Detroit: Where Dreams Come to Die

* I’m back in action after a week off.  What did I do?  What didn’t I do, dear readers?

I started my vacation by spending an hour and a half bludgeoning a dull shovel against a frickin’ glacier to extricate my friend from the iced-over snow drifts that encased her car.

Then I pondered leaving the city for home, only to hear of a 100-car pileup on I-94.  It claimed the life of a 31-year-old Chicago man.  And then it hit me.  I’m a 31-year-old Chicago man. 

dark_knight_ver7So I didn’t make it home until Monday.  Once there, it was typical fun with family and friends.  I got some awesome gifts, including the two best movies of the year on DVD (“Wall-E” and “The Dark Knight”).  I also got the incredibly funny documentary “The King of Kong.”  And I got an Indiana Jones whip… which is awesome.

I gave my parents a garage door opener (theirs has been broken since June).  I gave my sister an iPod.  Three siblings teamed to give our youngest brother some ridiculously expensive recording device.  I gave my brother and his wife lots of little things and gift cards.

During the last week, I ate roughly 12 times my body weight.  Seriously, I feel bloated, like I’ve been straining krill through my baleen.  I will attempt to hit the treadmill today.  And I will hate it.

Yesterday, I gathered with my family and we watched the Detroit Lions complete the worst season an NFL franchise can possibly pull off.  No one has ever managed to lose every single game over a 16-game season… until now.  I sprang for some decorations, grabbed some paper bags from a local supermarket, and we celebrated the demise of our favorite team.


(If you don’t care about football, just skip to the next asterisk.)

I started collecting football cards in 1989.  I was 12.  I needed a favorite team, but I had a hard time settling on one.  Then Barry Sanders came rushing into my life.  He moved like a tornado through a Jell-O field.  I was mesmerized.  I couldn’t wait until next Sunday, when I’d see him twist and turn through an army of determined tacklers, breaking ankles and racing for the end zone.  My dad took me to see games.  We were there when he became only the third man to break the 2,000 yard barrier in one season.  It was the greatest sports moment in my life.  And I even witnessed that rarest of events – a Lion playoff victory.

Me, moments after the final gun.

Me, moments after the final gun.

But that would be the only one in my entire life.  Thirty-one years.  One playoff win.

How sad is it that my memories of glory involve Scott Mitchell and Wayne Fontes?

And then Barry left.  The coaching carousel spun.  We’ve been living through an endless quarterback roulette.  And then Matt Millen stepped in and slowly suffocated any joy I ever had in watching football.  Detroit is 0-16.  It is literally impossible to be any worse.  Your grandmother could have assembled an equally competent team.

The sad thing is, despite a lifetime of inept ownership, goofball management and untalented players, I can’t completely rip myself away from them.  This is an abusive relationship.  I keep thinking the team will love me back someday.  I will probably go to my grave dreaming of two consecutive winning seasons.  Yet I have a Lions helmet in my apartment.  I willingly watch their games.  I occasionally purchase items adorned with their logo.  And what do I get for my unwavering devotion?  I get kicked square in my boy-parts.  Over and over.  Sixteen times.  And I don’t leave.  Because there’s always next year.

I’m a moron.

* After watching the Lions’ total collapse, I high-tailed it back to Chicago and zipped to the iO Theater.  Only four of Whiskey Rebellion’s nine players were there, so we had two friends join us.  It was a crazy show.  At one point, I literally ate popcorn that had been tossed on the floor.  It was that kind of night.  I invite you to join us at our next performance – Wednesday, January 7 @ 10:30 p.m. in the upstairs theater.  Tickets are $5.  It will be worth it.

* This is the 30th anniversary of the “Star Wars Holiday Special,” a chunk of television so bad, it will eat your soul.  You couldn’t make a worse television show if you tried.  This is just a little taste.  And it will probably make you sterile.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  (Yes, that’s Bea Arthur.)

* This article suggests the reasons a woman should never say “I love you” first.  Better never to say it, so you’re always left wondering.

* Cash-strapped states are selling anything and everything that’s not bolted down.  If anybody’s interested, I can get you a governor on the cheap.  He may not look like much, but he’d make a fine doorstop.

* Tell the truth.  When you heard that a guy shot some other guy for talking in the movie theater, you cheered a little inside, didn’t you?

* Cool idea in New York: “Good Riddance Day,” where you shove all your unpleasant memories from the past year in an industrial paper shredder.  If I shredded all my unpleasant memories, it would look like a man shoving all the world’s phone books into a spinning helicopter blade.

* And finally, here’s one of two enduring memories of the Detroit Lions 2008 season.  (The first is Dan Orlovsky running out of the end zone.)  This is a news conference where coach Rod Marinelli is asked about his son-in-law, the defensive coordinator.

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