So on top of the ice it’s snow now, and plenty of it. Driving home from work there was an ambulance coming up in the rear, and everyone - already going 7 MPH - tried to figure out how to get out of its way without causing 43 additional accidents. It was like watching a zombie herd try to form an orderly line.

It took Wife an hour and a half to get home. Between this and the Polar Vortex, we are in the worst part of the winter. There’s nothing ahead to break the mood, there’s no holiday to lighten the spirits - the red-theme with the approving Martin Milner above is intended to nod towards Valentine’s Day, but you know, the entirely of the nation’s attention is not exactly turned towards the 14th in breathless anticipation. The only consolation is that this month is short, and March is when hope begins.

And is dashed. We always think, oh, there will be tulips in April! Perhaps; they will be killed by frost or consumed by starving rabbits. But March we expect two things: a hideous snowstorm around the Boys’ Basketball Tourney, and lots of raw rain that scours away the snow and leaves the world beaten, panting, exhausted, prostrate, and humiliated. Then we can begin again.

That happy day is still six weeks away.

I’m in no hurry. This is winter. Do your worst.







You might have heard that the New Statesman commissioned a piece about the Super Bowl, perhaps with an eye to reinforcing the lazy prejudices of their readers. I read some excerpts, and wondered what the fuss was about. Who could take this thing seriously? It's like getting upset over a high-school newspaper editorial.

But then thought it might be fun to pretend it's intended to be discussed and evaluated. Why not? Here we go.


So, you are firmly ensconced in the unforgiving bosom of the polar vortex. The mere thought of venturing outside your home is as perilous as taking a brief nap in quicksand. You literally might die! God forbid you watch any more of the news, filled to the edge with the po-faced grimacing of sickly-looking pundits whinging about the apocalyptic promise of a no-deal Brexit.What does one do when life itself is cause for immense panic?

Why, you stay in and watch the Super Bowl, of course.

If an American is saying things like “po-faced” and “whinging” he’s the sort of guy who, in high school, said “shed-u-al” and “alu-min-ium” to let everyone else in theater class know he was practically Lawrence Bloody Olivier.

If anyone says that life itself is cause for immense panic, and is not addressing a virulent pandemic that slays millions by the hour, you may discount whatever follows - unless the whole thing is, as they say, a wind-up. Unless he’s having a larf. Unless he’s talking the piss. Doing our head in.

Here’s the context for everything else that follows: Dave Schilling is a writer and humorist whose work has appeared in the Guardian, VICE, and New York Magazine.

That appears at the end, perhaps to make you rethink everything you read. Oh, I get it. It was supposed to be funny.

We continue:

You’re guaranteed to be entertained for at least four hours, which might be the last four hours you ever spend on this planet.

Why? Do English viewings of the Super Bowl end with the ritual slaughter of everyone in the pub?

If you’re not thrilled by the billion-dollar spectacle, you’ll be numbed into submission by the sweet crackling of hot bone-on-bone action

No, no - we’re not numbed by the audible impacts of football. Quite the contrary. If anything is numbing, though, it's the use of "hot noun-on-noun action" a few years past the use-by date.

and the expensive beer commercials starring celebrities pantomiming getting kicked in the nuts.

This didn't happen. But if you want your audience to believe that "Idiocracy" understated the current flavor of American culture, this is the sort of thing you'd say. Humorously! Oh, you kid.

The National Football League championship game is something of a holiday here in the States – men and women gather ‘round their ludicrously gargantuan flatscreens

Behold, the Yank gives the Brits a writ to enjoy self-satisfying sneering. The “gargantuan” adjective comforts the reader, who equates the size of your TV with your mental incapacities, your poor priorities, and probably your dreadful, tasteless McMansion where you can put the big moron-mirror. It’s not just a gargantuan flatscreen, though - it’s ludicrously gargantuan. Meaning "Foolish, unreasonable." You may be spared from the author’s scorn if you have a 51” screen, but if you’ve a 55” set, you might as well confess that you keep a four-gallon bucket of mayo from Costco next to your La-Z-Boy so you can scoop up a handful when the mood strikes.

to watch people attempt to cripple each other in order to celebrate capitalism’s rousing defeat over such nefarious forces as “empathy” and “moderation.”

This might be the perfect part of the piece; I haven’t read it all. But right here, that sentence, man - it’s like watching Thanos fit the last stone in his glove.

First point: we are very empathetic when a valuable member from our team is injured. A hush falls over the room. It is lamentably tribal, but such is sports. As for moderation, this is an interesting idea in athletic competition: No one ever won a game by deciding to give less than their all. But football has codes and rules that are quite moderate, inasmuch as one cannot grab someone’s head and attempt to snap it from its base.

I mean you can, but you’re going to get a flag.

