Monday, September 29, 2008

The game in pics and videos

EDITOR'S NOTE: For some unexplainable reason (perhaps it had something to do with being up at 2 a.m. after flying back from Louisiana), I miss-dated all of the LSU videos appearing in this and the previous post. The correct month is September, NOT March. I'd remake the videos with the right date stamped on them, but I'm just too lazy.

A Saturday night in Tiger Stadium is like Christmas, New Year's eve and a family reunion all rolled into one. That's what it was like last Saturday for me, Russ and the other 92,000-plus fans who crammed into this hallowed coliseum to watch LSU take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

And if you think of LSU football as our common religion, then the Tiger band's pre-game show is most certainly our profession of faith.

A panoramic view of Tiger Stadium from our seats in the corner of the south end zone. Click on any pic to view it larger.

Here come the Tigers!

This was my best shot of head coach Les Miles during pre-game warm ups using the highest zoom my digital camera could muster.

Touchdowns make Tiger fans VERY happy.

Those lucky few who stick around long enough after a home game get to hear the Golden Band from Tigerland sing the school Alma Mater. It's a beautiful tradition that should get far more attention.

LSU vs. Miss. State pregame

I finished my trip to Louisiana by going to the LSU-Miss. State game in Baton Rouge Saturday with Russell, my best friend growing up who now lives in Wisconsin. He and his parents took me to my first LSU game on Sept. 15, 1984 when the Tigers beat Wichita State 47-7.
Russ and I started the day with breakfast at Louie's Cafe, a favorite late-night student hangout just off campus. The omelets are amazing!
We had no trouble finding plenty more food on the fire on campus. This guy was making a huge pot of chicken and sausage jambalaya.

LSU's three national championship flags fly high over the stadium on game day.

Do I see a haircut in Nero's future?
I took this video as the Golden Band from Tigerland made its traditional march down the hill from the band room to the stadium.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mother of all trophy rooms

It's not often that I discover an unexplored corner of LSU's campus, but that's what happened yesterday afternoon when we stumbled upon the store room for all of the football team's championship hardware.

The trophies are housed in the lobby of LSU's football operations center (click on pic to view it larger) which sits in front of the team's massive indoor practice field on the west side of campus between the Mississippi River and Tiger Stadium.

Dominating the room is a towering trophy case that contains more than two dozen of the awards won by the Tigers over the years for bowl victories.
A smaller case near the center of the room holds the team's 2007 national championship trophies, including the BCS crystal football in the center. The other side of the case holds the 2003 national championship trophy.
Some of LSU's hardware from winning Southeastern Conference championships.
The room also houses individual player awards, including this Heisman Trophy won by Billy Cannon in 1959 . . .
And a wall commemorating the team's All-Americans through the years.

Is that boudin in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

We stopped in the town of Scott, just outside Lafayette, on our way to Baton Rouge to pick up a few pounds of boudin and a bag of cracklin at Don's Specialty Meats and Grocery, a legendary maker of Cajun delicacies.
My mom and dad checked out the rabbit and stuffed cow's tongue.
You might call pickled quail eggs the original Cajun fast food. I used to eat them in the morning while riding around with my friends before school started.
What kitchen is complete without a big 'ol jar of hog lard?

I like Mike '08

I made the now annual pilgrimage to the zoo-quality habitat that houses LSU's mascot, Mike VI, which sits in the shadow of Tiger Stadium on the Baton Rouge campus.
Mike is still young but he's growing fast. He's already as large as his predecessor, and he's expected to top out at nearly 700 pounds once full grown.
My parents had visited the habitat several times already but this was the first trip by my sister, Michelle.

I bought this brick (bottom center) earlier this year as part of a fundraising campaign to support Mike. No one can say that I didn't leave my mark on LSU's campus.
Across the street in the LSU Athletic Department's headquarters we found some of my favorite Mike the Tiger icons.
This painting was created in 2003 by famed Louisiana artist George Rodrigue (think blue dog series) to help raise funds to build Mike's $3 million habitat.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cajun Country

I keep telling my friends in SoCal that my passion for LSU doesn't compare to the devotion that many other fans display here in southern Louisiana. Maybe this roadside memorial to a Tiger fan who died in a car crash finally proves the point.
I found the memorial as I rode with my parents to Abbeville in the heart of Acadiana.
No self-respecting Tiger tailgater would be without this spice mix available at Richards Meat Market in downtown Abbeville.
It took all of my will power to resist buying one of the bags of fried pork rinds sitting on top of the display case on the right.
The parental units and I enjoyed gumbo and fried seafood at a cafe down the road.
The main reason for the day trip was to visit with 94-year-old great aunt, Sr. Margaret Mary. She's a nun who's been an unapologetic liberal as long as I can remember. We really got to know each other when we both lived in New Orleans in the 1990s and early 2000s, and she was thrilled when I came out to her.Back to all things LSU. This is my college buddy John posing next to a few of the items commonly spotted under car ports in Baton Rouge.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NOLA parting shots

Is there any doubt that I had a great time returning to New Orleans for the first time in two years, hanging out in my old haunts and communing with long-lost friends and workmates?
The palm trees are back on Canal Street and they're looking better than ever. Katrina shredded the original palms that had been planted along the street's neutral ground (that's median to you non-New Orleanians). Those have been replaced, and they've been joined by more trees lining the sidewalks. The added greenery really dresses up the street.

This was one of those only-in-New-Orleans moments. While strolling down Bourbon Street in the afternoon, I stumbled across this bin filled with a freakishly large number of Mardi Gras king cake babies.
Why were they there? Who did they belong to? What could it mean? These questions will haunt me forever.
Painted miniature street cars like this one seem to randomly pop up around town. They must be a local version of Chicago's much-copied painted cows.
I actually miss this.

No trip to Nola is complete without a Saturday night stop at Cafe Lafitte's, the city's oldest gay bar which bills itself as the "Daddy of 'em all." That's (left to right) Tommy, Pedro and Fred in the center and Lyle and Galt on the right.

I also got to see the gang at my old newspaper, The Times-Picayune, but my only photo with some of my former colleagues in the business section was out of focus. From left to right are Kim, business editor; reporter Kate; reporter Jaquetta; and reporter Jen.

We're gathered in front of my former desk, which for nine years offered me a view of the Broad Street overpass through opaque, bullet-proof glass.

Kim and I rode Katrina out together in this office space with two other business section co-workers. Good times!
I may be gone from the media bunker on Howard Avenue, but these pics prove that I'm not forgotten.

Metro reporter Gwen (left) snatched this "Geaux Tigers" sign from my old desk and mounted it on her cubicle. On the right is a snapshot of me at my San Diego office, taken by Jaquetta during her trip out West last year, that hangs on a message board inside the business section office.
Here are some of the SEVEN iPhones that were part of our weekend gathering. Lyle, who is an Apple employee and helped test the device, was thrilled, and he promised to tell Steve Jobs all about us when he returns to work.

The dinning room of McDonald's in Jennings. I worked as a cashier at this store in the early 1980s when I was in high school. It's had a complete coffee-shop makeover in recent years.
It seems to be home to
the only public wi-fi hotspot in town. The service is through AT&T, and a day pass costs $2.95.