Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate Texas

I went to see my beloved Giants this week in Texas for what turned out to be the World Series clinching Game 5. I had only been to Texas for any length of time on one other occasion, that being a gig at South By Southwest in Austin Texas. That visit was most noteworthy for Leo taking mushrooms and being mistaken for being retarded in a pool hall, and having the Austin Chronicle refer to The Cowslingers set as being one of the best of the festival. (Somehow we were unable to turn this Festival appearance into rock stardom, but all was not lost as we did see Ryan Adams walk around in sunglasses at night and being all but fellated by competing record reps. Let the record show I believe the Cowslingers post 1999 recorded output to be vastly superior to that of Mr. Adams, however Mr. Adams has had significantly more commercial success. In fact, Bryan Adams has had more commercial success since 1999 than The Cowslingers. Come to think of it, so has Adam Ant.)

That's about it for time in Texas. To be fair, I have been to Houston 4 or 5 times. Well, not so much "Houston" as the Houston Airport. My biggest highlight? I did buy a Texas A&M t-shirt there after perspiring though my other shirt on a long flight from Cleveland where I had been wedged into a seat between a farting Hispanic man, and a very hairy bearded senior citizen. One other time I missed a connecting flight to Mexico, and enjoyed a stay at a Embassy Suites for 7 hours until my re-routed flight was ready. But this isn't really visiting "Texas", is it?

Ken and I jumped on the plane after a long weekend of shows where I managed to collect a solid 6 hours of sleep between Friday and Monday morning. Still, I wasn't going to miss a chance to see My Team actually win something. I have been following sports since I was three years old, and my teams always flame out in the most horrifying ways possible. Think of any terrible misfortune that has befallen a sports team, and feel confident to know I was rooting for that losing squad. I was in the stands during The Drive. I watched my old college roommate have to put a surprisingly nice bottle of champagne back in the fridge after Jose Mesa blew the save for the Indians in Game 7 in 1997. I saw my father fall on the floor in disbelief when Bills free safety Bill Simpson somehow collided with the cornerback and fell down to give up a long TD to San Diego in the AFC Playoffs. I can go on and on and on and on. My teams never win. Ever. But this would be different...

I headed into Texas knowing that baseball is a distant second or third cousin behind Father Football as a sports passion. I felt reasonably sure no one would hit me in the skull if I wore my Giants lid, and probably due to lack of sleep, I figured wearing the Giants jersey would be OK too. Note that in Philadelphia 2 weeks earlier, I did not feel comfortable to even wear a Giants t shirt underneath my hooded sweatshirt. It is well known that people in Philly are horrible monsters that have barfed on children's heads just because they rooted against the Phillies in a otherwise meaningless regular season game. What chance would a lone wiseass like I have against the entire city during the Playoffs? I love the Giants, but let's be sensible here. I can't possibly fight a city of 5 million people, and have a real aversion to being barfed on.

When we finally arrived in Arlington after a flight schedule so diabolical it must have been designed by an offspring of Dr. Joseph Mengele, I immediately started to pound Lone Star beers. This would be the only way to overcome a total lack of sleep and jet lag. We sat in some sports bar shed of a place filled with Ranger fans, and killed time until the game, listening to the jukebox and watching roaches the size of turtles scuttle across the concrete. It must have been at about beer five when I decided it was a good idea to play "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and "San Francisco (Flowers in Your Hair)" on the Internet jukebox back-to-back. Surely this would get a rise out of the bar... Yet, I was disappointed when no one even seemed to notice, much less want to punch me in the throat. Well, it was still early.

We drove the rental car over to the stadium. (The car was a Mercury Grand Marquis that was about the size of many of the apartments I had rented in the late 1980s.) A Giant fan could be spotted here and there, but it was mostly a sea of blue and red Ranger gear. I braced myself for the shit talk on the way to the seats, but the shit talk never came. In fact, when I was walking into the stadium a woman said, "Is this yer first time in Texas? Well, you have a real good time!". Twice I was stopped on the way to the seats by Ranger fans to say, "Boy, your team sure has played well. I have to hand it to ya!". These people weren't pissed the Rangers were down 3-1. They were just happy to be there! How you all doin!

Coming from the Rust Belt, this came as a total shock to my system. Here, we hate anyone that has success, especially if it comes at our expense. I have seen Pittsburgh Steeler fans pummeled in the men's room before a game even started in Cleveland. We are so toxic here that if someone we know is successful, the whole city turns on them en masse. The only way to have continued success in the Rust Belt is to move away as soon as others become aware of it. Why do you think Jack White moved away from Detroit? Why are the Black Keys, long cheerleaders of Akron, slipping away to New York and Nashville? Because everyone they come in contact with in the area seethes with jealousy and wants them to fail. It's a negative energy that is undeniable, and may be the reason that the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in the 1970s.

As Giant shortstop Edgar Renteria's unlikely home run ball cleared the fence, I stood up in the left field bleachers screaming "Did that just happen? Did that just happen?" while wildly waving my arms around. Any Ranger fan would have been well within his rights to have tossed me over the fence onto the warning track, where I would have been tazed in the scrotum by a lumbering security guard to the delight of thousands. Instead the fans behind me said, "With the way Lincecum is pitching, that will probably do it. Congratulations!". What the fuck? How could I relish in the moment in true Rust Belt fashion if I couldn't feed off the despair of others? This was so unfair. They even clapped and sang after the next inning to "Deep In The Heart of Texas". I was like The Grinch when he heard all the Whos in Whoville sing on Christmas morning...

I tried to step it up over the last 9 outs and get anyone to react negatively to me, but the best I could do was get one "Sit down Giant fan!" when I stood and slowly clapped for a weak Buster Posey single to left. On the way out after the game, Ranger fan after Ranger fan shook my hand and congratulated me on the Giants win. It was like winning the Series on the set of Leave It To Beaver. "What a great Series! This your first time in Texas? Hope you're having a great time! Congratulations again!" The bartender at the Sheraton even bought me a round. "I'm so happy for you!"

These people are so nice it's disarming. Still, even they must have their limits. I feel it is my obligation as a student of human behavior to see how far I can go. My next step? I will attend a Cowboys game dressed in a full Philadelphia Eagle mascot costume. I will drive to the game weaving in and out of traffic, as I will be unable to see through the beak of the costume. I will run into countless fans entering the stadium as my giant bird feet will clip everyone's heels. I will spill beer all over everyone in my row as I will be unable to fully grasp the cup due to the size of the wings. It is then, and only then, will we see how gracious these folks really are. Go Eagles!


At February 6, 2011 at 9:42:00 AM EST , Blogger Walter Zoomie said...

Piss on the Alamo like Ozzy did. I guarantee that will get a rise outta any real Texan.


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