Archive for December, 2010

A fans journey

The internet is sadly my new newspaper

Update, 8:26 a.m. ET, 12/31: Nobody can really ever understand someone else’s passion unless it is theirs. We all have, need, and want diversions from everyday life and strife and this is one of mine. It has consistently annoyed people in my life for as long as it has been in my life -Forty-one years and counting now. To me, that is just a shame and it must be noted that, it will always be a part of me -psychologically – mentally – emotionally – and it is fun, unpredictable, horrible at times,( in loss) deep, joyous,(in victory) rebellious, strategically playful and it is the root of many conversations, memories, friends and more friends to come. So if anyone gets in the way of this “part of me” I would feel very sorry for you.

These are the dark times, the times that every fan knows they will always have to live through. As in “What goes up, must come down.” Like everything in life, you cannot be fooled by success, darkness lurks around every corner. This is perhaps nothing, I think, compared to the 1970’s and early eighties. With 4-10, 2-12, 6-10 seasons hitting you year after year, you become seasoned for disappoint.
When you are a ten year old boy that doesn’t understand how his heroes could fail him, then the tears that follow could only be the tip of the iceburg, the the said “berg” being ENDLESS bad calls, ENDLESS bad draft picks, ENDLESS horrible coaching, ENDLESS key injuries, ENDLESS doubt, lost pride, horrible play calling and ENDLESS head shaking at what might of been, what could have been and all too familiar “WAIT ‘TILL NEXT YEAR!”
Update, 1140 a.m. ET, 12/31 Nicks might not play due to a broken toe and that is key. He has been nothing short of sensational this year. The game has been moved back to a 4:00 PM start and the Bear vs Packer game is also for 4 PM. So it will be an ongoing scoreboard watching, field watching nerve-wracking adventure. This is much better than having the games start at separate times, I think, let’s just get it all over with at once.

It’s been so long since I’ve attended an away game, I can’t even remember but it was certainly in the BC era (Before Children) and the celebratory Not Married years of gambling, drinking and footballizing.

The drive begins Saturday afternoon. 229 miles. Overcast and drizzle we churn through the tolls, bridges and traffic. Over the Chesapeak Bay and past Bailtimore where we get a glimpse of The Ravens homefield where they will be playing on Sunday also.

The more I think about it, the more it realistic it can be; Giants win and Bears win. Simple? No. The problem is the Bears have absolutely nothing to play for.

Past Baltimore and into Maryland. We are now approaching enemy territory.
Update, 8:00 pm. ET, 1/1/2011: Where did this season go? 2011?? Where did this year go? Seems like yesterday I was on top of a snowpile with my airbags deployed sitting in my totaled car with my two boys. That was Christmas 2010. Then it was Spring. Then Summer was gone and now it another year. We are driving around the area after checking into the Holiday Inn. The rain intensifies and I wonder how we will stay dry at the game tomorrow if it doesn’t stop. I always thought bad weather was good for the Giants. Running game and defense is their ( apparently ) strengths. But all that goes out the window when you lead the league in turnovers.

Update, 2:30 p.m. ET, 1/2/2011: We just lost another option a “backdoor” into the playoffs. After a steak dinner, a college bowl game on Tv and a good nights sleep we watch the Saints get upset by the Bucaneers at New Orleans (a huge upset) and something FINALLY goes right for the Giants. BUT unfortunately we also need Carolina (probably the worse team in the NFC) to beat Atlanta (arguably the BEST team in the NFC. This didn’t even come close to happening. The Panthers lost 31-10.
So now as we prepare to head up to the stadium it is up to the Giants and Bears to win today. If that happens we “sneak” into the playoffs as the last seed.

Update, 2:30 p.m. ET, 1/2/2011: It is Harry, Joe and George hobbling behind them. Still raining. A little chilly. We are deep in enemy territory now except for Joe we are wearing our Giant blue. There seem to tons of Giants fans here but the burgandy and gold by far out numbers the visiting team Giants. Surprisingly there is no booing or taunting as we walk through the crowd. The Redskins season was miserable and ended a long time ago. It has been years since they made the playoffs. Every year a new hope a new hero (this year Donathan McNabb) and always a great start and then a big letdown.

