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The Suburbanite
  • Steve Doerschuk: Set sail with this salty crew

  • New Orleans being New Orleans, and the sporting endeavor being what it is, people watching was quite in season.

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  • You would know Big Al is playing at The Funky Pirate if you did no more than peek through the ever-open door.
    He is the 400-pound man in the room. He has been there many years, singing like he means it.
    If, however, you required a Big Al alert from blocks away, there it would be, as told to our own ears by none other than Weston the pirate.
    “If you see the red truck parked there,” declared Weston, standing close outside, “Al is here.”
    Al was not there at that nocturnal moment, but a while later, we returned, and there it was — the red truck, the only vehicle parked on Bourbon Street, which at such hours is shut down to motor traffic not piloted by Big Al.
    And there through the door, as promised, Al was, singing as only that particular soul can.
    A quick note on Weston the pirate: He introduced himself the second time he saw me (Weston is an old English name, and we had to ask him twice before I quite caught it.)
    This pirate is as authentic as any we have found this Super Bowl week, retaining enough of the accent from his native Ireland to have a salty bite. He was wearing a replica pirate’s hat from some place he made to sound like the maker of only the finest replica pirates hats.
    We made a joke about “Steve the pirate from Canton, Ohio,” at which Weston frowned slightly. He recovered and named “Dodgeball” (the founder of the jest) as a reasonably unobjectionable film. Then, by unspoken means of explaining the frown, he reached for his wallet and plucked a card.
    There was his name, and there was some inscription as to its belonging to a member of the official latter-day pirate’s union.
    He is the first member of the union we have met, to date.
    We shook hands. The next day came. Steve the pirate had other work to do in the chronicling of Super Bowl color not necessarily about football.
    Well sir, we had come up dry in that domain after the daily football-specific work, leaving only one thing left to try.
    Set sail!
    And off we went on the good ship Shoe Leather.
    Immediately upon disembarking from the comforts of our inn, we noticed that the village is filling up, as is always the case three days out in the locale anticipating the big game.
    New Orleans being New Orleans, and the sporting endeavor being what it is, people watching was quite in season.
    Human beings of every description, mostly young but plenty of old, as well, were out and about along the banks of the Mississippi River.
    Page 2 of 2 - There was a well seasoned couple wearing 49ers garb. There were three young ladies adorned in Saints shirts and beads. There was a man telling his 6-year-old boy (loose translation), “Don’t stare at the odd gentleman in the Joe Walsh shirt and green shorts.”
    There was a street preacher linking his bullhorned message to current events: “Beware of counterfeit tickets ... it’s the same when you come to the day of judgment.”
    It was all rather interesting.
    We took a hard right to a long and quiet stretch of pavement bricks along the river. The only person we saw for a spell was an old woman who lost her home in the flood but has found equanimity these years later.
    We walked ahead and came upon the finest river boat we have ever seen ... four decks tall ... immaculate ... the kind of craft that sneaked some extra salt into Mark Twain’s pen.
    We almost ran into a chain-link fence while gazing at the paddleboat. There we encountered a security guard.
    “No,” he said, “you can’t get on the boat. Some Ravens fans rented it for the week. It’s their hotel.”
    Forgive Steve the pirate, if you would be so kind.
    His mind perpetually wanders during such encounters to some ancient shipwreck.
    What horrible hag of a vessel was this? Ravens. Super Bowl songs. Art the pirate. Arrghhh.

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