Monday, February 8, 2010

Having Turned Leather Into Skin

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was discussion in some circles in these United States about the viability of rebuilding New Orleans. There were those who questioned whether rebuilding the city in the same under defended location where it has always sat was a judicious use of public funds. And the questions were not being asked exclusively by Republican politicians. In an application of black and white to what is decidedly a most gray world, the argument against doing so certainly had some basis in practicality.

But practicality and reality often not only do not reside under the same roof, they do not live in the same neighborhood. Whether there shall be a better system in place for protecting those who live in what is one of America's true treasures or simply a system with a renewed supply of most wishful thoughts I do not pretend to know. I hope for the former and hope with equal vigor that those in charge will not risk their own hides by opting for the latter. But as someone whose zip code has been squarely within reality's neighborhood my entire life, I shall be disappointed but not terribly surprised if it is the latter that carries the day.

Against the backdrop of its recent tragedy and the still-uncertain nature of its future, New Orleans had been in need of a collective pick-me-up. It has been in need of something in which it could place its hope and its prayers. Who would have thought that it would have ever found that something in its football team? A franchise that is only a generation or so removed from infamy as the 'Aints and was once so bad that Archie Manning damn near almost did not live long enough to become a familial patriarch whose family tree contains a branch or two of Super Bowl winning sons.

Last night the Saints paid off all outstanding debts. After starting very slowly and looking as if they were perhaps one play away from playing the part that the Buffalo Bills have played too often in Super Bowl - that of gritty, lovable and ultimately over matched underdog - they came from behind and defeated the Colts to win their first Super Bowl. Mardi Gras does not begin officially for another week or so in the Crescent City but one suspects that you shall be forgiven if this week in the Quarter it appears as if the gun has been jumped.

As someone who has but a casual interest in either team, I found myself pulling for the Saints last night. For me, the Colts are a hard group of athletes to root against as they are notoriously short of players who preen like jackasses every time they perform the task for which they are being paid a quite handsome sum of money - whether it is catch a pass, run the ball or make a tackle. Conspicuous by their absence is the guy who provides bulletin board material to the opposition. They simply show up for work and do their job as well as they can on that particular day. Last night - as the song goes - their best was not good enough.

Although the Colts seem to be a genuinely good group of guys, the combination of the franchise's long time history of futility and its city's recent history of tragedy made it impossible to root against N'Awlins. I could not help but smile last night watching Drew Brees hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Something tells me that tomorrow - when the City will host its first Super Bowl celebratory parade (a parade that was on the calendar win or lose) will be a day when all over town, people will be thinking not about their history but about their future instead.

I suspect that there will be hurricanes aplenty all over town and not a soul will be heard to complain. It is a party after all.

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