AP photo by Kathy Willens

It looks impossible.

Ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice, and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice. –James Baldwin, 1972

On a night when a grand jury in Missouri failed to indict a white police officer for shooting to death an unarmed black teenage boy.

On a night a few days after police in Ohio shot and killed a twelve year old black boy brandishing a plastic BB gun.

On a night when the air and airwaves are filled with white fear, black fear, and prayers for the living to continue to live.

I watch on a nearly endless loop Odell Beckham Jr. make an impossible catch.

He is, what, twenty two? Defying the laws of physics? Of gravity? I watch that wingspan and I am grateful he survived.

On a night that is as full of danger as any night in America, if you are black and living–if you are black and walking down the street–if you are black and in a car–I watch Kendrick Lamar rap across the SNL stage.

There are things, as a white girl raised in white Oregon, that I will never know.  My empathy; my anger; my grief–all those feelings now more than ever towards the institutionalized racism and violence against black lives in this country–are little more than meaningless.  An empathy born of privilege, but yes, I am grateful that Lamar, too, made it out alive.

On a night when on a split-screen on NBC the black president I voted for says that “a community’s real concerns” don’t “excuse violence” as an armored vehicle launches smoke grenades—tear gas—at its citizens.

On a night when protestors are arrested in Oakland, Boston, Ferguson, I fear for the young black men I write with: Eli, who sang his poems wearing a fedora to a class of 3rd graders; Rafe, who led our poetry walking tour through the gentrifying barrio until we were under the freeway, pointed to the arches and wrote, I lived here; Jason, who wrote the blue is bluer than loneliness: they are vulnerable, aged 12 to 15, they are three times more likely to die at the hands of the police than a white boy their age.

On a night when I’m writing my way towards half-formed thoughts about the black men that I love. A journalist. A rapper from Compton. Poets from Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles. And the football players. Odell Beckham defying space and time.  T.Y. Hilton crying into the cameras with joy at his new baby girl. LeGarrette Blount rumbling to two TDs yet again.

GTY 459461220 S SPO FBN USA MA

It doesn’t stop: the interrogation of my privilege. Can I claim love for football players? Have I commodified black bodies yet again? Do they only have value to me because of what they provide?

I hope the answer is no. That pulse of shame and sadness when American justice failed Trayvon Martin: that is true. That wave of grief reading the statement issued by Michael Brown’s parents: true. Baldwin writes: “If you can examine and face your life, you can discover the terms with which you are connected to other lives.”

On a night when another black boy is dead in America, I give thanks for those who survive. And pray, if there’s a place for it, that some day the grieving will end.

Just a day.

Just a day.

Please try to not FREAK OUT right now.  In case, you know, you were wondering whether WE knew that it was football season…yeah.  We know.  We’ve been doing all KINDS of football things. Like, we went and saw the Seahawks lose to play against the Super-Chargers (Dean sad). Like, we Dean made football sandwiches and we watched RedZone and swam in a pool. It’s been busy, is what I’m saying.

BUT! We did manage to visit not one, but two, new-to-us bars in the quite recent past.  Like they say, no rest for the wicked, use all 24 hours in the day… it’s a tough damn life.

RABBIT HOLE: SATURDAY AFTERNOON

This has its charms.

This has its charms.

 

Rabbit Hole is the new venture inhabiting the bones of my dear, departed Heights Tavern. The folks who’re running Rabbit Hole also run the only bar in the Gaslamp I can stand, Bootlegger, and their cool, not-quite-too-hip fingerprints are all over this new venture.  They’ve added a stage, re-arranged some TVs, and added rabbit-hole-esque details throughout.  As you can see from the sign, it was their opening weekend, and there were some issues with the TVs–seems to be the bane of sports bars–but the crowd was engaged and patient.  Menu was strange, but tasty, a bit pricey for Normal Heights.  (Do I want everything to price out like Triple Crown? YES.)  Staff was friendly and efficient.  Normal Heights needs a good sports bar–Triple Crown, my standard, is really a bar with a sports problem–so Rabbit Hole is promising.  Oh, and Dean wants me to be sure to mention the cornhole game in the back.  Check it out.

