This is an open-ended blog ranging from news about my latest gigs and publications
to ruminations about politics, world affairs, culture and whatever piques my interest—or ire.

Monday, February 8, 2010


No New Orleanian could remain indifferent to the Saints' stunning triumph in the Superbowl. In my case, it feels like a kind of welcome home present to someone who moved away in 1967, the first year of the Saints' franchise, and returned to live here 40 years later. I spent most of that time in New York and Paris, and missed (perhaps mercifully) the bag years and the jokes about the 'Aints. But I could follow enough of it in the papers to know that the Saints were struggling through most of those four decades. I moved back in the wake of Katrina to find a city still reeling from the effects of the storm, badly in need of heroes, and dreams and renewal. New Orleans has shown surprising signs of revitalization in the two years since my return, but nothing has done more to restore the city's pride and confidence than the Saints' triumphant 2009 season and Superbowl victory. Coming on the heels of Mitch Landrieu's landslide victory in the mayoral election, which heralds a new start in city government, the Saints' championship brings hope that New Orleans come together and build a better future. That's something worth cheering for.


  1. How do you think the effects of the victory on the city will compare to those that followed France's World Cup triumph in 1998?

  2. Good question. In fact, as I watched the Saints' victory parade today, it reminded of nothing more than the celebrations following the French world soccer championship in 1998. The effects in that case went far beyond the sports field. The World Cup victory was followed by a period of popular optimism and confidence (contrasting with the habitual morose, wining tendency of the French), economic improvement, enhanced prestige on the world stage, and even an easing of ethnic frictions as people saw what France's mixed-race ("bleu-blanc-beur") team had accomplished by working together. I would hope that some of these same benefits can flow from the Saints' victory. But The French example is not so positive in the medium-term: as the World Cup glow wore off, the economy soured again, political infighting between a conservative president and a Socialist prime minister threatened to gridlock the government, and racial tensions rose to the point where the anti-immigrant National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen came in second to the incumbent, Jacques Chirac, in the 2002 Presidential election. Oh, and France was eliminated from the 2002 World Cup after failing to score a single goal in four games. So let's hope that New Orleans enjoys something akin to the first phase of French's World Cup glow, without suffering from the hangover that followed.

  3. My Canadian friend Phil Couvrette sent me this comment on facebook:
    Hey Tom, noticed you've cranked up the online presence with a blog and everything. I particularly enjoyed the World Cup-SB post-win comparison, 1998 having been such a fun year. Yes there was black-blanc-beur, and then I invited a female friend to see a Haifa-PSG game... only we ended up in a bad section of the stands, called Boulogne, don't know if you're familiar with that crowd but they're the ones checked with metal detectors at the entrance. Needless to say we weren't 2 minutes into the game I was asking: where did black-blanc-beur go?