Ramblin’ 8/16/16

Last week I mentioned the Woodstock Festival as High Holy Days, celebrated here at 116 Sundown Way, and now those days are upon us. We are in Day Two of the festivities, the day it began to rain. And it’s thundering, and about to rain. Right here. Right now. Seems fitting somehow.

Musically, at Woodstock, yesterday was Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez, among others. Today features Country Joe McDonald (“Gimme an F!”), Santana, Canned Heat, Mountain, The Grateful Dead, and CCR .

Here are some festival facts I thought you might enjoy:

  • 1 Diabetic coma
  • 2 Festival births
  • 3 Tracheotomies performed
  • 6 Months preparation time before the festival
  • 15 Price for an ounce of marijuana (in dollars)
  • 18 Price of admission for three days (in dollars)
  • 18 Number of doctors who treated 6,000 patients
  • 20 Amount of bail bond for those held in possession of LSD (in THOUSANDS of dollars) DAY-UM!!!
  • 40 Shortest waiting time between acts (in minutes)
  • 80 Width of the stage (in feet)
  • 90 Percentage of festival attendees smoking marijuana
  • 346 Number of New York City off-duty policemen hired, joined by 100 local sheriffs, several hundred State Troopers and deputies from 12 counties
  • 346 Number of cops who walked off their jobs on the first day of the festival
  • 450 cows unfenced for three days with the campers (Mooooooo)
  • 2,500 1989 price of posters used to advertise the original event (in dollars)
  • 8,000 Price paid in 1989 for an uncollected festival ticket
  • 30,000 Number of sandwiches prepared by the Women’s Group of the Jewish Community Center of Monticello and distributed by the Sisters of the Convent of St. Thomas
  • 186,000 tickets sold
  • 250,000 Number of people who never made it to the site
  • 500,000 Frankfurters and hamburgers consumed on the first day

There’s more but you get the gist of it.

Impact of the festival… immeasurable.

I just returned home from running a couple of errands. Picked up a James Lee Burke novel. I don’t read a lot of fiction, but I stumbled upon his work a couple of years ago and I really loved it. Louisiana guy. This one, as were the other two I read, are from a series centered around a detective named Dave Robicheaux. Very intense stuff and written with equal parts beauty and horror.

The one I got today, with store credit, is entitled ‘The Tin Roof Blowdown’. It’s set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. Can’t wait to jump right in! The previous two I read were ‘Neon Rain’ and ‘Heaven’s Prisoners’.

I haven’t been to NOLA since the 2005 Sugar Bowl. It’s been far too long.

My bride and I have attended all of the Sugar Bowls our Auburn Tigers have participated in except the one following the 1971 season, when Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley were seniors. Oklahoma, under head coach Chuck Fairbanks, whipped us like a red-headed stepchild. Glad I missed that one.

It would be great if Auburn made that New Year’s Six game this year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. On the other hand, don’t count us out. You never know.

Truck Drivin’ Classics playing on Apple Music as we ramble along. Six Days On the Road, Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses, East Bound and Down, and Guitar Town, to name a few of ’em.

My favorite truck drivin’ song is ‘Willin’, by Little Feat. Linda Ronstadt did a great cover of that one.

A quick ‘Willin’ story. I was at a Pak Mail store, about eleven years ago, near our house with some files to ship to a colleague of mine, Alice Vargas. I began to quietly sing a line from the words to ‘Willin’, “Dallas, Dallas Alice…” The lovely and spirited brunette, Carmen Park, who was preparing my package blurted out, “A Little Feat song!” And we connected. From that day to this, we have been fast friends. Even though she moved to Los Angeles, we remain in touch. We’ve tried to figure out past lives we might have shared and the forces of  God and nature that brought us together. One of our best theories is a life as French peasants.

The last time I saw her was when Auburn played Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game. Melodye, Me and Paul, spent an entire afternoon and evening with Carmen as our tour guide to LA. When we went out to the Rose Bowl, she exclaimed, “Y’all are family!”, after a few exchanges of ‘War Eagle!” with Tiger fans. We ate Thai food. We also drove by the Whiskey A Go Go, the Rainbow Room, the Chateau Marmont, and detoured into Laurel Canyon. A great day! I miss you, c!

Friends like this are rare, people. I hope every one of you has at least one, and that you treasure them dearly.

“I been warped by the rain
Driven by the snow
I’m drunk and dirty, don’t ya know
And I’m still, willin’
Out on the road late at night
Seen my pretty Alice in every headlight
Alice, Dallas Alice

I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me weed, whites, and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’ to be movin’…”

This old, retired road warrior will see y’all again soon.

Grace and peace. (Patti Smith sings us out)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry

I have attended twenty-five Auburn-Georgia games. My record is 13-11-1. Saturday, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise (well, the creek HAS risen, but that’s another story), will be number twenty-six for me. And I hope my record improves to 14-11-1. More on that later.

Here is a look back at some of those games I attended which were memorable and had a huge impact.

1968

The 1968 game was the first one I was privileged to view in-person. My father drove me, and my friends Frank McGraw and Mike Collins, to The Plains that rainy November morning. The weather cleared during the game.

Auburn was 6-2 with designs on an Orange Bowl invitation. Those dreams were squashed by a suffocating Bulldog defense which allowed only 3 first quarter points. The visitors scored all 17 of their points in stanza number two. The final tally was 17-3.

