Has it really already been six full weeks, the first intercardinal of the year 2013, since the world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012? Some predict (I would say pray for) a major disaster this weekend, another 9-11 to catapult us into yet another war. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised—Sandy Hook and the Batman shootings not having had quite sufficient effect yet….sufficient effect to inspire Americans to surrender the ragged shreds of their last constitutional rights….
I make no secret of the fact that I love New Orleans at the same time that I do not completely share in all its vices. I love the French Quarter, but I do not drink (“well, hardly ever”), having burnt the candle at both ends (unrelated to Candlemas) a little bit too much in my undergraduate days here at Tulane and my early graduate career at Harvard. I do not miss getting drunk even one little bit, but take great glee at watching all the unwashed masses get plastered all over town here, most especially on Bourbon Street (talking of unwashed masses—it’s not JUST an expression you know—most of those folks are…..unwashed is just putting it mildly.
But drinking itself is a ritual of as much ancient dignity as Dionysus and the Eleusinian Mysteries, Bacchus and Comus, or even of Jesus at the Wedding in Cana, or Jesus at the Last Supper. There is ONLY Vice and no ancient dignity, however, in Football or the Superbowl, or the hundreds of thousands who have converged on New Orleans to watch two rows of (mostly) black men wearing gigantic amounts of padding and helmets crash into each other like two rows of opposing tractors (without any mud).
And this is the true high holiday of America’s Great Unwashed—Superbowl Sunday—and the masses have poured into New Orleans. Some cynics think that Obama might want to use this occasion to stage another “False Flag” simulated terrorist event this Sunday (1) to finally light the fire under a possible war with Iran and (2) to wipe out a good number of White, Football Loving Red State Republican Rednecks who’ve come to the Big Easy to drown their sorrows and forget Obama has been tragically elected to a second term.
I have previously compared the unending parade of slightly demented, drunken and debauched revelers on Bourbon Street to the mediaeval “Wild Hunt” or “Night Riders” processions known from history (and ethnohistory, notably Carlo Ginzburg’s brilliant “Night Battles.” But there is no conscious awareness of anything except booze and flesh, alcoholic intoxication and sexual arousal, on Bourbon Street today, and these are the “values” celebrated by the Football Religion, especially but not at all limited to SuperBowl Sunday in that most unholy modern Coliseum or Circus Maximus: the New Orleans Super Dome.
We plainly live in a new era of Bread and Circuses, every bit as brutal as the Ancient Roman and futuristic Hunger Games models… I have despised Football my entire life and don’t mind saying so ESPECIALLY when I see this town invaded by the teaming hoards of seemingly brain dead football fanatics. I don’t exactly know how the religion of football fulfills the needs of the people EXCEPT as grotesque gladiatorial entertainment.
My grandfather Al preserved an idealized notion of what football was and represented until he died. I don’t think he quite fully realized, or if he realized he simply could not accept, how totally different modern professional football was and remains from the completely amateur college football of his youth, of Harvard-Yale and Army-Navy games that were the center of all educated attention. For my grandfather, American Football represented ideals of teamsmanship and strategy—”military tactics” writ small and peacefully (by comparison), with no corrupt politics intervening.
But the economic corruption of football is directly akin to the corruption of Christmas and everything else. Only money, only corporate profits, seem to matter in America (or anywhere in the “developed” world) anymore.
But to my mind, the worst feature of the “Religion of Football” is that it occupies the minds of the great majority of people in this country and so permits them to avoid learning, focusing, on the grim and horrible realities of life here, of the decadence of absolutely everything. Yes, Football is Modern Corporate Religion, nothing more but certainly nothing less. A religion of Welfare and Entertainment run amok. The people here for the event will all go to worship in the Superdome (while Tens of Millions Watch at Home) and pray for ….. more corporate profits to support the Socialist Government?