We finally get to our seats and it just knocks me over. We are almost what seems to be (for me anyway) at field level and we are on the 50 yard line right behind the Giant bench! After sitting in the upper section for 35 plus years this a real treat.

Update, 4:15 p.m. ET, 1/2/2011: At game time it is still raining but we are covered by the second tier! I had to look at the face value of these tickets because I couldn’t believe how good they were. $99. Shit I’ll take that any day. These are probably $700. tickets in New York.
It’s a strange feeling to watch your team take the field in their away “whites” and have the people all around you booing and hissing. But in my new lower seats, the field looked smaller, the players looked bigger and things were more laid back here in Washington. You could “move around” the stadium without any real hassles from the ushers or security.
I never really felt the Giants would lose. They didn’t dominate but they were in control. In my many never forgotten memories of games and single plays, I witnessed one today. Right before my eyes, right in front of us and the Giants bench…..Manning to Manningham 92 yard catch and run. The longest of Eli’s career. In his seven years as Giants QB…he was NEVER known as the long ball guy so this was really sweet.
Four turnovers, two by Osi under a darkened moody sky kept things under control.

Eli in the shotgun 3rd quarter

The game was on the field but the other game and perhaps the real game was being played in Chicago at the same time. “We” needed the Packers to lose or tie. The scoreboard was constantly flashing scores but for the odd reason that we could only understand, they did not show the Bears-Packers score.
Update, 6:01 p.m. ET, 1/2/2011: My cousin Jim Gill in Ohio finally broke the tension with a Bears 7-0 and they just had a goal line stand text message. We were in the right place. Both of the teams we needed to win were winning, if just barely but they were winning. But these were very seasoned football men here. In the NFL it is NEVER OVER until the final tick tocks.

They weren’t showing the score on purpose and it was because the Bears were giving it a good fight. It was very late into both games and … oh shit, wait a minuet, “Tie game in Chicago” So NOW they put up the score. And the crowd cheers. They even show the touchdown on the huge screens on both ends of the stadium to eveyones delight.
Here’s what I thought about FeDEx Field: It looked alot older than I thought it was, kinda rusty and cracked but it is after all over ten years old already. The fans were strong and loud and to me that was impressive considering that this was the last game of a VERY DISMAL and disappointing season. A season that had very high hopes with a new, previous successful head coach. The fans around us were really into the game, young and old and I love to see that kind of passion. The cheerleaders were amazing and then there is the world famous Redskins band. A real tradition and presence in the stadium. The Redskins theme song played after their two touchdowns really added to the celebration and EVERYONE knew the words and EVERYONE got up to sing them. Not only that but a couple of guys came out running with these really huge Redskin flags and ran all over the field. Compared to what the Giants do (NOTHING) this was pretty cool in my eyes. What’s wrong with a couple of bells and whistles at a football game? When the Giants score they play that really fucking stupid same song over and over-BIG FUCKING DEAL-“I’m back in the New York Blue” I don’t even know who sings it NOR DO I FUCKING CARE.
The bottom line is this, the two owners of the Giants, Mara and Tisch, disagree on the bells and whistles thing. Mara is an old school guy like his dad while Tisch is more on the line of putting some celeberties on the sidelines, some cheerleaders and who knows what else.
And the funny thing is, I used to be proud that the Giants put more emphasis on the game then on the sideline activity.

In front of the busy Giants sideline, a nice treat for someone who spent 40 years in the upper deck heavens.

The wise old men of the NFL

Update, 705 p.m. ET, 1/2/11
FINAL: GIANTS 17 Redskins14
But even before this, the big boards showed the game ending interception by the Packers to seal the Giants fate. We won, but we lost. We won but the Redskin fans let us know with chants and jeering that our season had ended today. I wasn’t hit too hard by this. It was a strange season. It was a disappointing season because at one time, after the Atlanta game, the media called us (once again) “The best team in the NFL” (always a curse) It seems to me, that much like the prized Super Bowl season only a few years ago, this team thrives on being the underdog. It thrives on flying in under the radar, the team that nobody cares about nor expects to win.
To add insult to injury, on my way out of the stadium I got distracted by a fight. A fight between two girls, both Redskin fans, of all things and as I was making a movie of it with my camera (YouTube “viral” dreams spinning in my head) another fan, a very drunk fan, and a young Giants fan, of all things, viscously bumped into me and I dropped my camera and it splattered on the concrete. It wasn’t worth screaming or getting angry. I actually hated that camera. I wanted to take a photograph of it lying on the cold concrete…broken and sad….but I couldn’t, my camera was broken.

