Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Phil Lesh & Friends

Several people were on hand last night for the Phil & Friends show at the AJ Palumbo Center (Duquesne's basketball court). The show itself was much better than I anticipated. Not the greatest musicianship but Chris Robinson's vocals on all the songs were a refreshing change of pace considering the only other option was Phil Lesh's atrocious musings. Decent set list - some of the highlights were my all-time favorite Dead opener, Let the Good Times Roll. Strong Not Fade Away ended the first set. My expectations were pretty damn low so I'd say the show definitely over-acheived. I sampled the cuisine as well. I ate a slightly burnt personal pizza, a relatively edible hot dog and then finished it off with a grilled cheese after the show. I bought it from a hippie - I asked her name and she replied Dandelion (I think). Then I inquired about her middle name and she stammered, "Uhh, I don't know." Then, she slammed the grilled cheese on a nearby cement column and said "Here you go." A little stunned, I looked at her and asked for a napkin. She didn't have one but offered up the cellophane from the cheese slice as a substitue. I was a tiny bit apprehensive but consumed the sandwich in less than 1 minute.
What really made the night a special one was my mode of entry into the Palumbo Center. I absolutely refused to pay 40 bucks for a ticket to see this crapulence. I looked for a 20 dollar ticket outside the entrance but there were far too many hippies and miracle seekers. These days it's nearly impossible for me to compete with the hordes of Mother Shabooboos and miscellaneous dreaded fucks. I am viewed with slightly less venom than campus security.
Anyway, I noticed this guy wheeling a keg out the back door. After he rounded the corner, I wandered over and VOILA - just opened the back door to the gymnasium floor. I walked in with some degree of authority. 3 guys were standing by the door and I heard one of them say "Can I see your ticket please?" At first, I thought I was screwed. Then I turned my head and they were all chuckling. I talked to them for a bit and they applauded my sneak-in. This makes me recollect about all the other sneak-ins. Indeed, there are many. I'll review some of the highlight sneak-ins from my illustrious career.
Perhaps the all-time greatest was the fence crash at the Deer Creek Dead show in 1995. This one made the national news since they were launching canisters of tear gas at the hill side. They had to call in the entire Indy police force to quell this mini-riot. I was sitting outside, minding my own business, when I saw a few fence crashers make the move. Rather than get trampled in the rush, you just had to join in. For some reason, I threw my cooler of Keystone Light over my head and started running with the crowd. Then, I had second thoughts. What had I done? I hastily turned back, ran against the crowd and retreived the precious cooler of beer. This was about as close as I'll ever get to running with the bulls in Pampalona. Up the hill and into the show. Keystone Light never tasted so good. A great trivia question is, during what song did the fence crash occur - the answer is Desolation Row (late in the first set). Kind of odd, since it's a pretty low-energy tune.
I also snuck into a Pink Floyd show at the Horseshoe in Columbus with Wendy Wagner and Lisa Carpenter. This was a good one as we bided our time and then watched this old guy leave his security post by one of the cargo entrances. We all just waltzed into that one. Great show but the crowd was lifeless. I used to think it was just the OSU fans who can't make noise but now I tend to think it's something about the entire city of Columbutt.
Another good sneak in was a SLAYER show a couple years ago at the Belle Vernon Arena which is actually an ice skating rink. Me, Jepsonian and Marklar snuck in the back. I looked at the people in charge of the concession stands and said "God damn, it's cold out there." The best thing to do is have a line ready to go. Something simple along the lines of "Alright, let's do it" or "OOOHHH, we're gonna have a good time tonight". Just anything straight-forward or easy to respond to. It sets a good tone.
One time at a crappy Rusted Root New Years show at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, I was escorted out for illegally being on the floor. I tried to explain to the security that I was being punished enough for having to spend New Years with Rusted Soot, but he wasn't buying it. Then, I did a loop around the arena and slid in by the smoking area right outside Gate A. I wouldn't recommend this mode of entry. If the lone security guy had seen me, I might have been taken down on the concrete. And for what, to ring in the New Year with Rusted Shit.
Another sneak in, was the Kiss show at the Wheeling Civic Center. This one was pretty funny. Me and Danno are sitting at Nail City and devising a plan for the sneak-in. I'm like, follow me. We just walked up on the concourse. I forget if I had given up smoking by then - I'm pretty sure I had. Anyway, we just joined in with all the smokers and I held the door for everyone. I think I used the line - "Yeahhh, get on in here. Time to continue rocking" or something to that effect.
I'm not even going to bother with the countless hippie shows and taped wrist bands, although my favorite is the Masontown Sunday sneak-ins - works great every year for the Sunday DSO show. Just offer one of the hippies a bag of Munchos for his wristband and they'll think you're a God. Not even a real bag. The lunch sized ones with 12 Munchos will suffice.
I'm not going to discuss the numerous fake limo Starlake side entrance sneak-ins either. Not really worthy of discussion because of the lack of creativity. PEACE

