Crowds swarmed Decatur Street on Saturday afternoon, gathering at the would-be entrance to Jackson Square — dubbed this week as "CBS Super Bowl Park at Jackson Square." The network has taken over most of the park with four stages for sports, news and talk shows as the network home to Super Bowl XLVII. Across the street past Washington Artillery Park, the network's assembly of trailers, equipment and newsrooms. Tourists snapped photos past security to catch a glimpse of the CBS sports desk. Hare Krishnas followed a faux second line of San Francisco 49ers fans. Others wandered with Hand Grenades or Mardi Gras beads, and the street deadlocked traffic with pedestrians.
But inside the gates, dozens of CBS crewmembers worked silently as stages broadcast just feet from Andrew Jackson's statue.
Two TV cameras focused on Scott Pelley, anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, framing him against St. Louis Cathedral. His team on-set and plugged in from New York, where the show typically is broadcast, makes final adjustments down to the second before cameras roll. "There's a person in Los Angeles, probably a computer, ready to cut me off when it comes to that last second," Pelley says with a foot propped on a red steel utility box. Minutes later the show begins.
The headlines: a report from Mali, day five of the Alabama hostage, online hackers, and three stories from New Orleans — catching up with Russell Honore ("the man who faced down Katrina") inside the Superdome, a profile of Trombone Shorty by Michelle Miller, and a look at the Loyola streetcar line and economic boosts to the city ("they don't need a football game to tell them what they already know," reporter Jim Axelrod says).
"Beautiful piece," Pelley tells Axelrod. "Well written, nicely shot."
The broadcast wraps, and a "Krewe of CBS Sports" second-line emerges from Cafe du Monde outside the gates.
On Monday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu took the first ceremonial ride on the new Loyola Avenue streetcar before rushing down to the not-new-but-newly refurbished Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Landrieu was set to address members of the national and international press about Super Bowl XLVII, which was already beginning to make itself known in terms of traffic in the CBD and French Quarter.
“This is bigger than Super Bowl. This is about the resurrection of a city,” Landrieu told the press.
While Landrieu was speaking, the Wild West-style social media site Reddit was hosting an “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) online chat with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — Public Enemy No. 1 for many in the Black and Gold Nation. The chat was quickly crashed by disgruntled New Orleans Saints fans expressing salty opinions about the commish. (Also in on the bashing: outspoken Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.)
And while all this was happening, a photo was inciting outrage in New Orleans’ social media rounds — a picture of the Andrew Jackson statue in Jackson Square hung with a giant logo for the CBS daytime yap show The Talk. (After calls to Landrieu’s office and to CBS, the sign was removed and not replaced.)
Meanwhile, the Super Bowl was still six days away …
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is not the most popular guy. We've been reminded, often, lately, about his help to keep the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, how he wants the Superdome to remain a Super Bowl destination, and how we should put the past behind us and move forward and just enjoy the game, will ya. Grudge-holding Saints fans, however, will forever remember Goodell as the villain in the 2012-2013 Saints season. His unpopularity was so obvious the dude was the subject of a lecture on politeness courtesy of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who reminded the city to "be on your best behavior," knowing full well (and sympathizing with) the bitterness, and the "Go to Hell Goodell"s and "Do Not Serve This Man"s around town. Oh, and then there's the Krewe du Vieux float picturing Goodell being eaten by a giant vagina. Guy has had a rough couple weeks.
Today, Goodell made his first public Super Bowl XLVII appearance in New Orleans before a massive press crowd. No tomatoes were thrown. He had nothing but kind things to say about the city, but also to Saints fans. WWL-TV's Paul Murphy asked, "Do you feel welcome here?"
"I couldn't feel more welcome here. ... I had a float in a Mardi Gras parade. I'm serious — people here have been incredible," he said. "I understand a fan's loyalty is to the team. They had no part in this. They were completely innocent in this. I appreciate the passion. I saw it for myself when we were down here for Katrina. It's clear that's what they're all about."
Many drivers, concerned they'll miss out on tourism business if they're not able to get an inspection soon, say the city hasn't done enough to improve service at its inspection station in eastern New Orleans.
Just after 10 a.m. today, lines of cabs at the inspection station, stretching from the inspection building around a long curved driveway, all the way out to Old Gentilly Road. The station is open only four hours per day, three days per week for new inspections, five days if a driver has to return for re-inspection.
"If you don't have the inspection tags, you don't work," said Mohammad Ashraf. "Then you come and sit here all day."
A driver standing nearby, who declined to give his name, said he had been waiting since 3:20 a.m.
Ashraf said he was there for a re-inspection after failing an initial inspection because of his car's paint job. Along with the fares he's lost waiting for his inspection, he said he's spent between $1,600 and $1,700 so far to come into compliance with the new rules. For drivers who've had to replace cars older than the city-mandated maximum of 11 years, costs can run significantly higher than that.