BUB’S DIVE BAR: SUNDAY MORNING

So, I’m a Steelers fan.  Did you know that? And I’ve been dying to watch a game in San Diego’s Steelers fan bar, Bub’s Dive Bar. Several barriers have presented themselves (the bar is in PB, the Steelers have been off & on brutal, I hate getting up early, the bar is in PB) but as the black & gold were playing the hapless, historically bad Jags, we decided to brave PB and check. It. Out.

Steelers Bar in San Diego

No words.

Lord above, I’m in love. The bar was no kind of dive, with a gleaming bar and windows to let in the lovely day, although they do let you throw your peanut shells on the floor.  At 9:40, we were lucky to find two empty chairs.  In fact, we only found one.  We also found the NICEST people in America, aka Steelers fans.  The crowd trended older than the typical PB mess, although that may have been a function of the early kick.  Food was cheap and plentiful.  Bloody Marys were delicious–build-your-own style.  Service was good, given that we were at a “bar” table, and that it was jam-packed by 10:30.

Did I fail to mention, two paragraphs in, that the bar played a Steelers fan song???  It’s no San-Diego- Super-Chargerz, but it’s awesome.  I’m going to back there to learn more of the words and get a Pittsburgh boyfriend next week.

Bloody Marys at Bub's Dive Bar

Build Your Own Bloody Marys!

[THINGS I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT: ray rice, roger goodell, adrian peterson, oregon’s loss, the stupidity of fantasy football, steve almond’s very self-righteous crusade, and tom brady’s face.]

It’s back!

Queasy

This morning, I had a funny feeling in my stomach. It’s the feeling one has after drinking a shitload of coffee while heavily medicated on Sudafed. So really, it’s not a funny feeling, but more so the rush of blood and adrenaline that comes along with the consumption of uppers. Maybe this is what meth feels like? Or maybe this the feeling that fans of Super Bowl-winning teams have every year when they kick-off the new season and have to repeat the success of the previous season. Either way, it’s a new feeling to me (except for those times that I have actually had way too much coffee and Sudafed).

*

New Jersey

I’m wearing my Russell Wilson jersey while at work. (If my manager is reading this, I am writing this blog post during my breaks, I swear.) This is the first football jersey I have owned and I bought it after Russell Wilson’s first year. If you ask a Niners fan* (and every other hater), this categorizes me as a bandwagon fan because this jersey is only a year old. I thought about this as I put it on this morning and figured there would be eye rolls and whatevers from people thinking that I am new to cheering for this team, thinking this is the first time these threads had seen the light of day besides when it was shipped a week ago. These people suck and are jealous and are probably sad on the inside. They also could be from Denver.

This bandwagon thing is not the case; as someone who likes to look good (read vain – I put pomade in my hair even when binge-watching television on Sunday afternoons), I would not be caught dead in a throwback jersey. Steve Largent may be a badass, but the throwback makes me look totally un-svelte. I like looking svelte. Wait – this is not addressing the bandwagon thing. Let me start from the beginning.

*

Three Proofs

My grandpa was an original Seahawks season ticket holder. This means that my family has been a 12 since 1976, before the whole 12 thing became a thing. This doesn’t mean that we were like “oh my god the fucking ‘Hawks!” every Sunday; we were more interested in the Huskies on Saturdays, but I remember going to games relatively regularly. I remember going to the Kingdome. I remember eating hot dogs and being excited to see the Seagalls (ironically, my uncles and dad thought it was because I was interested in their bodies; I was more interested in their dance moves). I remember getting into my first car accident on the 90 when we were on our way to see the Seahawks take on the Cowboys who then shut us out and later won the Super Bowl, which leads me to proof #1:  bandwagoners do not get into car accidents on their way to see a team get shut out by future Super Bowl winning teams.

When I was 12, I moved to Arizona. The Cardinals are similar to the Seahawks for the fact that they typically lose. And their mascots are birds. I heard very few things about the Cardinals when I moved to Arizona because Arizonans liked other teams, such as the Cowboys or Broncos or Bills. Most people who live in Arizona (well, Phoenix at least) are not from there, so they typically bring their allegiances with them. Because the Cardinals were perpetual losers (like the Seahawks), the only time people cared about the Cardinals was when they were winning. (Please see the definition of “bandwagoner” in your nearest dictionary.) The difference between Seahawk and Cardinal fans is that you will always find Washingtonians who care about the ‘Hawks regardless if they are losing; this is not really the case for Cardinal fans. This changed a little bit once they go their own stadium, but Seahawk fans were fans before the implosion of the Kingdome.

