Mr. Wolinetz Goes to Houston: Geoff’s Wacky Super Bowl XXXVIII Adventure
Friday, January 30
I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to board. Sitting across from me is a man reading a book entitled The Lighter Side of Rectal Surgery. I’m unable to determine whether this is a novel or a medical text but either way I’ve shifted uncomfortably in my seat about six times. A couple of questions:
- How does anyone thumb through a book like that in an airport? It can’t be light reading.
- Do you think he notices my penetrating stare? He hasn’t looked up yet but I’m really unprepared to answer why I’m staring. Perhaps I should say, “Oh, I was just staring at your book on the riveting subject of ass surgery.”
When they say choppy air, do they mean, “There’s a 50/50 chance this plane will be plummeting to Earth?”
After a brief layover in Atlanta, I’ve reboarded the plane. In front of me sits two-time former heavyweight champion of the world, Evander Holyfield. For those of you who don’t enjoy the boxing, this is a man of impressive size. He’s probably 6’1” or 6’2”, about 240 lbs. and, from the looks of it, solid fucking muscle. Of course, all I can do is stare at his ear, which despite the plastic surgeon’s best efforts, still looks like it had a chunk bitten out of it by an insane man that looks a little like a bulldog. The ear is transfixing. Really, the best part about seeing him on the plane (other than the ear) was the fact that he was eating Manchu Wok out of a Styrofoam container when I boarded the plane. Imagine that. Evander likes the orange chicken.
I’m at the hotel. The Hilton Americas in Houston, TX, is not only my hotel, but also the N.F.L. HQ for Super Bowl XXXVIII. This means that not only is the hotel really nice, but it’s crawling with celebrities. I don’t generally like to bother these people but my colleagues have informed me that everyone famous who’s down here has the expectation that they will be approached. Excellent.
Quick story: I walked down the street to get myself some barbeque for dinner because neither flight that I was on had any meal service. As an aside, I don’t know how any airline could, in good conscience, fly people for five hours and not give them any food. It helped that I was in the row directly behind the first class cabin and could smell the food coming from there.
Anyway, I’m walking back from the barbeque place with some delicious pork wings and I notice that at the front of the valet line there’s a bit of a skirmish occurring. I walk up a little closer to see what’s going on and I see a way-too-thin blonde girl with a cigarette in her hand is screaming at the valet guy. From the sound of it, they were a little slow retrieving her car. She was screaming bloody murder.
Turns out that Paris Hilton actually is a bitch.
Saturday, January 31
Apparently, in Houston-speak, “ham” means “bacon” and “breakfast” means “shitty meal.”
This lobby is awesome. The people-watching potential here is off the charts. My favorite one is the guy that sends his kids off to get someone famous to sign the football for him. Well, they are your children. They should work for all that food and those clothes. Real classy, dude.
As a side note, Patriots fans are the most disgusting, despicable group of people on the planet, save maybe for Red Sox fans. Since there’s considerable crossbreeding in that shallow gene pool, let’s just say “Boston fans.” I know there isn’t a hell of a lot to do up there in Boston except listen to sports radio, go to sports bars and watch sports on TV but there has to be something else in your pathetic, meaningless lives. These are loud, disgusting, obnoxious idiots who dress as if they just walked out of Nike’s Factory Reject store.
Ready for an exciting day on the town!
In the lobby, people-watching.
A police escort, Troy Aikman? Isn’t that a little much?
This is the lamest fucking city on the planet. We went to “The Main Event,” which consisted of one stage with the worst cover band ever and a bunch of tents offering “sausage on a stick.” Um, paging Dr. Freud…
There’s absolutely nothing to do here. The best time that I had was watching this fat piece of white trash try on a leather jacket with the Super Bowl XXXVIII logo on it through the window of a department store called Foley’s. My buddies and I stood by the window cheering him on, making snide comments like, “Do you feel that leather? That’s fine Corinthian leather,” and “Come on, big fella. Slide that arm in there.”
