On November 7th, at the behest of Blog Serf James Vasiliou, I attended my first game in the Time Warner Cable Arena of this NBA season. Much has changed since last year, of course; the historically dismal Charlotte Bobcats had re-branded themselves as the Charlotte Hornets, returning to this city one of the most recognizable symbols of its growth during the 1990s and revitalizing a brand which had never really been the same since George Shinn moved the team to New Orleans in 2002. I fully intended to write about how the Charlotte Hornets, rather than the Bobcats, had returned to their place as a rallying point for a city, a way of telling the rest of America that Charlotte hosts more than simply heartless financial institutions and an airport you hate to stop through on your way to Boston, or Philadelphia, or Dublin. I intended to write about how the Bobcats’ postseason appearance last year, only its second in franchise history, became the perfect setup for this season and the re-emergence of the Hornets at just the right time. I wanted to write about how much better purple and teal look than grey, orange, navy and whatever other random colors the Bobcats haphazardly slapped on their uniforms each season to sell more gear to their beleaguered fanbase. I wanted to write about Al Jefferson’s jump hook (I’ll do that anyway, don’t worry).
Instead, I became positively enchanted with the Hornets’ shiniest new toy. No matter what happened on the court, I could not steal a glance away from him. This is how I learned to stop worrying and love Lance Stephenson.
Welcome to TV Party, a weekly segment where we preview ten of the week’s most exciting match-ups in college football so you know when to grab some beer and ignore the outside world.
This week: CONFERENCE PLAY BARRELS INTO THE LIVING ROOM AT 240 MILES PER HOUR DRIVING A 1986 TRANS AM WHILE BLARING ‘UNCHAINED’ BY VAN HALEN. “HEY, GUESS WHAT THIS TRANS AM RUNS ON,” CONFERENCE PLAY ASKS AS THE SMELL OF UNLEADED GASOLINE EMITS THROUGHOUT YOUR LIVING ROOM. “UPSET POTENTIAL WOOOOOOOOOO”
Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon with American sweetheart Rosario Dawson – Courtesy of Old School 105.3
On Wednesday, around 3 o’clock, I was scrolling through Facebook when I noticed a status from Creative Loafing Charlotte which indicated that the mayor of our fair city, Patrick Cannon, was being arrested on charges of theft and bribery. I couldn’t believe it. In Charlotte? In sleepy Charlotte, NC? Where nothing happens? Where we are maligned constantly by national publications for being perceived as boring? Well, guess what: We are now in the ranks with some of the most esteemed, cultured cities of this United States and their histories of corrupt city officials. Washington, DC, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles and the like – they are about that life, and so are we!
[Author’s note: it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything college football related and I would like apologize to the .01% of dedicated readers of my weekly posts. Sometimes day jobs get hectic and sometimes you tend to put your hobbies on the shelf for awhile. There. That’s my excuse]
The last Thursday in November is usually reserved for the gluttonous holiday known as Thanksgiving. It’s a time of year where extended families gather around a table and pretend to tolerate each other long enough to clean off their plate of pumpkin pie. But this shortened work week dedicated to mass tryptophan consumption, hectic Black Holiday shopping and drunken diatribes about Miley Cyrus from your crazy uncle would not be complete without the catharsis found in hating the hell out of your rival college’s football team.
The last Saturday in November has become the showcase for the most bitter rivalries in college football. A lot of the storied match-ups are here: Auburn-Alabama, Clemson-South Carolina, Ohio State-Michigan, UCLA-USC. The whole week is a build up of antagonizing opposing fan bases with Thanksgiving serving as a (sometimes) temporary muzzle on baseless accusations about other fan bases and the players that represent the university. Once all of the leftovers have been stored away, it’s an echo chamber of disapproval and disgust. To lose to the other side will mean 365 days of eating the crow you let loose with every jab at the opposing team. To win means laughing endlessly at your opponent with all the joy of a sick child as he burns ants using the rays of a summer sun and a magnifying glass.
Rivalry week taps into the petulant child in every fan base and it would be unjust for us at TwH to not feed into the fervor that this week brings. That’s why I bring you a biased look at each rivalry as well as how I view their fans.
In the interest of full disclosure, here is a somewhat abridged account of my relationship with the Avett Brothers as a musical entity: one night in the autumn of 2008, when I was probably seventeen years old and a junior in high school, I was riding in the backseat of my friend Carrie’s blue Jeep with two of my other good friends, Justin and Morgan, around the streets and highways of South Carolina. Cycling through the tracks on a mixed CD and/or the shuffle function on her iPod (I can’t remember for certain, but I know there was a huge collection of CDs in that automobile), she landed on something that was new and exciting to me but which had become, to my admittedly much cooler friends, something of a way of life. This was the first time I heard the opening strums of “Die Die Die,” the first song on the 2007 album Emotionalism, and it tore up every Hendrix-laden notion of my personal preferences at the time. Bruce Springsteen once said of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” that it “sounded like somebody kicked open the door to your mind.” In the context of my own teenage taste, the same explosion happened in that Jeep.