Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Orleans pt.1

As soon as the Packers won the NFC Championship, the immediate question was, “What the hell are we doing for the Super Bowl?” A few stupid ideas got tossed around before the god’s of great ideas shined upon Ted and his eyes lit up.

“New Orleans.”

Everyone who was within earshot immediately knew it was a great idea. Everyone that eventually heard about it knew it was a great idea. Even if you never heard it, you knew it was a great idea. We had been looking for an excuse to go there since Ted’s brother Stu moved there a few months ago. The Packers in the Super Bowl, preceded by my birthday? Perfect excuse.

All necessary arrangements were made and it was solidified: Jeff, Ted and I would go to Stu’s where he had two other friends meeting up. Six dudes. One apartment. In New Orleans.

We started the drive after I got out of work on Friday night, which made it around 3:15 a.m. when we hit the road. I took the first leg of the trip since I’m up until five in the morning every day anyways. The first weird experience came somewhere in Alabama. We stopped at a gas station to fill up on Twix bars. As I walked around, I noticed the gas station attendant looking at me so I looked up and nodded at him.

“Hey, is your name Josh?” he asked.

No shit. I thought it was one of those moments when the whole universe finally makes sense, and every silly thought I ever had about things linking together finally came to fruition and from this point forward everything could work in a new way and I’d be one with the universe as well as all living things and we could learn together and grow into a new beautiful future without any pretense or ill-will in which no ruling class would be needed and common sense would govern all actions and people could finally live together without crime or hate or anything that makes society difficult to live in.

“Uh, yeah,” I said.

“Are you Josh Whateverthefuck?” (I don’t remember the last name he actually said).


“Oh, whew! That would have been cool!” he said while shaking his hands and catching his breath.

It turns out there is a local guitar player named Josh Something that must be a pretty big deal since it had this guy worked up like a little girl that just saw Barney (he’s still around, right?).

I walked out of the gas station immediately mad at myself for not pretending I was whoever he thought I was. I could have signed an autograph for him, maybe taken a picture with him on a cell phone. And maybe they would have taken that picture and hung it on the wall with my fake name on top of it until somebody realized that I wasn’t who I said I was. But for that amount of time, I would have had my picture hung on the wall in some nowhere gas station in the middle of nowhere Alabama. Or maybe they would forget about it once they put it between the scratch-off tickets and the bulletproof glass or something and it would stay there for a long time. Then, someone I know might drive through Alabama and stop at the same gas station for Twix bars and see my picture, after which they would lose their mind and either laugh hysterically or kill themselves. I’m still mad that I missed this opportunity.

We left the gas station and joked about the guy’s accent because we’re assholes while eating Twix bars when we saw the next fucked up thing: There was a car on a side road that was on its back. Upside-Down Car with the headlights still on could only mean one thing, it just happened and the dude was probably still in there (I guess that’s two things).

“Should we call 911?”

“Nah, fuck him.”

A minute later we saw ambulances coming down the opposite side of the highway so we figured the guy in the Upside-Down Car would be alright. We continued driving and had the kind of conversations any normal group of under slept guys in the middle of Nowhere in the south would have. I told Ted everything I know about clouds. He told me that it was the cloudiest day he had ever seen in his entire life, and was completely serious in his assessment. We then tried to guess where the sun was. As you can see, really exciting stuff.

Eventually the sun came up and we could see the brand of Nothing we were surrounded by. We started hitting bridges that were longer than you could see and taller than they needed to be. On each side there was usually nothing. Just a big, wet, swamp that can never be used in a productive manner and will never be used in a productive manner besides hunting wildlife and disposing of bodies.

After getting through that mess of useless land, we hit New Orleans where the uselessness of everything didn’t change. The first thing you see when you come into New Orleans is the section that got hit hardest by Katrina. Hurricane Katrina, that is. I don’t know if you remember, but there was a pretty bad storm in New Orleans in 2005.

It looks like they didn’t fix anything. I think this is because they didn’t fix anything. All the houses had holes in them. All of them. It looked like a town that had been abandoned in 1952 and left to slowly wear away in the breeze while being taken over by birds and squirrels. I don’t remember seeing one person while driving through this section of town. I saw a lot of birds, but not one person. Did they just give up? Were they forced to move because they couldn’t afford to fix their house? Did they decide to do nothing because everybody else was doing nothing? It’s been five and a half years, something should look better by now, right? What the fuck?

I didn’t really think about it at the time, but now when I think back to the videos I saw of people sitting on top of their houses with “Help Me!” signs or paddling canoes through the streets or just generally what happened at the Super Dome (or the Rape/Poop Dome), it’s unbelievable. The whole section of town was basically flushed down the toilet, but the toilet is the city itself so it just backed up and resulted in sewage and dead bodies floating around like bubbles after a splash. That’s crazy.

And now when you see this section, it’s deserted. It’s abandoned. I don’t know how they could start to clean it up without simply bulldozing the whole thing and starting over. What else is there to do? If they have only gotten this far in the amount of time that has passed, it seems like they don’t have any better ideas, either.

We drove past the Super (Rape/Poop) Dome, through the skyline, and into the city itself. There wasn’t anything too special besides this Packers Subway on the way to the place we would be staying, just a lot of stupid intersections that didn’t seem to have any forethought put into them and one-way streets that make it much more difficult to find your destination after missing a turn.

Go pack go.

I planned on just knocking out the whole trip in one go, but this is already getting long so I guess I’ll do it in chunks. Here’s where I feel like I should put in a joke about staying tuned, or maybe the Batman thing from the old TV show, but that all seems pretty dumb. I think I’ll just stop typing right……now.

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