There are a whole lot of dead people in New Orleans. I saw them resting in vast cemeteries that ran alongside the interstate seemingly for miles on the way into town—a drive from the airport that was so long that I started thinking to myself Uh, where’s New Orleans?, wondering if I had landed in Monroe by accident. These cemeteries look like miniature cities, their avenues lined with mausoleums ranging from grand to modest. New Orleans, as you might have heard, lies below the sea level. There is no six feet under option here for the deceased. And so a great many bodies are interred either right below the ground, or above it inside these collective monuments to the departed. They’re impossible to miss. The Uber ride into town carried me across the flattest land I’d ever encountered. It was like Kansas with a personality. The graves were the only topography. And what those graves say is that you may die here, but if you do, you’re not gonna rest quietly.
Eventually, the city came into view. I saw the Superdome and the Juicero Center where the Pelicans play and I knew I had finally arrived. I stared out the window as my Uber zigged and zagged across residential streets that had absurdly fat medians and were canopied by the far-reaching branches of majestically sprawling oak trees. I stared at all the houses and even the abandoned ones were gorgeous and strange. Nearly every house we drove past had a balcony or porch wrapped in ornate wrought ironwork that mimicked the elegant gnarls of the trees above. If you’re into house porn, this is your place. If you’re into a LOT of things, this is your place. They’ve got surveillance cameras all over town, and they’re adorned with blue-and-red cop lights that blink all night long, as a way of letting revelers know that the five-oh WILL see you if you’ve got your dick out. But that hasn’t stopped NOLA from partying the way NOLA does, and I doubt it ever will.
This is not gonna be meditation on what New Orleans means. If you haven’t sated your appetite for that particular strain of writererering, there are a million novelists, foodies, and Professional Southerner types out there ready to give you what you need. This past weekend was my first rodeo in NOLA, and I went there in search of little more than available weed and fun places to eat: two easily accomplishable missions. I was a tourist, as I am pretty much everywhere I go. Cargo shorts. New Balance sneakers. The whole deal. This is a travelogue for tourists, by a tourist.
In fact, I even made sure to hit the free space on the New Orleans Tourism Bingo Card by going there for a bachelor party. One guy in our group who lived in NOLA warned us in advance that we should visit Bourbon Street but that, once there, we should A) never pee out in the open and B) never, EVER touch the police horses, for any reason. You would think it would be easy to abide by these minimal rules, but apparently that’s not the case when you’ve got a dozen hurricanes coursing through your bloodstream, you gotta piss real bad, and Sugarcube the cop horse looks so cute and friendly.
I, however, am old and tired. Also, surveillance cameras. I was in no danger of getting too frisky with Mr. Ed at 4:00 a.m. I did my tourist duty and visited Bourbon Street, but I did so in the middle of the day. I was high as balls, but relatively well-behaved. I am now at the juncture in life where every entertainment option at my disposal—from TV shows to live donkey porn—has to compete with sleep on my to-do list, and sleep almost always wins. Still, I had to check a few things off on the NOLA bucket list for this bachelor party. Come and dance with me through a few of them.
WEED. Found it.
BOOZE. Can’t drink it anymore. Brain damage. I can already see you’re disappointed.
GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO. I got a cup of it as a side at the Parkway Bakery, alongside a roast beef and gravy sandwich that could have fed an entire Super Bowl party. It was listed as the “small” on the menu. My side cup of gumbo was the size of barrel. I have no idea if it was the BEST gumbo in town, but it was definitely a good one. I finished it in minutes.
DABBLING IN THE OCCULT. Yep. We took the groom to Jackson Square and bought him a tarot card reading from a lady who looked like a figure you’d see ON a tarot card. The fortune teller assured us that, unlike others who plied her trade, she kept a reference manual by her side to the deck so that you could double-check her interpretations of your draw. She had the ethics. She said his marriage would go fine. I was also gonna go to a voodoo museum with the group, but I peeled off with another friend of mine in search of…
BEIGNETS. Did that. We insisted on hunting down REAL beignets, because we wanted the most authentic tourist trap experience possible. Turns out we were not alone in that mission. I waited a long-ass time for those donuts, man. I bit into one and was strangely disappointed it wasn’t hollow. Whole lotta dough to chew. It did come topped with enough powdered sugar to prank a DEA officer, though. So that was neat.
GETTING AWAY WITH PASS INTERFERENCE. I did not get to do this. Horrible oversight on my part. I will tell you, though, that I saw a shitload of Saints merch all over town. People hung old Saints banners from their windows. They wore Brees jerseys that they had clearly worn before, not like the distressingly out-of-the-box jerseys you find all over the usual NFL tailgate lot. The signature fleur-de-lis decorates all of New Orleans, so the Saints logos among them blended into the landscape seamlessly.
