Company Burger makes up for Whataburger

The double cheese at the Uptown Company Burger in New Orleans is burger bliss. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Lunch at Company Burger in Uptown New Orleans on Saturday more than made up for my recent  experience at Whataburger in Gulfport, a disaster that led to a Perc360.com post.

Doug Barber and I went to Company Burger before the retired sportswriter, Biloxi Sports Hall of Famer and longtime friend took me to the South Florida-Tulane football game at Yulman Stadium.

I got the double cheese, fries and a bottled Barq’s Root Beer with a cup of ice.

The double cheese was two-at-one-time perfection. It was burger bliss. Hot, fresh and juicy with onions, pickles, mustard and ketchup.

A New Orleans restaurant critic from long ago would have called this a platonic dish. It’s far better than anything you can get at a national burger chain.

I had worked up an appetite after Doug let me make a stop at Stein’s Deli to buy a loaf of the best egg bread you will find anywhere.

Stein’s was packed because of what I call “The Blake Lively Effect.” The actress said on a TV show that Stein’s is one of her go-to places when she is in New Orleans, and now everyone wants to go there. I guess Mrs. Ryan Reynolds has that kind of influence.

Just up the street is Tracey’s, a bar and po-boy restaurant Doug and I went to after lunch. It’s a hangout for watching a lot of football games and the place was busy when Doug and I were there, only to get crazy busy hours later for the LSU-Ole Miss telecast.

It’s SRO when the Tigahs are on TV whether it’s morning, noon or night, though Tracey’s might need a bigger place if it ever got The Blake Lively Endorsement.

Doug, who has season tickets, says he wishes the Green Wave football team could be as exceptional as the fan experience Tulane provides. Season-ticket holders have a number of parking lots to choose from, and Doug’s lot is across from St. Rita Catholic Church.

Shuttle buses are available and they take you to and from the stadium, and they run in a timely manner. No waiting and no long lines.

Tulane gave South Florida quite a challenge after it appeared the game would be a rout. The final: Bulls 34, Green Wave 28.

The slant pass put Tulane back in the game, and after the game, fans caught slant passes of free jambalaya mix  as they left the stadium.

That’s naturally Uptown Nawlins.

In one inning of baseball, I watched two talk shows

This image is courtesy of Vecteezy.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

One inning of postseason baseball takes up so much time, I can switch channels to  one or two talk shows and not miss anything that happened in the game.

That was the case Tuesday night with Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

The game was in the top of the eighth and the Dodgers led 6-1. I expected no Cubs comeback, so I went from TBS to PBS, where Rob Reiner and Woody Harrelson were interviewed on “The Charlie Rose Show.”

Reiner and Harrelson were talking about their new “LBJ” film and I found the conversation to be interesting, but during a lull, I moved to ABC to watch Jimmy Kimmel.

And my timing was perfect. Kimmel’s guest was David Letterman, and Letterman is one of my all-time favorites.

I enjoyed the repartee between Letterman and Kimmel, and after the interview, I went back to TBS expecting to watch the NLCS postgame show.

Surprise, surprise.

The Dodgers were batting in the top of the ninth.

Just how long was the eighth inning?

I guess long enough to watch two talk shows.

It wasn’t long enough to help the Cubs.

Despite my lifetime allegiance to the White Sox,  the Cubs have my rooting interests this time of year because my aunt from Chicago and her children and grandchildren are Cubs fans.

I hope the Wilder family has the optimism reflected in this tweet.

Personal foul on Jon Gruden for ‘modern-day’ language

Personal foul on Jon Gruden for roughing the language. PEXELS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor News Bureau

I heard it in the first half of “Monday Night Football.”

“He’s a modern-day Darren Sproles,” Jon Gruden said.

The “MNF” analyst was comparing Chicago Bears running Tarik Cohen to Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles.

I don’t have a problem with that, though Cohen is a rookie and Sproles is a veteran likely out for the season after he tore his ACL and broke his arm in Week 3.

