Tag Archives: New Orleans

Super Night at the Super Bowl

Joe Namath

Joe Namath

The National Football League’s Super Bowl is the most famous annual event in the United States.  Forget the game itself. If you were not a player, coach, or owner, it is the party that you will remember most if you were there.  Mostly, it’s the rich and the famous who enjoy the prime events outside the stadium, but during Super Bowl XII, I know somebody from the working class who can relate the inside story of its glamour and excitement.

In January 1978 my beautiful future wife Pat was the Administrative

New Orleans Hilton in the late 70s

New Orleans Hilton in the late 70s

Assistant to the General Manager of the New Orleans Hilton, and she personally handled arrangements for VIPs who visited the hotel.  Barron Hilton, the head of the Hilton Hotels chain, was famous for hosting Super Bowl parties in the game host cities.  For Pat and her New Orleans Hilton colleagues, it was a particularly exciting time to host their boss and his friends, and she stayed extremely busy seeing to the details of their transportation and accommodation needs.  Her rewards for a job well done were an invitation to attend Barron Hilton’s private dinner party in the Hilton Ballroom and to be given tickets to that night’s CBS live televised entertainment gala “Super Night at the Super Bowl” at the New Orleans Theatre of Performing Arts.

John Denver

John Denver

Pat’s seats for the “Super Night at the Super Bowl” television special were first-row mezzanine with just about five seats in her row.  Much to her surprise, when the lights dimmed, she saw John Denver and his entourage of four men enter the mezzanine as they walked past her and sat two rows behind.  For some reason the small row of seats behind her was empty, so she knew that Denver was sitting directly behind her.  She has always been, and still is, an avid John Denver fan, and so it took a great deal of restraint to concentrate on the show instead of her music idol.

Andy Williams album coverThe gala show hosts were Joe Namath, Andy Williams, and Paul Williams.  More than a dozen guest stars appearing on the program included Peter Falk, Pete Fountain, Vicki Lawrence, Henry Mancini, and comedians Foster Brooks, Norm Crosby, Minnie Pearl, Mel Tillis and Stiller & Meara.  It was a great show with appeal to the widest possible television audience.

The program from Super Night at the Super Bowl  1978

The program from Super Night at the Super Bowl 1978

Barron Hilton’s guest list for his after-show Super Bowl party included celebrities from movies, television, and sports, and so there was a gaggle of press photographers and onlookers at the entrance to the Hilton Ballroom to capture their entrances.  That night Pat had her blonde hair done up in great style, and she was wearing a silver fox evening jacket over a long formal dress.  I will mention here that after becoming an advocate for animal rights, she now refuses to wear it.  But that night when the photographers saw her approach, and people in the corridor began applauding, they immediately assumed that such a beautiful woman had to be a movie star, and they rushed her as if she had been Elizabeth Taylor.  It was a memorable moment for a working class gal.

Monty and Pat a few years later in 1983

Monty and Pat a few years later in 1983

Inside the ballroom, Pat and her escort sat at a reserved table that had a real NFL football ornamented as a centerpiece along with Denver Bronco favors.  Before the evening was over, a man representing John Denver, who sat at a nearby table, told her that the star would like to have her table’s centerpiece.  A bit flustered, Pat assented only to regret later that she had not insisted on personally delivering the football to Denver.  He and his entourage soon departed the party. That same night Billy Carter, brother to President Jimmy Carter, autographed a can of Billy Beer for Pat.  She still has it for the little that it is now worth.Billy Beer

The next day the actual Super Bowl game was played in the Louisiana Superdome.  The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos by the score of 27 to 10.  Pat didn’t see the game; she was too busy at the hotel serving the needs of the VIPs.

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Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Memoirs, Writing

New Orleans: Gambling Into The Future

GridCover1200hThere is a reason why New Orleanians are gamblers.  They carry the genetic legacy of disease and flood, and their Mardi Gras affirmations of life will not die even in the aftermath of a Katrina.