But Capitalism! Striving night and day to eliminate human goodness. Let us all recall the defeat of the Soviet hockey team at the 1980 Olympics, where the coach admitted afterwards that the Communist ideals of empathy and moderation were no match for the American’s capitalist style of play.

Since 9/11, the NFL has only become more inseparable from America’s identity and sense of self-worth. While it’s far and away the most popular sport in the US across multiple demographics, the very DNA of the game is tied to red state culture, with its dedication to the flag and emphasis on “traditional” values.

It’s like watching someone from Earth who never left a small town in upper Manitoba describe the entire planet to aliens.

Ah, yes: 9/11, that peculiar thing that made America go mad. I remember the days afterwards, when we were all concerned with our sense of self-worth. How we wondered if Football would restore it.

It’s certainly damning to note that people in “red states” - you know, dumb bible-licking hicks - have an attachment to “traditional” values; say no more, as the man in the pub said. What are these values? He doesn’t say, but you can bet they include “enjoying athletic competitions non-ironically,” instead of finding one’s self alone and isolated in a cheering crowd, feeling alienated from the communal enthusiasms, but reminding one’s self that these people have no historical context for any of this, and would probably be horrified to learn the ancient Olympics were performed in the nude. Prudes ’n’ rubes, all of ‘em.

Sunday’s game is the culmination of the months-long NFL season, but it’s also one of the few remaining mass entertainment institutions in the US that doesn’t involve Marvel Comics characters punching CGI monsters in front of a green-screen.

He’s got a point there. But if this had been written 50 years before, he’d be banging on John Wayne shooting bad guys.

The Super Bowl party is a chance for us Yanks to put aside our ideological difference to scream at something other than CNN.

The people likely to watch CNN do not scream at it. The people likely to scream at CNN do not watch it.

My household Super Bowl tradition involves each guest being forced to eat an entire bucket of fried chicken in one sitting. The last person to finish gets punched in the stomach.

Remember, humorist. That’s a laugh line. Please clap.

But it’s sorta true in the meta sense, no? I mean, America, at its heart, is a gluttonous thing, a ludicrously gargantuan gluttonous thing, and it is violent, red in tooth and claw and state, so in a sense that's dead-bang accurate.

In the UK, though, the Super Bowl is a curiosity on par with Channel 5’s 2001 reality competition series Touch the Truck, which is exactly what it sounds like: touch the truck long enough and you get to keep it.

I have the feeling that the author tried to make the point in the pub a few times and no one quite got it, but damned if he doesn’t think an 18-year-old show is tremendously relevant, so he’s going to make the point again, even though a contest defined by not moving isn't exactly like one that scores points by moving 80 yards in a single direction. If the truck was running down the highway, and there were people in the oncoming lane trying to rip your hand off the truck, yeah, same thing.

The Super Bowl might not be quite as pedantic as watching a person stand around doing nothing, but it is on at an unseemly hour and features esoteric, labyrinthine rules that can alienate even the most devoted follower of the NFL.

The casual follower of the NFL does not regard the rules as esoteric or labyrinthine. The most devoted follower knows exactly what they are. This is like saying “chess is stupid because you can’t take the king piece and make it run over the others while saying Zoom Zoom I’m the King!”

In fact, I’d estimate that it’s easier to jump into an episode of Touch the Truck on YouTube than it is to watch the Super Bowl.

I love that sentence so much I want to take it home to meet the folks. It is easier to understand a competition that consists entirely of people standing still with their hand on a motor vehicle than to understand the Super Bowl. I think . . . that’s obvious.

But if you want to understand the state of the States and exactly why we’re in this mess, football is the best place to start.

The audience beams: I’m about to get insider wisdom! From a real Yank! I’ve always suspected that football might be a metaphor - and it’s true!

NFL games are one of the last places that it’s socially acceptable to enjoy country music

Honest to Tom (Landry, PBUH), that’s how he followed up his assertion that football is the key to understanding the state of the States. Here is an actual map of the place where it is socially acceptable to enjoy country music:

Nevermind the prevalence of rock and rap and metal in the televised bits that take you in or out of commercials, or the classic rock that plays in the stadiums - it’s enough for the audience, which he trusts to know nothing, to connect football with country music - and ergo ten-tooth Cletuses, racists, whee-ha gud-ol’-boys, moonshiners, and the like. Everyone knows the music is socially unacceptable among the better folk.

Despite the protests of our precious cultural elites, with their upturned noses and borderline obsession with Cardi B’s Instagram, Underwood’s Sunday Night Football theme tune remains intact.

Again, remember: humorist.

The only time I see Underwood on TV is on Sunday nights, which is equal parts the passage of her cultural high point and my own ignorance about anything that goes on in red states that doesn’t end up in a ponderous New York Times feature story.

This is why lawyers don’t let their clients testify.

