Friday, November 28, 2008

Burning down the Ags: it's never enough

This is the first few paragraphs of my Austin Chronicle blog about going to the Texas Longhorns football game last night. You can read the full post here. I should make it clear that I am a major UT football fan, and this shouldn't be taken as a slam of them. I've been thinking a lot of what New Yorker writer Susan Orlean does in writing about cultures, and this is what came out...

Reveille dangles limply from a string attached to a long stick as a Longhorn fan tries repeatedly to ignite the sad dog. Finally the spark takes, and the Texas A&M mascot turns into pure flame lifted aloft as an offering to the gods of football.

This is tailgating taken to the monied extremes. Like fajitas once were the meat that only poor people ate (and fajitas were never chicken), like punk rock was once rebellious, the University of Texas tailgate—some outdoor grilling you did to while the time with family and friends after assuring yourself of an early and reliable parking spot—has gone corporate. State employee lots that once were seen as prime game-day parking are now Austin’s Disneyland complete with corporate sponsors. It works like this: put up the banner of Bland Light and get 25 cases of tasteless corporate beer to hand out to your friends and coworkers. Entire areas are roped off for a jumbo party that spills, beer can in hand, to near the refurbished, expanded, corporate-box-added stadium where Sports Illustrated has its tent offering free copies of the latest special issue.

Power, fun, safety and belonging. Those are the four basic human emotional needs, and all are for sale here today, Longhorn Inc. says. Wear our team colors, drink some more Boring Light. Come to the stadium food court (now open during the school week!) for a $6.50 chopped barbecue sandwich or two chicken tenders for $10. Yell from your seats at the idiots from College Station. Revel in how much better your team is. They are fools and losers. Today is Thanksgiving. We give thanks that we are not you.

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