Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reflection on Al Copeland

Enough has been said about Mr. Copeland's lifestyle, career, personal life, and such. This piece has little sufficient to add to that discussion. What does intrigue the author is how the death of Mr. Copeland reveals two wonderful traits unique to New Orleans.

New Orleans is a city that lives vicariously in many respects through its famous sons and daughters. To many people in New Orleans, Mr. Copeland served as a perfect model for how they would choose to live if they "won the lottery" or "made it big." And that is a beautiful thing. Living large, racing fast cars, catching speed boats on fire, spending money on Christmas Lights, front row seats to Hornets games, and always staying here in New Orleans.

Too often we lose to many of our best and brightest citizens to the hip, trendy, cosmopolitan cities of Dallas and Atlanta. Mr. Copeland was a local boy who stayed put and kept spending his money here. Contrast this with some of the pecuniary habits of New Orleans finest citizens. You know the ones. Ask them to invest $100,000 in a new business enterprise and they will look down upon you with disdain; yet, they will gladly spend that much to let their daughter play debutante for a year.

Mr. Copeland used his money for what money is made for: his enjoyment and to make more money. We could all learn from him.

Mr. Copeland's death also reveals a uniquely New Orleans phenomenon. People like Buddy D, Chris Owens, and Al Copeland are our celebrities. Sure, the lifestyles of those in Hollywood and New York are interesting, but they are not nearly as intriguing as the daily activities, peccadilloes, and actions of our celebrities. Only in New Orleans, and thankfully, does a fight between a Chicken King and a Casino Dealer draw front page news or the firing of a waiter at Galatoire's becomes a subject for a roundtable discussion.

Lady and I ran into Chris Owens at Saks the other day, and that was incredibly exciting. Think about that. We live in a city where seeing a woman who takes off her clothes nightly (at an age above retirement) elicits a "Ohhh wow, it really is her."

Now I am not saying other cities do not have similar traits; but I have never seen it.

The outpouring of grief for Buddy D when he passed highlights our love affair with our own. Buddy D was a radio man for his whole life. Few listeners understood Buddy, but that never stopped him. There was a certain mystery to trying to figure out what he was talking about.

"Hey man did you listen to Buddy after the game?"

"Ohh yeah when he was talking about Mora being an ostrich with his head in the sand, I thought I was going to piss myself."

"Mora, I thought he was talking about Big Shot Soda then."

Buddy D was so beloved by the people of New Orleans that he could never be taken off the air. His death touched all of us, especially Saints fans. When the Saints win the Super Bowl you can be sure the front page of the paper will reference Buddy D.

And by the way Bobby Hebert does a really good job of mispronouncing and mangling words himself. My favorite Bobby-ism was this fall when talking about the Saints running game which had been successful, Bobby said, "Hey how bout that running game? You know the running game was real affected today." Yes, it was Bobby.

Thank God we live here. A place where a Chicken King worth millions got envelopes of cash mailed to him by welders and school teachers when it was reported that he was going to lose Popeye's. A place where the King's English means how you yell at Rex for a Doubloon. Where exotic dancers own every room they enter. And a place where every time we loose one of them, another character steps up. Aint no place, I'd rather be.

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