Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
Fear Does Not Exist In This Dojo
October 14, 2002
The airplane landed in Tampa last night, rousing me from a deep Dramamine-enduced nap. One Dramamine puts me in sort of groggy mode; two and I'm Cosmo Kramer in the episode of Seinfeld where he tried to wean himself off sleep and then started falling asleep in unpredictable places. I had put my carry-on bag above the seats in the row behind me, so I was in one of those awkward positions trying to battle the long line of people waiting to deplane. I was going to let some of them go by, but this one guy stopped and was like no man, go ahead and get your bag. For a moment I thought it was Brad Pitt from Fight Club, in the opening scene where he and Ed Norton are on a flight together. It was a surreal moment that seemed to capture the spirit of this weekend's trip to Starkville.
To get you up to speed, I've made two trips before to Mississippi State (in April 2002 and October 2000). Starkville is a very interesting town, a small college town with a unique culture and a way of doing things that might seem very strange to people from other parts of the country. Like the obsession with barbecue -- but it's hard to blame them, because some of the most delicious barbecue I've ever had has been in Starkville.
Between the sleep thing, the Dramamine, and the sheer exhaustion of travelling, I was pretty worn out when I made it into Starkville early Friday afternoon. Matt and I met up with his roommate Dustin and went to this barbecue place called Petty's. The place is literally a shack, this run down looking building with a big barbecue grill thing out front in the gravel lot. I've seen concession stands at grade school football games that looked nicer than this place. But, the food was amazing. Delicious barbecue, complete with hot sauce (thanks to a suggestion by Dustin). Mmm mmm good.
Matt embarassingly beat me with Mississippi State against Virginia Tech in NCAA 2003. I'm highly suspicious that the running settings were made easier, but that's no excuse -- they were higher for both sides. Lee Suggs ran like a man possessed. It was a thrilling finish -- I scored with about 1:00 remaining, then Matt amazed me with a long TD pass to Ray Ray Bivens. I had enough time for a very quick drive, which ended with my receiver getting hit and dropping what would've been a game winning hail mary pass as time expired. MSU 28, V-Tech 24. Instant classic.
I saw NFL 2K3, which Matt had rented. It seemed like a pretty fun game, complete with the hilarious "fifth year man out of Penn State" line (fill in the year and school).
They have about the world's slowest internet connection going at their house. I could check e-mail, but it was VERY slow. I felt like it was 1992 and I was using Mike Miller's Commodore 64 with a 300 baud modem. But it was better than nothing.
Friday night was a good time. We hit the Old Venice restaurant, this cool Italian place that opened up in a downtown area that's slowly being revitalized. Like most downtowns, Starkville's suffered with the rise of malls and suburban shopping centers twenty-plus years ago. But now with some upscale type bars popping up, there's a reason for the college students to go downtown.
We hung out at the Sig Ep house for the rest of the night. Nothing too special, just a typical fun evening. Most memorable part came at the end, when a thoroughly intoxicated Matt wouldn't get off the futon in Nate's room. It was hilarious though to see the reaction of one of the pledges and even Nate himself acting like there were scared of Matt. Granted, Matt is super strong and physically imposing, but the reactions were just amazing to see. I could've gotten him off the futon, but he would've just gotten right back on again. And plus I was his guest, no time to turn into John Q. Dickhead and play stubbornball. Nate and the pledge pleaded with me to get him off the futon. I tried reasoning with him, but Matt is stubborn when he's sober. When he's drinking, well short of fireman's carrying him I dunno that I could've succeeded. I have the height advantage, but he's in the 200 Pound Club. Plus I was pretty sloshed myself. Nate threw some ice at him to try to stir up some sort of reaction. I went the reverse psychology route and told Matt that it was like Burger King -- he could have it his way. He replied "That's stupid", which it was, but it was a reaction, which is what I wanted. Finally King Alcohol trumped him and Matt had to pay a visit to the W.C. After that he was ready to go home (this poor pledge had to play taxi driver, but that's the breaks when you join a fraternity). First time he'd yacked since Guavaween 2001.
Saturday we went to the Mississippi State-Troy State game. Dustin and Jason (Matt's other roommate) didn't want to go unfortunately. It was very hot out there, with the sun piercing down big time. And stupid me didn't have sunscreen once again. I need to start bringing that stuff on all road trips. At least now the world's most uneven suntan looks a bit better, though I did burn a bit this time around (melanoma anyone)? The game itself was an offensive cluster, with Mississippi State looking unimpressive. Fatbody (Donte Walker) would get two yards and fall down. Passes would be dropped or off target. It was 3-0 at the half. 3-0!?! Second half MSU finally got a TD, then went for two on a surprise play. Matt commented to me that 11-0 is a strange score in any sport. Can't disagree there... But then Troy State rallied late, getting a TD and two point conversion to make it 11-8. It was scary in the final moments, as Miss. State QB Kevin Fant nearly fumbled, but luckily he recovered. MSU ran out the clock and escaped with an 11-8 victory. At least this year they won their homecoming game.
One thing that stood out to me was how many chicks were all dressed up for the game. I know it was homecoming, but it was just very different attire than you'd see at most other games. Like I said, Starkville is unique. But I say that in a good way.
We went back and watched some football and talked and what not. Matt has some good roommates. There's an entire sub-culture within the 'Berg (their home) as far as inside jokes and ribs and what not. I inadventantly contributed to it last year when I sent Matt an e-mail with the Top 20 Myths About Porn -- one being that "Asian men do not exist". That caught on like wildfire, and combined with Dustin's contribution from Karate Kid where the bad guy leader says "Fear does not exist in this dojo." If you want to get a bit more creative than "Nuh uh" or "no way" on a retort, just break out that something doesn't exist. Example: "Florida State can't beat Miami, that doesn't exist". Then there's Jason Drew, who made the mistake of telling Matt and Dirty D that he wasn't looking for a relationship with this one particular girl. So naturally when he and that girl would spend time together, Matt or Dustin would give him the business about "working on his relationship". Good times.
Saturday night was just damn wild. Not really much else of a way to describe it. The band The 17th Floor played at the Sig Ep house. They're a high-energy hip hop cover band (with some of their own material). Expensive to book from what I hear, but worth it I'd say. They put on one hell of a good show. Everything from Eminem to Cypress Hill. Amazing energy level, and the perfect example of where the melding of rock and hip hop is going long-term (at least in my opinion). The best part was when they invited Todd Rowan (of Junior Saint) up on stage to play the horn for the song "Brickhouse". Very nice.
You'll just have to trust me that it was a very fun evening. Met some great girls (this is Mississippi State after all) which was quite nice. Including this one girl who's about to move to Orlando to take a PR job. Interesting how things work out...
So much for a Cardinals/Twins 1987 World Series rematch. Maybe the Cards can rally against San Fran, but it's look like an All-Cali World Series...