Both are short and fast hybrid backs who also return kicks and catch passes.

I have a problem with Gruden’s use of “modern-day.” The adjective makes me think Sproles was a pro football pioneer, a Chicago Staley back in the day, the day being 1921.

C’mon, man.

It would have been better for Gruden to call Cohen “a future Darren Sproles” or “the next Darren Sproles.”

Personal foul, Coach. Roughing the language.

That’s not my only problem with Gruden talking about Cohen.

Gruden’s praise, based on Cohen’s impressive NFL debut against the Atlanta Falcons in the Bears’ opener Sept. 10, probably created bad mojo.

Cohen was unspectacular in the “MNF” game against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 9, just as he was in the CBS/NFL Network Thursday night game against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 28.

In the first half of that game,  rookie analyst and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo raved about the fourth-round pick from North Carolina A&T.

I suppose Romo saw Cohen as a player to watch, but there was nothing to see. It was a major letdown after a big buildup.

The same goes for the “MNF” game. Once Cohen became a non-factor against the Vikings, Gruden criticized him for his “dancing” style of running as he tried to break free at the line of scrimmage, only to gain a yard of two.

Fair call, Coach.

Maybe that will start a broadcast trend: Back away from saying good things about Cohen until he proves he’s the next Darren Sproles.


Before and after: Nate in Gulfport

A tree branch lies on the concrete boardwalk in Gulfport on Sunday. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The headline for this fine piece of quality journalism is “Hurricane Nate before and after in Gulfport” because I took photos of landmarks in my neighborhood of Broadmoor and I also got pictures of scenes of Highway 90, the Mississippi Coast beach road less than a mile from my house.

I took pictures on Saturday at 5 p.m., about seven-and-a-half hours before Nate made landfall in East Gulfport, and I also got photos on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., about 16 hours after the storm passed through.

As far as I know, little or no harm came to Broadmoor and its surroundings. Our house never lost power. The strongest feeder band we got was around 3 p.m. Saturday. The other feeder bands in our neighborhood were relatively mild. No street flooding on East Avenue, where we live. No downed power lines on East Avenue.

Saturday: Highway sign took on a double meaning

The sign took on a second meaning when the beach was made off-limits because of the storm. JOHN E. BIALAS
The sign took on a second meaning when the beach was made off-limits because of the storm. JOHN E. BIALAS

Sunday: Why the beach was off-limits

A branch as a projectile? It's possible. Get hit by a flying tree, leave with broken limbs. JOHN E. BIALAS
A branch as a projectile? It’s possible. Get hit by a flying tree, leave with broken limbs. JOHN E. BIALAS
Saturday: Broadmoor convenience store closes early
Brown baggers had to go elsewhere to replenish their beer supplies. JOHN E. BIALAS
Brown baggers had to go elsewhere to replenish their beer supplies. JOHN E. BIALAS

Sunday: Broadmoor convenience store re-opens

Brown baggers and other folks could get beer by the truckload. JOHN E. BIALAS
Brown baggers and other folks could get beer by the truckload. JOHN E. BIALAS

Saturday: Pre-hurricane at Your Place

Drink 'em while you got 'em. JOHN E. BIALAS
Drink ’em while you got ’em. JOHN E. BIALAS
Sunday: Post-hurricane at Your Place
Take your time. The Coast is clear. JOHN E. BIALAS
Take your time. The Coast is clear. JOHN E. BIALAS

 

 

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Cruisin’ to Ocean Springs for Leo’s Pizza

Pepperoni with double cheese at Leo's Wood Fired Pizza in Ocean Springs. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I accepted Bubba’s Cruisin’ The Coast invitation and rode with him and his wife, Nancy, to Leo’s Wood Fired Pizza in downtown Ocean Springs on Wednesday afternoon.

Yeah. Me. The Anti-Crusier. Never thought I would be a backseat rider in a classic car at this time of the year.

