Sunday, November 12, 2006

11/10 - 11/12 Glendale, AZ

It's far away, but it says DAL 27, AZ 10

From landing in Phoenix, to walking around the streets of the suburb of Glendale, the Phoenix area has been very kind to me. In fact, upon leaving the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, a simple question to a TSA agent turned into a free ride from her to my hotel in Glendale, which is about a 20 mile ride, and as it turns out, was just a few miles from her house. If you happen to be reading, thank you Edie for the ride. I will not forget your graciousness.

Upon arriving at my hotel, the odd vibe that is Glendale began to set in. The hotel is a very western motel style hotel that fits in well with the city. I was right down the street from historic downtown Glendale, and a building that I believe is a very large library.

The city of Glendale, at least the downtown area, is nothing too special, at least for those that live in a city like Glendale. Save for a Subway, the downtown square is devoid of any brand name restaurant, a very welcome sight. Dotted with antique shops and one restaurant right in the square called Bit-zee Mama's (a very nice blue-plate special kind of place, with American and Mexican favorites), small but historic downtown Glendale is pretty cool in its quaintness (word?).

Upon walking down the main avenue, Glendale Ave, there are a few more places, a little more seedy, (not really seedy at all, just more so then a diner place frequented by women in their seventies). A local fast food eats is Pete's Fish and Chips. Frying up rectangular fish patties since 1942, Pete's is a staple in this small desert suburb. Try Pete's sauce; it's not just ketchup (they didn't tell me to say that, it's just their very truthful slogan. BTW, it's not just ketchup, it's spicy ketchup).

A little further down Glendale is the Ceretta Candy Factory. A store and factory all in one large room, the Ceretta Candy Factory offers a ridiculously large amount of chocolates, caramels, and even flavored almonds and peanuts. A tour here consists of a walk along a wall with a few pictures on it, a tribute of sorts to companies that help with ingredient distribution (i.e. the Blue Diamond Almond Co. , the C & H Sugar Co., etc.). The end of the wall takes you to a TV monitor that shows a short video history on the factory. And, if with a school tour, there's a trip inside the short walled factory area to see how stuff is made up close (it's a short wall, so when they are making candy, one can see it from the guest area of the room).

Today, as a capper to my trip, I attended another sporting event in town. There was a NASCAR race today in nearby Avondale, but, right next to the Glendale Arena/ thing, is the newly and confusingly named University of Phoenix Stadium. As mentioned before, it's named for the online university, so, for those keeping score at home, the Arizona Cardinals went from Sun Devil Stadium (home of the Arizona State University Sun Devils) to the University of Phoenix Stadium (home of the online students from many cities, most of which aren't Phoenix).

Now, having only attended one NFL game in my life (a riveting 1995 affair between the Carolina Panthers and the San Francisco 49ers), I was vastly unprepared for the circus that I was about to enter. Not a knock on any football fans that often attend games, but HOLY MOSES! 70,000 face-painted, chest-painted, beer-drinking, screaming, foam finger-wearing, hard hat (or sombrero)-wearing, jersey-clad, screaming, insane, screaming, beer-drinking, and some screaming people in a building is just a bit more electric than I'm used to. Upon entering the Pheen (?), I was instantly subjected to madness. Hell, searching for a ticket from a scalper was madness. Walking through trucks upon trucks with BBQs, tents, coolers, and even TVs showing other games was madness. Passing through security, getting patted down, and getting a foam finger (that part was pretty cool) was madness. But it was fun.

The Pheen is your standard giganto-stadium, with four levels. In the middle of each end zone is a terrace area, an opening to just stare in awe of the size of this building. The lower level has a store and various concessions, pretty standard stuff; upstairs is the same, but the real centerpiece of this masterpiece is the roof. Similar to the soon-to-be-extinct Texas Stadium, there is a large rectangular hole in the roof of this monster. However, unlike Texas Stadium, perched high, high above the seats, sitting on top of the roof over each end zone, is a large rectangular panel that, when activated, closes the gap in the roof, providing a domed atmosphere. I've been told the contraption takes 5 minutes to complete, either closed to open, or vice versa. However, I wasn't able to see it.

As this is a hockey blog, I'll spare you the majority of the details of the game. Bottom line, the Cardinals got beat down by the 'Boys 27-10. Dallas QB Tony Romo had a good game, throwing for two TDs and the Cowboy D had two interceptions while allowing only one TD, by way of the ground.

Being the day after Veterans Day, they had a halftime memorial for former Cardinal and ASU Sun Devil Pat Tillman, who turned down a large contract to fight in the Army. Downed by friendly fire, Tillman was remembered not for how he died, but what he died fighting for by all in attendance, regardless of the blue or red on their backs. An induction to the Cardinal Ring of Honor and the unveiling of a statue completed the halftime ceremony, complete with a rendition of "God Bless America" by Hootie himself, Darius Rucker.

Sitting on the Cowboy half of the field, I was surrounded by a sea of blue. A common stereotype of football fans is that they drink a lot of beer. That one is true. Another one is that they are loud. That one is true, too. But, the one stereotype that was a huge misconception, at least for me today, was that football fans are disrespectful, mean people. Wearing my Cardinals garb, and talking to Dallas fans wearing theirs, I was treated just like another person, with no ill will towards me, and in fact, a few fun conversations throughout the game. Granted, this may not really surprise anyone, but to me, anyone who decides to drink bathtubs full of beer and scream "dirty words" loud enough so that people in China get lessons in English swear words don't usually strike me as "friendly".

After attending this game, I'm afraid of the effects it had on me, as, I greatly enjoyed the atmosphere, camaraderie, and spectacle of this event. Unfortunately, there are two NFL teams in the Bay Area that I could get real hooked on. I see a Vernon Davis (Tight End for the Niners) jersey in my future. It will never replace hockey, but there might just be a place in my tiny little brain for this game called football (interestingly enough, they don't really use their feet). Somebody should look into that. Find a sport where people use their feet, and call that one football, or maybe be fancy and spell it futbol.

In all, my trip to Phoenix/Glendale was a nice one. Although I won't get to repeat everything I did over the next three trips here, I will thoroughly enjoy them. Tomorrow I fly to LA for the Sharks rematch with the Kings at 7:30 PST. Look for a write up late Monday night as I have an early morning flight to Denver.

Thank you for sticking with me and reading this insanely long post, but this small town wanting to be a big town has some good charm to it, and deserves a post that reflects it as accurately as my fingers and previously mentioned small brain can muster.

Go Sharks (go to a football game, when there's no Sharks, of course)

Approaching the mothership

There's a hole in that thar roof

Center ice, er, field at the Pheen (note all the Cowboy blue around me)

My seat (engraved by the tip of a real cardinal beak)


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