STRIPPERS/HOOKERS. Again, I have let you down. Twenty years ago, I might have been super into losing $500 at a dark club to get an unquenched erection. But now, sleep.
GRILLED OYSTERS. Fuck yeah.
GULF SHRIMP. Double fuck yeah.
CRAWDADS. Not in season. I blame the President.
ETOUFEE. I did not eat any etoufee. To be honest I don’t actually know what etoufee is.
THE FRENCH QUARTER. Yep, I did that. We walked along Bourbon Street for roughly two blocks and that was good enough. It was the rest of the area that I found more peaceful and interesting. I knew I’d love New Orleans, but I didn’t expect to love for the reasons I ended up doing so. I loved the shrimp. I loved the fancy grape soda one upscale restaurant served me as a mocktail. I loved Jackson Square. I loved gawking at the Mississippi from Decatur Street. I loved checking out St. Louis Cathedral (while high) and staring at its painted ceilings. As my friends and I walked out of the church, I spotted a confessional and made sure to get out a dad joke at its expense. “Us boys are gonna need that booth pretty soon, HUH?”
Out in the square, we spotted a street magician trying to get out of a straitjacket for a crowd. I told my friends the jacket was looser than it appeared. I saw Breaking The Magician’s Code once. I KNOW MY ILLUSIONS. We spotted a plaque that reminded visitors that NOLA was a Spanish settlement before the French influences descended. But I promise you: no plate in this town was small.
I loved the art, so much so that I bought a painting from a sidewalk artist as a gift for my wife. The frame was made out of reclaimed wood from houses destroyed by Katrina. At least, that’s what his sign said his frames were made of. Good enough for me. He wrapped his masterwork up in saran wrap and handed it to me just as a massive downpour ensued. The painting stayed dry. It even stayed intact when I put it in the overhead bin on the flight back. The flight attendant did not let me keep the painting in my lap. Given that I had a middle seat, that probably came as a great relief to the other people in my row. My wife thought the painting was good but not great. I was crushed.
THE PEOPLE. I loved the people of New Orleans, naturally, because they were weird and fun in ways that don’t always draw the interest of a FOX camera crew shooting B-roll. We got into a car late one night and the driver was one of those Uber drivers who tries a little TOO hard to be charming. But he made up for the strain by having a Christmas light projector—the kind that beams light displays onto the side of a house—running INSIDE the fucking car. This was a remarkable gift to anyone who is stoned. I’m gonna get one of those projectors for my bedroom. So jolly!
BAR BALCONY. We did indeed find a bar that played live music and had a balcony where you could go loom over the street and pretend you’re King of the Cajuns. I did not expose my breasts to anyone. Pity for them. Later on, we told stories about shitting ourselves. One friend of mine was like, “It was oddly okay at first because the shit was warm. But then it turned cold.”
Did I do every NOLA thing possible when I was in NOLA? Reader, I did not. If I had, I would have ended up in one of those mausoleums. But I did enough. That’s the beauty of a city like New Orleans. I’m like every other uptight asshole who feels obligated to travel with AMBITION: to dine at every important restaurant and see all the important shit that doesn’t always get listed in the travel guide.
New Orleans, as is its wont, absolves visitors of that ambition. Like a small handful of other great American cities—Chicago, Austin, Miami—it’s impossible to make a mistake there as a tourist. I did not eat at Commander’s Palace. I did not get arrested for trying to feed oats to a police horse. I shopped for breakfast shit at a Whole Foods. It didn’t matter. I left happy because everything about New Orleans is designed to keep you that way, and that design is unimpeachable.
On Sunday morning, I got in another Uber for that long, flat ride back to Louis Armstrong airport. This time, it felt like the drive was over far too quickly.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Chiefs at Lions: I have a theory about former Pats assistant coaches who become head coaches, and it goes beyond them merely being bad. The Lions are unbeaten right now, so that declaration isn’t even true of Matt Patricia… FOR NOW.
I think coaches like Patricia go into the new job doing all the shit that Belichick does: being needlessly surly, cutting players on a whim, and safeguarding their practices like they’re in charge of Fort Knox. I think those same coaches plan, as most new coaches likely do, for a period of eating shit—call it a year—in which they lose and in which everything they do is questioned by all the fools and haters. The difference with the Belichick acolytes is that I think all of them believe that if they change NOTHING about what they do or how they treat people, they’ll eventually come out on the other side and everyone around will just come to accept their fuckheadery as standard and necessary. They are the most coach-like of coaches.
