Last night we took in the final preseason game at Heinz Field. An absolutely beautiful night, a full moon with weather in the low 80's, high 70's. We parked in the hood and made our way to the gate. Despite the fact that attendance was an abysmal 50,122 out 65,500, finding freebies took a little longer than it should have. A guy and his wife eventually coughed up some extras around 6:30 pm.
prior blog, I discussed the conceptual theme for the 2012 ticket stubs. It's a look at the variety of fans that comprise Steeler Nation. Well, I don't personally know this guy from Johnstown, PA. His name is Steve Harrison so obviously he's a fan of James Harrison (#92). Yeah... I get the coincidental creativity. But seriously, what's up with the closet full of officially licensed NFL jerseys. I counted 27 total hangers in that closet plus the one he's wearing. Is that what makes for a real Steelers fan these days? The abnormal compulsion to purchase a wardrobe of nearly identical jerseys. Each one surely costs well over $100. This type of twisted, overzealous American piggish capitalism makes me sick to my stomach. So of course he's properly rewarded with his 15 minutes of fame as the ultimate Steelers fan. Ohhh, he's the greatest fan in the world. He went online and bought as much crap as is humanly possible. And of course he will be extolled and lavished with praise from the trained minions that constitute most of American society these days. Enough.
Game time was for 7pm so we walked through the Rib Fest. Lots of people, gnawing on lots of bones, with lots of sauce on their faces. After careful consideration, we opted to split a half slab dinner for $15.00 from the Columbus, Ohio outfit. The ribs were outstanding, a fine allotment of swine. But the side containers of coleslaw and potato salad were really small. And it should have come with a slice of bread to sop up some of the sauce (which was excellent by the way, although I rarely enjoy invoking the word "tang" or "tangy"). You'd think they'd overload you on slaw, potatoes and beans because it would make the overall container look fuller.
So we sat on our bench and made small talk with this 72 year old black guy who grew up in Hoboken/Jersey City, NJ. Very pleasant, youthful looking man who claimed to have "hung out" and often "shined the shoes" of Frank Sinatra back in the day. He had since relocated to Cleveland and travels extensively. It was his first visit to Heinz Field. We asked him if he tried any of the ribs and he replied that he rarely indulges in "carnival food." We share this same trait, but fuck it, we were hungry and the ribs was gooood. During this atheist Jew's engulfment of pork, I muttered lines made famous by the esteemed telemarketer "Anna Ashby, Anna Grubler, German shot-put artist":
Leave me alone, I'm eatin'
You know you want it, cuz it's gooood
So we went in for the first half and made our loop around the stadium. Gig found about 7 ticket stubs for the downstairs bathroom wall. Way to go. Glancing around the stadium, it was really embarrassing. Yes, I realize it's a school night and it's the final preseason game where they don't wish to overplay the first string. But what the hell??? Where was the crowd??? The tickets have already been paid for. And there are over 15,000 no shows? I just don't quite get it. I think a lot of the problem is the hefty cost of parking near the stadium. Very discouraging factor. They should really reconsider that plan to add an additional 3,000 seats, especially at the expense of eliminating the general admission Steel Pit area. I suppose it could be worse, you could be at a University of Pitt game... or showering with Jerry Sandusky... or watching Clint Eastwood perform a comedy skit at the Republican National Convention (don't worry, I'll get there).
After the first half, while exiting the stadium, Gig stumbled upon some kind of "$10 promotional gaming ticket" for the 3 Rivers Casino. I suggested the piece of paper was worthless. But she was adamant, "Eric this thing is worth 10 bucks." Still skeptical, I wanted proof. I just wasn't willing to acknowledge that it could be transformed into tangible paper money. So we went over to the casino. Not really knowing how to get started, we looked like idiots. We finally made our way to the customer service desk and they "hooked us up." A woman transformed the ticket into some kind of casino credit card. We made our way to possibly the most boring looking vidiot machine in the entire place. Gig still had to insert a dollar. Then another dollar. It was a rocky ride, but she ended up on the plus side. I believe our winnings totaled $7.95 minus the initial 2 one dollar bills... giving us a grand profit of $5.95. Here it is, the morning after, and I still am shocked that the casino receipt yielded actual cash of any amount. Maybe I need to get out more often.
And we also found a coffee stained "Allegheny Technologies" ball cap and a pink terrible towel.
Do not worry. I didn't try on the hat until after it had been properly cleansed. Turns out - it's a near perfect fit. But the stain is still present. We may have to call on Mr. Clorox.
So we made it back home just before 10 pm. Perfect timing to witness the introduction of the iconic legend Clint Eastwood at the RNC. We watched in what I'd term a "mildly annoyed state of disbelief" as his fragmented, stammering comedy routine droned into oblivion. Obviously, the reviews weren't favorable. You really felt the unease within the crowd. There was this capitulation of polite applause even though nobody could discern what the fuck he was talking about. Just really uncomfortable and borderline pathetic. I feel kind of bad for Mitt. I truly doubt this was his idea. And all that will be remembered in the aftermath of the 2012 RNC... yep, the onset of Clint Eastwood's dementia and his sudden fall from grace. Honestly, I was never much of a fan in the first place.
So I'd rank Marco Rubio's introductory speech as slightly above average. Not horrible. But not really inspiring either. Then, Mitt comes out on this extended trip to the podium. Seemed like he was wandering through a 5K walk. He shook hands with everyone imaginable. And they all had one thing in common. They were all white, older men and women. Every delegate and well wisher was 100% honky.
If the Republican party is going to ever withstand being marginalized into obscurity, they must present a less "honkified" presence. Difficult with Senator Mitch McConnell leading the charge. A man who makes Tom Willis look like a modern day version of Eminem. However, I should mention that there were a slew of black men and women in the arena. They were the paid gospel singers who sang a rousing rendition of "America the Beautiful." It felt like I was being transported back in time to a pre-Civil war plantation in Southern Georgia. Atta boy, Mitt! Way to bridge the racial divide, my Mormon homeslice!
So what did I think of Mitt's speech. Pretty damn weak. Especially following the powerful speeches from the previous night. No real substantive policy. Not much vision either. Unless you got taken in by the powerful imagery of a church picnic and your daughter's soccer game in rural America. As you may have surmised, I'm not the type to get suckered. What's funny is that I really look forward to the conventions. I enjoy the speeches. Last night just left me feeling kind of sad. If the Republicans were looking for a way to close the "empathy" gap, I think they nailed it with Clint Eastwood. Just make the television audience sympathize and feel sorry for your party.
What's even crazier... I still think Mitt wins it this year. If it's not the stampedes, it will be something else. Mark my words, we're going to see a profoundly changed dynamic sometime before the election.