Taking a little break from sports in Pensacola
My Twitter account isn’t broken. It just took a break this weekend, along with me, as we cruised down the coast to hang out in Pensacola, Florida for Foo Foo Fest. Of course, modern technology kept me in the game, so to speak, but I did my best to leave the gridirons, basketball courts and horse tracks behind and kiss the Summer of 2016 one last time.
But thank god the Saints won. I actually got that “something awful is going to happen,” feeling Sunday morning. To deal with the queasiness I promptly started applying mimosas directly to the area of discomfort and it worked really, really well. We were sitting outside at a restaurant called Jaco’s, overlooking scores of boats in the bay, and having cured my illness I decided to keep applying mimosas, you know, just in case. I could see the very cool-looking stadium of the Double A baseball team, Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Minor-league baseball season is long over, but I decided I would schedule a trip to see the Blue Wahoos next year. Then I realized I enjoyed saying the words Blue Wahoos.
Stomach ailments aside, the Saints took care of business, with a quickness, against the 49ers. As I said last week, San Francisco is a team the Saints have to beat, and beat them they did. Drew Brees once again showed brutal efficiency in guiding the Saints to 31 first half points. Mark Ingram, a week after getting benched, went for 158 yards on the ground flashed good speed in a 75-yard touchdown romp.
Did you see that catch by Michael Thomas?
It was a Play of the Year candidate for the Saints from the rookie wide receiver out of Ohio State. The NFL’s “Rookie of the Year” will eventually go to one of the guys wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform, but Thomas’ season should not go unrecognized. His ascension to being the Saints number one threat is now complete and has the Black and Gold faithful jumping out of their seats.
Speaking of jumping a little to the left (and then a step to the right), we took in a live production of the “Rocky Horror Show” at the Pensacola Little Theatre. It was a magnificent evening. There was a Q-and-A with original cast members Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell before the show, in which the ladies relived their youth and the crowd ate it up. During the show, Campbell made a surprise appearance on stage and reprised her tap dancing routine and the crowd cheered so passionately I was sure I was in the Superdome. It was a great production and I will never go see another play unless I can throw things.
Whenever we’re walking around Pensacola, we usually stop by the Pensacola Bay Brewery on Zaragoza Street for a few pints. We were there on Saturday and I was intentionally not looking at my phone and just absorbing the crowds filtering in and out. I realized I didn’t even need my phone since modern man is essentially a walking billboard on game days. I could tell from the orange-clad fans that Florida lost and Auburn won. I could hear a young woman lamenting the state of Notre Dame football. I could see the Alabama fans were far too cocky about the night’s game versus LSU. I gave in and had to check on how the boys from Tulane did, saw the score, muttered, “Good god,” and turned my phone off again. The Lil’ Napoleon IPA’s were delicious.
This may sound crazy sports fans, but you don’t have to watch all of the games. It’s quite liberating to just catch the highlights or just read about a game. Instead of posting up in front of the TV all day — I experienced the best service I’ve ever had at Jackson’s Steakhouse from a server who looked like my brother Greg; met Poet Laureate of Northwest Florida Jamey Jones and watched an unbelievably awesome show by New Orleans’ band Sweet Crude; watch graffiti artists paint a mural on Jefferson Street right in front of the cops and met author Art Giberson, a Vietnam War veteran who told me about the USS Oriskany. Such beautiful things can happen when we turn off our technology and talk to strangers.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love the games and, truth be told, I was checking the score of the Alabama versus LSU game throughout our dinner at the Union Public House. At one point, I was sure my phone was frozen, not believing that the game would be scoreless going into the fourth quarter. We caught the end of the game at Hopjacks – a serious craft beer bar and pizza joint I fell in love with on our last journey to Pensacola. Coach Orgeron has done a good job at LSU and if the Tigers win out, the school should consider removing his interim tag unless they are sure they have a Tom Herman walking through the door eating a bowl of gumbo.
Any vacation about Pensacola has to mention the beach. While full-blown Summer has finally, mercifully left the third coast, the Pensacola Beach is still a charm in the cooler temperatures. Whenever I need to keep a shirt on at the beach I feel like a protagonist in a James Cheever short story. It’s a different beach experience at this time of year but just as cool and only a few minutes out of downtown.
Which is where we always found ourselves. Moseying down Palafox Drive without a care in the world or a game on our phones. And somehow, some way the world of sports chugged along without even noticing one of its biggest fans was not watching. The world of sports left me behind for the weekend. I was dancing to a different tune.
It’s just a jump to left. And then a step to the right.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Pensacola Bay Brewing’s “Lil’ Napoleon” IPA
Playlist Recommendation: Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Time Warp”
(Editor’s Note: Some of the activities and events in covered in this post were provided complimentary.)
*Pensacola photos by Melanie Warner Spencer