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An Inside Run Up Poydas Street January 9, 2012

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Someone camped along Poydras Street in the vast stretches of tents and RVs for the BCS championship game has the most realistic portable stereo system ever devised, or somewhere in the distance a full marching band was playing. Orleanians are something of experts on judging the direction and distance of a marching band from their long experience, and I’m pretty sure a good size ensemble was playing somewhere in the distance.

Further up the Poydras on Fulton Street, a band covers the Ramones Bonzo goes to Bitzburg, the politics lost on this crowd but the sort of song certain to drive a drunken mob into a frenzy. I wonder as I pass if LSU’s Golden Band from Tiger Land has a stirring brass and drums arrangement of it. Not that this crowd needs anything further to drive them into a frenzy. They are with their team at the championship game and that game is in New Orleans.

Poydras is busy but not the center of action the day before the game, what with the attractions of the French Quarter not far away: beignet and hand grenade breakfasts, beads in team colors with mascots pendant, the bands of Bourbon Street playing the 70s country rock covers for which our city is justly famous; a chanting, hollering and vomiting horde, two opposing armies keeping a tense armistice as they pass in the street.

Still Poydras is full of people, awash in crimson and purple and gold. Even Auburn fans have come to down, pitching their team tents along the street to join in the party. If LSU were playing the Michigan Spartans it might be mistaken for Carnival. Smoke rises in a dozen columns from the cramped encampments on every parking lot like chow time in some 19th century army, the smell of meat heavy in the air. Enemy tents stand one next to the other but everyone seems in good spirits. Hawkers of Officially Licensed Team Merchandise and an enterprising fellow with team beads on both arms at Magazine vie for attention. Pedicaps are everywhere, slowing traffic like a parade of band buses. Everyone has a go cup.

I was once a moderately informed fan of Southeastern Conference college football but that was long ago. I have too many other things to occupy my mind than to be a statistic spouting fanatic, and among my tasks today is to look up San Francisco on ESPN today, as I don’t follow the NFL that closely either. I bleed black and gold, but that doesn’t mean I have time or inclination even to state the ranking of teams in the Saints own division much less the rest of the league. All I know is that the circus has come to town. No, two circuses days apart: Sugar Bowl and championship game with a Saint’s playoff game in the middle. I am old school enough to dislike the Bowl Championship System, concocted to upset a century of football tradition in order to produce another high revenue television broadcast, but that is about as involved as I can manage.

I have never been an LSU fan and have no dog in tonight’s fight–I am old enough to remember when LSU and Tulane were a local rivalry–but the spectacle is irresistible. I was downtown to watch the Saints’ game Saturday night and it was easy to tell the LSU fans. They were the ones in their Saint’s jersey. I joked with one crimson clad fellow waiting to cross a street that his accent, an obvious southern drawl, identified him as a leftover Michigan fan from the Sugar Bowl, I thought he was much to drunk to connect a punch, but we were instantly long lost friends for the span of two blocks in the manner of your better class of tipsy tourist.

I will probably succumb and watch tonight’s game. Everyone one I know is still surprised and a bit disappointed that I missed the regular season game. A clash of the titans, one called it. I only watch LSU football if I am at a friends house for an unrelated party, or if I’m sitting at a bar waiting for someone, but the BCS championship promises to be a gladiatorial contest destined for the highlight reels of history, the television pregame diversion that remind me of those those professional football shows that used to run Sunday mornings when I was a child with football cards and no interest in watching The Christophers or the spectacle of some monstrous Protestant church’s service.

In the end it won’t matter who wins if it is good football. The important thing is my daughter is not working the candy shop at Riverwalk tonight and wanting a ride home.

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