Judge my qualifications as a reporter of yesterday’s events accordingly, but I have readily admitted to being a fairweather football fan. True confessions, I have not even seen an LSU tiger football game this season. (Watching last night, I saw the error of my ways. Mea Culpa.) I realize that should disqualify me from admittance to the BIG party, but I had to go. I did the show from the downtown studio, leaving Tom at home for obvious reasons. His contempt for our national sport is no secret.
Before the show, I walked around town to soak up the scene, even trying to recruit Clemson visitors to come up to the studio to chat about the food they’ve discovered while here. I was alarmed by these brief conversations. Not only did I not have any success with this, I was checked out so thoroughly by people with frightened looks on their faces I had to wonder how I was coming off to them. But more disturbing was the question: Is this where we are as a society? Aging matron in broad daylight standing outside obvious office building with a fun proposition to talk food on a radio show should not have been so alarming. To so many. Maybe I don’t want to ponder this too deeply. After about 30 minutes of this brutal failure, I went upstairs for the show. It was uneventful, but flowed well enough that I didn’t even miss our would-be impromptu visitng “guests,” most of whom were coming from Mother’s. How much could be said about that anyway?
As soon as the show ended, I went to meet a college friendship couple who is, to put it mildly, obsessed with the team, and were staying at the team hotel. I arrived at the team hotel just in time to see the send-off of our Tigers in team buses. It was very exciting, and I got a nice video...of my feet.
After I could make my way into the hotel when the buses pulled away, my friends were sitting exactly where they had promised, at a high top in the lobby, which had been turned into LSU central, with an enormous screen and smaller ones everywhere. Sofas were covered with bodies of people wearing clever shirts like “Geaux Tigers, not Feaux Tigers." My friends were decked out in their purple and gold, which is not a lot different than their everyday wear. There were crazy hats and beads and foam fingers, and I briefly wondered if I would make it through this.
I thought about going over to Carl’s Fried Chicken, or my usual Vitascope Hall, but there was something charming about this scene, and I didn’t want to leave. I knew the food would be less interesting here, but the team spirit would make up for it. Drinks flowed and boxes of Popeye’s Chicken from next door came and went, including a tasting of the phenom chicken sandwich. Thumbs up was the verdict, along with puzzlement about the hype. So, in other words, a standard reaction.
A very strong smell came from a nearby table. It was HOT. The plate of wings certainly looked and smelled legit, and we decided to order food here at this Marriott. The menu was even pretty interesting. A pizza was ordered, the kind with everything on it, and that was good enough. Also, hamburgers (pictured) looked great. I was going to order the NOLA hot chicken sandwich, just to continue my casual coverage of the trend, but the burger called to me. I wish it hadn’t, because upon much closer inspection seemed a pre-formed patty. Otherwise, it was good, with fresh dressings and a good bun, and ordinary crinkle frozen fries. Not nearly as good as neighboring Shake Shack.
This was all standard bar food and frankly better than it needed to be. Perfect for an intense football game where the contest was the focus of the evening, not the food. Beers flowed, cheers flowed, and the right outcome came.
When the game ended, I swung into the Windsor Court on my way to the car. It was a much more subdued but still jubilant crowd. I enjoyed the walk to the car in the dense fog, observing elated and well-behaved crowds of people I knew would be celebrating far longer than I. My friends went into the Quarter, which they later reported to be disgusting (exactly why I bailed.)
My trajectory out of the city was circuitous because of crowds and police and collapsed buildings. And I was happy to be on my way in the thankfully no-convoy crossing of the bridge, smiling as I listened to WWL and its callers, all beaming at the great victorious night, football at its finest on display.