Sunday, January 24, 2010

Schrödinger's City - Do Watcha Wanna

For the last week, the entire city of New Orleans has been an exercise in quantum mechanics on the macro scale. In a city that believes in destiny, we've become one giant wave function ready to collapse at 5:40 PM today, Sunday, January 24.

It is said that the quantum vacuum zero point energy is nature's way of probing everything - always measuring, causing wave functions to collapse - atomic decay happens without any need for a sentient observer. They say that Schrödinger's Cat cannot ever happen in the real world, because of the vacuum fluctuation particles always probing. But all the probing in the world cannot stop this persistent superposition - the high of going to the Super Bowl vs. the low of missing out yet again - only time will take us there.

The fans are definitely ready - the amount of insanity, the YouTube, the Get Crunk, the Black and Gold is the Super Bowl, the U2, the Ernie K-Doe pillow, the Saints shrines, the leftover Katrina memories which the national media associates with Saints fandom, but which existed for decades before Katrina. But there's a difference between what the media talks about and why the City is like this right now.

Fact is, the Saints fans made the team part of their region's recovery. If the Saints had gone to San Antonio with Benson, we would have stripped the name like Cleveland did to the Browns and had a new Saints. If we hadn't had a football team, there would be other tools for the city, other things to rally behind. In these alternative universes where the Federal Flood still happened, there might be other winter festivals after Christmas besides pigskin playoffs - hell, football might even still be played without pads. But the fact is, the Saints' remarkable success is entangled with the fans in ways that will continue to defy the media's trite remarks.

There's a fundamental core of New Orleans. Many outside don't get it, many never will. Despite all the various commentators' witty snark about corruption, debauchery and attitude, they can't define it, because they don't understand it. The outside perception is an effect, not a cause.

In all my years working in and around New Orleans, there was a difference between the people I worked with and the people we worked with in other cities. In general, the people I worked with here (natives or not) worked harder, cared more about their jobs and doing a good job and their customers than the vendors and other people we worked with in companies and venues outside New Orleans. How does this correspond to the image outside New Orleans, that the people here are lazy or don't care? I have no idea, but it definitely provides a clue to the nature of the disconnect between the micro and macro scale in New Orleans.

What I do know is that people here take things seriously - and every little thing. Usually everything, including not being serious. People here work hard, play hard, and enjoy everything hard. When being easy, there are still strict ground rules. The essence of New Orleans has always been that for me - do watcha wanna, and do it right, have fun, and don't fuck it up.

Now this game, the (very American) NFC Championship, has all the diehard fans and the casual fans and the non-fans whipped up in a frenzy. But America doesn't understand New Orleans, and so it doesn't understand why people make their own Favre on the Ground videos. The game will be couched as a recovery event, what the city needs, a team that has participated in the recovery.

But the outside perception is an effect - the cause is the celebration of human joy which happens on a micro scale in people that no one understands yet. Finding, understanding the nature of happiness and how to create it, perpetuate it, and celebrate it, and the spectrum of ways to do so through music and art and work and life - that is the essence of New Orleans. The Saints aren't just another excuse to celebrate, that is too simplistic. The people of New Orleans celebrate life and joy, and they have found/created yet another thing where they can extract that nucleus and build something joyful around it.

I don't believe in fate, destiny or superstition, but I'll have my jersey on soon with my T-Shirt on backwards underneath just like I found out last Saturday night when I undressed, because you never know how many fans actions are entangled with the team's win.


Unknown said...

Your analogy with Quantum mechanics was nicely put. Good luck towards a great future flux.

saintseester said...

I just got around to reading this, and it's good. You are correct, some people will never understand it. I've given up explaining why I visit NOLA every chance I get.