After a while, standing outside wasn’t enough, so we went inside and watched him for a bit. My buddy Craig kept telling the sales clerk that the jacket was “gorgeous.” And she kept agreeing, “Isn’t it though? It’s gorgeous.”
No, I’m not making this up. Yes, the white trash guy bought the jacket.
Now we’ve hit the mother lode. Cadillac sponsors the 2nd Annual Celebrity Super Grand Prix here in lovely downtown Houston. Essentially, this is a bunch of celebrities riding around a parking lot in Go-Karts. There’s so little to do here that this has drawn a crowd that will probably rival the amount of people that attend the actual game.
The first person that I saw was Paris Hilton (again). This chick is all over this scene, much like all the guys she’ll be fucking later on, I suppose. Anyway, she’s getting into this Cadillac, so I say, “Hey, Paris, turn around so I can tell you to go fuck yourself.” Sadly, she didn’t turn around.
We swung over to the other side of the Grand Prix, down by where the starting line was, so we could check out who was there. The first race contained the following lineup: Dhani Jones of the New York Giants, Adam Corolla, Jimmy Kimmel, Petra Nemkova and Shannon Elizabeth. Not too bad but not exactly what I’d call a who’s who of Hollywood, given the sheer amount of celebrities here. They all get dressed up in these racing jackets and helmets and start walking down the track toward their Go-Karts, like that scene in Top Gun where they’re all walking away from the planes. This was the best laugh I had all day, until someone flashed Jimmy Fallon the peace sign and he shot it right back at them.
The guy next to me is loving this. He keeps nudging his wife and saying, “Honey, look. It’s (insert name of D-list celebrity here).” The second race begins, with participants Nicky Hilton, Leeann Tweedon, Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders, Pat O’Brien of “Access Hollywood,” and someone else that I’ve never heard of. The guy next to me has started charting their laps around the track.
Back in the room. We’re watching Dickie Roberts, Former Child Star, and to show you just how bored we are, I’m actually laughing.
We’re still in the fucking room.
Craig just asked me if I’d consider naming my first child “Diarrhea.” I told him I’d consider it, but only if it’s middle name could be “Cha Cha Cha.”
From: [betty c] Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2004 01:23:04 EST Subject: Geoffrey Wolinetz To: email@example.com
If Mr Geoff Wolinetz can’t find anything good about Houston, Boston, the airlines, etc. maybe he ought to try Hoboken or Lower Slobovia or crawl back into his hole in the ground where he probably would feel more at home. We don’t like him either.
A true cynic would never describe himself as “cynical.” I think it’s more likely that they’d describe themselves as “practical.” I realized, upon rereading this (thanks to a remarkably responsive reader; more on that in a moment), that I’m painting a very narrow view of this experience. Clearly, it’s more fun to mock the whole thing. Given the sheer amount of people here, chances are that many, many stupid things are happening in any given hour.
However, this is truly a unique experience. I haven’t stopped laughing since I landed because I’m here with some great folks. Though the food is suspect and the place isn’t really a hot bed of activity, it’s all a prelude to the biggest televised activity of the year, which is the real reason I’m here. And that gives this place an energy that really cannot be described.
The town had a football team years ago that picked up and moved to Nashville, leaving a football-sized hole in the heart of the whole town. They have a new team now, with a new owner and a brand new facility. It’s really a thrill to be surrounded by people who embrace the game like this city does.
That said, I refuse to believe that there is anything to do other than eat when the biggest sporting event in the country, perhaps the world, isn’t here. And to the person who said that I should go to Hoboken or Lower Slobovia and report what’s going on there, why don’t you come down here and try to kill a few hours? I’ll show you around. Oh, and look for my report from Hoboken this week. I know that the opposite of love isn’t hate. Oh, no. It’s indifference. Keep the letters coming, folks.
[Editor’s note: Mr. Wolinetz will be in Hoboken, New Jizz, this coming Thursday. Ah, ironic comeuppance!]
