Chris Rose: Jimmy John's

Drew Brees in council chambers
Drew Brees in council chambers

The showdown at the New Orleans City Council chambers on Thursday had more drama than an NFL preseason game but its outcome was far more predictable.

And, no – that's not because our esteemed elected officials managed to pull together a legal quorum for the first time in five weeks.

That wasn't drama. That was theater of the absurd.

But the end of the Council's work stoppage coincided with a request by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to waive local zoning restrictions so he could open a fast-food joint on Maple Street.

Betting heavily favored Brees. After all, who – in this town – is going to tell our most beloved adopted son that he cannot have what he wants?

Well, except for... you know.

But here's the thing: Brees' application to open a Jimmy John's sandwich franchise in one of Uptown's most cherished pocket commercial zones put a strain on neighborhood relations and tested many folks' heretofore unconditional devotion to All Things Drew.

The local business association previously opposed the fast food waiver before the City Planning Commission, but only two folks had the temerity to show up at Thursday's meeting to speak out.

It's a quality of life issue, they say, and they're right. This is just the tip of a much broader cultural debate over the future of New Orleans.

Battles like this one – and Tulane Stadium, live music on Rampart Street, the Bacchanal wine bar in the Bywater and Starbuck's and Wal-Mart anywhere – very much represent the battle for the soul of the city.

They're delicate dances that pit preservation against progress, aesthetics against practicality, elitism against popular taste, tradition against convenience.

Hence: New Orleans against the world.

Serving as a flashpoint for New Orleans' 21st century existential crisis is an awful lot of pressure to put on an 8-inch turkey sub, but if anyone in this town has proven their mettle under pressure, it's – no, not Jimmy John – but Drew Brees.

He has shown us over and over that, despite a slight physical stature relative to the brawny, elevated prototype of the modern NFL quarterback, he possesses unrivaled determination and focus.

He gets things done.

The Council vote was unanimous, 7-0 in favor, confirming once again that Drew Brees is, indeed, Supersized.