Candy Land

Everything being a constant carnival, there is no carnival left.
—-Victor Hugo

New Orleans, Tulane Homecoming

The thing about a carnival at night, well, it’s the smell. The smell of popping corn, of hot grease, the sweet smell of a cotton candy machine, the sour of the overexcited crowd … but over all of it the burning of ozone – thrown from the high voltage sparks of the hurling metal motors, copper coils and sparking brush gaps, overseen by the barkers and attendants and maintenance men – addict thin and covered with bad tattoos.

The yelling, the tinkling music – short old familiar tunes played over and over – the clanking machines, the screams of the children.

It’s like walking into another world, you stumble gap-mouthed, clutching your little string of cardboard tickets. Memories of carnivals past – of young couples, and getting sick on the tilt-a-whirl – because the carnival is timeless. That’s the point, isn’t it? – a cheap alternate universe. Step right up, step right up, we will sell you, if not something better, at least something a little different.

Sometimes you see one moving down the highway. The rides folded into compact nests of metal, all peeling paint and bright signs. The little buildings collapsed onto themselves, the same workers now driving the trucks – headed for the next dying mall parking lot, or vacant field on the edge of some sad town, or like this one, a special day at a university – the kids enjoying something different on the same grass they walk across every day.

A hot dog, please, and a funnel cake, and a coke and a beer, and a big cone full of cotton candy please, please please – I’ll throw the ball at the milk bottles and win a stuffed bear, or sit in the seat and get thrown in the air.

Hope all those bolts are tight.

G Force

Einstein’s Principle of Equivalence:

The starting point for general relativity is a statement called the principle of equivalence, which states that a uniform gravitational field in some direction is indistinguishable from a uniform acceleration in the opposite direction.

However, Einstein also said:

You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.
—-Albert Einstein

Tulane Homecoming, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Stooges Brass Band

The kids at Tulane are so lucky (in many different ways) – and I’m not sure they realize it fully. Can you imagine going to college in that city? Being young and having that much history, music, and soul around you all the time would be an unbelievable experience.

All I had was bad disco.

After driving to New Orleans we were able to catch some of the homecoming festivities on campus. The Stooges Brass Band was set up on the Quad in back of the student center – though most of the kids seemed more interested in lining up for some free food.

The Stooges Brass Band

The Stooges Brass Band

The Stooges Brass Band

The Stooges Brass Band

The Stooges Brass Band

The Stooges Brass Band

I really liked The Stooges and wanted to stick around for the next act, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, but Lee had to work. He has a very important job. He works the door at The Boot. He said he was scheduled to work happy hour. We asked how long that was and he said, “Six to Ten.”

Great Music, Great Food, a Great City, and a four hour long happy hour.

The Boot

Lee working the door at The Boot. You can see his face on the right of the pipe sticking up.

Happy Hour at The Boot

It was a big Friday Evening Happy Hour Homecoming crowd at The Boot. Lee says it's always like that.

Mercedes Benz Superdome

Tulane was playing Memphis in its homecoming game at the newly-named Mercedes Benz Superdome (complete with the world’s largest hood ornament hanging from the roof) in downtown New Orleans. The university provided a shuttle bus but we decided to drive downtown, find a parking spot and then walk over to the pre-game tailgate party. I used my phone to carefully plot a route from campus to the most promising lots but New Orleans traffic is unforgiving and a mistake in lane placement forced me onto a ramp that wound around until it set us on Interstate 10 going towards Baton Rouge. Before I could get to an exit we were farther away than when we started and in a completely unknown neighborhood.

I have no idea where we went but we eventually ended up downtown winding around one-way streets with no turns allowed, still confused and lost. Finally, we spotted a lot and after a couple near-misses managed to park.

I would have bet we were a mile from the stadium, but it was only a couple of blocks.

Candy, Lee, and Drew walking to the Superdome for Tulane's homecoming game.

Lee at the game.

The Superdome is an amazing building – it is so unlike anything else it appears surreal when you first set eyes on it. There is no reference point so you can’t really understand its massive size… or even figure out how far away it is. It is such a familiar sight you instantly recognize the shape and color, but somehow it always looks like it is something on television and could not really exist in the real world.

They have spruced up the exterior and redone the inside and it is very nice. It almost looks modern. One thing that I did notice, however, is that a lot of the interior ceiling panels that were blown off when Katrina struck are still missing. I don’t know it they were too hard to fix, too expensive, or if they were left as a sort of memorial harmless hard-to-see damage.

You can’t sit inside the Superdome without thinking about Katrina. You look at the football field and imagine it crowded with terrified refugees. You look up and imagine the wind whipping and tearing holes in the roof; imagine not knowing if it is going to hold or not.

A fun innocent college homecoming football game is haunted by the ghosts of Katrina. It will probably always be that way.

Completed pass

Don't drop the cheerleader.

Eventually, the game was out of hand.

The sun was setting when we left the game. The skin of the building glows gorgeous in the crepuscular light.