Friday, November 16, 2007
Brethren and Nacho are the younger brothers of a dear soul, Sisterin. She is headed West this weekend to attend her first Big Ten football game. She grew up not really paying attention to football, but her cheerleading and college days made her a true fan. She's at heart a UVA fan: she has to look good going to the games and she only drinks a fine Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir at tailgates. Come noon at the Michigan-Ohio State game, she's in for a bit of a surprise, we thinks. She's going to Ann Arbor with a Michigan grad, a young feller named Mike. Their words make up this column
…and how could it? Take the classic campus game day shirts as an indicative example. You know the ones, where you flip the first letters around and it reads "PUCK Fenn State" instead of "FUCK Penn State." Surely ideated by a frat boy somewhere, who after his 17th Beast Ice, thought to himself, "what a great idea – I can express my fervent hatred for my opponents without blatantly offending small children and families. I am such a clever and responsible member of society." Regardless of origin, when you apply the theory to Ohio State, you end up with "BUCK the FUCKeyes" which essentially negates any semblance of decency it was meant to create. The point is, you cannot clean this one up – Michigan vs. Ohio State is dirty, it is nasty, and it is not so much about football as it is about pure, unadulterated animosity.
Since it's difficult to appreciate the rivalry if you haven't lived it, allow me to set the stage for Saturday:
The stage is set, after
Mike (to Sisterin, us all) -- (cont'd): First, I am not going to argue that Michigan vs. Ohio State is one of the year's premier college football match-ups. Those glory days are on hold, and I am all too aware of the perception of the Big Ten outside of the Rust Belt. I hear things like "mediocrity" and "I still contend it's a shitty conference." The latter sentiment may or may not have been conveyed by Brethren in a rather sassy late night voicemail to his darling sister (whom we tie into this story shortly) (Brethren: Damn right I did. Fuck yea.) For now, just know that I'm no sports pundit, and I am not going to fight the "my conference has bigger cajones than your conference" fight. I will, however, spin you the tale of two inevitable cultural train wrecks:
Train Wreck Numero Uno – Michigan Fans and Ohio State Fans: A buddy once told me, "Ohio State fans are worse than an STD. I mean, not that I've had one, but, uh, you know what I mean." Indeed we do, good sir, for we have all seen the horrifying videos from health class (assuming you went to public grade school) (Brethren: We didn't -- all three of us). Any true Wolverine agrees with this sentiment, and the sad fact is that the Buckeyes can't help it – they're from THE WORST STATE IN THE ENTIRE UNION.
Now, I've never been to the badlands in North Dakota, but I have been to Death Valley, and it's a far sight better than anything in Ohio. I scheme ways to avoid driving through it, having gone to the extremes of cutting through southern Canada on eastward bound ventures. God forbid if I ever have to actually stay in Ohio for anything. Even their "Great" Lake is awful. Cleveland only squeezed by the Yankees when the filthy beast of a lake vomited up a scourge of gnats. Erie can't hold a candle to Lake Michigan, Superior, or Huron.
The impact of living in such an environment inevitably takes its toll, as one can see in the crass behavior of a Buckeye. This is best highlighted by the warnings UMich puts out to students prior to football games hosted in Columbus – don't drive down there if you have Michigan plates. Your tires get slashed. Or your windows broken. A good road trip to Columbus is one where you leave with only a healthy dousing of piss on the door handle.
Of course, Michigan fans' smug superiority – of character, of intellect, of football prowess – only exacerbates the situation. We're pretty sure every university in the nation is a "safety school" when it's compared to us. (Brethren: HAHAHA...wait, what? really? Michigan people really think this? In no way is that true! hahahaha.) There's the old joke - how many Wolverines does it take to screw in a light bulb? The answer is 10 - one to screw it in, and nine to brag about how they did it better than Harvard. I might be ashamed of such arrogance, but it ain't bragging if it's true.
No grudging respect. No sportsmanship. Not in this rivalry.
Train Wreck Numero Dos – Well Mannered Southern Gal Encounters Her First Midwestern Shit Show: Hard to imagine even greater potential for disaster, but we have found it. First, take an impeccably mannered southern girl (Sisterin), who knows damn well what she likes - champagne, heels, pedicures, Ritz Carltons, etc. Not making the list - sneakers, hoodies, lake effect snow, keg beer, or any beer for that matter. Now add in a UVA education and an expectation of a southern-style tailgate: linens, tents, ties, pearls, vases and centerpieces, and ull-out food spreads (I have never seen such travesties in person, but I hear rumor that tailgate life is actually like this in places).(Brethren: Don't worry; we don't usually hire help at these tailgates, so your presence isn't required.)
Now imagine dropping her into the maw of Midwestern game day madness where, to put it most simply, things get retarded, they get retarded early, and they stay retarded. As host, it would be irresponsible of me to allow this fine young lady to arrive unprepared. Therefore, I offer the following crib sheet for tailgating in Ann Arbor on game day:
1) No parking lots, no fields: Tailgates happen at houses, stretching down the State Street corridor from South University to Hoover. Sure, they open up the golf course for parking, and people barbeque there, but it's for "old people" only.
2) Start early: Liquor stores open at 8am. The wise and seasoned vets already bought their breakfast pint of Jack Daniels after a dead sprint to the store at 1:59am the night prior. But if you forgot, you have three establishments to choose from – all side by side by side at the intersection of State and Packard. I recommend Campus Corner. Ask for Joe. Their kegs of Natty Light always have a crisper taste. And no, none of this gives you a pass for "taking it easy" the Friday night prior.
3) Bring $2: You won't find any food at these tailgates. However, $2 will buy you a delicious BTB Classic Burrito at Big Ten Burrito, conveniently located next to Campus Corner. Beans, rice, cheese, and salsa, it's the poor man's tasty staple. If you don't want to travel a block away, just scoot across the street to the hot dog vendor. Expect a free dog in exchange for a solo cup full of Natty.
4) Get Creative, Part One -- Drink Combinations: Many an infamous concoction has been birthed on the muddy lawns of State Street, none more widely admired than the MoMo (Mohawk vodka and Monster energy drink). Others include Blue Blue (UV Blue Vodka and blue Gatorade), MoCho (Mohawk 100 proof peppermint schnapps and chocolate syrup), and the Death Star (Five Star whiskey and RockStar energy drink -- hastily abandoned after a disastrous first showing, which we dare not retell on these pages). It should be noted that these beverages are not in fact mixed in the traditional sense, which would include cups. No, they are all consumed in "sessions" -- which involves standing around in a circle while the liquor, then chaser, are passed from person to person for straight pulls. Some academics have tied these "sessions" to the tribal need for community and human connection. Others propose that it's just a bunch of idiots begging for mono and a splitting headache. But I will leave that debate up to you.
5) Get Creative, Part Two - Drinking Activities: Sure, there are the usual staples such as beer pong, beirut, beer pongs, and corn hole. But have you ever experienced keg rolling (imagine log rolling -- with kegs. in an intersection. among moving traffic)? The Gargoyle (imagine a rail thin 6'11" individual perched on top of a keg while suckling straight from the tap)? Street Dancing? Cross-Avenue Keg Laps? I suspect not. Brace yourself.
6) Stay Engaged: One word - Sparks.
That's enough for now.
I'll be back to report on exactly how far this downward spiral took us...as I said before, this cannot possibly end well.