It Happens In Threes
Lil Queenie, Ric Ocasek and the Saints
OK, me says to myself. You don’t have to write about the Saints in this spot every week. It’s too easy. Too predictable. So…two points on that:
First, writers write about what people are talking about. Well, People are talking about the Saints.
Second, it beats writing about people who just died, which seems to happen a lot in this space, no fault of my own. People just keep dying.
Therein lies the problem of getting old. Your heroes and your contemporaries and your family and your friends start kicking off. Mortality is a serious bitch.
You wonder if you’re next. And who will write about that? (Errol, I hope you have a nice eulogy prepared for me. After all, I have been of good service to the company. I have done my best.)
That said, and since I’m still alive, let’s start with this: How ’bout ‘dem Saints! Sunday’s win over Seattle was the first game we’ve won without Drew Brees under center since – are you ready for this – Aaron Brooks was quarterback.
Go check the back of your closet. You have his jersey somewhere.
We won against an imposing opponent in a torrential rain in an impossible stadium to win for visiting teams. But we did. I said it before, I’ll say it again: Saints fans, fasten your seat belts.
But it was a weird week. First, Eddie Money died. Then Ric Ocasek died. And we all waited for No. 3, because there is always a No. 3.
Then it was Cokie Roberts. God Bless her relentless journalistic purity and New Orleans advocacy and just general good person-ness. What a gracious soul in a not-always-gracious business. But – with no respect to Cokie – she didn’t count as No. 3.
As any superstice knows (I don’t think that’s actually a word, but you know what I mean and it should be – particularly if you are one) that No. 3 has to come from the same milieu, the same genre – the same world.
So back to Ric Ocasek and a really weird Saints analogy – since all we talk about here is the Saints and dead people. Ocasek represented to guys like me what Steve Gleason represented to guys like me, long before he became famous for having ALS and being a champion, moral compass and generally amazing citizen.
Ric Ocasek married Paulina Porizkova. You have to be of a certain age to remember – in an era before internet porn and even HBO – what it meant to be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. And what it meant to be a teenager with a copy of the swimsuit issue in your prurient little hands.
I don’t want to be gross here, nor disrespectful. But if you’re my age (let’s say, a dude close to 60) then you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t – the better for you.
But when he of the odd shaped face and prominent proboscis and generally dwerbish facade (and I don’t think that’s a word either; but again, you know what I mean) married super model Paulina Porizkova – PAULINA PORIZKOVA! – he gave all of us nebbish, odd-shaped, outcast, I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-hands-in-public kind of guys hope, real hope, that maybe a beautiful woman might fall in love with us. As impossible as that seemed.
I mean, you know what he looked like, right? God bless him.
That’s the Gleason analogy. Back when he was on the Saints, grinding out eight seasons as a special teams player – can you freaking imagine that! Eight years in the NFL just because you’re good on Special Teams. How the hell do you do that?
Gleason was no taller than me, didn’t weigh much more than me and, hell – he probably wasn’t even faster than me. But…
But he worked harder than me. Much. He willed himself into an eight year career in the NFL as a slow, under-sized, under-weight, long-haired freak of nature and determination. He just wanted to play the game and dammit, and that’s what he did. Long before the blocked punt. By guts, by will, by work. By God, what a story.
But we all know what happened next. Which brings me back to the original point. Death and three’s.
No, Steve Gleason isn’t dead. He will likely outlive us all. By guts, by will, by work. By God.
But word came over the weekend of the musical No. 3, the inevitable call of the wild, the will of the fates, the trick of numbers.
L’il Queenie – Leigh Harris by birth certificate – passed this weekend after a hellaciously long battle with cancer. She fought it, she kept singing. She was was one of the great, pure, soulful voices this town has ever known. I mean, if you call yourself L’il Queenie in New Orleans – you better have chops. She did. She showed us. She sang to us.
So rest easy every one, else. Rest until the next No. 1, the next cycle. For now, just listen. Queenie, a darling of New Orleans, to be sure… thank you.