Now we’re talking. We’re sitting at the table at the Capital Grille. This is a great freaking steakhouse. I’m sitting in front of an excellent piece of fish, with some delicious asparagus. We got six guys sitting around the table goofing off. This is what I was expecting.
The Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder reserved the whole back of the restaurant. In by far the coolest moment of the weekend to date, I looked up and Sonny Jurgensen walked right in front of me. For those who are not football fans, this is one of the greatest pure throwers in the history of the game. For the first time, I was speechless.
Our parties all have lines that rival Depression-era bread lines. I’m not terribly surprised but despite my sadness at not really getting in, my colleagues assured me that these parties are not fun for any reason other than gawking at celebs. This can be done on really any street corner here, so my buddy Andrew decides we should go to a strip club.
Andrew just wiped out while walking to the strip club. Somehow, Craig’s shoe ended up in the middle of the street.
After we paid the outrageous $100 cover, we went into one of the largest strip clubs ever. There’s really nothing quite like the revelation of looking around a room and realizing that, despite having no shot at sleeping with any of them, you could potentially see every single woman in the room naked.
One of the strippers just told me that Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne are upstairs in the champagne room. O.K., guys, if this is the Matrix, leave me alone.
11:37 p.m. Andrew just got his eighth dance from stripper. Craig and I have a bet running. We set the over/under at 14. I took the under.
Lap dances 9 and 10 were just purchased, one of them by Craig. We got into a fairly extensive discussion on why that one shouldn’t count. Eventually, he conceded. The count stands at 9.
Shaquille O’Neal is also in the champagne room. One of the strippers told me that his penis is the size of my forearm. I looked at my crotch and said, “Mine’s the size of his.” There’s nothing more reassuring that the laugh of a Texas stripper.
Sunday, February 1
Well, a very pretty girl just came over and, 3 dances later, the count stands at 12. Don’t get me wrong. I love strip clubs as much as the next guy. 12 dances in an hour and a half is a lot of breasts.
13. I can’t believe it. I’m totally jinxing myself right now. For those gamblers out there, is there anything more frustrating that betting the under in anything? This is the last time.
In a sneaky attempt to get everyone to leave the club before Andrew can get to dances 14 and 15, I feign a crippling stomach flu. Once I realize that I’m rolling on the floor of a strip club, I leap to my feat and the ruse is exposed.
Dance number 14 comes from a woman that I’d swear was a transvestite if I didn’t have contrary evidence in front of me.
I’ve resigned myself to losing this bet, and sure enough, dance 15 comes along in the form of a tall, leggy Texas blonde. Say what you want about Houston, Geoff, but the women here are all tall and gorgeous.
Time to settle the bet, which consists of me standing on my chair and screaming that I’m gay to a bar full of testosterone-pumped Texans. Can we go home now?
Wake-up call says to “get our asses down to the lobby in 15 minutes.”
We board the buses to the stadium. This was an ordeal in and of itself, but since I’m going to the Super Bowl, I cut it some slack. We push off and the buses roll toward the stadium. The city is pretty vast and expansive (despite there being virtually nothing at all to do there) but the stadium is only about 15 minutes away. When we arrive, everyone takes note of the Apache helicopters circling the stadium’s airspace, including the guy sitting behind me who managed to throw out every war on terror buzzword there is. He said something like “You see that? That’s F.B.I./C.I.A. surveillance terrorism WMDs Al-Qaeda.” I turned around but I figured I’d be better off just laughing, which I did a lot of.
We were all set to go to the N.F.L. Tailgate, which starts at 1:30. Plenty of time to get into the stadium, right? The tailgate is barbecue, and I’m a man who loves his barbecue.
O.K., we’re in. And they wouldn’t let me get patted down by the lady security staff, which was disappointing. But the large Latino man that “shook me down” was far more gentle than I would have expected.
They have 15 of the area’s best barbecue places all giving out samples of their wares. All I remember is a blinding white light and then my face was covered with sauce. This is what I thought I was getting when I came to Houston, some of the best barbecue that I have ever eaten. I’ll highlight some of the best:
Pitts & Spitts: The sauce is so good that I drank it out of the bottle.