This worked for Belichick, after all. He went 5-11 his first year in Foxboro, and that was after amassing a losing record in five years over in Cleveland. But he kept on being a stone cold prick, won a Super Bowl the following year, became the greatest coach in history, and now his whole routine is so patented that it’s practically schtick at this point. It’s like with Gregg Popovich, where everyone knows the deal and goes about their business asking questions that the coach can then rudely swat away. It’s a dance. A horrible, awkward dance.
I think every Pats assistant believes that they too can reach that point, where their bullshit is tolerated, even embraced. All they have to do is trust their little process and soon they’ll be validated. If you want proof of what that validation looks like, treat yourself to the replies to this video where Belichick gives his patented angry dad look to world’s greatest ND hater Dana Jacobson:
God, I’m depressed. HOW DARE THAT LADY ASK A MAN A QUESTION? I think Matt Patricia believes that if he wins a little bit more, he’ll be able to bitch reporters out for their posture and then convert Lions fans will be like YEAH RIGHT ON MATTY THAT GUY’S POSTURE IS FAKE NEWS! That’s the dream for these guys: to be a cock to people in peace.
Cowboys at Saints:
Patriots at Bills: I already know how this game will end, but I may as well join Bills fans in dreaming big, like I just bought a Powerball ticket. The fun is in the buildup. The drawing? Not so much.
Eagles at Packers: This game is tonight and I’ve already tapped out on the new TNF promos featuring a pupu platter of casting call leftovers dressed as fans shit-talking one another via the fourth wall. None of the fans in these spots are drunk or violent. They don’t curse. Also, their clothes are immaculate. You think I’m gonna believe that’s a REAL Eagles fan on my TV saying, “We drive a Mercedes WENTZ, baybee”? I don’t think so.
Vikings at Bears: Mitchell Trubisky does not like going by MITCH. He trusts Chicagoans to refer to him by his full name, which is a hilarious bit of blind faith on his part. Why not shorten Mitchell to CHILL? All the kids would think that’s… COOL. Huh? Huh?
Browns at Ravens
Panthers at Texans: Given how Kyle Allen played last week, I assume there are already Panthers fans out there calling for him to be the permanent starter over Cam. Let’s find out!
Everyone talks shit about Twitter, because Twitter sucks. But when you need to cherry-pick shitty opinions out of the pile to validate a hunch, there’s no better place to turn.
Jaguars at Broncos: Jalen Ramsey is out on impending paternity leave this week. This comes after he got the flu, then hurt his ankle, and then hurt his back. Join us next week when Jalen tells the Jaguars, “Actually, it’s gonna be twins! Waiting on the second one to come next Sunday!” It’s been a fun month with him. I like that neither he nor the Jags are even really trying to hide that this is a garden variety stalemate. They know you know. They’re just conspiring with each other to change his status day by day because they’re all bored.
By the way, I was high watching Gardner Minshew the other night and I highly recommend it. I watched Minshew drop a flawless bomb into the arms of a waiting receiver and I was like, “Oh my God, he’s good. He’s like GOOD good. Whoa.” Then I listened to some music and felt like I was orgasming out of my feet. That last part was not Minshew-related. OR WAS IT?!
Seahawks at Cardinals: The other day I put on my glasses and accidentally missed, stabbing myself in the eye with one of the temples. So things are going well for me. If my name was CHILL Magary, this wouldn’t be happening.
Titans at Falcons
Bucs at Rams
Raiders at Colts
Skins at Giants
Bengals at Steelers: We have reached the beginning of the dreaded bye weeks. America gets a vacation from the Jets this Sunday. No such luck when it comes to Andy Dalton. Somehow Dalton plays just well enough to never get benched, and it’s become incredibly sad to watch. In 2032, he’ll still be with the Bengals, throwing for 320 yards in double-digit losses.
Chargers at Dolphins
Public Service Announcement
Two weeks ago I wrote about the NFL’s indirect role in helping perpetuate the opioids crisis. Reader Michael wanted to add this:
I’m a pharmacist with a background in substance abuse treatment/education. The opioid issue isn’t going away soon, and unless NFL/MLB players are educated on risks of use, more deaths occur. I just had a couple thoughts regarding the way the NFL tests for those substances. I’m guessing they do the bare minimum which is a urine drug screen that is called an immunoassay. It looks only for substances that react to antibodies detected to attach to natural opioids. The only two are morphine and codeine. Well, heroin is metabolized into morphine so it would also pick that up too. But it won’t pick up synthetic (tramadol, fentanyl) or semi-synthetic (oxycodone, hydrocodone) opioids. These require further tests designed to look for their unique chemical structure and are way less likely to come up as a false positive.
Some facilities automatically reflexively order these follow-up tests as confirmation one way or another but since the NFL is all about image I bet they don’t. To keep players from using heroin, they probably don’t do anything more than the basic testing. So they could miss out on all the painkillers used clinically unless they specifically look for them.
Going by this interview Michael Rosenberg of SI conducted with Megatron, I’m guessing they do not.
“When I got to the league, [there] was opioid abuse,” Johnson says. “You really could go in the training room and get what you wanted. I can get Vicodin, I can get Oxy[contin]. It was too available. I used Percocet and stuff like that. And I did not like the way that made me feel. I had my preferred choice of medicine. Cannabis.”
I know stoners love nothing more than evangelizing weed, but for real: What if the NFL just handed out free weed to players in the locker room instead of lethal prescription shit? There’s a reason so many ex-players vouch for pot. Legally speaking, the Rams, Broncos, Seahawks, and Chargers could all test out a switch if the NFL let them. I have zero faith in that ever happening.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Kai Tangata,” by Alien Weaponry! Are you ready to have your nuts ripped off by tasty riffs AND Māori people loaded for bear?! I say you are. Here’s Rich:
This. Fucking. Song. These dudes are from New Zealand, have mixed Maori and European heritage, and sing in the Maori language. Do I understand a single word? No. Does it make the song even better? Hell yes. I defy you to listen to this entire song and not be willing to club another man to death.
According to the video description, the name of the song “Kai Tangata” is Maori for “eat people” and refers to the ancient Maori warrior tradition of eating your fallen enemies as a sign of disrespect. Fittingly, the video is seven minutes of face tattoos, war dances, and battle scenes.
FUCK AND YES. This video even includes title cards! “He brought with him the word of God and hundreds of muskets… Things would never be the same again…” That’s how you know you’re about to ROCK.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
In addition to all his current offenses, Antonio Brown has also inspired a criminal amount of Takes so appalling that they make all of the Odell boat takes look like a baseball game write-up from July. Like this one, from replacement-level Boston Globe shitpeddler Christopher L. Gasper:
With Antonio Brown gone, Patriots fans can now enjoy football guilt-free
So true. The Patriots done NOTHING wrong as an organization otherwise. If they had, you better believe that the citizens of WAHLBERG NATION would express their displeasure in having to root for a franchise with questionable moral fiber.
Rejoice, Patriots fans. You’ve got your season and your dignity back.
Because it was so hard on them to watch them defend a title by starting the season undefeated! At last, BarstoolCummy and all his boys have their INTEGRITY back. Got real dicey there for a bit.
You can enjoy this talented team with a clear conscience and without painful logical contortion.
Motherfucker, have you MET Boston fans? Are you writing this from Canada?
The Patriots told Brown to run a permanent out route on Friday…
HEYOOOOOOO. You might even say they sent him on a CORNER route… to the CORNER. Without a HITCH. POST that, Antonio!
The Patriots don’t need Brown and never should have signed him. He was a football Faustian bargain, the personification of winning by any means necessary.
Bill Belichick would still slit your fucking throat if your larynx contained microfilm of a play design he could use against some pud team 10 weeks from now. Gasper here isn’t even being obnoxious the RIGHT way as Boston fans go. He should write for a paper in St. Louis or something.
Magic Johnson’s Lock Of The Week: Bengals +4
“The Bengals are from Cincinnati, but this week they play in Pittsburgh! I believe they will defeat the Steelers in an intense football game! I’m very sad my friend Le’Veon Bell no longer plays for Pittsburgh. One of my favorite players to watch running the ball! Congrats to Chinese entrepreneur Xan Leng for opening his 13th Staples location in the city of Harbin this week! I like bosses who don’t allow their employees to have toilet breaks! We ate prawns together!”
2019 Magic record: 1-2
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
I’m gonna need Baker Mayfield to start putting up some goddamn numbers. I know his line blows, and I know his coach somehow inherited Mike McCarthy’s playcalling gene, but I drafted this young man to PRODUCE. Buddy boy it’s time you played as well as you talk shit to Rex Ryan! THERE WILL BE SEVERE CONSEQUENCES IF YOU DO NOT. I can report you to Congress, you know!
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
Dream Cars Austin! Is that a dipshit car salesman wearing a pickle suit for no good reason? Baby, you know it is. Here’s reader Taylor:
Scott Elder is a local car salesman, and he tries to do everything he can to attract attention, up to and including threatening to die if you don’t buy a car.
