Sunday, February 03, 2013

And now, on to business

Super Bowl King Cakes

The 49ers are terrible.  Their fans are terrible. Their defensive backs are terrible people.  If you grew up in New Orleans in the 80s they probably ruined your childhood.  If you lived in New Orleans back in 2012, they probably ruined the rest of your life as well. The 49ers are terrible. Fuck them.

But anyone who paid attention to the just-passed Saints season we are currently trying to forget will probably agree, the 49ers were the team that finished the Saints off this year.  When Drew Brees threw a pick-6 just prior to the half of that game I felt something I hadn't felt at a Saints game in several years.  I felt like I'd just seen something the Saints could not possibly come back from.  They didn't.  And they spent the next two games reeling so badly from that blow that we can convincingly identify it as the point where all reasonable hope ended. 

Goodell may have set the Saints on their descent this year but the 49ers delivered the coup-de-grace on the season and the moment when it happened was palpable.  I came away from that game thinking they were the best team in football. They probably are. 

Meanwhile I'm a little surprised that the Baltimore-NOLA comparisons I thought we'd see this week have been as muted as they were.   There's the David Simon connection, of course, but there are other things. I've spent some time in Baltimore.  It's where I spent the last week of my evacuation after Katrina.  My wife is from there.  Both it and New Orleans are port cities, blue collar, victims of similar late 20th Century periods of decay.  Both have a distinctive working class accent that only the locals seem to know about.  Both have a quirky "artsy" side.  Both are, in fact, recent hipster magnets. John McDonough was from Baltimore.  Both cities celebrate the same species of blue crab (although they mostly have to buy ours nowadays). I could go on. There are plenty threads to pull if you're a media outlet desperate for a "narrative" but mostly that stuff has gone untouched.

Mostly what I see in that place when I visit, though, is not New Orleans but instead more of a cautionary tale about what New Orleans might become if we ever stop trying; if we ever give our historic neighborhoods over entirely to gentrifiers, the way the Inner Harbor there has been Disneyfied;  if we allow our endangered fisheries to be as badly spoiled as the Chesapeake; if we let HBO come in and.. oh well too late for that one.    Maybe I need to spend more time in Baltimore to get this right but what I do feel when I'm there is a certain bitterness that's missing at home.  Like something has been stolen that you can never get back.  Anyway.. just a theory.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah.. fuck the goddamned 49ers.  I think they're going to win but fuck em anyway. I'd love to see this team with a chip on its shoulder from my Menckles' angry but proud home town prove me wrong about this but I don't think that's what's in the cards. 


Rudolph said...

John and I seriously contemplated moving to Baltimore...it sure beats DC. But I just couldn't help but feeling that it's a poor man's New Orleans. There is a lot to like about the city, like the lack of pretense, good restaurant and bar culture, and fun people. But it has the same poverty, crippling anger and apathy as New Orleans...but minus Mardi Gras and the music and the best food in the country. And a lot of other cultural things that we miss so much.

jeffrey said...

I think your impression that NOLA and Baltimore are characterized by "crippling anger and apathy" is a direct result of the "lack of pretense" you also cite. There's anger and apathy everywhere. I like to think ours is healthier since we don't feel the need to suppress it.