November 30th, 2002

I Will Not Defame New Orleans.

The Natives Are Restless

Yah, that's a pretty crass, lo-brow, racist title to this piece, but let me explain a li'l sumpin-sumpin to you who don't live in the Deeeep South.

Bayou Classic. "Soul Bowl." Ask anyone in town what's the worst weekend in New Orleans. Chances are, they'll name Soul Bowl.

This is the weekend when two black universities from rural LA or MS come to town and rip the shit out of everything.

The good lord knows I don't have racial issues. (Some of my best friends are some of my best friends!) I have sports issues. Those damn white frat boys are bad enough. Soul Bowl is 1,ooo times mo' worser. It's not just me saying this. Businesses close down. You catch that? On a weekend when thousands of people are going to wander around the Frech Quarter, French Quarter businesses close! It's just not worth the headache.

Some windows are boarded up. Preparation for a mindless storm.

Cops everywhere. Four on every corner. And they're needed. These horrible people get into the worst, most pointless trouble. The cops aren't even there to make arrests. They would be too busy, and too absent, with constant errands to the jail. They're just there to keep things under control.

Streets are shut down. Most east/west streets through the Quarter are not traversible by boom-boom ghettomobile. And you can't make an Uptown turn off Poydras. It simply isn't allowed. Are you catching this? The fucking police department don't want these people to go out of the downtown area, out of their sight. Pedestrians are disallowed to make a turn into the Warehouse District. Well, the black ones with too much gold jewelry, anyway.

It's like someone opened the zoo doors and let every omniverous species out.

I worked the Canal Street end of Decatur last night. Canal is Soul Bowl Central. I thought it was going to be a nightmare.

I usually lock my bike up in front of the club. Last night, I brought it up the narrow, long stairwell with many a bruise to show for it. My boss nodded knowingly.

I consider myself very lucky, and I'm satisfied with last night, even though we closed Lounge Lizards an hour or more earlier than usual, and I made about $60 less than my worst night there. I'm happy about that. Because there wasn't any real and threatening trouble. Helps that we recruited Big Mac to work the door. He's about 8'14" and 750 lbs of big black meanace. God love 'im. A lot of trash just blew by with him lurking in the door. To look at Big Mac is to say to oneself, "I won't be fuckin' widDAT!"

Some trash got through, of course. "Ahka hava Crown & Coke?" I'd make the drink. "Ahka have dat in plastic?" I switch cups. "Ahka hava lemon?" I give them one. "Ahka have anuddah lemon?" I give them another. After (at least) four revisions of a simple drink, I would be invariably stiffed. I didn't care. Bayou Classic is one of those nights that you just work, accept the fact that people are trash, and hope to get through with all limbs attached.

I don't even know how I made the relatively meager money I did last night. Yes, I overcharged trash for their drinks. I don't generally do that — never, in fact — giving people the benefit of the doubt that they know the rules of etiquette of going to a bar, but there are no rules during Soul Bowl, and everyone knows it.

"Gimme three cups of ice."

"Three bucks, please."

"Daaaaamn, bitch! Tree dallahz fo' some ice? Hazza-wabba-ZOObah!"

"Uh-huh. Whateveryousaid."

In addition to having to deal with zoo monkeys, it should go without saying that most of my regular lovelies wouldn't step foot in a French Quarter bar to save their life during Soul Bowl weekend. So there is not the luxury of looking up to a friendly face when in need of silent solace. (misterchurch, I can't blame you for not going out last night, but I can damn you æternally to hellllll!)

I had a lovely little couple in from Houston last night. They were just taking advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday, and thought it would be fun to come to New Orleans.

"It took us four hours to drive to New Orleans from Houston, and three hours to try to get near the hotel."

"Where are you staying?"

"Marriott on Canal."


They showed me their special Marriott bracelets. The hotels make people who belong in their hotels wear bracelets so they can kick out the rest of the trash.

"Wait, let me see that," I said, grabbing the guy's arm and examining the little hospital tag.

It said, "VIP, Bayou Classic." I laughed.

"What's so funny?"

"That's gotta be Marriott's little joke."

"Whaddya mean?"

"Well 'VIP' and 'Bayou Classic' are oxymoronic. They cancel each other out. What it should say is, 'VIP — not here for Bayou Classic."

Co-worker Alex and I tipped out Big Mac big time, despite our lack of fundage.

As I left, my boss asked me, "How was your night?"

"Crap. And I'm not even complaining."