Here is proof #2 as to why I am not a bandwagoner: I never cared about the Cardinals even when they were winning (except when they played the Steelers in the Super Bowl, but that was because I had no reason to root for the Iron Curtain, especially after Seattle lost to them). I still feel apathetic towards the Cardinals to this day.

Some of my friends reading this are probably all, “But Dean, you didn’t care about football in Phoenix.” Which is true. You are correct in this assertion. I really didn’t start caring about football again until I moved to San Diego five years ago and participated in my first fantasy football league. Because football was absent from my life for 12 years, I didn’t feel any allegiance to the Cardinals (see above proof), and because I decided that I was now from California (which is what all people do who move to California), I thought it would be a good idea to cheer on the Chargers. This felt awkward, like walking into a room with a pony riding a person like a horse with the Macarena playing in the background. It was also potentially painful because if there is a team who regularly sucks more than the Cardinals or the Seahawks, it’s the Browns – and then the Chargers.

Because of these circumstances, I quickly reverted back to being a Seahawk fan. It just also happened to coincide with the Seahawks 2009 season where they went 5-11, while the Chargers went 13-3. This leads me to my proof #3: bandwagoners do not jump ship halfway through the season from a winning team to a losing team.

*

Back to Queasy

This leads me to today. Today I am nervous. Today, I am wearing my Russell Wilson jersey and looking forward to him and Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch and Jermaine Kearse and Byron Maxwell playing their hearts out. Today, if they win, then I will be a drunk-happy Dean. Today, if they lose, I will be a drunk-sad Dean. But it doesn’t change the fact that I will always root for the Seahawks before any other team. I may have left Seattle nearly 17 years ago, and I may not have been to a game since the Kingdome turned into ashes, but it doesn’t change the fact that Seattle, and in turn the Seahawks, are part of my identity. When I am back visiting my family, the city and the Seahawks keeps our bond alive. (Well, except for the fact that we are related and love one another.) The Seahawks are part of my childhood, and that can’t be taken away, even if people say to us 12s that we are bandwagoners.

And finally, some of you reading this are probably all, “A non-bandwagoner wouldn’t have to write a post about being a non-bandwagoner.” Well to you, dear reader, I say “Fuck off and GO HAWKS!”

 

*Also, did anyone else notice how many new Niners fans there were after the 2012 season?

 

On the job at Chargers Park.

On the job at Chargers Park.

You fail to pick up a roster sheet because you are as usual thirty minutes late and hungry. The first song you hear has a country twang, and the second a deep bass line and liberal use of lyric control, a see-saw that will continue throughout the afternoon. Beneath the thrum of the speakers, that noise of men breathing, running, sweating. Yes, you think. Finally.

Without a way to put a name to the number, you build small fantasies. That small third-string QB, the first and only time they say his name you think you hear “Saracen,” and you’re in Friday Night Lights again, and he does look like you think Matt Saracen might have looked, had he found himself there. The bruising halfback with long light-brown hair is Riggins—not as beautiful, you’re sure, but cradling the ball in his massive forearms and crashing down the defense. And number 4-0, who doesn’t stop dancing until he’s head-down waiting for the whistle, who slams into, slams into, slams into a wall of safeties and then adds a new hip twitch waiting his turn again—that’s Smash for sure.

You move off the bleachers to the far end of the field, in time for the giant men in blue jerseys to come to your sideline. Without a way to put a name to the number, you learn simple things: defense is in blue, offense in white. Blue slaps the ball out of white’s hands to derisive laugher. White flops down on top of blue until they tumble apart in the grass. Blue is wider than white. White is shorter than blue. Except for some, who are tall as palm trees. It seems very clear to you at the time.

Who is human-size among us?

Who is human-size among us?

You get distracted by the boys who might be training staff, except they look too young to be out of high school. Their work invites questions. Like, how many times did they spray a giant man in the face with water before getting the trick of squirting through the helmet into his mouth? And, how do they feel about being forced to wear a fanny pack and a robin’s egg-blue visor? And, how badly do those sweaty, ratty towels draped over their shoulders smell? You can see that they love these giants. They smile into the giants’ faces as they offer a Gatorade. They hold very steady as the wide receiver rubs his fingers into their shoulder. Into the towel on their shoulder. They know every name, you can see it in their faces. You wonder who knows their names.

