The Saints have won the Super Bowl and New Orleans has lost its collective nut. Everywhere, complete strangers who'd just as likely as not have absolutely nothing to do with each other in the cold light of sobriety are hugging, slapping high fives, and generally proclaiming the Who Dat Nation's superiority over all.
I went to a Super Bowl party at work and can't get across Bourbon. I've taken refuge in The Chart Room, a bar on Chartes with two dollar Abita and friendly shadows. A kid named Ben, a native no older than 25 and overcome with drunken emotion has spent the last ten minutes explaining why this game, this win means so much.
After Katrina, the Saints almost gave New Orleans up to the swamps. So did everyone else, so who could blame them. But when the team came back and began to win - particularly the first win back in the Superdome against the Falcons - it was a sign, he said. It was a sign that said that neither the town nor the team was giving up. It was a sign that New Orleans could not only rebuild but be better than ever. "We're New Orleans," Ben tells me, "and we're not fucking around. Black, white, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, whatever. We're all one tonight."
Well, maybe so. I'm not a native and still finding my way around spiritually, and being the eternal Outside, I really don't have a dog in this hunt. Still, there's something undeniable in the cold French Quarter air tonight. Maybe it's just besotted delirium mixed with the normal human yen for tribalism and such bullshit. Or maybe it is, ad Ben claims, a sign, a line drawn in the sand for all that doubted The Big Easy wouldn't rise again and be the best place in the world. Right now in this crowded bar full incredibly happy people, I'm inclined to agree.