Super Bowl Diary

 Uncategorized
Jan 242003
 
Authors: Reed Saunders

EDITOR’S NOTE: Collegian reporter Reed Saunders is at Super Bowl XXXVII. This is the first in a series of special Web-only diaries from San Diego.

Before the diary entry gets going here, a quick explanation of why this whole

thing was so late getting up:

1. My computer from the Collegian, which had worked on every other

occasion I’d tried to use it, including a trip earlier this year to San Diego,

wouldn’t connect to the internet. I tried everything. Different telephone

connections, different phone cords, different access codes. I’m not exactly

MacGyver, but usually I can figure things like this out. No such luck.

All the lines were working, it was just like the computer wasn’t

catching on and dialing. Ugh.

After calling the guest services and chatting with Charo for about 10

minutes who talked me through turning my computer on and off and using the

mouse and plugging phone cords into the wall like I was Dan Quayle, she

finally mentioned the hotel had a business center that had internet

connections I could use.

Great! I said.

…But it closed five minutes ago, Chiquita Gonzalez replied.

Great! I said.

So, here it is… my apologies for the lateness. Saturday’s entry is

already up, and I’ll have another article up tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoy it!

Jan. 24, 2002

I have arrived. Sunny San Diego is abuzz with the fever… Super Bowl

fever, that is. It’s crazy and I can’t even begin to tell you just what it’s

like to be here. Well… nah, yeah I can.

First off, seems appropriate to answer the big question: How the hell

did I get here?

Wish I could say Super Bowl airfare and tickets were within the

Collegian budget, but who would I be kidding? We’re like those Office Depot

commercials, writing on our arms cause we cut paper out of the budget.

No, I am here thanks to beer sales and big beer money. The fine folks at Coors

Light (namely my dad) offered to pay my way and hook me up with a ticket and a

few parties along the way, proving once again, it isn’t what you know, but

most definitely WHO you know. It’s good to be the official beer sponsor of the

NFL… or better yet, related to someone within the sports marketing department

of said beer.

The biggest thing I’ve learned this week leading up to the Super Bowl?

Telling people you’re going to the Super Bowl is a surefire way to get people

to hate you. You’d think I was throwing up on people, not telling them of my

vacation. Almost every response: “I hate you.” Well, my “friends” be damned…

I’m there, baby.

So, now that you understand how I got here, let me tell about HOW I got here.

The Air

I’ve always been fascinated with airports. Maybe it’s the people-watching,

maybe it’s the fact I am absolutely in awe of how someone figured out how to

get a huge hunk of metal in the air. Though it wasn’t the bulk of the trip, or

the bulk of what you’re surely interested in, a few observations I jotted down

while drifting around and within DIA:

What’s the deal with tips? Who am I supposed to give money to? Everyone? How

much? First it’s the guy who picks you up from the parking, then the guy who

takes your bags, then the lady trying to sell you Bose speakers… well, ok, not

that one. But by the time I’m to the gate, I’ve dropped close to $10. There

should be written mandates for things like this.

I’d like to thank that shoe-bomber guy (whose last name was Reid, ironically

enough) for planting the seed in authorities that my Skechers might somehow be

an instrument of terror. Really a great experience getting hand-wanded and

having them take the gum out of your pocket because “that might get picked up

too.” Huh?

I met this girl Amy in the security line. Had a few laughs, took off our shoes

at the same time. Learned she’s going to Bolivia for a year and there seemed

to be a good conversation brewing… until Concourse B came up and I had to

leave while she continued on to C. I’ll probably never see her again. This is

what’s so fascinating about airports: people coming together from places

you’ve never heard of, only to hop aboard a jet plane and go somewhere else.

We’re all like seeds off a dandelion sometimes… but I digress.

How about those mean people they got for the voices on the DIA concourse

trains? “Get your ass away from that door. You are delaying this train, you

stupid stupidhead.”

Went into this experience wondering, just how DO planes back up? Is there a

reverse gear? Last I checked, I didn’t see any rear-view mirrors. Only when I

saw the plane NEXT to me backing up did I realize the truth: a small airport

truck thing actually pushes it backwards from the front and then unhitches

itself and goes on its way. This is why I’m out here, people… to learn.

