Indianapolis Facts 11-20

Ugly buildings

Persona non grata!

Apparently I am no longer welcome in the place where I was raised. My parents have written me out of the will; my sister says she never wants to see me again, and I don’t even want to tell you what her husband says; fortunately my in-laws are still on speaking terms but have stipulated they’ll only meet me at specified locations outside the Hoosier State.

I love Indianapolis, really I do. It’s just so easy to mock. And so much fun. I didn’t mean to offend anyone with my fact-finding yesterday. But I miscalculated. I forgot many Hoosiers can actually read. And they have internets. Who knew?

Things have gotten ugly, and I blame myself. There’s only one thing uglier than a Hoosier, and that’s a mad Hoosier who’s just been reminded that their capital city is known in the rest of the country as “a cornfield with lights.” I shouldn’t have said anything.

Amongst the numerous angry and incoherent cries from my benighted Hoosier brethren, the following remark from one JB of Indianapolis is all too typical:

I know you love your adopted hometown dearly, B, and your misgivings about The Crossroads of America are well-documented (literally!), but I guess I’m just not quite able to accept that the same Bart Everson who has spent the better part of the last two decades overtly or by implication cataloging and deconstructing that particularly American brand of lowest-common-denominator jingoism has truly devolved into that polarized paradigm that The Onion so succinctly summed up on their timeless “The Sports Team From My Area Is Superior to the Sports Team from Your Area” t-shirts, but I guess it could be that the march toward middle age has caused you to (hopefully temporarily) leave behind the Reason of your youth and supplant it with a clumsier and more hackneyed polarity normally not seen this side of Mike Royko, but I’m holding out hope that maybe you were just having some semi-satirical fun whilst stoking some cred fires in your new homeland.

See what I mean? Rile them up a little and they fall to pieces. That’s a run-on sentence. Clearly, he’s rattled.

I should know better than to continue along this vein, but I just can’t help myself. It’s like eating potato chips. Or smashing windows. Once you smash one, you gotta smash ’em all.

  1. Let’s start off with a little history, going back to 1897. That’s when the Indiana legislature tried to round Pi off to 3.2.

    You might think this is a joke. You might think it happened in Kansas or Oklahoma. But alas, it happened in Indianapolis.

    (Thanks to my former dorm-mate Bartlett M. for reminding me of this gem.)

  2. Every other major city in the country requires dogs be licensed, but in Indianapolis they just let them run wild in the street.

    The city has truly “gone to the dogs.”

  3. Indianapolis is such a cesspool of corruption they’ve got, like, thirteen property tax assessors. That’s an obvious absurdity, and I would never want to live in a city with — what?

    Oh, never mind. Ahem. Scratch that remark about the assessors.

    But continuing on the topic of real estate…

    Indianapolis was in the news quite a bit a year or so ago because they had the cheapest housing market in the country.

    Why is housing so cheap? Because no one wants to live there. It’s simple supply and demand. Detroit has now surpassed Indy in this category though. Way to go!

  4. Did you know half the nation’s population is within a day’s drive of Indianapolis? And yet the overwhelming majority of drivers refuse to stop when driving through Indy.

    I wonder why that is.

  5. Never mind the rest of the county. The sad fact is that Indy is embarrassed of itself. As a subjective phenomenon, such an allegation might seem difficult to prove. Therefore I quote no less an authority than the respected Aaron M. Renn:

    let’s face it, Indy is carrying around a chip on its shoulder about being a “cow town” sort of place. It is desperate to prove its big city bona fides and have people see it as a real big city. That’s why there is so much focus on things like swanky restaurants, shops, pro sports, light rail, etc. Indy is desperate to be perceived as having the trappings of a “real” big city and be taken seriously

    Please note these are the words of an advocate, not a detractor. But with friends like these…

  6. The so-called “Hoosier Poet,” James Whitcomb Riley, has not one but three works featured in Very Bad Poetry by Ross Petras. The titles are evocative indeed: “The Smitten Purist,” “Us-folks Is Purty Pore,” and “I’m Thist a Little Cripple Boy, an’ Never Goin’ to Grow.”

    I’d quote from this last but I’m afraid it might induce my readers to barf.

    It is worth noting that Riley was the most cultured man the Hoosier State has yet produced.

    Until I came along of course.

  7. David Letterman got his start on TV as a weatherman on an Indianapolis station. He once predicted hail stones “the size of canned hams.”