Bubba is a Cruisin’ veteran who for years has invited me and every time I have declined. Until this week.

My reasons for going: Pizza was involved. I don’t have to go to work at the paper anymore. I’m retired. This gave me a chance to catch up with Bubba, my former colleague.

So I used the Gary Gilmore line and said, “Let’s do it!”

Bubba and his 1957 Chevrolet Wagon arrived at my house in Gulfport at 2 p.m. and we took Highway 90 through Gulfport and Biloxi on our way to Ocean Springs.

Bubba's 1957 Chevrolet Wagon. JOHN E. BIALAS
Bubba’s 1957 Chevrolet Wagon. JOHN E. BIALAS

The traffic flow was slow. All lanes of the beach road were crowded and onlookers filled the north side of the highway.

Bubba handled it all with ease. He was patient. He didn’t slam his right fist into the steering wheel. He didn’t yell. He didn’t curse. To borrow the words of a former sportswriter colleague, he was cool, calm and collective.

Bubba behind  the wheel of his 1957 Chevrolet Wagon. JOHN E. BIALAS
Bubba behind the wheel of his 1957 Chevrolet Wagon. JOHN E. BIALAS

Bubba told me to be friendly and wave at the people as we Cruised past them. I told Bubba that “I ain’t wavin’ at nobody,” though I did wave at somebody as we passed the people on Washington Avenue in Ocean Springs.

Leo’s is on Government Street, and it was my first trip to the restaurant, though it’s been around for a while.

I got a pepperoni pizza with double cheese and it was very, very good. A picture of the pizza is at the top of this post.

I would go back to Leo’s.

Highway 90 was also our route back home. We talked about the squatters. I was told they pay hundreds of dollars to rent lots made vacant because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I’m glad the squatters are paying. I always assumed they were freeloaders without rights to take over the land.

Bubba had a keen observation about why the traffic heading west is backed up on 90 in Biloxi. He said it has to do with the traffic lights at 90 and Veterans Avenue. I got the feeling the red lights take forever to turn green. Has anyone thought of using traffic cops at the intersection to reduce congestion?

No matter the traffic, I enjoyed the afternoon with Bubba and Nancy because they are the Cool Cruisers.

I got home at 5 p.m. and thought, “Would I give the green light to a Cruisin’ invite in 2018?”

My answer: “Let’s do it!”

Does your pet wear a St. Francis medal?

Tilly is now wearing a St. Francis medal on her harness. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Does your pet wear a St. Francis medal?

Tilly, our beloved 4-year-old basset hound, has one on her harness after Patty and I took her to the Blessing of the Animals.

It was Sunday outside St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in downtown Gulfport, where Tilly was among 16 people and 20 pets in attendance.

Tilly made friends with everyone and got to meet Antonio Banderas. He’s a cat who stayed in his crate and is not to be confused with Benicio del Toro.

The blessing was held three days before the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment.

Father Jacob Matthew, a Franciscan priest, led the ceremony.

Tilly and the other pets received a St. Francis medal, a prayer card and a blessing. Kristin’s pets, Stella and Lionel, who live in Madisonville, Louisiana, and stayed home Sunday, will be given St. Francis medals from Patty through Father Jacob the next time we visit Kristin’s home.

Tilly was sprinkled with holy water twice and she got a drop or two on her tongue. It was refreshing because it was a hot afternoon.

I’ve always been a fan of St. Francis, so much so that Francis is my Confirmation name.

Patty is also a fan and now Tilly is, too.

Tilly in bed with her St. Francis medal before going to sleep Monday night. PATTY BIALAS
Tilly in bed with her St. Francis medal before going to sleep Monday night. PATTY BIALAS

Protest song drops just in time for Cruisin’

I refuse to stand for this flag. It's among the checkered flags in front of a beachside Gulfport home and they're on display to welcome Cruisers. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I’ve come up with a song to protest Cruisin’ The Coast.