There’s a reason so many movies feature airports in prominent scenes. Some of

my all-time underrated airport movies: A Fish Called Wanda (“K-K-K Ken is c-c-

c coming to k-k-k kill me!”), Airplane (“…and don’t call me Shirley.”), Tommy Boy (“I have a flight coming back from Chicago… does that help?”), Top Gun

(not usually considered in top airport movies), and Meet the Parents

(“Otherwise… step off, bitch.”).

Before the plane takes off, one of the male stewards talks to the row behind

me and says quote, “Now, if there’s an emergency, since you guys are nearest

the exit… if you happen to be by the beverage cart, grab the liquor and go!

Don’t leave the liquor behind!” Thanks you for flying soberboy airways.

The most intriguing subplot of my flight was the empty seat next to me. I had

the window and this other guy had the aisle and after the aforementioned,

liquor-obsessed flight attendant broadcast that this was a “full flight,” we

thought for sure each boarding passenger would plug the gap between us. But

person after person kept passing. Hope was rising.

We looked at each other smiling… “nah,” we kept saying. But with each passing

person, we both began to think just how nice it would be to have that middle

seat open.

As loud as we might have been thinking, neither of us was saying a word. We

didn’t want to jinx it. It was like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter… no one was

saying a word, inning after inning. As the last folks filed up to first class

and we saw the runway pull away from the plane, we shared a smiling glance. It

was the last contact we had, but it was quite fun, let me tell ya.

The Ground

Anyways, nearly two hours later, our plane set down at San Diego International

Airport. If you’ve never descended into San Diego, it’s a combination of

thrill ride and horror flick. Between the hills to the south and the downtown

skyscrapers to the west, the plane sort of weaves in and out and feels like

you could crash into any of them in a blink.

Luckily, we set down without problem and it was on to the baggage claim.

It wasn’t long before you could tell we were in Super Bowl town and, more

noticeably, part of the Raider nation. Every other person, including several

on the plane, was decked out in silver and black jerseys, hats, feed bags… you

>name it. Easy to say the Bucs fans are outnumbered at this point.

Our baggage carousel is sandwiched between planes landing from Oakland and San

Francisco. Guess who they’re rooting for. Once the bags come down, it’s a

feeding frenzy — like standing in the middle of 800 fat kids when the buffet

opens. I’m already scared of Raider fans. Thank God the bags finally came. For

a while there it was three carousels, two planes a piece… and zero bags. How

does that happen. Kevin Sorbo doesn’t have to put up with that kind of @#$%.

You can tell it’s the Super Bowl because of all the damned groups meeting at

the airport. There’s the Infinity group, the Gatorade group, the Viacom group,

the Ford Group and the Visa group, just to name a few. There seems to be a lot

of lonely limo drivers too, holding signs and hoping, hoping for companionship

with those sad looks on their faces. Phillips…. Phillips?… Anyone?

So it’s off to the hotel, in this case, the lovely Marriott Marina… “Right

neeah tha beeech!”

I’m not real used to cab rides and this was in fact my first one alone… well,

guess I wasn’t technically alone. I had Boris the cabbie to keep me company.

Even though the sign on the window guaranteed an “English-speaking” driver,

Boris seemed to know only three words: “Unh,” “Ugh,” and… well, so there were

only two words… but he did have a mean horn slap followed by the two hand

“Whatsamattawitchu!” kinda look.

Boris was not moaning in pleasure, don’t get me wrong. The Unh and Ughs had

more of a Bulgarian Mafia ring to them. I was afraid.

The Hype

Walking into the hotel, it’s apparent that EVERYONE is in San Diego for the

Super Bowl. I’m making my way through the biggest sea of khaki and cell phones

you’ve seen this side of Clark building. The people organizing the Coors Light

VIP party in the back are constantly on the phone and I don’t admire their

task. They’re looking for tickets, looking for party passes, looking for

people who should be there, and on and on it goes.

While my man Deacon is busy trying to find me a room (among other things), I

help myself to the grilled swordfish and, what else, Coors Light waiting in

the VIP room.