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Heinz Field Stadium food

Lately I've become quite familiar with the cuisine options at Heinz Field. I'm not going to discuss any of the options on levels 200 through 400. Let's just concentrate on the first and fifth and sixth tiers where the commoners hang out. Upon entering the main entrance of Heinz Field, you'll encounter the Steel Pit. This is where I usually hang for the games. I actually like hanging in the end zone for several reasons. First and foremost, you can watch the game on the giant widescreen at the South end of the stadium. For a brief time, this was the largest television on the planet earth. Then, Gillette Stadium got the exact same one and others have also popped up. Pro games usually lend themselves to viewing on tv since so many plays get reviewed. There's a great atmosphere down in the pit. Everyone is standing and milling about so the scenery is constantly changing. There seems to be bit more rowdiness and heightened level of intoxication as well. Plus, when you turn around and face the field, you really get a rush from the roar of the crowd. Another nice touch is that you're right near the exit in case you want to make a hasty getaway. This is entirely irrelevant because my crew is always the last to leave the parking lot. And I do the mean the absolute last. There's also a "hidden" restroom when you walk in. It's just past the escalators on the left side. Nobody uses it because few people see it on the way to their seats. There's almost no lines whatsoever. I highly recommend it for urination as opposed to the top of the steps at Starlake.
Basically, there are 2 good options in the Great Hall of Heinz Field. There's a Benkovitz Seafood place and a scaled down version of Primanti Brothers. I find it disconcerting that people would order a fish sandwich when it's freezing cold. Fish needs to be served hot, or at the very least, warm. Cold fish just doesn't cut it, unless it's peel and eat shrimp. This Primanti's only offers cheesesteaks and turkey sandwiches. This is the best option. They sell for only six bucks a sandwich. That's remarkably cheap considering I could buy a super dog for 4 bucks and it doesn't even fill you up. With the sandwich, you definitely get more of a meal. My only complaint is that they should offer corned beef. I guess the fewer options, the better. The last thing you want is to give people too many options when time is of the essence. The other problem with Primanti's is that they only offer IC Light. If you want a Rolling rock or some other beer, you'll have to get into another line. I'll usually just go for the Iron City even though I'm not a big fan.
As for ordering from the general concession stands, your options are typically mundane. Hot dogs, nachos, chips, cotton candy (truly the cry of the damned) - all these things suck. I'll never understand why people gravitate toward hot dog consumption at sporting events. Did the hot dog suddenly become more palatable or are the people just too drunk and don't realize that hot dogs are consumed by idiots? Where do you think the term "hot diggity" comes from? And most vexing is the hike in the price per dog - at a grocery store, each dog is 12 cents and at the game it skyrockets to $4.00.
So there you have it. If you're hungry at a Steelers game, go with the obvious choice - Primanti Brothers cheesesteak. Or better yet, bring your own food and stuff your face in the parking lot.