The players touch each other constantly. The slap of hands on chest. The quick fix of a shoulder pad. The massive palm gripping a forearm, lifting a man to his feet. The camaraderie of a helmet smack, the shoulders-back posturing of a mouth running fast.

At moments you almost recognize someone. Like the staff guy in the angled visor, you think you met him at the bar last week—cute, but a dick, you remember him clearly. Later you see him standing with the quarterbacks and think, oh, obviously.

You're pretty much on the team at this point.

You’re pretty much on the team at this point.

And you’ve lived here long enough, you know the franchise faces. Danny Woodhead, one of the only human-sized people in uniform, hustles his ass off on every play. He takes off his helmet to hair held back with a thin band and a face that could have been in Lord of the Rings. You see Eric Weddle and you think of that boy you once slept with and how he claimed the privilege of Weddle’s friendship and you think, how could anyone be friends with that beard? Wouldn’t it be distracting over a beer? Wouldn’t you sometimes just touch it helplessly, like an exotic animal, and wouldn’t that be an awkward thing for a friend to do? You watch Kellen Clemens, Oregon boy, throw a tight spiral and his receiver misses and he slaps his own shoulders in frustration and you think how grateful he must be to still be in the league. How precious every snap he takes in training camp. Midway through the third set you notice the big offensive linemen, on a knee, hands on helmets, resting like brothers and with them Philip Rivers, and you think this is how teams are made.

Then the real scrimmages begin. You’ve seen #7, thin as a track star, and now he streaks down the sidelines and hauls in a catch. The running backs disappear under the arms of the D line and reappear like lightning bugs halfway to the end zone. The corner slaps down Keenan Allen’s hands and the crowd goes wild. And finally, Rivers send up a spiral right at you on the sidelines, it hangs in the air, there are men flying down the grass towards you, a man as tall as the camera cranes or god leans up and takes it from its flight and runs out of bounds, an object in motion, in motion until all that acceleration drains out.

Giants of the 50-yard line.

Giants of the 50-yard line.

You don’t stay until the end of practice, when tiny children dressed as fans will be hoisted onto shoulders at the sidelines, when lovely young women in jerseys and lipstick will smile and fluff their hair, when the autograph hunters will shout and wave pens and football and flags. You’re thinking of the heat and your crated dogs, you’re thinking of the decade that gulfs between you and the stars, you’re thinking you better go before traffic on the freeway is at a standstill.

You consider quite seriously plucking a roster sheet from a trash can but don’t, and when the booth at the exit is empty, you smile at the ticket salesmen and walk out.

The other day, I saw this article from Buzzfeed. I thought it was pretty well done, but could be improved upon, like any great list or sports team. So here is my list of why Seattle should win today.

1) Russell “Hey defense, you have no idea what is happening to you right now” Wilson.

As you can see from the above .gif, Russell Wilson told all four linemen to come at him. So they did. He gives defensive players the feeling that they are going to make a great play, only to confuse them and score a ridiculous touchdown. If there is no touchdown potential, Russell Wilson is like, “I got this” and runs for a first down instead.

2) Century Link Field

It’s loud and I imagine opposing teams walk in and see something like this:

But instead of bats, it’s a bunch of Seahawks and people who look like this:

We make Raiders’ Nation look like pansies. Although, I am not sure I want to compare us to the Raiders…

So yeah, fucking scary.

3) Because Marshawn Lynch is invincible and full of style. He’s also made out of helium.

4) Because Drew Brees already got a parade.

We get it, Prince Charming.

5) Byron Maxwell who seemingly came out of nowhere with little experience and just went BOOM

6) Because safety advise is free:

I want to be Earl Thomas’ best friend forever.

7) And we also have Richard Sherman. The cast of entertaining defensive players will never cease to entertain me. Please also see Derrick Coleman.

Why yes, yes I am.

8) Because Seattle is seriously depressing right now. If the Seahawks don’t win, the city has nothing to live for until July when the weather *might* reach 70 degrees.

