Getting up early to watch The Super Bowl in a Beijing bar has been a ritual since 2005 but this year I said screw it. Blame the crappy conference final officiating, the bullshit about kneeling players, and the general defecatory odor wafting from the NFL, including its handling of the concussion tragedy.
I still got up early today, mind you, but this time to do a diary about the Super Bowl experience with real scores and occasional sham scenarios, while parked at home. It’s all fake news these days anyway, amiright?
(Here are details on a dozen Beijing bars showing the New England Patriots-Los Angeles Rams game.)
06:00 In an ideal world, I get out of bed and into breakfast. For the Patriots, I guzzle the planet’s hippest brew, a hazy New England IPA. For the Rams, tasty dumplings airlifted from Peking Tavern: what could be better than being in Beijing and eating Beijing food not made in Beijing? Boom, boom and boom.
(I also advise eating an entire lemon, rind and all, to practice grimaces for when the announcers inevitably tackle Tom Brady and the GOAT debate. I have a half-dozen barf bags–thanks Air Canada!–for such moments.)
06:18 Have you ever walked to the corner store at 6:18 AM on a Super Bowl morning for a few Harbin beers to drink while you write a fake diary and felt an extra weight in your coat pocket that turned out to be a half-box of Burger King chicken fries stuck to a receipt printed at 2 AM two days ago? Asking for a friend.
06:24 A young woman diligently burns “ghost money” on the corner between my apartment and the store. She carefully stirs the papers until every bit is torched, every penny goes to heaven. She also says the Patriots will win by 8. (Kidding.)
06:40 For Super Bowls past, this is when I have popped into Hooters, up the street, to typically find a half-dozen patrons, no English game coverage and a wait staff less than peppy about donning short shorts on a freezing morning during Chinese New Year. Here is the turnout in 2015:
Alack and alas, Hooters has closed. It served its last wings, and perhaps a final unsteady rendition of “You Are My Sunshine”, on January 28. I guess the sign was giving some kind of, ahem, sign a few weeks before the end.
(Fact: I went to the opening of Hooters in Beijing in 2007 with Mei Fong, then a Wall Street Journal reporter. Fact: She has since become an acclaimed author and joined the Center for Public Integrity. Opinion: Her success is due to the equivalent of a pupu platter she enjoyed at that opening party. Fact: I enjoyed writing pupu platter.)
06:58 Okay, Tom Brady might cement his status as GOAT in this game. But he isn’t even in my “top ten” Bradys. Those would include fictional TV family The Brady Bunch, businessman Diamond Jim Brady, astronaut Charles E. Brady, baseball player Brady Anderson, and Brady, a guy who always smoked outside our dorm in college. There are about two dozen more Bradys before we get to Tom and his fancy hair.
07:23 Pre-game: they are doing the serious military / patriotism / anthem stuff before the teams beat the crap out of each other. Pats vs Rams. Ugh. One team perennially sniffs the Vince Lombardi trophy, suggesting a deal with the devil; the other is a newbie that many feel doesn’t deserve its place, also suggesting an other-worldly bargain. It’s the sports equivalent of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. How exciting. (Maybe one of them will turn up wearing a Kaepernick jersey.)
07:34 Game on. The Patriots run five times in a row! Brady’s afraid to throw it!
07:35 First throw. Interception. Ha. Quarterback rating: 0. g0at.
07:40 Wish the Saints were here so we could call Atlanta ‘WhodatLanta”.
7:52 Fun fact: Atlanta is now home to one Sir Charles “Sambuca” Flint, who once ranked among Beijing’s all-time bon vivants. Another fun fact: the toilets at the stadium are pretty awesome. (“They put cup holders above each urinal so you have a spot for your beer while you pee,” says Flint.) In contrast, early drawings of the Golden State Warriors’ new stadium made the entire place look like a toilet:
08:20 We need to cross Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski and Jared Goff to create a super quarterback called Gronffk that reinvents both football and party cruises.
08:32 Pats 3, Rams 0. Second-lowest Super Bowl half-time score ever. Even local soccer team, Atlanta United, scored twice in this year’s final game.
08:40 Best thing for half-time headliners Maroon 5: they’re following Justin Timberlake (2018) and not Lady Gaga (2017). Worst thing? They’re following Colin Kaepernick.
