Dear Mr. Troy Dannen,
Welcome to New Orleans, and thank you for accepting the position of Athletic Director at Tulane. The city, and school’s fan base, is abuzz about the future – knowing what you have already accomplished at the University of Northern Iowa.
As a famous princess once said, “You’re our only hope.”
I’m still relatively new to town myself, so, being the nice guy that I am, I have made a list of items that compare and contrast your old city, Cedar Falls, with your new home here in the Crescent City.
Mark’s All-Important Top 12 List –
Famous Quarterbacks – I know Kurt Warner (legendary Iowa Barnstormer) is an alum of UNI. And, of course, there is that famous story of him stocking shelves, waiting for his chance at the NFL. Did you see him back in the day? Was he stocking a shelf? Tulane has had some good quarterbacks come through Uptown as well. Shaun King, JP Losman, Steve Foley to name a few. He didn’t graduate from Tulane, but Drew Brees is in your neighborhood. I once saw him walking through Audubon park, and I was like, “Hey, there’s Drew Brees. Cool.” I kept walking.
Celebrations – Mardi Gras is just like the Sturgis Falls Celebration. Just not as wild.
School fight songs – Tulane has the beautifully titled, “The Olive and The Blue.” Do you know it yet? I like UNI’s fight song as well. It’s called, “UNI Fight Song”. Very direct, and to the point. It says in no uncertain terms, “We are UNI, and we are here to fight you.” That’s honesty.
Walking around – New Orleans is essentially just one big neighborhood. It’s truly a city built to be traveled by foot. The neighborhoods are chock-full of bars, restaurants and beautiful homes. It’s sort of like if I’m hanging out at the Pump Haus on Main Street in Cedar Falls, and decide I’m going to see what’s happening at the Octopus on College Street. I’ll cruise down Main, maybe I’ll stop at the library and pick up some poetry books, and maybe I won’t. Then I might dip into the Fire and Rescue building and thank those fine women and men for their service to this great community we call Cedar Falls. After that, maybe I’ll cut left on 20th street, or, if I’m thirsty I’ll stop by Mulligans and have a brew, then I can cut left on 22nd. I don’t know, the world is my oyster, and I can step it out. Either way, we all know I’m ending up at 5 Dollar Pizza later tonight. And nope, I have never been to Cedar Falls. Thanks Google maps.
Bars – Speaking of those venerable institutions, Cedar Falls has 77 bars listed on Yelp. Impressive. New Orleans has 471,824. They are opening bars inside other bars here. I’m a fan of the Prytania Bar and King Pin. If I’m in the French Quarter, I hit the Erin Rose.
Cuisine – This word means food. I’m not a fan of the word, to be honest. Beware – if you order the large roast beef poorboy at Parasol’s, it could weigh up to 41 pounds. By the way, I just made my first jambalaya this past weekend. It was delicious. I don’t know if there is an equivalent for New Orleans cuisine in Cedar Falls. I picture Cedar Falls offering lots and lots of corn – corn bread, corn pizza, corn flakes. Yep.
Music – When someone thinks of jazz, they naturally think of Iowa. Which is good, because UNI produced jazz drummer, Bill Stewart. If you’re like me, you read that sentence and thought, “Oh cool. The drummer from the Police.” You’re wrong, the drummer from the Police is Stewart Copeland, and he’s from somewhere in England. Bill Stewart has made it to the big leagues as well (and remember, he’s a jazz musician from Iowa). He has even played with funk legend Maceo Parker on three albums. New Orleans has some funk as well. You should go check out the Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf bar on Tuesday nights. They won’t hit the stage until midnight, but just stay up late one night, and go into work a few hours later the next day. If anyone asks what you were doing, tell them, “I was up working to make your school awesome.” They will love that.
College Sports – Here’s where you come in. Tulane is just like UNI minus all of those annoying victories and championships. Make it happen, bro!
Domes – Yes New Orleans, there is a dome in Cedar Falls. It’s called the UNI-dome, home to the “not Dillon” Panthers football team. It’s seating capacity is 16,324 – which I think is 400 thousand less than what the Superdome holds, but numbers are not my strong suit. Oddly enough, both domes were built by the same architect – the egocentric legend, Teddy Dome.
Racing – By now, you’re probably missing drag racing out at “The hottest ¼ mile in Iowa”, the Cedar Falls Motorsports Park (out off of North 218, unless you just want to take Center Street, which turns into Waverly Road, all the way up. Maybe we’ll stop by the Dollar General and pick up a few things). So why not stop by the New Orleans Fairgrounds, and bet on some ponies? They’ve been racing there since 1842. I went opening weekend, and won eight bucks. I “made it rain.”
Radio – WWOZ is the finest station in all of the land. Jazz, funk, swing, blues and R&B, they got it all. My buddy Murf has a show on Mondays, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., that you could listen to while pretending to read those “important” memos from the accounting department. I love Tulane’s own, WTUL, as well. Solid mix of music. Maybe you could stop by and DJ. Heck, maybe we can start a show! It would obviously be called the Big Dog Dannen and Gator Show. To avoid any confusion – I’m Gator, you’re Big Dog.
Summer – Say goodbye to four seasons. Sometimes there aren’t even three. Sperling’s Best Places states that the Cedar Falls average high in July is 84. That’s nice. New Orleans invited Sperling to come down here, but he declined – said it was way too hot. Besides it’s not the temperature that’s going to get you, it’s the humidity. I’m not going to go too far into it, but I will say this…Baby Powder, always.
There you have it, friend. I hope you fall in love with this town, as I have. Best of luck to you and your family. Roll Wave.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every meeting of friends should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing – Single Speed Brewing’s “Victory Dance” American IPA
Playlist Recommendation – Chuck Berry – “Tulane”
Around the Way
Bowl season has arrived for a few teams around the state. LSU (8-3) will play Texas Tech (7-5) in the Texas Bowl, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. Louisiana Tech (8-4) will play Arkansas State (9-3) in the New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m.
McNeese State was upset by Sam Houston State, 34-29, Saturday in Lake Charles. Congratulations to Coach Viator and the Cowboys on another successful campaign, which included their 14th Southland Championship. The Cowboys finished the season, 10-1.