Shortly after, the police enter the party and are starting to ask people

questions like it’s something serious. Turns out, the police had been called

by the party planners because two Super Bowl tickets had been scammed out of

the party a few minutes earlier.

“We shouldn’t have been that stupid,” my new friend and party organizer Shiela

tells me. Those could have been MY tickets, I think to myself.

Right now, my mood isn’t quite what I thought it would be. More than

excitement, I’m a little nervous. I don’t actually have a room yet and I’m

waiting on several contacts to come through before I’m going to get an actual

ticket to the game. I’m confident things will work out, but for the time

being, I’m feeling out of place like that breakdown part in Lionel Richie’s

“Say You, Say Me.” (What were you thinking, Lionel?)

Just in time, Shiela says I can put my things in her room and hang there until

it’s party time later tonight. Thank goodness.

The view from the window of the 17th floor room is breathtaking. The sun is

actually just now setting and reflecting off the harbor waters, broken only by

passing luxury boats and the million ripples on the surface. Navy ships and

cruisers are around and you can see the harbor-side shops and villas buzzing

with tourists. Through it all, there is the 80 degrees. I’m starting to sweat

here in my jeans and will soon be resorting back to shorts.

It’s absolutely nuts here. Super Bowl merchandise stands here are like

fireworks stands in Wyoming — every corner has about three. People are

everywhere. The weather is 80 degrees. It’s definitely nice to be in what the

“Local 8” newscast just called “America’s finest city.”

Tonight is the first round of Super Bowl parties. I’ve been invited to the

Coors Light party at a bar downtown called Jimmy Love’s, featuring all you can

eat and drink from six until close. SIX until close!!! My liver’s already

starting to sweat. The more intriguing ticket is to Magic Johnson’s party,

“Magic’s Bowl.” Probably a bunch of B-list celebrities of the Arsenio

Hall/Patrick Swayze mold… and me, of course. If I’m gonna make it to this

party, I need to put on a sportcoat and get on a bus, both of which I luckily

have access to. Welp, back to back Full House just came on the WB… Magic’s not

gonna happen.

But the most (repeat: MOST) intriguing ticket is the possibility of attending

the Maxim party, what is considered the hottest ticket in town. Rumor has it

the party itself cost $400,000 to put on. It’s Saturday night in an old

Wonderbread factory downtown (sounds luxurious, eh?). I’m not even going to

jinx it by talking about it, but my mind will sure be roaming… a lot like a

no-hitter.

Well, the hip-hop music outside my 17th floor window is beckoning me. Always

was a slave to the rhythm. Maybe they’ll play some Lionel Ritchie. Tune in

tomorrow, when I’ll discuss the party, the streets of downtown San Diego and,

who knows, maybe a little of the game.

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Super Bowl Diary

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Jan 242003
 
Authors: Reed Saunders

So I DID come out here for the Super Bowl. I’m here to see the big game, no,

the BIGGEST game of the year.

But enough lies.

I came here to party. You know it. I know it. The American people know

it.

It was with that attitude that I embarked on the downtown scene Friday

night to get jiggy with pretty much all of America and maybe a few policemen

on horses. Well, hopefully no horses involved.

A few things you need to know about the Gas Lamp district, San Diego’s

downtown area:

It’s like Lodo in Denver… except on crack. It’s an amped up, souped up, just

plain jolted up version of Denver’s bar scene. It’s twice as crowded. It’s

much younger of a crowd. It’s lit by gas lamps, but if it wasn’t, you could

probably see the sights by the light of the DVD players running in passing

Denalis and Escalades.

The Gas Lamp serves not only as a place where young folks can head to grab a

cold, frothy beverage, but as a strip where everyone can “cruise,” as the kids

call it — blaring your best rap beats while riding low and making your

audition for The Fast and the Furious III.

As if this place wasn’t souped up enough, let me be the 183rd person to remind

us, IT’S SUPER BOWL WEEK. Translation: Everybody and their deaf cousin is

crowding the streets, hoping to get a free drink, a bead necklace, or perhaps

a spot on those coveted Girls Gone Wild Snoop Dog tapes (which, rumor has it,

are not worth the investment).