The NFL knows it must appeal to the demographics I don’t belong to

And here I just give up.

Okay, let’s look at some more . . . Trump Trump Trump and so on. Kapernick, whose kneeling showed that “America has a persistent problem with racial inequality that we seem to have no interest in reckoning with.” Nope, no discussion on that issue. You’d think it would come up in elections and political discussions, but it’s just not a big thing. Odd.

Despite the cavalcade of horrific news stories about the rise of white supremacy in the US that bolstered Kaepernick’s thesis – from Charlottesville to the latest tragedy involving Empire star Jussie Smollett –

We’ll just leave that one there, and skip ahead a bit.

The build-up to this year’s Super Bowl has been mercifully free of political squabbling and self-righteous posturing. As much as I’d like this to be a sign that we too can move past the last three years of perpetual in-fighting, this detente is guaranteed to be short-lived. Surely, another front will open up in this rhetorical pillow fight. Maybe halftime show performers Maroon 5 will unfurl a Palestinian flag during their set. Could Patriots quarterback Tom Brady remove his jersey to reveal a “Build the Wall” t-shirt? What if the Los Angeles Rams win the game and refuse to visit the White House, then donate their championship bonus to Kamala Harris?

Dave Schilling is a writer and humorist

I’m hardly the “stick to sports” guy conservative Americans are so fond of lashing out at,

Wait a minute. Hold on. Conservatives lash out at the guys who want sports to stick to sports?

but I also would like to enjoy my Bud Light commercials in peace.

And what prevents you from doing so? Let’s put it back together:

I’m hardly the “stick to sports” guy conservative Americans are so fond of lashing out at, but I also would like to enjoy my Bud Light commercials in peace.

The one thing right-wing bloviators are correct about is that sport is meant to be an escape. I’ve grown tired of mixing my personal ideological convictions with the simple, binary pleasures of watching two teams compete in an athletic contest.

So don’t. Or do. No one cares. Who politicized it in the first place?

As politics becomes more and more like a grim, mutant version of sport with the fate of humanity at stake, I increasingly yearn for actual sport’s pedantic, low-stakes heroes and villains. Whether or not you watch the Super Bowl in America should not be a proxy for your leanings on the political spectrum or a litmus test for your wokeness.

So . . . this is a rebuke to politicizing Football? Like he did in the first part of the piece?

I envy all those in the UK, able to watch Sunday’s game without wondering what it says about you as a citizen. Enjoy this most unique cultural export if you can, because the state of things is not making it easy for me.

No one cares. I say that with kindness.

The Super Bowl should be pure, or as pure as any comically overblown brand extension devise can ever be. This is not a time to squabble over our differences. It should be a time to get together, eat a whole bucket of chicken, and punch your best friend in the stomach – like God intended.

Dave Schilling is a writer and humorist

Dave Schilling is a writer and humorist



It's 1922.

Stylish people dressed in their best to go to . . .


I wonder if everyone thought the cars looked the same. To modern eyes, there’s little variation.

The Overland Building. Hmm. Never heard of it. A little research indicates it was between Mpls and St. Paul, which means it was probably on University, and it was one of the largest vehicle exhibition buildings in the country. I wonder.

Ah! Found it.

Yes, it’s real-time writing here. I knew it as something else. So Overland was a stove company that went into auto manufacturing. Makes sense.

What’s great about the show? Why, the colors, and the dainty lighting

Just look at that ad, start to finish.

Whaaaah? Women? Driving cars?

Of course. They’d been driving for years.

The ladies:

Well, you can expect her to disappear into the mists of history once she gets married.

Oh ho, not exactly! She graduated from the U of M in 1922, and that’s where we start our search.

The house still stands - it’s a tiny duplex.

That’s where the scent wafts away into nothing.

No luck with the rest.


Her husband managed factories, and made, among other things, sewing machines. What I cannot deduce is -

Oh heck, I haven’t begun to research. Hold on . . .

Okay, of course. He had to be related.

M. W. Savage was his father, and he was the industrialist who made a pile in animal feed, among other things. Owned a famous race horse, Dan Patch. He bought the Exposition building . . .

. . . and turned it into a warehouse for his animal feed company.

Mrs. Earl Savage's husband was born into a large collection of silver spoons, let’s say.

Like an early map of the internet showing you how many wonderful sites you could visit: the highways of the state in 1922.

What a marvelous, graceful, elegant era it could be, when it wished.

Young Quinlan’s building still stands:

The store’s long gone, but there are remnants of the retailer’s history on display on the skyway level. The building is unique: every side has quality facade. Most buildings usually assumed someone would build something right next to it, so what’s the point of spending the extra money?

Oh by the way, if you’re not into cars:

There weren’t any society ladies posing by the Case and Deere machines.

That'll do; see you around.




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