The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Location: Palms - L.A, California

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ice Bowl Biking & the Hamburger from Hell

Berlin-Steglitz, 1 a.m. It was way below zero; with the wind chill we are talking twenty three below for those on Celsius’ side of the divide and nine below for the Fahrenheiters. (-23° C, -9°F) I was on my way home, and it was simply my own private Ice Bowl on wheels.

The infamous 1967 Ice Bowl (see photo) was on my mind because I had just watched the Pittsburgh Steelers rustle up and brand the Denver Broncos with a serious L. At near freezing, the temperature was comparatively mild at Mile High Stadium in Denver, but the sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein was still dressed for something more like the Berlin weather. Fur hat and all.

Biking in these conditions can be hazardous, but compared to the extreme slipperiness of days prior, the cold n' dry streets were heaven. The chain was rotating smoothly save for the occasional crackle. It was actually better than walking and after some five minutes I was warm all over, and whizzed by folks freezing at bus stops. For some reason it felt like biking through a swamp. The wind wasn’t that strong, but there was a wall of invisible, fungible ice in the air.

I had been watching the game with a couple of friends at one of Berlin’s few sports bars, Picker’s. It is located in a West Berlin inner city suburb, the kind of area that hosted American military barracks in the days of the Wall. Berlin’s history has led to pockets of this and that all over the city, and on some level this oddity makes sense. I mean why have a bar like Picker’s in the city center?

Last week, we watched the Divisional Championships at a VERY different place, where folks preferred playing backgammon and looked up at the screen and shouted “that sport is all tactics!” One very tipsy Indianapolis fan was there and when he heard about my ties to DC, he approached and turned his backward St Louis Cardinals cap around, pointed at it, gesticulated wildly, and blurted out “The Redskins!” OK, dude.

Back at the far more happening Picker’s, I was feeling ravenous and made the mistake I always make in “American” diners in Germany, I ordered a burger. Like a bat out of hell, a very BIG bat, it promptly appeared and when I lifted the bun, a familiar sinking feeling set in. You see, folks here prefer the ready-made frozen patty to the freshly-prepped ground meat variety. Now that ain't cool. And the fact that it was the size of a Frisbee just meant that I didn’t eat all day today.

Will either of us ever learn?

This Evil Burger bears some similarity
to the one I encountered
(c) Shari Borkin

All in all, it was a glorious weekend for those who engage in sporting escapism, especially if you’re a Steelers fan with fondness for Washington teams. On Saturday, two, not one, mini-miracles happened at the MCI Center located in the heart of D.C’s Chinatown.

First, Georgetown University men’s basketball team beat #1 ranked Duke. It was the first victory over a #1 team for the Hoyas since 1985, and marks the beginning of the return to the glory days of Patrick Ewing and company. The omens are good: the team is now coached by John Thompson III, son of the legendary Coach Thompson. And in two years time, both Ewing’s and Dikembe Mutumbo’s sons will be playing for GU.

Secondly, a couple of hours later, the Washington Capitals (that's the original logo) ice hockey team stuck it to the NHL’s #1 team, the Carolina Hurricanes. Some think the Caps might not make the playoffs, but this showed the nay-sayers. They have the best goalie in the league, Olie Koelzig, and the upcoming rookie of the year, Alex Ovechkin.

So, you read it here first: Big Ben, Da Bus, Alloy Troy and the rest of the Steelers take Super Bowl XL, the Hoyas make the NCAA tournament and the Caps do some serious damage come playoff time. Hallelujah, escapism indeed.


Blogger Package said...

I had no idea about the sons coming to play- awesome!

11:26 AM  

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