No shirt? Plenty of shirt…

Super Bowl is usually an overblown, big deal anywhere…but for this long suffering city that is already used to doing things in a larger-than-life way, it’s even more nuts. Nowhere is that more evident than in local attire; in a city where Mardi gras beads are used year ‘round, and t-shirts are always an integral part of the local fashion sensibilities – including the classic Fleur de lis used on anything, in any way – Super Bowl is whole ‘nother closet full of stuff.

New Orleans is a place where people always wear their hearts on their sleeves – and their chests.

A little backstory.

Consider the t-shirt assortment that cropped up immediately following Katrina, and that are still big sellers around town. A year or so prior to the storm, the city had embarked on a new advertising/P.R. campaign, lhighlighted by the slogan ‘New Orleans- Proud to Call Home’ along with a nifty logo incorporating a stylized, wavy Mississippi River. As the flood waters were still receding, the slogan and accompanying logo got a satirical makeover:

‘New Orleans – Proud to Swim Home’

That one is still popular on bumper stickers as well as t-shirts it says a lot about the resiliency of the people. Among my other post-storm favorites, stil brisk sellers:

‘New Orleans – The Big Squeegee’

‘FEMA * (in big letters across the chest, followed by the asterisk in smaller font below – *Fix Everything My Ass)’

‘Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was….gone.’

Recently, those now classics have taken a back seat to new Mardi gras designs, and as tomorrow is a mayoral election, t-shirts politic. My favorite of that crop?

‘Brad Pitt for Mayor’

That started as a semi-joke by a group trying to draft the part-time New Orleans resident, huge financial supporter of the rebuilding effort, to actually run, but took on some real life for awhile before the movement was overwhelmed media wise, by the surging Saints. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how many votes Mr. Pitt garners tomorrow; I’d be willing to bet he outpolls at least one or two of the ‘legitimate’ candidates.

Back to football.

Fast forward four–plus years from the storm, and you have the traditionally inept Saints finally reaching the Super Bowl for the first time, led by a new coach and quarterback who came here the season right after the storm, and proceeded to build not only a championship team, but who (with their families) immersed themselves in the community and its recovery, becoming icons in the process.

And when the star quarterback is named Drew Brees, the play-on-words, puns and alliteration possibilities seem to be never ending. Among the t-shirts (flags, bumper stickers, earrings, etc.) you will see no matter where you are in New Orleans these days:

‘Just Drew it.’

‘A cool Brees is blowing across Louisiana’

‘WWBD -What would Breesus do?’ (irreverent, yeah – but at least G-rated)

‘Brees, he does it’

‘Drew Dat? (a takeoff on the ubiquitous ‘Who dat?’ the national media has been highlighting)

The list goes on.

And then there is Brees’ own t-shirt that he came up with, sales of which benefit his charitable foundation, with the phrase “Our city, Our home” on the front, and ‘FINISH STRONG’ in huge block letters on the back. (‘Finish strong’ is the slogan Brees came up with a while back to motivate the team, and he has been able to trademark and parlay it into some serious cash for his foundation). We even had a batch at the market – and sold out in a day with no promotion, just having them out on a table by the checkout lines.

T-shirt observation (especially during Mardi gras) is truly a spectator sport here. You can easily kill off a day in the French Quarter just reading new t-shirt designs.

Oh – one more to share. There has apparently been a name change that doesn’t yet show up on your GPS or MapQuest; but we now (to believe the plethora of shirts) now live in

‘Drew Orleans, Loubreesiana.’

Laissez les bons temps rouler!


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