Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Geaux Big or Geaux Home

The Bucket List.
Not just a movie I never saw.
But a lifestyle.
According to, a bucket list is:

A list of things to do before you die. 
Comes from the term "kicked the bucket".

I’ve never spent the time to create such a list, but there are definitely a few things that I’ve always wanted to do.
Like go to New Orleans.
A place that features two of my favorite things.
Music and food.
Not necessarily in that order.
Well this weekend, I’m going to get that chance.
You see I got a call about a month ago from a friend.
A friend who has mastered the art of living his life.
In Los Angeles.
And New York.
Prague and Iceland.
And this weekend in New Orleans.
Instead of saying “someday.”
He says today.
In full disclosure, he is single.
And without kids.
So if he wants to go somewhere, he goes.
Without hesitation.
To a married guy, like me, that grass sometimes looks greener.
And for a single guy, like him, I’m sure he’d give it all up in a second.
But for this weekend we will both be living on the same street.
Bourbon Street.
I got the free pass to go.
Not a “hall pass”.
Just a free pass.
And thanks to a bunch of leftover airline miles, I got a free plane ticket too.
As someone who is on the lip of turning the big 4-5, this was one opportunity I just couldn’t let pass.
Not to mention we are going to be in the bayou for the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Or I should say, THE New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
A festival that’s been running since 1970.
Now that first year it was more of a get together than a festival.
With an estimated 350 ticket-buyers.
Let’s just say it has grown from there.
In fact, in 2001, the total attendance for the two-week event was more than 650,000 people.
Including 160 grand in just one day.
The festival is held at the New Orleans Fairground Race Course.
With ten different stages.
All going at the same time.
Acts performing from 11 in the AM.
To seven in the PM.
Something like 70 bands a day.
For seven days.
That’s like 9,000 bands.
And sure, most of them you’ve never heard of.

Me neither.
But isn’t that half the fun?
The main stage is where they put all of the acts that don’t quite full under the category of “jazz”.
Let’s call them the ringers.
Like this Friday night, the headlining group will be The Beach Boys.
I’m not sure I’d call Help Me Rhonda a jazz song.
But work with me.
Saturday night is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
And Sunday the weekend will close with The Boss.
Bruce Springsteen.
And the E Street Band.
This will be Bruce’s second appearance at this festival.

The first time was 2006.
A year after Katrina.
Keith Spera, a newspaper columnist who covers music for a city that breathes music, called that performance:
“The best, and certainly most emotional, musical experience of my life.”
That’s why they call him The Boss.
Every stage has a different name.
The Blues Tent.
The Jazz & Heritage Stage.
The Gospel Tent.
The Congo Square Stage.

The Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage.
Yes, corporate sponsorship.
Hey, momma’s gotta eat.
And eating is a big part of this shindig too.
Or so I am told.
We’ve all been to these giant food festivals where you wait in line... forever.
And you end up spending way too much on way too little.
Rumor has it this festival is different.
I’m sure it won’t be cheap.
But according to my sources, the food is amazing.
And really bad for you too.
Fried this.
And fried that.
Spicy here.
Spicy there.
Everything I love.
I’ve always said I would try anything once.
Well, this is my chance.
Apparently one of the Louisiana delicacies is a crawfish.
More crustacean than fish.

But this little baby lobster lookin’ fella is a must get on this trip.
I’ve been told you gotta suck the head out of the crawfish to enjoy the abdominal fat juices.
There’s gotta be a better way to say that.
But 650,000 people can’t be wrong.
Thanks to the good folks at Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, we’ve got plenty of food to try away from the festival too.
Like Katie’s.
A place that shutdown in 2005.
Seven feet of hurricane water washed through this restaurant, closing it down for nearly five years.
But in March of 2010, Katie’s re-opened.
And today they’re doing better than ever.
Why not, have you seen “The Barge”?
An entire french loaf, stuffed with shrimp, catfish and oysters.

