Eight moments from four days in New Orleans.
Watching the game with Ohio State fans was anti-fun from the start. I've never seen more joyless bunch of college football fans--this was an extension of work and a moment of extreme seriousness from start to finish, at least for the fans at Cafe Ernst. Tension seeped from their pores: whenever anyone the fans did not like appeared on screen, fifteen to twenty fans saluted the television with their middle finger and chants of "FUCK YOU (NAME GOES HERE)." I don't want to say it looked precisely like the congressional scenes in Idiocracy, but it looked precisely like the congressional scenes in Idiocracy.
(We're not making any of this up. Older OSU fans were quite nice, and we met nice younger ones, too, and even wrote earlier in the week about how pleasant OSU fans were as a whole...which still remains true. But when the game came on, the vibe turned poisonous, and only got worse as the game went on. They're still the best road presence of any fans I've ever seen, but saying that watching the game with them was "fun" would be "a total fucking lie.")
The opposite of fun: intensity and building anger at the Cafe Ernst.
The worst moment came when Craig Steltz injured his shoulder and left the game with an injury. Hands shot up with the index finger and middle finger bent into an oval shape not unlike the mouth of a vagina. Just to clarify, I asked what it meant, but didn't even get to finish the question before the fan next to me stuck his finger through it phallically and confirmed that they were calling Steltz a pussy.
An Ohio State fan with a bullhorn shows up on Bourbon Street. He's standing on the sidewalk with three other Buckeye fans, and is screaming at an LSU fan in a purple Les-ticles t-shirt with the thing at full volume. Making out anything in the roar is difficult: static static fag static static homo static static suck. Repeat this for three minutes and you have the mantra.
It looked like a fight in the embryonic stages, but the LSU fan seemed beyond happy to stand there with ginormous drink in hand, taking the punishment and screaming "GEAUX TAAAIGAAAAHS!" at the assembled crowd. This went on for something like ten minutes, with other Ohio State fans joining in behind the guy holding the bullhorn; one even seemed to cower behind the owner of the horn, yelling the word "fag" at him while the owner nervously focused on the hands of the LSU fan and fear grinned madly. The LSU fan, so drunk he was communicating with his dancing body from somewhere in the Van Allen Belt, kept up the hollerin', either deafened and not hearing the barrage, or simply so festive he couldn't care less.
A dealer at the Harrah's downtown hands me my chips from winning another hand at roulette. Normally, roulette bleeds me dry in three spins or so, but for some reason tonight I'm hitting everything I put down. An economist in town for the convention behind me looks on. "You know there's really no way you can win at this, right?" he asks. I look back and answer,"That's an attitude for losers." I then proceed to lose my next three spins and take all of my winnings back down to par with smirky economist guy looking on behind me. That's why I'm a blogger, and he's a pedophiliac loser. I mean, economist.
Overheard dialogue on Bourbon Street:
"Oh, God. What did he do then?"
"He took it out. The bleeding wasn't so bad."
"He's in the hospital, right? I mean, you have to go to the--"
"No, no. He's down the street at a bar. Wanna go talk to him?"
I went to dinner with SMQ and a friend of his, a local who we'll call by the name of Johnny Mack. Johnny Mack has two unusual passions: cooking, and firearms. It's probably best he never attempts to combine these.
Johnny Mack and I got to talking about one of my favorite topics, automatic weapons. "I'm getting my AK next week," he says, sipping on a beer at a bar we went to after dinner. The bar's obviously a scenester place, since everyone looks at us when we walk in, searching for a name in the database they will not find simply because we aren't there every other night like everyone else in the bar. It's awkward. We huddle by the bar.
Johnny Mack: "I'm thinking of making my own suppressor when I get a Mack-10."
SMQ: "Isn't that ...hard?"
Johnny Mack: "No, man. There's directions on the internet and everything."
Orson: "There's directions on the internet for making a nuke. Doesn't mean it's a good idea."
Johnny Mack: "No, man, it's cool. I can make it. You just have to do it right, or the bullet flies all over the inside and bounces around."
Orson: "Thus turning it into an exploding frag grenade on the end of your gun?"
Johnny Mack: "Well, sure. That's if you do it wrong."
An LSU fan stands next to me at the Allstate Fan Fair Flag Football Game. He's tall, really black, and smells like bourbon. He's got the puffy warm-up LSU jacket and some straight-leg jeans on, and a ball cap reading "LSU National Champions." He leans over to me and says, "Now watch while I go start some shit."
He went over to some Ohio State fans, who bantered very politely with him while he tried to rile them up. They were too busy basking in the sheer mass of Eddie George, who even in retirement looks like he's made of lumps of stone soldered together with baling wire. He's just a massive human being. He's also married to one of the women from SWV, which makes him seven times cooler, since we had the cassingle of "Love Will Be Right Here" and thought it was the best use of a "Human Nature" sample ever.
I've made a mental note to follow the lead of the LSU fan. Before starting shit, announce that you are indeed going to start some shit. It's only fair.
At an extremely low-budge strip club, a stripper stands up and begins her act. She's smiling, but her mouth is moving the whole time as she screams out "YOU MOTHERFUCKERS ARE SO CHEAP I DON'T CLIMB THE POLE FOR FOUR MOTHERFUCKING DOLLARS." I throw her a few bucks just to see if this helps prevent an angry stripper attack-dive from the stage, and I'm not alone: four or five other guys chip in to keep her from diving in and burying her nails into somebody's tender retinas. She climbs the pole, and a crisis is averted...temporarily, we're guessing.
I'm in a bar with Ragin' Cajun Rebel and others after the game, and someone says "HEY! He'll take the hat." A female LSU fan comes over, kisses me on the cheek, and plants a feathered purple hat on my head. I wear this had for twenty minutes until a huge six-foot plus LSU fan snatches it off my head and says, "AH NEED YOUR HAT." I let him keep the hat because the NOPD carries heavy nightsticks on big horses, and mercifully I was not drunk on brown liquor and fully aware of both my size, fitness level, and complete inability to fight properly.
Sadly, it did lead to one of the gayest, fuzziest phone pictures we've ever taken.
Cajuns. They'll happen.