“It’s a big investment for each car," Syed Kazmi said. “It’s about $15,000 per cab.”
(More after the jump)
Roger Goodell looked a tad uneasy as he stepped off the elevator onto the 23rd floor of the Windsor Court Hotel Wednesday evening. Every eye in the room turned immediately toward him. Superdome CEO Doug Thornton shook the commissioner’s hand and reassured him, “You’re with family here, Roger.”
Goodell could be forgiven a little apprehension. Just about everyone in the room was a New Orleanian and a Saints fan.
But this event was not about the Saints or bountygate. Nor was it a traditional pre-Super Bowl dinner. It was instead a gathering of old friends, some of whom came to know one another in the fateful days after Hurricane Katrina, to celebrate the dramatic — miraculous would not be too strong a word — post-Katrina reconstruction of the Superdome. Without that miracle, there would be no Super Bowl in New Orleans this Sunday.
Wednesday’s reception and dinner, hosted by SMG and the New Orleans Saints, was a sincere “thank you” to those who made the miracle happen, starting with Goodell and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Other honorees included Saints owner Tom Benson, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, local business leaders, and the contractors, architects and engineers who collectively made it possible for the Saints to play that memorable Monday night game in the Dome against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 25, 2006.
“The biggest sports story in New Orleans history was not the Saints winning the Super Bowl,” said Thornton. “It was that Monday night game, that blocked punt by Steve Gleason, that inspired our city and the rest of the nation. It proved that in New Orleans, anything was possible.”
"Would you guys mind standing?"
Beyonce stepped onto the stage as an American flag graphic waved on the stage-sized screen behind her. She launched into a flawless, a capella rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," ending with, "Any questions?"
That pretty much evaporated any redundant questions about her performance at President Barack Obama's inauguration, during which she performed with a pre-recorded track to the national anthem. That reveal shocked the press, or those who doubted her talent — which Beyonce Bureau Chief Lauren LaBorde or myself would be happy to remind you is limitless.
Gambit's Kevin Allman stopped by WWL-TV's New Orleans Tonight yesterday to talk with Sheba Turk and Tamica Lee about some of the big events leading up to the Super Bowl, while Noah Bonaparte Pais did the same thing today on the WWL Eyewitness Morning News.
While many of the big parties are either invite-only or sold out, there's a four-day festival in Woldenberg Park that starts tonight, with dozens of local bands, food booths and other fun — and admission is free. Alex Woodward breaks down the schedule here.
That is, Verizon's Super Bowl Boulevard, the free four-day music and food event from Super Bowl XLVII spanning Woldenberg Park from Jackson Square to Canal Street.
The festival opens tonight with the delivery of the Super Bowl XLVII numerals by barge — they'll arrive at 6:30 p.m. The music starts at 5 p.m. There's also food from 17 restaurants and vendors, all serving 50 dishes, from crab cakes and bread pudding to hot dogs from Vaucresson's Sausage Company.
Find more info about the event in Gambit, and check below for the full daily lineup.
Downtown New Orleans is abuzz with excitement, traffic and swarms of athletes, celebrities, athlete-celebrities and media types, which means only one thing — the Beyonce concert is quickly approaching.
OK, fine. It’s the Super Bowl and Beyonce is the halftime entertainment. But for those of us who only care about cheese dips, making sure someone is DVR-ing the Puppy Bowl and that this thing ends before Girls, Sunday’s event is a Beyonce concert bookended by some large men throwing footballs around. Anderson Cooper would agree with me.
To honor this momentous occasion in which pop star royalty is in our midst and will grace us with her performance at the 2013 expensive commercial showcase — ugh, OK, the Super Bowl — here are 10 great moments in Beyonce's career.
St. Augustine High School's Marching 100 blasted through the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and at its lead were Louisiana State Police, looking crisp in blue and really pissed off (or stern, can't tell), surrounding Deuce McCallister, whose gloved hands carried the Vince Lombardi Trophy down a red carpet to its glass-cased throne under a massive portrait of itself.
That long-winded sentence is to say that people really love the Lombardi trophy. When the NFL Experience opened this afternoon, New Orleans Saints fans were first in line. When McAllister smiled and strolled (albeit in a cloud of armed protection surrounded by a layer of flashing cameras) with the Lombardi, fans were locked in its not-so-distant memory tractor beam — a token of the Super Bowl XLIV win, the beloved Deuuuuuuce chant, "party with the Lombardi." Instant heart-tugging nostalgia set in for those first-in-the-door Saints fans.
Though some out-of-town visitors squinted and asked, "Who is that?" (but not in that way overplayed ironic way of saying "Who Dat.")
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