Of N’Awlins, lacrosse, ‘Idol’ and truth

by Brian Clarey

As I sit to write this piece, it’s a three-day weekend for most Americans ‘— the ones who don’t work at weekly magazines, anyway ‘— and my trip down to New Orleans has left me a bit’… I don’t know’… taxed. So in the spirit of the holiday (which by the time you read this will be nothing but a stain on your shirt) forgive me for, as they say, ‘“phoning it in.’”

But I’m not actually phoning it in. As I sit here my cell is sounding out the death throes of a low, low battery charge (my phone is still feeling the New Orleans trip as well). It doesn’t hold enough juice to phone in a lunch order. And with my charger clear across town in my office, I gleefully plan to watch it die like one of those goldfish you win at a carnival.

And anyway, Larry King used to do this kind of thing every week, so the format is (somewhat) legitimate.

Speaking of New Orleans’… it was incredible to see how my former hometown and the people who live there have weathered the storm. I caught up with a couple dozen of my old friends, many of whom did not make it into the story I wrote (p. 10). I hope they understand I love them no less for it. And while I was there it struck me that New Orleans is coming back ‘— slowly, surely and in a way that is far from pretty, but with a certain kind of beauty to it. An important point: New Orleanians can find humor in everything, and the fact that they are learning to laugh at this, the greatest insult ever to be heaped upon them by God and man, is a sign that they are in recovery.

‘…There’s nothing funny about the Duke lacrosse case, which at this point resembles something that rhymes with the word ‘“fustercluck.’” I am ready to admit that, based on the news items that I scan compulsively each day, it is possible the accuser is not telling the truth. And all the trite questions I ask myself when I try to get to the bottom of things are letting me down in this case. Example: Who has the most to protect? That’s an easy one. The guys from the Duke lacrosse team are working toward (or have already earned) degrees from an elite university and are (or were) on a path to be able to achieve any or all of their personal goals ‘— high-paying jobs (think Wall Street money), single-digit handicaps and hot wives. But who has the most to gain? Take a look back through the newswires and check out Collin Finnerty’s parents’ house, in a section of Garden City, NY known as ‘“Snob Hill’” ‘— I’m sure every civil attorney in Durham already has. Whatever the criminal verdict, there will be a civil suit afterwards as surely as a sunset, and I’ve heard that the players’ lawyers are tailoring their motions toward that inevitability.

‘…I wasn’t going to watch the ‘“American Idol’” season finale. I swear. That show jumped the shark the minute that Little Richard-looking guy got bumped a few months ago. But watch it I did, and I have to say it was one of the more rewarding programs I’ve seen all year. Mary J. Blige’s interpretation of U2’s ‘“One’” alone was worth the price of admission. Did you get the feeling she was trying to demonstrate to Meat Loaf exactly how a superstar is supposed to perform in front of 200 million people? I honestly felt bad for the Loaf, not because he was upstaged by Katharine McPhee and not because he looked downright scary when he was stalking around the stage with his sweaty hanky in his hands, but because every time I see him these days all I can think about is Fight Club and his pendulous, swaying man-titties.

…A final note about the Truth and Reconciliation final report: We did our very first cover story on this process (‘“The Greensboro massacre: Can there be truth and reconciliation’”; Jan. 5, 2005; by Jordan Green) and their findings, I’ll say, ring pretty much true with what I thought all along. It was like Murder on the Orient Express ‘— everyone did it, or at least shares in the blame for the Greensboro Massacre. The CWP was confrontational and naïve; the Klan was just being the Klan. And everybody involved deserved better from those who swore to protect and serve.

‘…And that’s it for me this week. I’m out of space; my phone is dead; and the day is just starting to achieve the level of swelter that I like. I’m gonna pack it in and go see X-Men: The Last Stand. I know it’s supposed to suck but I don’t care. Kelsey Grammer as the Beast’… that’s brilliant.

Happy hurricane season everybody. Same time next week.

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