A Slice of Americana


James Peru, Cactus Editor

PHOENIX, AZ- It’s Saturday, the day before the big game, and people from around the country have gathered here in the valley of the sun to bear witness to the spectacle; only, the sun has stayed hidden behind the rainclouds, as if in defiance. You can almost hear it say, “This game may be larger than life, but I am larger still, and I have made plans of my own today.” Nevertheless, fans slipped on their obligatory hats and jerseys and braved the rain to take in the sights and sounds of Super Bowl Central, which was located in downtown Phoenix, ten miles away from Glendale, where the Super Bowl would be played (a logistical nightmare as super as the bowl itself).

I usually avoid large crowds of testosterone cases mixed with large amounts of alcohol like the plague, but because this event, this snapshot of Americana, was happening so close to home, I felt I needed to see the mayhem first hand. The first thing I noticed upon entering the 12 block circus sectioned off for the party was the overwhelming presence of Seahawks fans, who easily outnumbered Patriots fans 100 to 1. I’m guessing that since most of them were from Seattle, a little rain was nothing if not comforting. The second thing I couldn’t help but notice was the strange tension that hung in the air like an Angel of Death. Perhaps this tension is normal when such a density of life comes together. Or perhaps it was the tension, created by the future game, looming over those who had already invested so much in this experience. The desperation could be seen on their faces in passing; desperation to see all there was to see; to eat all there was to eat; to drink all there was to drink, in order to try and justify their actions of spending so much on so little.

Parents drag their children behind them, from one attraction to the next, with shell-shocked expressions on their faces. “Hey look, ‘Little Timmy’. See that rock wall there? You can climb it. It’s supposed to be ‘The Grand Canyon Experience.’ You’ve always wanted to see The Grand Canyon. How about it?” “I don’t really feel like it,” tired Little Timmy replies. “We didn’t fly all the way across God’s green creation for you to not feel like it. You’re climbing the damn wall!” Fast forward to ‘Little Timmy’ struggling up the giant fiberglass creation of a rock wall. His parents stand below, watching through the lenses of their cell phone cameras, which are plastered to their faces, along with a couple of sadistic smiles.

Across the street from this debacle, on the corner of 1st St. and Jefferson, sits the ridiculous blue eyesore of the “invite only” Bud Light ‘House of Whatever’ party (because nothing screams high-brow exclusivity quite like an aluminum can of Bud Light). Atop this overblown attraction’s welcome sign perches a giant blue gorilla, its arms reaching skyward as if to signal a field goal completion. Around its neck hangs a thick gold chain with a medallion featuring Bud Light’s new, creepy and strangely suggestive slogan, “up for whatever.” (Really, is that what you’re going with? Who runs your marketing department, Robin Thicke?) At the time, the appearance of the gorilla didn’t make much sense to me. But now, after thinking about it objectively, it does: when one consumes too many Bud Lights, one tends to devolve back into a less intelligent form of primate, concerned mainly with yelling and pounding one’s chest incessantly in an attempt to assert one’s dominance over surrounding males while posturing to surrounding females.

When I felt a bit of my soul start to die at the sight of this creation, I had to remind myself why I was here. I was here for a slice of Americana pie. Was this not it? It was indeed a part of it of it, but not the one I had hoped to see. This was the thick crust of bullshit you have to break through in order to get at something real. This was every commercial break made flesh. Here we aren’t fellow Americans; we are strange faces being burned into the recesses of each other’s memories, only to be seen again as phantoms in dreams; months or years down the road, if ever again. But beyond here, when the distractions go away, when the jerseys we wear don’t matter anymore, maybe we still are. For there is a form of beauty here as well, if looked at in the right kind of light, a silent trust we all have in one another. All it would take is one crazy with a gun to ruin some people’s lives for the day, and some forever.


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