All fried.
It’s like a Po Boy on deep fried steroids.
The menu says it serves 2-4.
We’ll see about that.
If that doesn’t work, there’s always  Katie's “Boudreaux”.

That’s a pizza.
Topped with Cochon de Lait (smoked cajun pork), roasted garlic, spinach, onions and garlic butter cream reduction.
Sounds healthy.
Sounds amazing.
I better leave my skinny jeans at home.

In my bucket.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear. Mr. Petrino

Dear Mr. Petrino,
Woo Pig Sooie!
Congratulations on a great football season last year.
If it wasn’t for those two losses, you would’ve been perfect.
But as it turns out, you were nowhere near perfect.
Hey, we’ve all been there.
Ok, I’ve never made an 18 million dollar mistake.
But I did buy a stock once that lost 20% in one day.
Does that count?
Hey, I get it.
That girl is hot.
And you are over 50.
And she is under 30.
But come on man.
You were the head football coach at the University of Arkansas.
Riding around that college town.
On a motorcycle.
Without a helmet.
With a 25-year old hot blonde on the back of your bike.
Who do you think you are, Bruce Springsteen?
Born to Run is just a song.
Not a lifestyle.
What the hell are they putting in that Arkansas drinking water anyway?
Slick Willie thinks it’s called the Oral Office.
And now you?
Hey, I get it.
That film room can get awfully cold at night.
And you’re a man.
And a man needs what a man needs.
But in your case, what you needed was a reality check.

Men in Arkansas fool around with women young enough to be their daughter all the time.
Sometimes it might even be their daughter.
It’s Arkansas.
I get it.
Are you the first man to have an affair?
Of course not.
Are you the first man to have an affair with a co-worker?
Of course not.
Are you the first man to have an affair with a co-worker that you hired?
Of course not.
Are you the first man to have an affair with a co-worker that you hired, while she is engaged to somebody else?
Of course not.
Not in Arkansas.
Hey, I get it.
But who taught you how to cover your tracks, John Edwards?
Let’s take a ride down timeline avenue.
And you better wear a helmet.
March 28, 2012:  Jessica Dorrell gets hired as a “student-athlete development coordinator”.
Whatever that is.
Not exactly breaking news.
At the time.
In fact, we probably never would’ve heard of Ms. Dorrell if it wasn’t what took place on April 1.
No foolin.
That was the day you apparently zigged.
When you should’ve zagged.
And that motorcycle accident left you with one whale of a headache.
And a real pain in the neck.
Two days later you step up the mic and you tell the Arkansas media that it’s all good.
Just me and my hog out for a ride.
Nothing to see here.

Actually you’re real words were:
“It was a situation where I don't remember a lot about exactly what happened.”
Did Bill Clinton write that for you?
You don’t remember exactly what happened?
I guess that short term memory loss was real short.
Because just three days later you said:
"Today, I've acknowledged this previous inappropriate relationship with my family and those within the athletic department administration."
Oh really?
You’ve “acknowledged” it.
To your wife?
And your four kids?
And the athletic department?
Ddi you acknowledge that you gave Dorrell a $20,000 “gift” to buy a car?
We found out about that on April 10.
And did you acknowledge that in the last seven months you and little miss hottie had exchanged 300 phone calls.
And 4,300 text messages.
We found out about that on April 12.
4,300 text messages!
Who are you my 14-year-old daughter?
Amazingly, coming off one of the best football seasons in school history, the University of Arkansas had seen enough.
Just nine days after you stepped out over the line.
In that chrome wheeled, fuel injected, suicide machine.
The school ripped the bones from your back.

And your neck too.
With cause.
You and that tramp may have been born to run.
But the Razorbacks wanted nothing to do with it.
On April 10, Jeff Long, the school’s athletic director, said:
“Coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff, both before and after the motorcycle accident.”
Gone in 60 seconds.
Actually nine days.
Now as part of your contract, the school would owe you a cool $18 Million if they fired you.
And under normal circumstances Judge Judy probably would’ve given it to you.
But there is nothing normal here.
Instead of dragging this thing out.
And with your hand firmly implanted in that cookie jar.
You finally did the right thing.
For once.
You did the walk of shame.
Waiving the right to challenge the firing.

