Monday, September 27, 2010

Random Observations From the Alabama@Arkansas Game, 2010

This weekend was fascinating for me. I haven’t been back to the Ozarks since the Georgia game last year, pretty much 12 months.

I love Houston. It’s a great city, much maligned by people who are not familiar with it, or who see it from the freeway only. Tons of great restaurants, sports out the gazoo (Astros, Texans, Rockets, Dynamo, Cougars, Owls just to name a few, and now Sugar Land is getting a AA baseball club), great museums, fabulous symphony, one of the better opera companies in the US, beautiful parks, great zoo, NASA, San Jacinto, Galveston---if you’re bored in Houston, it’s your own fault. I love living here. I love my beautiful home. I even like my job (at least my co-workers, and in truth, it’s never boring). I love having a large chunk of my family close by (ESPECIALLY MY “GRANDDAUGHTER”, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE ENTIRE WORLD).

The Mexican food is superb. The cerveza is cold (St. Arnold’s and Shiner both brew fantastic taste sensations). The winters here are short and warmish. Summer is brutal, but if you love convertibles (as I do), it’s not all bad. I wish I could afford for the Mexican yard crew to come mow my yard, but then I’ve always enjoyed doing it myself, mostly.


As I traveled with Nathan to the Ozarks (Nathan did a truly fine job this weekend looking after tragic old me; he drove all the way to ‘nam and all the way back, handing over the wheel only when we got to Conroe (northern suburb of Houston); helping me up the Hill when I was having a tough time, enduring truly awful Mexican food in Springdale just because I wanted to go to a “sit-down” restaurant instead of fast-food), the further north we went, the more nostalgic and sentimental I became about the hills and valleys, the scenic beauty of the Green Hills of Oklahoma. By the time we crossed the state line at Spiro/Ft. Smith, I was practically in ecstasy.

Northwest Arkansas is a little slice of heaven bestowed by a generous, gracious Creator upon us lowly humans. The Boston Mountains are absolutely beautiful, and, as I posted on my facebook page, “a sight for sore eyes.”

By the time we got to Fayetteville, we were all the way gone into Hog Fever. This is a mysterious ailment that affects Arkansas Razorbacks fans as they approach Nirvana Heaven Fayetteville, Arkansas.

I was 13 years old and living in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1969, so I don’t know what “Texas Week” was like then. I have enjoyed “Texas Week” upon occasion, but nothing then was as wild as campus was this weekend. The joint, as they say, was jumping.

From the lines of students camping out for the game, “Petrinoville” as they called it, to the random screams of “WOOO, PIG!” and “GO HOGS!” heard throughout the night, to the scantily clad young ladies in the Daisy Dukes and high-heel clogs strutting for the handsome young men (ok, scruffy college kids), to the PigScreen TeeVee blaring away into the night, the atmosphere was truly (and proverbially) “electric”.

The next morning, after shopping excursions to the 6th St. Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart is just different in Arkansas than it is here; here, I don’t even want to darken the door, I detest it; there, I can’t wait to go and load up on Hog stuff) and Big Red’s, we finally made it to tailgate heaven. I stopped by to see some old friends, the Bawiecs, Hamiltons, and others while Nathan met up with his folks at “The Gardens”, a now-grassy spot formerly inhabited by the nasty on-campus “married student housing.” Having endured the crowds at the “Hog Heaven” bookstore, I reconnected with Nathan and we headed (well---crept) along 6th Street until we could wind up through the neighborhoods to park near the TreeFort.

The TreeFort is a sight for sore eyes as well, presided over amiably and more-than-ably by my great and good friend Joey Roland. Let’s make this clear: Joey knows how to throw a freaking party.

As many of you know, I’ve had a pretty shitty couple of years. It’s been tough.

I have never before experienced the sensation of an individual standing ovation. I’ve had one collectively (as a member of a fraternity during All University Sing, and as a member—and assistant director—of several choirs. Never individually.

I walked up to the TreeFort and was literally assailed by my friends, shouts and screams of my name as I walked up. Let me tell you, it’s magical. Y’all (and you know who you are) feel free to do that ANY TIME YOU WANT. Seriously, you will never know how much that meant to me.

I have met some of the closest friends I’ve ever had through the Arkansas Razorbacks, some of whom are older, many of whom are younger. I’ve decided: instead of a funeral, when I’m gone I hope they have a big party together and tell funny stories about me….

The game---well, the game was televised nationally and everybody knows the results, so I’ll not recap that here. The Goodyear blimp is still cool; the US Army Silver Wings are even MORE cool.

Mainly, though, the stadium was ROCKING. We were in the upper deck and it was STILL rocking.

I told Nathan coming back yesterday (as we listened to AMERICA’S TEAM, THE DALLAS COWBOYS, beat up on the Texans), we were “Home” in Fayetteville, then we went “Home” to Houston.

Dual citizenship is a bitch, but it has its advantages.

What can I say, I love photos.


Entering “the Mountains of God”…






I don’t know what Frank Broyles had to do to bribe the AHTD into making the road give us this view, but I’m eternally grateful. Wish I could have made a better photo, but 70 mph-or so-is not good for night photography.


Beautiful Baum Stadium awaits the beginning of another Championship season of Razorback Baseball!



Wastin’ away again in Petrinoville…


For Nathan, Adam, Blake, Brandon, Daniel, Shannon, and the other fine young men of Lambda Chi Alpha it’s been my pleasure to know.

DSC_0106 DSC_0114 DSC_0117 DSC_0120 DSC_0127 For Kathy, Larry, Hunter, Brent and Ben, Alumni Deluxe.

DSC_0137 The Bawiec party in full swing.


DSC_0142 This is how far the student line had gotten 4 hours before gametime.



DSC_0149 DSC_0150 Happiness is a TreeFort.

DSC_0151 We even let Alabama fans in, especially when they fly all the way from Germany (!) when their wife is 8 months 3 weeks pregnant (!).



Talk about “outkicking your coverage”—way to go, nephew!!!

DSC_0157 Oh. My. God.

(and they laughed at our plastic Hog Hats…)



The Founder of the Feast (Joey, in visor) lectures on the finer points of blocking and tackling to an eager student of the game.


DSC_0170 DSC_0180 TreeFort from the Stadium.

DSC_0182 DSC_0190 DSC_0192 DSC_0194 DSC_0199 DSC_0200 DSC_0201 DSC_0202 DSC_0203 DSC_0208 DSC_0211 DSC_0213 DSC_0214 DSC_0216 DSC_0223


TOUCHDOWN, ARKANSAS!!!! OH, MY!!!!! (Paul, I know you were watching and hollering that on the Heaven Broadcasting System).
















I’m not usually into “Moral Victories”, and OF COURSE I’m disappointed in the outcome, are you kidding? Still, this is one of the best Arkansas teams I’ve seen in decades. Petrino has them going in the right direction. I’d have loved to see Mallett step up, but all in all---it’s hard to be humble when you’re an Arkansas Razorbacks fan.

As for Arkansas itself---Arkansas, you run deep in me.