9) The Children. The Seahawks Facebook page put these up and it reminded me of how terrible the Seahawks were when I was their age because we never, never did this in school. In 1992, when I was in the second grade, we were 2-14. There was no hope.

If the Saints win, that means they hate hopes and dreams and children.

10) Because this Beats Audio commercial still pisses me off:

11) Also, this comparison of Instagram photos:

11.5*) Because we started from the bottom, now we here.

12) Because the number 12 is divine. Like seriously, the 12 Apostles, the 12 Tribes of Israel, the 12 Life Stations in Buddhism, 12 Days of Christmas, 12 Gods at the Pantheon, 12 months out of the year (thus 12 zodiac signs), the 12 Stations of the Cross, and the 12th Man. It all makes sense. Are the Seahawks divine? Well, we shall see…

*I know 11.5 is not a list number, but this is my list and we were 7-9 in the 2011 season. So there.

Sounds like a good idea to this guy.

Sounds like a good idea to this guy.

Playoffs?  *deepest sigh* Playoffs.  They’re happening, you may have heard.  As a matter of fact, it’s taken me  until now to stop acting like this guy:

But it’s ok!  Because I am nothing if not a resilient, committed, bandwagon-jumper. And I’m here to help all of you find one or two reasons to cheer for any almost any of the teams still standing as we head into the divisional round.

Start in that western corner of these United States, why don’t we?

The Seattle Seahawks! RUSSELL WILSON! He’s fun. Pete Carroll is a terrible dick.  So is Golden Tate, but Tate can do shit like this, so we’re still cool.  Oh, and this. Did you know RUSSELL WILSON has only lost ONE game at home? And check out young Earl Thomas, giving some safety advice in the streets of Seattle.

The New Orleans Saints! High octane offense, led by Cool Drew Brees and the inhuman Jimmy Graham. Darren Sproles is terrifying: at any point he touches the ball, he might just get six points. Sean Peyton is looks just like my favorite uncle.  (What? Not true for you?) If you can actively root against New Orleans, you probably don’t have a functioning human heart.

Moving a little south and a little higher….BOTH LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY

The Denver Broncos! Uh, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this guy, but the quarterback there in Denver, Peyton Manning, is having a historically incredible, we’re privileged to watch him play pretty good season.  Wes Welker has beautiful blue eyes and a savvy agent. The Broncos defense has been a little suspect the last couple weeks, but hey! it wouldn’t be interesting if it was easy. If it was SUPER easy, anyway.

This guy. Come on.

This guy. Come on.

The San Diego Chargers!  Blessed to live and play outside of the polar vortex, just their smiles will warm you up. Eric Weddle, and his beard, and his Twitter, are all the best.  Keenan Allen is a Future King (champions of the DeProfundisAllOverYourFace Fantasy league, sidenote), Danny Woodhead is an adorable hobbit, and everyone in the world wants to hit Philip Rivers in the face.

Moving even farther south!  Where the temperature is rising!!!

The Carolina Panthers! Luke Kuechly.  Have I mentioned him? Oh, I have? Well.  Also, Cam Newton is pretty fun. Although in Eugene, Oregon, bartenders still call him “Scam Newton.” For what that’s worth. In other Oregon-Carolina news, Jonathan Stewart, UO alum, is a Panthers running back.  Amuse your friends! Entertain your lovers! with this interesting sequence of facts.

This fucking guy. COME ON.

This fucking guy. COME ON.

The San Francisco 49ers! Jim Harbaugh, say what you like, is an incredible coach. Sticking with my Duck-theme, LaMichael James returns kicks for this team.  Someday he’ll be as good as he was in college. Kaepernick has tattoos? This is a little thin.

And to the frozen north to close out our bandwagon selections!!

The New England Patriots. Nope. Not doing it. WILL NOT YOU CANNOT MAKE ME DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I HATE THIS TEAM.

The Indianapolis Colts!  Andrew Luck’s beard / facial disaster is a great conversation starter at any party.  TY Hilton is turning into the stud of the playoffs. At least, for one game.  The Colts lost to some weird teams this season, but they beat some great ones: Seattle and the Broncos, in particular. I don’t think they fear the Pats. Or the cold. And why would they? They’ve got a quarterback who does shit like this.

Enjoy the playoffs, football fans.