The Super Bowl in New Orleans is over. The bars and the French Quarter are – well, they're not emptying, this is New Orleans – but the people from Baltimore and San Francisco and the sports writers are mostly gone. The airport Monday was jammed with people heading home, some still reveling in a great game, others bitterly disappointed in coming so close. This is NOT about the game. If you didn't watch it, its probably because you don't care.
The top story on the local news Sunday night, Monday morning, and still Monday night – and will be for weeks to come – was not about the Baltimore Ravens hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. It was about the blackout. Right after the 108-yard second half kickoff return by New Orleans native Jacoby Jones, the lights went out, and it took 34 minutes to get them back on. New Orleans was embarrassed, and the finger pointing and blame ducking will go on for weeks.
Back in October Tori saw ads on Craig's List looking for people to staff some of the Super Bowl events. With tickets running into the thousands of dollars, we figured this was the only way we were going to get close to the action, so we signed up. We ended up working only one day, Wednesday, helping with food service in the media center.
I've been in the news business for 40 years, and I finally made it to the Super Bowl Media Center! Making sure the coffee urns were filled and the steam table trays stayed fresh.
|The Super Bowl Media Center - Made it at last.|
But we had fun. The company we worked for sucked, and we decided we were done with them after one day. But we had a good time. Unlike everyone else working that day, we were there at least as much to enjoy the experience as to serve up trays of vegetarian chow mien, rice and some kind of meat (looked like ground beef to me) and broccoli. Tori especially had fun, chatting with everyone who came through. She made a lot of press people's day a little lighter, joking with them, chiding when they didn't take their vegetables and pointing out that the cake at the end of the buffet and warning, "The cake is a lie." Most people didn't get it, but those who did revealed themselves to be techies, and fans of the game Portal.
|Tori and the Axe space man.|
Late in the afternoon it had cleared out, when in walked two guys carrying a large white bundle. Turned out it was for an Axe promotion, touting their new hair products. The bundle was a space suit costume and the young guy who was supposed to wear it was having trouble pulling it on. Tori has a lot of experience as a backstage dresser, so she lent a hand. Got the guy's whole story as she helped him suit up. He's a young guy trying to make it in show business. He's been in a few movies and TV shows, has had some lines. He and his girlfriend were both in last year's comedy, "Campaign," and one of their twins was the baby that Will Ferrell punched! There's glory for you!
We were so interested in the young guy we didn't notice when the other half of the promotion came in. It was J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, who on Saturday would be named NFL defensive player of the year. Seemed like a nice enough guy, but by the time I realized who he was he was heading for the door and I didn't get his picture. But I've got several Tori stuffing the kid into the astronaut costume. If you know us at all, you know that's what we thought was really cool.
Speaking of taking pictures, one we didn't take was of Beyonce. As we were being led down to the hall where we worked, we were told "Beyonce is here today. Do not approach her. Do not go near her. Avoid her. And above all DO NOT take her picture." Basically she would be affronted if we breathed her air. Those of you who watched Sunday know she was the Super Bowl halftime entertainment. She performed a very moving tribute to – herself. Worst Super Bowl halftime show ever, worse than the Michael Jackson lip sync fest. Give me old rockers who just like to get up and rock for 15 minutes - the Stones, Springsteen. What did Beyonce actually do besides wiggle? (OK, Sports Illustrated reminds me that Madonna did a Super Bowl. And there were a couple of weird Disney efforts. And Up with People – TWICE! So in all fairness, Beyonce's was not the worst halftime show. It wasn't good by any means, but it wasn't Up with Creepy People. In all fairness, not that fairness is usually a consideration. jb 01/05/20013)
We also spent some time talking to a radio/TV producer associated with the Patriots. He hates going to Super Bowl week, which he's been doing every year for years. Nothing happens. He'd rather be home with his kids – he showed us a picture, cute kids. "Everyone says, 'Oh, you're going to the Super Bowl. That's cool!' It's not cool! It's work!" he said. There's nothing going on, but everyone has to fill a whole week's worth of air time as if it's the most important news in the world. So he has to arrange interviews with anyone walking through the center, and his job is made exponentially more difficult by agents and PR reps who promise their client will be available at a certain time, then call to reschedule or cancel or say he's running late. "They are all – pardon my saying it – fucking assholes," the guy told us.
He did have one good story that week. He'd been to a party the night before where a band was playing. No one paid them much attention, but he realized, "Hey, that's Dan Ackroyd playing with the band!" Ackroyd was great, he said, and played for half an hour. No one seemed to notice until right at the end when the band said, "Thanks Dan Ackroyd" as he left, then suddenly everyone jammed over, but Ackroyd was gone.
We had arrived at the convention center at 8:45 a.m., which is when the staffing company, Global Staffing Solutions, told us to be there. We checked in, then waited. And waited and waited. There were scores of people there, all waiting to be given some work to do. It was almost 11 before we were assigned to the media center. When we came back at the end of the long day, the Global Staffing guy started chiding us about working our full shift. I still don't know whether he thought we had stayed down there too long or not long enough. We stayed while there was work to do, and we left when everyone else on the crew left. And the most important thing – no one ever told us when our shift ended, including the guy from the Global. No one ever said "Be back at 6," or "Have your manager sign off."
We also learned that we were only going to be paid for the hours we'd been assigned to the shift, not for the two and a half hours we'd been cooling our heels because they told us to get there early. That didn't sit well, you can imagine.
Then we asked about Thursday. They said someone would call us that evening. "We're calling everybody, every night," they lied.
We haven't heard from them since. Which is too bad, because we wanted to tell 'em there was no way we'd work for them again. Even though one of the assignments was for after the game, a private party for the Ravens. We didn't want to work until 4 in the morning, Monday being a school day for Max we thought we should be home. And who knew the Ravens would win? Besides the Ravens, I mean. It was probably a great party.
Would have been a great wrap up to a super week, but we were happier watching the game from home. If you didn't see it, it turned out to be a pretty good game.
As I've mentioned, it was a rough year. So this was actually fun for us. We're going to try to have some more fun soon.
Oh. The CBS sportscaster with bad hygiene? Pat O'Brien. Saw him myself. Walked in, took a leak, walked out without so much as a glance at the sink. After the game I thought I caught a glimpse of him on the field talking to a player. All I could think was, "Dude! Don't shake his hand!"