With the Super Bowl in town, most of the bars are reserved for private

parties, one of which (the Coors party at Jimmy Love’s) I was lucky enough to

gain access to. It’s a rough life.

Knowing all that, here’s a running diary of things as they went down last

night at Jimmy Love’s:

10:15: Walking the streets to Jimmy Love’s from the Marriott Marina with

roughly 1,567 other people. The party invitation said free food and drinks

from six til close. Not sure my liver could take that much abuse, I’ve warmed

up by watching a couple Friends episodes, doing some pushups, and listening to

the Best of Carly Simon.

10:16: My shoes, unlike Nancy Sinatra’s boots, weren’t made for walking.

They’re pretty shoes. Meant to dazzle all the people who care to look at my

feet. OK, so they’re just some nice black shoes. Either way, I’m beginning to

think my night will end with two glasses of water and assorted blood blisters.

10:23: With that imagery in your mind, it’s time to party! I reach the main

downtown area and it’s madness. Somewhere in between Mardi Gras in New

Orleans, a MLK peace rally and my last disco party. The street is packed with

people (The STREET!). Cars can’t go down certain streets because there is no

room. I’m sure nothing illegal and/or lude is going on. I feel safe.

10:24: The door at Jimmy Love’s is equally packed. Big doormen telling people

(and even some good looking ladies), “I’m sorry, private party, can’t come

in.” Makes me feel that much more big-time when I flash my wrist band and I’m

in like Theo Fleury at a strip club.

10:25: I’m here by myself and realizing my dad’s friends (aka the only people

I know in San Diego at this point) aren’t there yet. I grab a beer, I hang

near the chips. I am alone. When did the Super Bowl party suddenly become my

7th grade social?

10:30: Several chips later, I spot my friends. After making my way over

through the bar (which was quite the experience, more on this later), we say

our hello’s. I’m relieved I finally know someone and look like I didn’t just

sneak in.

10:35: Alas, as quickly as it begun, I’m alone again, naturally, as my friends

(who really are more like my Dad’s business contacts, kinda my friends) leave

to join the crowd and mingle. (“Alright Reedo, I’m gonna go join the crowd,

see you around!”) Where were those chips…

10:40: There is food — a full frickin’ buffet with roast beef, quesadillas,

scalloped potatoes, etc., but I’m not sure I want to be that guy holding a

plate of food at the bar while everyone else has a drink.

10:41: Screw it. I’m hungry and I don’t want to drink my dinner. I dive in.

10:42: I’m that guy holding a plate of food at the bar while everyone else has

a drink.

10:45: A couple realizations: 1. Being alone at a bar where you don’t really

know anyone besides those folks who have already ditched you sucks. It’s just

not quite the same. Not to mention harder to work my Joey-Tribianni-esque ‘How

you doin” game with the ladies. They look at you differently if you’re by

yourself than if you’re with a couple friends, laughing and boozing. “Where’s

his friends? He’d be cuter with friends.” I’m sure that’s what’s going through

their heads. Oh well, didn’t come here to hook up, especially seeing as…

2. This is a much older crowd than I thought it would be. Thinking about it,

probably should have expected it, being a corporate crowd and all, but I’m

feeling out of place. I don’t know how to describe this because it’s honestly

never happened. Maybe a wedding? Weird dynamics.

3. Older people don’t know bar “rules” like the younger folks do. Instead of

keeping a path open for walking through the crowd and/or doing your best to

keep it open, they stop where they want to. They clog doorways…. All pretty

out of this world. I feel like I’ve stepped into a different universe. This is

a bar scene like I’ve never seen before. I’m the young, happenin’ journalist

and I’m the only one not having a good time. I need to be about 20 years older

here.

11:00: A very inebriated 40-something lady grabs my drink, slugs down a couple

swigs, says something like “shank” and heads to the dance floor. All the dirty

old men in the place are checking her out. I’m officially out of my element.

11:05: The live band comes on and they’re pretty impressive: they play a non-

stop sort of ’70s-’80s mix of funk, disco and pop tunes. I’m in serious danger

of heading to the dance floor.

11:15: Little Red Corvette pushes me over the top. Just can’t say no to that.

