NO NEW TEXANS!
Just got through watching a pretty exciting game between Los Santos de Nuevo Orleans y Los Tejanos de Houston in the Superdome. Los Santos won 40 to 33. It’s a little weird watching a game with Spanish narration, but not as strange as watching a game over in France. There they used to have a game of the week on the television on Mondays. Americans found it nearly impossible to watch it. Theoretically, a football game is 60 minutes long. Theoretically. But we all know it takes at least 90 minutes what with all the time outs and clock stoppages for incomplete passes, runners stepping out of bounds, etc. But not on French television. There, after an incomplete pass the picture is right back with the quarterback under center and time outs are axed for the audience, too, so an American football game on television in France takes exactly 60 minutes to broadcast. But in spite of the Spanish narration here even someone who doesn’t speak the language can understand “yardas,” “completo,” “incompleto” and “TOUCHDOWN!!!” So practically anyone can catch the drift of the game.
The whole world became acquainted with the Superdome when Hurricane Katrina screamed in from the Gulf of Mexico and literally destroyed the City of New Orleans. Some 26,000 fled to the “Dome” as a “refuge of last resort” for citizens who couldn’t leave the city” for whatever reason. Seating capacity for the Superdome in football configuration is 76,468 but in 1981 more than 87,500 attended a Rolling Stones concert in the “Dome.”
While the world might know what the Superdome is if you’re not from New Orleans or at least have lived there, you really don’t know why it’s as big as it is. There’s a quirky reason for it.
Sports visionary Dave Dixon dreamed up the idea when he was trying to convince the NFL to give The Big Sleazy a team and he looked westward towards Houston that had built the Astrodome which opened to the public in 1965. It was billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The following year Dixon and Louisiana Governor John McKeithen, who desperately wanted a huge project that would revitalize downtown New Orleans, Toured the Astrodome. Houstonians laughed at the men’s dream saying that Louisiana was so corrupt that such a project could never be successfully completed. Then and there McKeithen said that was bull shit and “I’m going to build a dome so big you can put this one inside of mine.” And when the Superdome was completed in August 1975 you could have put the Astrodome inside it, hence the name “Superdome.”
Maybe some day I’ll tell y’awl (N’Awlins expression) about my first visit to the dome which was to see the second Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks fight but right now we’re talking about the Saints playing football there. When I see a game on television being played there I know that actual perspective. It’s right where I used to watch the home games when I lived in New Orleans.
Back in 1981 I went to work as captain of this yacht:
As you can see it was owned by a company called New Orleans Tours (years later they added a large paddlewheeler gambling boat on the Mississippi). New Orleans Tours also had about a dozen buses for touring the area and they also had the contract to bring all of the visiting football teams who were going to play the Saints from the airport to their hotels and then to the Superdome on game day.
The drivers of those buses were given free entry into the Dome for the game but they had to watch standing up in the “wheelchair” section which was just to the right of where the television cameras and press boxes are located at mid-field and about 20 seat rows up from the field itself.
Well, it took the rest of us who worked for New Orleans Tours exactly one game to figure this out. We’d don our New Orleans Tours shirts with the company name embroidered over the right breast pocket and mine had “Captain Richard” over the left pocket. On game day I, along with others with the N.O.T shirts, would purchase the cheapest ticket available. It was probably somewhere in the end zone and so high that you couldn’t even stand behind the seat you were assigned but that’s just a guess because I never tried to find the seat. Instead we’d immediately go to the wheelchair section. The “rent a cop” who was stationed there to keep unauthorized people out knew that the New Orleans Tour drivers were allowed in that section, so we’d quietly pocket our cheapo tickets go to the “rent a cop” and point at the “New Orleans Tours” on our shirts and say we were with the company and implying though not actually saying we were drivers and gain admission to the restricted area. Then, to really seal the deal, we’d go to one of the people who were in a wheelchair, introduce ourselves and tell them if there was anything at all they wanted during the game to just let us know…drinks, nachos, whatever. That we we could claim were we not only with the tour company but we were personal friends with one of the handicapped.