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The House with the Knife in the Window

fear is a childs greatest passion

The House with the Knife in the Window was every childs worse nightmare because once upon a forever my brother Glenn came home one day (running through the backyard one day) all excited about what he had seen (one day) We were all so very young so very innocent, so very hot in the yellow Summer sun. Glenns eyes were wider then the lies he was always known to tell as he got up on the stage (the redwood table where we hung out)on those hot Summer worthless days. We were lost in pure boredom, waiting for the fifth of July (when we walked the streets collecting unexploded fireworks) It was these unexploded fireworks that we slowly unrolled into a bowl, the sparkling gun powder, never wasting a grain. It was a preteens gold. Glenn said:
“There is a house with a knife in the window” he told us with those wide brown puppy dog eyes.
Yeah so? But it wasn’t just ANY knife. It apparently was one of those knifes that you only see in a horror movie. (a dagger) “Let’s go!” And it was time for an adventure.
This was no ordinary run down the street and go see thing, this was an ADVENTURE. Pack the wagon with essentials ( rocks, tape, sticks, chlorine tablets from the pool binoculars and a fake gas can) kinda journey.
When you are small, like we were then, three child steps equals one adult step. THEREFORE we were traveling 3x further than we really wanted to go so one mile to the house with the knife in the window was really three. Harrison avenue was a very long road in the hot sunny days of the early 1970’s.
So like the Little Rascals camping trip, the gang, our gang, the sidestreet gang trudged toward mystery, fear and perhaps …….death.
What was it about the house with the knife in the window that made us stand there and stare.
Wow. ooooohhh. Ahhhhhh. Oh my God, that surely is a big knife.
The best of my memory says that the sidestreet gang made many pilgrimages to stand and stare at that knife in the window. We wondered why it was there. We imagined the murders it had committed but most of all we looked for signs of life inside the house.
Then it happened. One day the old woman that lived there came outside in fascination at our staring at her home. We all ran. When we came back days later the knife was gone and the window was down, because after all, that was all the knife was used for; holding up an old wooden window in the hottest days of Summer.

There were many things that came flooding back to my depleted memory.

In November 2010, Photos That Make You Think, cousin James Gill came back to me like a blurry forgotten dream. It might have been the very first of many Summer visits….but now I remember the dog tags and boots, the smell of his fathers popcorn in big brown bags. Dads rosebushes were still in full (first) bloom but the weeds around them needed pulling.
You only reminded me of Sandra Bullock ten years after you gave me your last gift, a tree. The tree died in a terrible drought on my deck in the house I bought to raise a family.
And while watching Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood I finally realized all that my mother had been through. Giving painful birth ten times, cleaning up vomit and shit, the never-ending yelling and screaming. The sweat and tears. The endless cleaning and cooking. Did I think it just happened? This was your life Joan Dorothy Gill, unselfish and hard…..full of temptation, lust and heartache. Almost everyone died before you, your mother, father, husband, second daughter, two more husbands, your friends and most of your inlaws ABANDONED you when became a widow. A widow with ten children, a business, a manager with a thirst for embezzling, and you carried a yearning to escape ……. any which way that you could.
In my daily early morning Frankenstein walk to the bathroom, the creaking old wood floors, my popping prostrate, the furnaces hissing my name, I realize the beauty of another day. The shortened frozen mornings of my fiftieth Winter, all I want to do is crawl back under the blankets and stretch my legs. All I want to do is escape from the deadlines and death of working to death. This is supposed to be a magical month. When Gregory, Glenn, Gary, Grant and I were younger forty years ago (in pajamas with feet) we counted the days and then hours until Christmas. We lay in bed and sang, crazy made-up songs and Christmas Carols. From the Sears Toy Catalog “wishbook” we picked out one “big thing” and “two small things” and this was UNnegotiable.
In my chipped front teeth childhood, I dreamed of adult Christmas’ ; of sleeping late in blanket-covered beds by frosty windows. I am still afraid of change. It still happens all the time. So fast sometimes. So damn ruthless.

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