I’m a slave to the rhythm. I make a brief stop, only to be corralled by the 40

year old posse of drunk women and quickly make my escape. Baby, you’re much

too fast…

11:30: Little thin on the celebrity sightings. Pete Coors just walked in and I

saw ESPN analyst Sean Salisbury workin it a little early on. Other than that,

a bunch of cell phones having a good time.

11:40: Michael Jackson, “Bad,” Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime,” and

Aerosmith, “Walk this Way” in succession… tapping my foot joyfully while

ordering a shot of sex on the beach.

11:50: I’m seriously weirded out. Standing at the bar, by myself, watching old

dudes dancing with younger women who seem to be enjoying themselves. Feels

like I’m 12 again. The closest thing I could compare it to would be a wedding

— average dance floor age is probably 38, lots of “unique” dancing styles,

that one guy who’s getting waaay too into the song… and 40-year-old drunk

women with backless shirts grinding on each other. Sounds pretty much like

every wedding you’ve been to, doesn’t it?

12:05: The original drunk 40-year-old… why don’t we call her Betty… drags a

guy who appears to be Ravi Shankar out to the dance floor. Is that your sitar?

Or are you just happy to see me?

12:10: Feels like I’m coming down too hard on these guys and gals… they’re

just having a raging good time and now I’M the one who sounds old and bitter.

This is too weird. Starting to think about going back to the hotel.

12:15: I order one last drink — red bull and vodka — and watch as the band

closes their set. “We’ll be rocking this place til 1:30 people!” the announcer

says. Now, I’m 21 years old and I’M the one wanting to leave the bar at 12:15

while the rest of the geezers close down the joint. Not only do I feel out of

place, I feel old. Old, I say. But not quite as old as when I glance at my

watch and see that it’s still on MOUNTAIN time!

11:20: I leave the bar, ashamed of my performance.

11:25: Feet definitely hurt. Need to wear my running shoes out tomorrow night.

11:30: As I’m walking into the hotel, I overhear some of the bellboys talking

about football: “LT man… Lawrence Taylor… best linebacker that ever played the

game.” Damn right, I think to myself.

11:35: Turns out that wasn’t just idle chatter. I have my first legitimate

celebrity sighting as LT himself is walking two steps ahead of me through the

lobby. He’s signing a couple of autographs here and there, I’m doing my best

not to stare. Not that I care. I could go kill a bear. Where?

11:40: As if that wasn’t enough, he gets on the same elevator as me. I’m a

foot away from LT… and who, I assume, was LT’s wife. Pretty cool. A salvation

to the night if you will.

11:41: LT gets off on floor 16, one below mine, and I’m of to my room. 10CC —

I’m Not in Love comes on the radio outside the elevator. Ahh.

11:45: Realizing that I got all my drinks and dinner for free makes the night

not a total disappointment. It’s time to sit on the bed and feel my body go

numb from drinks… don’t you love that feeling?

6:45: Wake up to the TV still going… luckily I did remember to get into “bed

attire” and take out my contacts so I don’t feel like a total drunk.

So here I am. I actually remembered to drink a couple glasses of water so I’m

not hung over at all.

As I’m getting ready to head downstairs to actually put this story on the Web,

I get my best news of the weekend. My friend Shiela, whose room I was able to

bunk in last night while she bunked up with her co-organizer Diane, comes in

and announces proudly, “I got you a ticket.”

Wow… I don’t think it actually set in or hit me until right now.

I’m going to the Super Bowl.

As if that wasn’t enough, I’m club level, 50 yard line. Unbelievable.

I can’t stop staring at the ticket. It’s got to be the most beautiful ticket

I’ve ever seen. The front is pushed out so it’s kinda 3-D in its appearance.

It’s got a hologram emanating from the center of the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Gate J. Section 37. Row 01. Seat 03.

I’m going to the Super Bowl.

I hadn’t even been here a full day and even I was sick of all the damn Super

Bowl hype. Super Bowl this. Super Bowl that. “Next on Local 8 news, Super Bowl

halftime entertainers weigh in with who THEY feel will win the big game!” I

was sick of it.

Until this moment. The Super Bowl, baby.

Wow.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm