Over the mountain
Down in the valley
Lives a former talk-show host
Everybody knows his name
He says there's no doubt about it
It was the myth of fingerprints
I've seen them all and man
They're all the same
- Paul Simon, "The Myth of Fingerprints"
When I worked a real job (sorta), I spent a lot of time hopping on airplanes and visiting various cities in the US. I saw all of the hot spots: airport terminals, places to get cabs, office buildings, chain hotels...
All that traveling left an indelible impression on me. Primarily, I started to recognize that all places - except for the unnaturally huge city of New York - seemed very much the same to me.
It was likely because I had complete tunnel vision. Leave home - go to client - go to hotel near client - return home. I never really stopped to check out the towns I was in. Usually, my focus was on getting the job done and getting back to my family.
So, as I headed into Dallas on Friday night, it was more of the same. I recognized the airport from earlier visits, hopped in a courtesy van, went to the hotel, etc. The same motions that I'd gone through hundreds of times before.
But this was different. I wasn't getting on an airplane to go extort consulting fees, rather, I was getting on an airplane to go watch football and have fun with the Dallas Browns Backers and participate in the Dallas Road Trip. These are two things truly unique for your resident webmangler, who spent the 2001 Super Bowl on an airplane going to a client rather than watch the Ratbirds besmirch the NFL's championship game with their presence.
Perhaps because I've changed my traveling paradigm, I've noticed that this southern land of Texas does have some unique characteristics when compared to my home town of Cleveland. There's one in particular that has caught my attention:
Namely, it's really, really, freaking hot down here.
Under normal circumstances, I prefer to live an near-alpine setting. The normal temperature in my native environment is about 65 degrees or so. It's been a source of derisive ego-deflating remarks for my friends since I was in college, and relatively effective because it's true. I'm probably happiest sitting on a block of ice.
Putting me in Dallas is like putting a polar bear in a steam room. I basically become a rolling ball of hair and sweat. I couldn't live in it for more than about a week before quickly bolting towards the Arctic Circle. How the folks down here adjust to it, I have no idea, but the weather down here effects me in much the same way that Kryptonite effects Superman.
The other thing I've noticed about Texas is that they have really big malls. The hotel we're in is near an outlet-type mall, where even the theatre has thirty cinemas. For no real reason, outside the mall is a giant wire-frame statue of a football. It's not explained. There's nothing football-related near it. It's just there.
As I walked to last night's Backers party on the other side of the mall, there were a large group of teenagers standing around a loading dock watching two of them do push-ups. I have no idea why.
Clearly the heat down here has either warped the minds of inhabitants, or more likely, my mind. I must be seeing things, because no one would willingly do push-ups in the 90+ degree heat. Unless, of course, they're insane, or I'm suffering some inexplicable heat-induced hallucination.
The jury is still out on whether this place is completely nuts or I am. I'll report back later with more findings.
Fortunately, the area we're in also has gigantic parking lots where alcohol-saturated Browns fans can wander aimlessly trying to get back to their hotel, as I demonstrated ably last evening.
As part of the package trip, we had a three-hour party at the local Gameworks with the Dallas Backers where we could drink a few adult beverages, talk football, drink more adult beverages, blow up electronic stuff, and have some more adult beverages. I, personally, had some adult beverages.
Hanging out with folks wearing orange and brown was fun, per usual. There are Browns fans from all over the country and different walks of life here. I talked to a Browns fan from the Florida keys who talked about the recent hurricanes. Another Browns fan who recently lost a loved one wias making his first solo Browns plgrimage.
I was also fortunate enough to meet some folks I knew from the site. "Grumpy", for example, was here, and didn't seem nearly as grumpy in person. I met "Rizzodawg", president of the local Browns backers. "Pegasus", named after a rock band he played in, dropped by to chat.
We also had our friend Tim Manoa down here, hanging out with Browns fans at Gameworks.
Of course, it was a great time, and, of course, it's always great to meet folks in person that you know from email or the message boards.
I continue to be amazed at the number of fans who have made this place their home on the Internet. One dawg talked to me about having "Breakfast with Bernie's" every morning.
Now, more than ever, it strikes me what a privilege it is do this. Being able to work on this web site and the magazine is a dream come true.
But now, onto more relevant matters. In about five hours, the Browns take on the Dallas Cowboys, and I have to start working on that delicate balance that all visiting team fans have to deal with...
It's the old balance between cheering on your team and getting into physical combat.
We're going to be a pretty large group, and there's strength in numbers. On the other hand, I've always felt that visiting fans in Cleveland Browns Stadium, particularly happy ones, were the most annoying things on the planet.
It begs the question of how annoying I will be this afternoon.
I'm sort of a natural at being annoying, so that's where my heart is.
If you don't hear from me again, you know I went out really bothering some Cowboys fans.
Of all the ways to die, I can't imagine too many more fulfilling.
Talk to you again after the game. GO BROWNS!!!