And waiving the right to all that money.

That you didn't deserve.

After all, you are no longer a Hog.

You are now just a Pig.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Voice

Yesterday was the worst day in Dodgers history.
For now.
It had nothing to do with what happened on the field.
It was what was missing right above it.
In the press box.
For just the second time in 63 years, Vin Scully missed a Dodgers home opener.
In 1977, the masterful announcer missed that game to broadcast The Masters golf tournament.
This year his absence was due to something far more significant.
A cold.
Ok, “just” a cold.
But enough of a cold to keep him home.
And that was news.
National news.
In fact, the report I heard this morning went something like this:
Andre Ethier’s 8th inning homer lifted the Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the Pirates.  Dodgers announcer Vin Scully missed the game with a bad cold.
Not too many announcers make headlines when their fever gets a little high.
But Vin Scully is not like any announcer.
He is the announcer.
The greatest announcer in sports history.
I’m sure the good people in Detroit might debate that.
Maybe St. Louis too.
But as a kid who grew up in Los Angeles.
There was nothing better than snuggling up to your radio to listen to the sweet sounds of Vincent Edward Scully.
You see kids, back in the day, we had this device called a transistor radio.
It kinda resembled an iPod.
I suppose.
Minus all of the bells.
And all of the whistles.
But what the transistor radio did do was let you listen to Dodger baseball as you went to bed.
April through September.
October if you were lucky.
From the opening theme song:
It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame,
for a ballgame, today.
The fans are out to get a ticket or two
From Walla Walla, Washington to Kalamazoo
To the Farmer John commercial at the end.
Where this Jewish kid learned all about “butt and shank portions.”
There was nothing like listening to a Dodgers baseball game.
But as much as I loved Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey.
And as much as I cursed the hated Giants.
Even before I knew how to curse.
Dodger baseball was all about one thing.
Vin Scully.
You think Smokey Robinson has a smooth voice.
Try Vin.
Whether it was Kirk Gibson’s “improbable” and “impossible” homer in ’88.
Or a story about nothing.
Vin made every baseball inning special.
And he still does to this day.
Now 84, Vin doesn’t do as many road games as he used to.
In fact, I’m not even sure if he leaves the state of California anymore.
But when it comes to baseball at Dodger Stadium you can count on two things.
Expensive parking.
And Vin Scully.
Except for yesterday.
And that scares me.
I’ve had the good fortune to meet Mr. Scully.
Several times.
And every time it’s an honor.
For me.
After all, Vin was the man who put me on the map.
Even if he doesn’t know it.
You see, back in 1993, I was a young pup TV guy.
Working at the Dodgers affiliate in LA.
On the night of July 3rd.
A Friday night.
Vin’s broadcast partner and Dodgers hall of fame pitcher Don Drysdale died of a sudden heart attack.
It was my job to quickly put together the obit segment to honor this fallen star.
So I scrambled to find the appropriate video.
And I scrambled even more to write the appropriate words.
As soon as that was done, I faxed the script.
From our studio in LA.
To Mr. Scully.
On the other side of the continent.
Then I waited.
And waited.
Until it was time for Vin to read the words I had written.
Finally, when our video feed came up, I heard his voice.
And for the next two minutes.
Which felt like two hours.
He read every word I wrote.
Word for word.
Without changing one.
Now considering the tragedy we were covering, there wasn’t anything to celebrate.
But as a budding writer, hearing Vin Scully take the words from my head and have them come out of his mouth.
That was more than I ever could’ve imagined.
The piece turned out really well.
So well, I actually won an Emmy Award for it.
My first.
There’s an old saying that a great voice can read the phone book.
I would have to agree.
Get well soon Vin.