Actually, it’s not my song. It’s a parody of “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag,” a Country Joe and the Fish Vietnam song.

Call it “The Ballad of the Uneasy Cruiser.” It represents my displeasure for Cruisin’, which rolls Oct. 1-8 and disrupts life on Highway 90 in Biloxi, Gulfport and other cities as visitors stall traffic flow with rat rods, resto rods, four-bangers and flamethrowers.

Forget peace and quiet. You can hear the noise of carburetor dung all the way to Saucier.

“The Ballad of the Uneasy Cruiser” goes something like this:

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we driving for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is a vet’s Trans Am,
And it’s five, six, seven,
Close up the VA gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! We’re all gonna drive

The vet reference in the lyrics does not besmirch war veterans. It besmirches veterinarians who assume poodle skirts are a new breed of dog at the Cruisin’ Sock Hop in Ocean Springs.

The mention of VA gates is a reference to Cruise Central, the old Gulfport Veterans Affairs property now known as Centennial Plaza.

In case you have never heard of Country Joe and the Fish, check out the video below.

To pad this out for SEO purposes, I’m adding a couple of lyrics from a Phil Ochs Vietnam song, “I Ain’t Marching Anymore.”

Here are the lines:

Now they want me back again
But I ain’t driving anymore
Tell me is it worth it all

If you have never heard of Phil Ochs, check out the video below.

I know many of you don’t have a sense of humor when it comes to Cruisin’.

I know many who have a sense of humor when it comes to Cruisin’.

If you appreciate the humor, let’s protest together.

Fight the horsepower.

The best day of Cruisin’ The Coast

My sign would be, "You're not welcome, Cruisers." This sign is near the corner of Highway 90 and Hewes Avenue in Gulfport. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Cruisin’ The Coast is the annual gathering in which thousands of owners of vintage cars lollygag their way on the beachfront road known as Highway 90, which includes Biloxi and Gulfport.

The neighboring cities are the epicenters of the event, and the participants are called Cruisers.

Who are the Cruisers? For the most part, they are out-of-towners, freeloaders, carpetbaggers, vagabonds, scalawags, ne’er-do-wells, squatters, codswallows and homesteaders who make it a pain in the ass for me to get where I need go on Highway 90. I’m forced to take back roads or I just stay at home, suffering in silence, until the traffic is unjammed.

A lot of the Cruisers look old: 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. Head out on the highway lookin’ for adventure? More like lookin’ for dentures.

If it could be a movie, Cruisin’ The Coast would be titled “My American Graffiti Nightmare.” Early ’60s nostalgia meets 21st-century reality.

The young blonde from decades past driving a Thunderbird in Southern California in 1962 now looks like an octogenarian who can barely stay awake at 8 p.m. while cruising in a shiny super-stock Dodge from DeBuys Road to Courthouse Road. Go, Granny, go? I don’t think so.

The onlookers aggravate me, too. They park their campers on hallowed beachfront ground made vacant because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They are robbing our land for their enjoyment, which is to sit in their folding chairs on the north side of 90 and drink an X amount of beers as they watch cars pass by.

The weather is great this time of year. It’s cool with bright blue skies and little humidity. The problem is we don’t get to take advantage of it. It is wasted on all the damn visitors.

Residents, excluding me, and businesses welcome the Cruisin’ influx. The city of Gulfport has sent out crews to clear sand from the sidewalks along 90 to accommodate the out-of-towners. The city seems to care more about its visitors than its own residents.

Believe me. I won’t see crews clearing sidewalks any other time.

My message to the local who embrace Cruisin’: Curb your enthusiasm. The event is not fun for the rest of us. For eight days, we will air our grievances. It’s our Fall Festivus.

This year’s Cruisin’ is Oct. 1-8.

You know what my favorite day will be?

It will be the day after.

Oct. 9. I’m circling it on my calendar.