I had already spent a lot of time in the Crescent City researching and Insiders Guide to New Orleanswriting The Insiders’ Guide to New Orleans in the 1980s with my co-author Jack DuArte.  Then, in 1983, I married a New Orleanian and became a full-time resident.  My wife Pat was the administrative assistant to the general manager of the New Orleans Hilton, so between us, we had insider connections all over the city.  When I turned to the writing of a third novel, it seemed self-evident that it should be about the newly adopted city.

In writing the guide to New Orleans, I had visited and researched every historic place and read a lot of its great literature.  All the literary bases regarding its legends and traditions seemed covered, so I looked toward a futuristic view where characters native to New Orleans might struggle for existence in a cruelly altered United States.

French Quarter Balcony

My style choice is always realistic so there would be no flying cars or laser guns in my plot.  I chose rather to extrapolate, as an academic futurist might do, on the basis of existing social and governmental trends.  And in New Orleans, any future would still revolve around gambling.

Louisiana Superdome by night

Louisiana Superdome by night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my acquaintances was the general manager of the Superdome, who allowed me full access to this fascinating mega structure.  I envisioned a refurbished Superdome as the site of GRID, a pari-mutuel game played on a 15-story tower.  Amateur and professional games are played in which participants climb the tower to retrieve a leather purse worth as much as half a million barter dollars.  The combat for the prize is vicious.

The romantic drama of the novel is played between the tempestuous Desireé Bazile, Promotions Director of the GRID, whose fashion extravagances make her one of the most recognized figures in a city of legendary excess, and Scott Hartley, a seasonal French Quarter street performer and homesteader in a Zone of Disinterest, who desperately needs to finance his community with a win on the GRID.  Many of the locations and musical sets for their romance were taken from my courtship of Pat.

The Pro, a GRID handicapper and dean of New Orleans gamblers, is loosely based on Pat’s father.  The Pro’s sidekick, an Italian born in the French Quarter, is based (again loosely) on Pat’s stepfather.  I brought the two unique men together for both comic effect and for their attitudes about what New Orleans had become in the year 2032.  GRID contains a unique profile of New Orleans, and it explains why even its futuristic characters continue to act as if they inhabited The City That Care Forgot.

Mardi Gras table

Pat and I relocated to the mountains of North Carolina, but our connection to the city was honored in 1992 when the City Council conferred the title of Honorary Citizen on both of us.  It is our bet that whatever occurs in our country, the uniqueness of New Orleans will endure.  How it endures is the subject of GRID, the novel.  It seems that all of us must gamble on the future.

Read a sample of GRID here

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GRID: You Cast the Movie

Have you ever wanted to enter the process of feature filmmaking?  Well, most movie critics agree, the key to producing a successful film is casting.  Here’s your chance to play casting director.

The screenplay for GRID is adapted from my novel GRID, a futuristic romantic adventure featuring the character of New Orleans and its excesses in the year 2032.  I originally wrote the screenplay with the hope that Steven Spielberg or James Cameron would want to produce it with stars like Angelina Jolie as the enigmatic beauty Desiree Bazile, and Brad Pitt as the idealistic street musician Scott Hartley.  No such luck as yet.

But this year producer Peter Maez at Kamma Pictures in Hollywood selected my GRID screenplay for development.  The next step is financing and the critical job of casting that is essential to attracting investor interest.

How are your casting skills?  Who do you see in GRID’s leading and supporting roles?  Of course, you need to read GRID’s description on Amazon, and to be fair, you should spend the $2.99 to read the Kindle edition.  But thereafter, you are qualified to render your casting judgments.  And if you respond, your cast assignments will be shared with Peter Maez at Kamma Pictures; and when GRID is produced using any of your recommendations, I promise you a “thank you” screen credit.  Come on!  Let’s make a movie!

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Filed under Movies, Writing