Katy Kookers: Dear god, the pork was so soft that it just fell off the bone and melted in my mouth.
Dickey’s: Dickey, I don’t know who you are and your food is alright, but I mention you because you voluntarily walk around with the name “Dickey.”
Houston is beginning to redeem itself a little bit.
We’re at our seats.
A little bit about the stadium first. It is two years old, so it’s about as modern as you can get. It is absolutely gorgeous. A state of the art facility with a retractable dome, the field is the field turf stuff that’s been getting so much press lately. The weather is overcast and threatening rain so the roof is closed, which is a shame because we won’t get to see the choppers fly over after the national anthem.
Now about the seats. These are unbelievable seats. We’re on the 15 yard-line, on the Patriots side of the field toward the Patriots end zone. Two rows up in the 2 tier, which here is the Club/Suite section, so it’s carpeted and there are couches with mounted flat-screen TVs near the concession stands. You know, just in case the unbelievable live view of the action isn’t enough for you.
I’m expecting a very low-scoring defensive game. Also, I am rooting for Carolina with every fiber of my being.
Kickoff. He Hate Me receives the kick and gets tripped up around the 17. If he’d avoided that one, he had some field to work with.
Does anyone in the locker room let him live that down? He could put anything in the world on his jersey and he put “He Hate Me” there. And the explanation was classic. “Why He Hate Me? Because He Hate Me. You know who ‘he’ is. He’s the man. And He Hate Me.” OK, Rod Smart. Whatever.
Marcus Allen almost fell out of the luxury box above my section.
The first 26 minutes of the game: 0-0. Then Brady lets off a beautiful ball fake to Antowain Smith and hits Deion Branch over the middle. 7-0 Pats. The replay shows that the Panthers bit on that ball fake harder than Mr. Magoo.
Holy shit! JAKE DELHOMME! He just hit Steve Smith, who beat Ty Law down the sideline, in stride for a TD. 7-7 and the Carolina fans quietly clap to show their support. I don’t even really root for this team and it so quiet in here, I think that the teams can hear me screaming on the field.
In week 2, during the Carolina/Tampa game, where the Tampa PAT was blocked at the end of regulation to force overtime, the Dick Stockton/Brent Jones announcing team came up with this gem:
“Sometimes, you just gotta let a guy like Jake Delhomme loose.” When I caught my breath from laughing, a Carolina fan was born within me.
Brady hits David Givens in the back of the end zone for a TD. 14-7, Pats. The Carolina D, with the notable exceptions of Will Witherspoon and Dan Morgan (more on these guys later), are showing none of the grit that they showed during the season. They are getting walked all over.
Delhomme takes the Panthers 35 yards and John Kasay hits a 50 yards field goal (only the 4th in Super Bowl history, the screen tells me) for a 14-10 halftime score.
If you are keeping track at home, first 26 minutes: 0 points. Next 4 minutes: 24 points. And the over is beginning to look like a safe bet.
O.K., we need to talk about two stunning events.
1. That was Janet Jackson’s boob that I saw, wasn’t it? Justin Timberlake (the N.F.L.’s halftime “surprise”) just ripped her top off. In the history of N.F.L. halftime shows, this has to rank up there among the best despite no one singing a song recorded after 2000. In addition to crossing “Super Bowl” off the to-do list, I can cross “ogle Janet Jackson’s breasts” off as well. Hmm, while we’re crossing things off the to-do list, where’d Paris Hilton go?
2. I know not a lot of people know about this because it wasn’t broadcast, but the streaker was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He’s dressed as a ref. He blows a whistle and runs out on to the field. When he gets to the kicker, he rips off the ref clothes and starts dancing a jig in front of the football that’s about to be kicked off. This goes on for like a minute before finally a police officer comes out onto the field. Security starts chasing him toward the Panthers end zone, and all of the sudden, #58 Matt Chatham of the Pats steps out, puts up his shoulder and knocks the guy flat on his ass.