New Orleans Saints
One of the most twisted aspects when studying history is the fact that it is shaped, shaded, and written by the winners, meaning if truth is subjective, the subjects don’t get to give their version of the truth. Down here in New Orleans, most everyone can whistle along, if not sing along happily, to the Johnny Horton’s ‘The Battle of New Orleans’, a momentous, and rare, victory in our cities history. Obviously, we don’t have a song, or even a name, and hardly even mention the battle in 1862 in which the Union armies took over our city during The War of Northern Aggression (which as the losers, our name quickly gave way to the more unfortunate and fairly ironic ‘Civil War”. They even got to name the plundering that followed ‘Reconstruction’. Any modern Public Relations and Ad man can learn as much from history as from schooling, the game is always the same.
The Second Battle of New Orleans was another rare victory of the people over the power in New Orleans…The proposed highway overpass going right over Decatur street, with 18 wheelers shaking the foundation of the Saint Louis Cathedral was fought for decades before the smarter half of the city defeated the corporate class ( an awesome story I’ll tell in a later post). I’m fairly sure if Robert Moses and his sad followers won that, the battle would be called “The War Against Culture, Art and the Impovershed” and would be toasted in board rooms across the American Sector of our city.
Here we are in 2010, and once again, the good guys have won. I officially declare this weeks brouhaha of the Davie’s of New Orleans against the Goliath’s of the NFL the Third Battle of New Orleans. We win, we name the war…
Their lawyers came in full battle gear, $3000 suits and blackberries (actually, modern warfare gets more and more boring…the warriors of the NFL sat in their Park Avenue offices with views of Central Park dispatching missives through the internet while having their shoes shined and lunch brought up to their office, but I digress). Thinking they could outspend, if not out man our financially struggling city, they cried the battle cry of the brave, brave corporate executives that enjoy safely hiding behind unintelligible legalese. “Ceases and Desist” The battle was on…we never wanted this war, they drew first blood. That will be remembered.
Yes, local T-Shirt shops got the order. ‘Who Dat’ the chant of the hopeless Saints fans of the last 3 decades which had become something between a greeting and a battle cry of the city during this miracle year was no longer ours. It was being taken away (along with the Black and Gold fleur de lis first used by Louis the VII in 12150 as a family emblem) by outsiders; invaders to our culture, city slickers who wouldn’t know how to answer “Where Y’at” and would never deign to go to Chalmette to find out. But like an infant playing with his dads gun, the NFL had no idea of the force they were messing with.
The counter attack was swift and brutal. In a city where the citizens hadn’t been united on any single issue since the first flood waters rose bringing the decomposing bodies of our deceased to the surface and the demand for above ground tombs took root, the’r was not a single voice of dissent. From drunken Cajun ex football radio hosts to me to the nice lady at Gene’s selling me my beakfast Po Boy (Egg, ham and cheese-$5 with drink) it was unanimous. Fuck the NFL, they can pry our Who Dat’s from our cold dying fingers. When me and Davis Vitter agree on an issue (besides enjoying wearing diapers and being spanked by prostitutes) something big is going on. The NFL was suddenlt more hated than the Colts themselves. All stations were manned, old men figured out how to use email, people who would never call a politician manned the phones, lots of loud pointless threats were made at bars…the full gamut. Who knew if their antique fleur de lis fenceposts would become property of the NFL?
And in the end, just like in the first and second battles of New Orleans; out funded, out flanked, and against the odds, the disparate folks of New Orleans triumphed. Rascists from Metairie,, hoodlums from the Eighth ward, uptown doctors down town musicians and crooked politicians and preachers were able to hold their hands high and proud. We will go on to beat the Colts 35-24 in the Superbowl, brass bands will spontaneously hit the streets, Who Dats will be yelled like god intended…but in 1000 years what will be remembered is that New Orleans, through its sheer force of personality, and this city does have that, was the only group to ever beat back the corporate monolith of the NFL. Who Dat indeed.
They say every era has a man. Also every man has a place. And every dog has it’s day. If the Saints day is 2010, the days that weren’t theirs would be the 60’s, 70’s, and most of the 80’s and 90’s. And parts of the 00’s. And for that long, torturous, unforgiving era of the Saints history, the man was Buddy D.
When I first started to take to the Saints during the horror of the Ditka era (and as a non-football fan at that time, it was only their god-awfullness that made them so endearing) it was exciting as the final seconds bumbled down and everyone who had “turned on the TV and turned down the sound” would go from the patient exasperation of the even keeled Jim Henderson to the Point After with Buddy D.
The man had passion, the man oozed both New Orleans and the Saints, and just as the Saints symbolically tortured the fans every year, Buddy D would torture the english language as he alternately begged, pleaded and eventually angrily degrded the team that wouldn’t lead him to the promised land. His mispronunciations were legendeary, my favorite always being Dante Stallworth morphing into Dunte Stallpepper spoken like through a mothfull of unchewed saltines. You couldn’t help but wonder how this man ended up on the radio…but as a newcomer to this city it crept up to me over the course of a few years…the truth of this cities nature, sports and otherwise, could only be represented by a man that was all heart and lumps.
The man invented the Baghead, the ‘Aints, and like a man looking for a cure that is worse than the disease, he was responsible for the Ditka era. He would jokingly swear that he would wear a dress on Bourbon Street when the Saints won the Superbowl, sure he would never have to don it. When he died in 2005 I was really sad. The deaths of famous people who I never met don’t move me, but Buddy D I listened to 3 hours a day. He taught me more about New Orleans than anyone else including a gaggle of my history teachers, and he wasn’t even trying.
I will be wearing my Buddy D shirt to the Dome Sunday, and waiting to see the thousands of folks marching down Bourbon Street in dresses the day after the Saints win the Superbowl. I’ve never organized anything, it’s not in my nature, but if that doesn’t happen spontaneously, that I will do.
As a bonus here is an awesome 3-some. Buddy D, NOLA native and 1980’s USA network late night hottie Rhonda Shear and Vince Marinello in the years before he donned a fake mustache and biked through the shopping centers of Metairie to shoot his cheating (and much younger wife). Notice him ogling Rhonda’s butt.All star line up.