So, that’s where I watched the games for several years. With a $15 ticket in my pocket I’d stand in the middle of the $50 seats and one of the nice things was that when things got really exciting nobody ever stood up in front of you to block your view.
There is a small group of gringos here around David who meet weekly to practice speaking our Spanish. I enjoy going because we’re all a bit hesitant in our use of the language so we aren’t overwhelmed with the rapidity with which the Panamanians speak. There are times when I hear them on their cell phones and I think to myself “there’s no way the person on the other end can understand what’s being said it’s going so fast.” Then I think, too, that it has something to do with the cost of making a cell phone call. It’s well known that people here will often call a number and hang up as soon as it starts to ring on the other end. That way their phone number shows up on the other person’s phone and they aren’t charged for a call and they expect the other person to call back on their dime. Therefore, when they are actually talking on on the phone they do it as fast as they can so they can hang up without spending too much on the call.
Anyway, the group starts at 10:30. I can’t really take the ten o’clock bus. It takes about 45 minutes to get down to the “lavamatico” (laundromat) where I need to get off and then there’s a bit of a walk to the meeting place. Taking the ten o’clock would mean showing up at least a half hour late. So, I have to catch the nine o’clock bus which means I’ve got to hang out somewhere for about three quarters of an hour before the meeting starts.
Yesterday I went to the little “fonda” across from where the bus stops. A “fonda” is a kind of restaurant. I figured I’d have a cup of coffee and read my Kindle for a while.
I’ve written about how good the coffee is here in Panama. Much of it is grown within arms reach of where I live. I enjoy Finca Ruiz Italian roast and every now and then I go to their store in Boquete to get some of the other beans they offer but which aren’t available in the super markets. They’re also about double in price to what you can buy at El Rey or Super Barú but every once in a while I like to treat myself to a special cup. I buy the whole bean coffee and grind each batch fresh though I do have about four pots- worth pre-ground and sitting in the fridge in case I wake up and the electricity is off and I can’t use the grinder. The stove is gas.
So, I order my coffee, knowing it’s not going to be freshly ground beans or Italian, French or Espresso roast, but can you imagine my horror, here in the heart of coffee-land, when the lady behind the counter tossed a heaping tablespoon full of INSTANT coffee into a Styrofoam cup and added hot water? What a sacrilege! Why didn’t the coffee police swoop down on this little fonda and instantly haul this woman away to some dank, dark dungeon and punish her severely? Surely this had to be some serious breach of the penal code, no?
Obviously I won’t be going there again. There is, however, a few blocks away, another little fonda that I’m going to get to some day and I want to get a picture of the place. The name of it is ¿Dónde está José? Where’s Joe? Gotta love it.
There is a feature for WordPress bloggers called “Tag Surfer.” It hones in on what other bloggers have written that you have expressed an interest in. Today I found a post by an unknown (there’s no”About” section attached to the blog so I don’t know who wrote it. It’s called:
And the title of the post was: “So, You Want To Move To Europe? Part Two I have to admit I didn’t see Part One.
Anyway, the unknown author presented an article from Cracked.com and the post:
Now, Cracked.com is a humor site, but there’s a lot of truth in this post. Here are the six reasons given and I’ll add my own notes but you need to read the article for yourself if you’ve ever thought about moving to Panama or any other country that’s not your own…
Personally I haven’t met anyone here in Panama like that, but I know they exist. My lawyer told me once that she has friends who don’t like gringos. Hey, I understand. I don’t like most of them either.That isn’t to say I don’t have some gringo friends here, but for the most part I avoid gringos. I went to the Tuesday Market in Boquete once and I shudder to think of ever having to go back again. I bought what I came to get and left as soon as possible. But then again, I do that with shopping in general. That may have something to do with sex. (No, not THAT kind of sex. Sex as in which one you were born into.) Most women go love to go “shopping.” That doesn’t mean they’re going to buy anything when they go, but that’s the term most women use. Men, on the other hand when they have something they want or need to get, they go to the store, find the item or items, pay for them and leave.