So much for my 0-16 Saints prediction

London calling: Saints over Dolphins. PIXABAY.COM

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

So much for my prediction the New Orleans Saints will finish the season at 0-16.

The Saints are 1-2 after looking really good Sunday in a 34-13 victory at Carolina, where the Panthers looked surprisingly bad.

I thought for sure the Saints would lose this game because of the no defense and little offense they showed in their first two games. I figured if they lost to the Panthers, they would clinch an 0-16 season.

During their 0-2 start, they played like one of the worst teams in franchise history, and no matter the Super Bowl success in the Drew Brees-Sean Payton era, the notorious legacy of losing should never be overlooked.

This time, they put it all together. Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and everybody else on offense clicked and the defense intercepted Cam Newton three times and gave up just one touchdown.

Now I’m starting to think the Saints might have more than one win.

Wide receiver Willie Snead is coming back from a three-game suspension. That helps build optimism after so much pessimism.

Snead has said he’s focused on becoming a deep threat, and the Saints need someone in that role other than Ted Ginn Jr., whose bad-hands reputation overshadows his ranking as one of the fastest players in the NFL.

Brees and Ginn, who is a veteran in his first season with the Saints, connected Sunday on a long ball for the first time this season and the result was a 40-yard touchdown.

It came against one of Ginn’s former teams and the Saints’ next opponent is also among his former teams.

Perhaps Brees and Ginn will connect again in the London game at Wembley on Oct. 1 against the Miami Dolphins (1-1).

The Wembley reference allows me to interrupt this fine piece of sports journalism for a Buddy D. moment of imagination: “You’re a squirrel if you think Brew Drees and the Saints will finish 14-2 after beating the Dolphins at Wimbledon.”

At least Freddie Gee, a Dolphins fan and Facebook friend from Miami, expects Brees to filet the secondary.

“Through (eight) quarters of play, the Dolphins are allowing enemy passers to complete 78.7% of their passes for 9.4 yards per attempt,” Freddie says. “If you know football, that is NFL record woeful. Next up is Drew Brees. Fountain of youth next week for Brees.”

OK! Well, New Orleans is also allowing 9.4 yards per attempt, but as long as the Smoking Turnover Machine known as Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler doesn’t find the fountain of youth with his new team, the Saints will win for the second week in a row.

And here’s what the Saints will do the rest of the season.

Oct. 15 host Lions L
Oct. 22 at Packers L
Oct. 29 host Bears W
Nov. 5 host Bucs W
Nov. 12 at Bills L
Nov. 19 host Redskins L
Nov. 26 at Rams L
Dec. 3 host Panthers L
Dec. 7 at Falcons L
Dec. 17 host Jets W
Dec. 24 host Falcons W
Dec. 31 at Bucs L

W total: Six.

After an 0-2 start, that’s a sign of overachieving. Almost half full in the W column instead of empty.

If you’re covering Miss. State-Georgia game

Watch out for ugly typos before you send your gamer. PEXELS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I have a tip, one I learned long ago, for those sportswriters covering the Mississippi State-Georgia football game in Athens on Saturday night.

Since both teams are known as the Bulldogs, avoid confusion in your gamers. Make sure your readers know which Bulldogs you are writing about.

In the case of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, call them the M Dogs. And in the case of the Georgia Bulldogs, call them the G Dogs.

This is something I learned from Slim Smith, my former sports editor.

Be careful with G Dogs. GD, an ugly typo, could slip into print and I’m sure you know what GD means. I know it doesn’t mean Good Dogs.

Also be careful with M Dogs. MD, as in MD 20/20, would make your readers and sports editor think you were drinking and typing during the game.

Watch your language, boys and girls. Keep it clean.

Avoid a trip to the GD editor’s office Monday afternoon.

In this case, GD is Good Dog as in watchdog.

Editor’s note: The typewriter photograph is a free download from Pexels.com