The Herschel Years

Herschel Walker, arguably college football’s greatest running back EVER, toted the rock at UGA for three seasons, 1980-82, and Georgia was the victor in all three. The respective scores were 31-21, 24-13, and 19-14.

I was there for all of those losses.
1982

Moral victories (is there really any such thing?) are ultimately hollow, but often provide a ray of hope. That was the case in 1982.

Georgia was undefeated and had their sights set on a second National Championship in a three-year span. They had beaten Notre Dame to accomplish this, behind the running of frosh phenom, Walker, following the 1980 season.

The Dawgs led 13-7 in the fourth quarter when Auburn’s Lionel “Little Train” James fielded a punt at his own 13-yard line and took it to the house. Tigers 14-13!

The number one team in the country responded like the champions they were with an 80-yard march that ended with Walker taking it in from the three. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

The Tigers countered with a desperation drive, engineered beautifully by quarterback Randy Campbell, that fell just short, as Campbell threw into the end zone on fourth down only to have the pass batted away with 47 ticks remaining on the clock. Game over. Georgia, 19-14.

This was the afternoon that legendary Bulldog broadcaster, Larry Munson, screamed, “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky! Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!” as the game concluded, and referencing the, now upcoming, trip to the Sugar Bowl for the SEC Champion Bulldogs.

But… BUT, also as the game concluded, Auburn fans, as often we do, chanted “It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!” over and over and over. And the mood at our, and other’s tailgates, was not one of sadness or despair, but one of optimism and hope.

One game was yet to be played on that 1982 schedule, and the opponent was the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Auburn fans knew, in their heart of hearts, as one, that the nine-game winning streak that the Tide lorded over the Tigers could very well come to an end in two weeks at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

It did! Bo Jackson went “over the top” to give Auburn a 23-22 lead which they did not relinquish. That was Bear Bryant’s last regular season game as head coach at Alabama, and the balance of power, within the state, began to shift.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Another monster game in “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.”

1983

I was NOT in attendance. We were living in Albany, NY and didn’t make the game, but it’s tale is a must tell when one consider’s the enormity of the event.

Auburn had not won an SEC Championship since 1957. Third-year coach Pat Dye brought a determined group of Tigers to play “between the hedges”. They were 8-1 and number 3 in the country. Georgia was undefeated and ranked number 4.

Georgia was looking for its fourth straight league title. The winner of this one would decide who would represent the SEC in New Orleans.

Auburn would, absolutely, not be denied this time. They were in full control of the game, from the beginning, and the 13-7 triumph was not as close as the score indicated.

The twenty-six year conference championship drought came to an end in Athens.

Auburn went on to defeat the Michigan Wolverines, and Bo Schembechler, 9-7, in the Sugar Bowl. They would be crowned National Champions by the New York Times.

Schembechler said Auburn would not be able to run on Michigan. Auburn did, indeed, run on the Wolverines and Bo Jackson was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Fast forward to 2004. I’m back in attendance.

2004

Auburn… #3 and undefeated. Georgia… #5 with one loss.

ESPN College GameDay.

There is only one game in which the atmosphere was more electric on an Auburn football Saturday. That was in 1989 when Alabama came to town for the first time in the history of the series.

Auburn had already clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game and was playing for a, potential, spot in the Orange Bowl in the BCS National Championship Game.

Auburn held Georgia scoreless for 57 minutes and wound up winning by a 24-6 count. It wasn’t that close. They dominated the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball.

Carnell “Cadillac” Williams carried the ball 19 times for 101 yards.

Ronnie Brown ran for 51 yards. He also caught 7 passes for 88 yards.

And how about Jason Campbell? 18 for 22 and 189 yards.

Most of us know the rest of the story.

Auburn went into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama two weeks later. The Tigers should have played Southern Cal for it all. They did not, as the idiots in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls kept Oklahoma at number two, and college football fans were robbed of what would, most likely, have been a monumental ‘game for the ages’ in Miami.

Auburn WAS named National Champions by People’s National Champions and the GBE College Football Ratings, among others.
2013
‘Nuff said!!!

And that brings us to…

2015

It’s not 2004, or even 1982, but this year’s contest between Auburn and Georgia is very important. Without rehashing what is going on in Athens, with Mark Richt and his squad, Georgia needs this game… BADLY.

Auburn needs this game.

The Tigers went to to College Station and whipped the Texas A&M Aggies in a most impressive fashion.

The game plans for the offense and defense were excellent and they were well executed.

Jeremy Johnson returned as the starting signal caller and performed extremely well.

Jovon Robinson asserted himself as that ‘go to’ back that Auburn can give the ball to with complete confidence, and he will break a couple of long runs before the season is over.

The Auburn defense nabbed three picks off the arm of dynamic freshman quarterback, Kyler Murray and, very importantly, contained him in the pocket.

In short, the Tigers played Auburn Football, really, for the first time this year. Now it’s time for them to step up and do that consistently.

For the 119th time, Georgia awaits. The series stands at 55-55-8. Think it could get any closer?

There has been turmoil within the Bulldog program and Richt might be coaching for his job in these last two games, but you can believe that he will have his minions ready for Auburn. He always does. The Dawgs have won seven out of the last ten.

The stage is set.

I am of the opinion that Auburn will continue to build on what they have been doing for the past three weeks, the A&M game being their most complete one, and play their best game of the 2015 season. And I will run my record, in games I’ve attended versus Georgia, to 14-11-1.

Auburn 31, Georgia 20