Panama is a little bit different. They are actually trying to make it easy for people, retired people that is, to move to this small country where they will voluntarily spend their retirement income.
Now this is spot on. Don’t think moving somewhere else is going to change a lot of things. I never went to McDoo Doo’s in the States and I’m NOT going to go to one here. But I hate having to go all the way to Panama City for some tasty, spicy fried chicken. LOVE that chicken from Popeyes. Pio Pio just doesn’t cut it and KFC which is here in David, gets the same treatment as Mc Doo Doo’s. Didn’t eat it there won’t here, either. Same thing goes for Domino’s, Pizza Hut and TGIF,, all of which have a presence here in David.
As my regular readers know, I lived in New Orleans for nearly 10 years from the mid ’70s to mid ’80s and, of course, fell in love with the music. I mean who wouldn’t? In my travels since leaving the Big Sleazy, I mean Big Easy, I’ve run across New Orleans music many places.
When I was living on the French Riviera the Neville Brothers, who were once upon a time a $5 cover charge at Tipitina’s on a Saturday night, were featured at the Juan les Pins Jazz Festival. Unfortunately for the Nevilles an acapella group of young girls from London opened the show and blew the audience away. They were called the Mint Juleps and though I posted a couple of videos of the group before I’ll post one to either jog your memory or introduce you to them. This was the song they opened their set with…
Now you understand why the Nevilles didn’t stand a chance after the girls left the stage.
A few years later when I was on my single-handed trip through Mexico, Belize and up into the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, I pulled into the small town of Placencia, Belize. After getting anchored and securing everything on board I hopped into the dinghy and headed to a funky bar built out over the water, and who should be wafting out over the water from the juke box? One of my all-time favorites, Marcia Ball.
A few days later as I was walking down the sidewalk in Placencia (there was no road or streets in Placencia when I was there, just this half mile-long “sidewalk” down the center of town) I heard another New Orleans music legend coming out of someone’s house. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I just had to stand there in the broiling afternoon sun until Johnny Adams, also known as the “Tan Canary,” finished singing this famous song…
I only saw Johnny Adams live once, but it was something I’ll never forget. Now, hearing Marcia Ball and Johnny Adams, each within a week, tells you that Placencia, Belize is one VERY cool little town.
Last Friday I was down the hill a little way helping a gringo friend saw up some lumber. David, who also lived in New Orleans for a while, streams music into his shop from some feed in the States and there was an “I can name that tune in three notes” moment when this famous piano pounder from the Ninth Ward started to drift over the sound of the circular saw.
I sort of give that one a pass since I know it was beamed in from north of the Rio Grande and shouldn’t count but it’s MY blog and I LOVE the good Doctor.
But this next selection DOES count. I got onto my bus at the terminal in downtown David to head back up the hill this morning. People like to get on it as soon as the bus pulls into its berth because the air conditioning is on in the bus and it’s HOT in David this time of the year at noon. The buses all play music, mostly the “Tipica” rhytms of Panama which I really love, but you could have knocked me over with a feather when the local “Tipica” station aired THIS song…
You can travel all over the world, but if I keep my ears open New Orleans music will creep up on me and say, “Hey, Richard, WHERE Y’AT?”
You all know I have a soft spot for the PDR (Puddle Duck Racer). Eleven months ago I wrote a post about how a Finn, Perttu Korhonen, modified the standard 8’X4′ PDR into a cool, but tiny, weekender. http://houseboatshantyboatbuilders.wordpress.com/2010/10/ In today’s issue of Duckworks (if you haven’t bookmarked this great blog, do it now) there was this video of Perttu taking a cruise on Lake Konnevesi. The lake is located in the middle of the country and the whole area seems to be covered with lakes. http://maps.google.com/maps?t=h&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=62.613562,26.559448&spn=0.721399,1.774292&z=9&vpsrc=6&output=embed
View Larger Map
I love the Ocean Explorer but I’m not sure I’d want to have one in Finland. I understand that summers are great there. They had it on a Thursday last year. Take a ride with Perttu in this YouTube video…