Countdown to Canton: 2 days to election
Steve Doerschuk, on assignment at the Super Bowl, presents a daily inside look at the buzz around Saturday’s vote to determine the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.
Up at 6 a.m., speed walking to player interviews, racing to track down coaches, tapping the laptop keys at a fever pitch, hooboy!
After a hard day at the Super Bowl football office, it was time to hunker down to the business of what’s shaking in the French Quarter.
First stop, an ancient fleabag hotel, dating to some bayou explorer, on a side street a mile south of the Superdome. Just a quick Super Bowl price check.
“If you could get a room this weekend,” the library-quiet woman at the front desk said, “it would be $399 for one with two beds. But we don’t have any rooms. Nobody does.”
Nobody was sleepy. It was 6 p.m.
I thought I saw Joshua Cribbs on a sidewalk outside the Palace Cafe, where an older couple was dining under a canopy getting hit by light rain.
It was on to Bourbon Street, a mile from the media hotel that is no place like home this week.
It was all quiet, almost, on the first walk down.
A wailing voice audible a solid block either way from the open front door of The Cat’s Meow was attempting a Paul McCartney tune, “Come Together.” Clearly, the cat had died.
Soon enough, the crowd swelled. Maybe you’ve been in places where the music is much too loud for conversation. On Bourbon Street, all the front doors are open. A band in the Old Opera House played a version of “All Right Now” that made it hard to talk even in the street.
“All Right Now” was popularized by a band named Free. The only thing free on Bourbon Street is patting the snouts of the police horses.
One cop gave a version of the street-drinking policy: “Keep it in a cup. Nothing in a bottle.”
I forgot to ask if that is the official or unofficial law.
Some other night, I’ll ask about the laws that apply to street acts. The oddest — I’m not sure how to start this without it sounding wrong — was performed by a man with a guitar and a woman with the world’s strongest legs right smack in the middle of the street.
Both were fully clothed (the woman less fully) — it was a musical-gymnastics act. Their “stage” was a purple blanket spread on the pavement. He would begin strumming his guitar and singing — the first tune I heard was “Take It Easy,” an Eagles staple — and then he would twist himself in assorted ways while she propped him up with her feet and sometimes her hands while laying flat on her back.
They went all different directions with this, none looking easy. Sometimes he would be sideways, sometimes sitting on the bottoms of her boots, sometimes contorted in ways that surely require hours of practice, always strumming his guitar and singing.
Page 2 of 2 - The open guitar case had a decent stash of dollars when I left.
We will visit the less traveled lanes of the French Quarter as the week progresses. Bourbon Street was our first stop because ... because ... help me out here.
Along the half-mile stretch of bars, restaurants, shops and second-floor, balcony-as-standard-equipment residences, we viewed (by way of small slice of example):
A woman walking with a little dog on her shoulder, a 7-foot leprechaun, two guys waving “BIG-(BUTT) BEER” signs, steady streams of bubbles floating out front doors, street barkers outside every other business, women not dressed for winter in certain doorways, street preachers, cigar smokers and wobbly walkers.
The time arrived to call it a night. Passing the Cat’s Meow again, that singer was still at it. The cat was still dead.
It was 10 thousand faces and a 100 hellos and ... you know what?
It dawned on me as I pulled off my shoes that not once did I see a shirt or a cap that said Ravens or 49ers.