Is it wrong that I somehow expected Scott Elder to be a better actor on camera? He delivers every line in this ad exactly the same. It’s more unnerving than the pickle suit. Anyway, Elder will give you a car for just five cents down. I’m sure there’s no funny business on the back end of that deal.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2019 chopping block:
Jay Gruden will get the gate if the Skins lose to Daniel Jones this week (and they will). Ideally, Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder would join him in the sewer, but that’s not what will happen. What will happen is that Allen will remain, get put in charge of the coaching search, and then clumsily leak out his interest in sexy names like Jim Harbaugh. And then, as always, all the big names will spurn the Skins and the coaching search will drag on three months into the offseason, at which point they’ll hire some Sean McVay lookalike named Broden Spunk.
I would tell you I can’t believe that the Skins had the actual McVay in the building and let him walk to keep Gruden around instead. But no. No, I can very much believe it. This is all in character for the Skins. This is my comfort food.
Great Moments In Grandpa History
Reader Bryan sends in this story I call RAISIN ARIZONA:
My grandfather ate the same thing every day for 30 years. When he retired from the chemical plant he worked at, for some reason he just decided to eliminate all variety from his diet.
For breakfast he would eat Raisin Bran. My grandma would cook a full breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs almost every morning and he never took one bite. For lunch he would eat a hamburger with fries and Dr. Pepper. Four or five days a week this would be from Whataburger, and the rest of the days he would rotate between Wendy’s, Burger King, or Dairy Queen. All the employees of these fast food joints knew him by name. The only reason he didn’t eat Whataburger all 7 days a week was so he could make small talk with the employees at the other burger joints now and then. For dinner, he would eat chow-chow, which is pickled vegetables, and that he grew and pickled himself. On Thanksgiving or Christmas he would usually only eat cereal and a whole tomato with salt. He did like ice cream and would have some from time to time while watching TV.
He went fishing almost every weekend but refused to eat fish. Anything he caught, he gave away. He refused to eat at any “sit down” restaurant. The only time I ever saw him enter an actual restaurant was for my grandmothers birthday one year. The whole family went to a very nice seafood place in a nearby beach town. He ordered only a glass of water and watched everyone else eat. He got mad at me for ordering milk with seafood ‘cause he said it would make me sick. I was like 9 years old.
The Thanksgiving meal is killing me. I might yank my skin off if I saw an old man eating Raisin Bran for dinner on Turkey Day.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Dried mango! Dried fruit is fun because it has 50 times the sugar of regular fruit and none of the nutritional value. It’s a whole different way of giving yourself diabetes. And it’s SUSTAINABLE. Gotta feel good about that.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
WEREWOLF!!! From reader Hank, who sent this with the subject heading “Look at this wolf beer,” which caused me to SPRINT to open the email:
I found this 8.2% monster at a European market. Tastes malty and actually not bad at all for a $3 Slavic werewolf princess beer. However I may wake up tomorrow covered in blood and fur so who knows.
Is that… is that Ivanka on the label? It would explain a lot. That label looks like the cover to a really bad romance novel, tagline included.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“There’s only one real whistleblower in this world and that’s Patty Slots over in Tulsa. She has this tin whistle she blows when her ‘coon stew is ready, okay? That little baby is loud enough to derail boxcars, and it has. One time, Patty caused a derailment that killed four people and started a brush fire that raged for two weeks. The stew was great.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Dolphins Fans
Spiderman: Far From Home. I liked this movie, but not as much as I liked Homecoming. More important, I have a complaint about it that includes SPOILERS, and not the Avengers spoilers that you already know Far From Home gives away. Here is my beef…
[leaves breathing room if you don’t wanna see the spoilers]
Okay, so the small twist in Far From Home is that Mysterio is actually a bad guy (ZOMG!), and the twist on top of that twist is that all of his supposed heroics against the Elementals in the first half of the movie were staged projections. This is a sin that other Marvel movies have committed as well, where some elaborate effect sequence on screen turns out to be “fake” within the story itself. I already suspended my disbelief to buy all this CGI bullshit. So what good does it do me, the viewer, if those sequences aren’t even real IN the movie, man? Why did I bother watching that shit at all? If you’re gonna spend $300 million in effects, you tend to diminish the investment when you tell the audience ACTUALLY THOSE WERE JUST EFFECTS. If I want a hoax, I can just hop on Twitter for 30 seconds and find one.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Oh, I renew my objection to this pointless endeavor! Informally now and by affidavit later! Time permitting.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.