    For this little joke, he was summarily fired, and the citizens of this dour and humorless city rode him out of town on a rail. Of course they were doing him a favor by forcing him to seek his fortune elsewhere, which he did with considerable success.

  8. I’m sorry to return to the subject of food, but I can’t ignore the fact that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is betting “shrimp cocktail with plenty of horseradish” against New Orleans in the Super Bowl.

    As a former Hoosier I actually do understand this. As I grew up, I truly thought that “shrimp cocktail with plenty of horseradish” was the pinnacle of good eating and the high life. In fact, on my honeymoon in French Lick I ordered two servings of it.

    But let’s be honest. The Saints may actually have to throw the game to avoid this “prize.”

  9. I can’t put it any better than this: Super Bowl Cities Summarized Though Individual YouTube Clips. Watch the videos, read the commentary. The ribbing on New Orleans is pretty good, but on Indianapolis it’s even better.

    It has a good football team, which is celebrated by the local populace by appropriating another region’s signature icons and culture because Indianapolis lacks one of its own. Wave those Terrific Towels, everybody! You’re the 12th Man! A chain restaurant of your choice wants to host your Super Bowl party! They got sliders!

    Each comment is funnier than the last.

  10. Dan Quayle.
    Nuff said.

My sides are hurting. I haven’t had this much fun since, well, since Saturday night. And we all know how that turned out.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not joking. I’m not. This is very, very serious stuff. Very. Very. Serious. To suggest otherwise would be downright un-American.

Black & Gold & Blue & White Superbowl

Ekambaranathar

Yesterday everyone on campus was wearing black and gold — except for our administrative assistant. A Colts fan from way back, she was defiant in a blue and white dress which she’d been saving for the occasion. She’ll be rooting for the Colts in the Superbowl. But even she was happy the Saints will be there too.

This is the match-up I was hoping to see. Months ago when both the Colts and the Saints were racking up consecutive wins, it occurred to me that it could happen. And since I grew up in Indianapolis and still have friends and family there, I decided I really wanted it to happen, and have fervently wished for it ever since. I only wish I’d been bolder and predicted that it would happen. Then I could brag.

It should be a fun game. Think about it: the Hoosier team with the New Orleans quarterback versus the New Orleans team with the (sorta) Hoosier quarterback. I say “sorta” because Drew Brees went to Purdue, and we all know the Hoosiers are Indiana University. But I guess if we accept Boilermakers in my family I can forgive Drew too.

Diehard Saints fans are blissful at the mere prospect of seeing their team in the big game for the first time in the 43 year history of the franchise. There’s a sense of victory in the air already. No matter what happens in Miami, New Orleans still wins.

People might suspect me of having divided loyalties, but that’s not the case. Sure, I grew up in Indy, but I was never a Colts fan. I’ve only come to appreciate football (insofar as I do) recently. I haven’t followed the Saints long enough or studied the league hard enough to appreciate the Manning dynasty. Although it’s an interesting backstory, I don’t personally care about the fact that Peyton Manning is from New Orleans. I’m for the Saints all the way. They are the only team I’ve ever known.

In fact, it’s kind of amazing to me that I’m actually excited about the Superbowl this year. For most of my life this has been a “dead” day, a time when everyone in the country seems to be preoccupied with a strange event that is absolutely meaningless to me.

This one’s different.

Not Just a Game

Just when I thought the whole sequence of events couldn’t get any stranger, in the midst of unpacking I was summoned via text message to Ashley’s grave where I partook in a bizarre quasi-religious sports ritual.

H. Ashley Morris

It was funny but also deadly serious. And it struck me:

It’s not just a game.

Meanwhile, up north, Aunt Karen & Aunt Ron say they will be wearing their “Helga Viking helmets” all weekend, so “beware of the power of the old Norwegians!”

Yes, I’ve got Viking blood in my veins. Yet these Saints have turned me against the old Nordic ways.

Serious stuff. Not just a game.

Aunt Karen wants to know: “Ya’ll doing that vodoo stuff down there??”

Oh yeah, Auntie K. We doing #whodat voodoo down here.

Michael and Howie ventured to Kiln, Mississippi, yesterday. On my advice they took some soil from Brett Favre’s boyhood home, mixed it with salt and wrapped in foil. Michael will be taking this little hex package to the Dome tonight for maximum proximity.

It’s not just a game.

They say this is the biggest contest the Saints have ever played in the history of the franchise — which, coincidentally, is the same age as me.