List of half-time repeats I might soon wish I had watched instead of Maroon 5: Michael Jackson (1993), Aerosmith, Britney Spears, N’Sync, Mary J. Blige and Nelly (2001), Prince (2007), Bruno Mars and Beyonce, but not Coldplay (2016), and this:
09:30 Meh-roon 5! Maybe they should have brought out Gladys Knight to do the national anthem again? Also, was Adam Levine ripping off his shirt was his symbolic way of kneeling on the field? (No.) Anyway, that was one sup-bar halftime show AND IT’S ALL COLIN KAEPERNICK’S FAULT! THANKS A LOT, COLIN! (Yeah, I’m being sarcastic.) Don’t give up. (But keep your shirt on.)
09:35 For people asking where to watch the game, I’ve been suggesting Paddy O’Shea’s for a sizable crowd, Q Mex for food other than “American breakfast” and XL just to chill out. By the way, where does Paddy O’Shea’s rank in the GOAT Beijing sports bar debate? It can show a dozen sports simultaneously, sponsors a dozen local teams, draws hundreds of patrons for big events, has a treasure trove of memorabilia and has a devoted clientele. It must rank with the likes of The Den and Goose & Duck, no? Plus, where else can you find a trough urinal that’s allegedly been in use since the Qing Dynasty?
09:47 Tony Romo is a good announcer. Let’s give him the finals MVP trophy.
09:49 Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty of the Patriots are the first twins to play in the Super Bowl. They still rank behind baseball players Jose and Ozzie Canseco, BeeGees singers Randy and Maurice Gibb, fictional crime fighters The Bobbsey Twins (Freddie and Flossie!), the band Thompson Twins and, let’s do a local shout out, the Jackson Twinz (below). But they definitely rank ahead of the Winklevoss twins.
10:05 Recycling done. Laundry all folded. Chinese New Year booze sorted and packed. At least someone is getting something done this morning.
10:17 Just discovered the best food and booze pairing for this Super Bowl: a warm king can of Budweiser and a stale piece of bread.
10:22 The mind wanders. To vivid Super-Bowl-in-Beijing memory. One is the baked bean trough at Goose & Duck a dozen years back. By third quarter, that mess o’ beans contained a few paper plates, utensils and maybe a G&D toque or two. But that didn’t stop patrons from getting seconds and thirds. (I believe Bostoner Mike Wester of The Beijinger was among the big bean fans of that era.) Go plant-based memories!
In terms of actual action, the most vivid is what is best-known as the “helmet catch” game but what I will always recall as “the sweater” game. Let’s go to the tape, er, blog from 2008:
“Let me provide you the play by play. The Giants lead 10-7 in the fourth and final quarter. The Patriots piece together a stirring touchdown drive that gives them a 14-10 lead, a drive that inspired HWSBB [He Who Shall Be Blamed] to yell “I believe” a half-dozen times, with 2:42 left to play.”
“The Giants need to do what seems near impossible–march the length of the field against the NFL’s best team to score a touchdown and regain the lead. HWSBB is ecstatic. He wears an off-white cable sweater–”The Sweater”–with a large Patriots sticker on the front. He wore it when he arrived, he wore it during the first three quarters, he wore it when the Patriots just scored. Now he does the inexplicable. He takes off The Sweater!”
“Nearby Patriots fans sense a jinx factor. ‘The Sweater is lucky!’ ‘Hey, don’t change anything until we win!’ ‘Put The Sweater back on.’ ‘If you don’t wear The Sweater and the Patriots lose, I’ll write a post about how it was entirely your fault.’ That last one comes from me.”
“Not only does he not put The Sweater on, but he drapes it over a chair after he peels off the lucky Patriots sticker! A few minutes later, the Giants quarterback miraculously evades a handful of groping Patriots and hurls a pass to a heavily covered receiver who catches it against his helmet and maintains his grip while falling to the ground in what is known in wrestling circles as a back-breaker. The Giants score, ruin the Patriots perfect season, and it’s all due to HWSBB and The Sweater.”
Who is HWSBB, destroyer of worlds / perfect seasons / good luck? Let’s leave that a secret.
10:35 Pats 10, Rams 7, my interest level 0. The Super Bowl has been semi-dead to me since that Seattle-New England debacle. Also, pop quiz. Patriots boss Robert Kraft owns legendary macaroni and cheese brand Kraft Dinner: true or false? Bonus point: Robert Kraft was the first to use sliced hot dogs as a mac ‘n’ cheese accoutrement?
11:05 Pats 13, Rams 3. It’s over. Belichick / Brady have six Super Bowls. Goff and the Rams will cry themselves to sleep for the next few months. Reporter Tracy Wolfson almost got crushed in the post-game media scrum. My apartment is much cleaner than three hours ago. And Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have an NFL job. With that, it’s Chinese New Year: time to dump the Super Bowl and start pre-gaming for dumplings and super baijiu.
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