I can find no better words for today than what Ashley wrote three years ago upon getting the biggest damn fleur de lis tattoo you’ve ever seen:

Pride in a city, pride in a team.

Where does the team end and the city begin? These days, who knows.

It’s not just a game.

Who-dat nation is everywhere, thanks to the flood.

Our “leaders” have abandoned us.

People think we’re idiots…but we fight back. Hard.

We know what’s important, and they’re trying to rip it away from us.

But nothing is more important to us than our city, and our team. We will carry it with us always.

We are New Orleans.

We are the New Orleans Saints.

Geaux Saints. Win this one for Ashley. Who dat!

Using Flickr for Neighborhood Activism

Some of my neighbors have been bickering, er, I mean debating about Comiskey Park here in Mid-City. The basketball goals that used to be there were taken down when an television production company made plans to rebuild the park for a reality show. That didn’t pan out in the long run, and the park was left in a worse state than ever because of it.

But back to those basketball goals. Some neighbors don’t want them back up, and some do. Both factions have conducted informal polls and claimed results that support their positions. As the rhetoric ratcheted up, the legitimacy of these polls was called into question.

I don’t want to get caught up in the debate though. Rather I wanted to cite how one neighbor, Joseph Brock, has responded. He’s created a Flickr account specifically for this issue. He printed out signs stating the pro-basketball position. Then he went around and used his cameraphone to take pictures of various neighbors holding the signs, and posted those pictures directly to Flickr. Check out the photostream. It’s simple, powerful, effective and cheap.

I’m quite impressed.

Synchronicity

An ad just played on TV for an upcoming news report on the decline of baseball as a popular sport amongst African-Americans.

Just a couple minutes later, there are three kids (all African-American) playing catch on the street in front of our house, each with a mitt.

What makes this even weirder is that the kids around here usually prefer to play with footballs or basketball. I’ve never seen them tossing a baseball before.

Oops. They just bounced it off the roof of our car…

Update: To round out this all-American scene, a short time later another kid showed up and started playing his trumpet. (That’s always struck me as an “only in New Orleans” type thing.) Xy recognized him as Chris, to whom she’d lent her guitar a couple weeks ago. She hadn’t seen Chris or her guitar until now. So she ran out on the street half-dressed and gave him the crazy white lady routine and he promised to bring it back.

All-Star Recovery

I notice I haven’t been writing about issues in the recovery of New Orleans nearly as much lately. That’s because my primary mission here is to write about what’s going on in my life, and my life has been more preoccupied by personal issues lately.

Nevertheless, I try to keep tabs on what’s going down in the world around me. I wouldn’t want to give the impression that the recovery is complete, or that it’s going great guns, or that it’s stalled either. We continue to creep forward, but at a slow pace.

This past week’s NBA All-Star festivities dramatize the point. By all accounts it was a huge success, as were the two college bowl games the city hosted in January. (And yet they say we’re not ready to host a presidential debate?) These are clear indications that certain sectors of the city are back, full force. But the really revealing moment was the massive volunteer day organized by the NBA. It was the biggest single volunteer event since the flood. What does it say about the state of the recovery, that we’re having the biggest volunteer effort two and a half years after the disaster?

As Cliff says, “I like the days of service but that also means that there are still hundreds of things that need to be done.” We have a long way to go.

I’m aware of this every day. All I have to do is look around me. Our renovation may be done (though in an old house the work is never really done) but on one side we have a house that’s half-built, and on the other side we have a house that hasn’t even been gutted since the flood.

Meanwhile around the city, FEMA is urging the 30,000 still in FEMA trailers to get out because the formaldehyde causes cancer. People are still waiting for Road Home checks. The streets still run with blood. And in Baton Rouge the new governor is trying to push “ethics reform” while his own administration fends off mounting allegations of impropriety.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve made plenty of progress. But we still have a long, long way to go. A couple years ago I said it might take the rest of my life, and that’s looking like a good estimate.

Whole Lotta Downs

Today I went to see the Saints game with Michael. We rode our bikes to the Superdome. It was the first NFL game I’ve ever seen. The Bloody Mary was good and so was the alligator sausage. Pretty cool that the Saints won. That’s four straight wins after four straight losses, a crazy season so far. Also in this game they broke the team record for the number of first downs. Or maybe they just tied the record, I’m not sure. Anyway, it was a whole lotta downs. Michael told me I should put that in my blog, and he was the man with the extra ticket, after all.

But if you wanna read something really heavy and profound, check out Michael’s latest post, about building foundations on ancestors and children.