Hoya Suxa is aiming to attend 10 of Syracuse's 12 regular season football games this year. He'll be filing short travelogues from his journeys.
THE MOMENT YOU REALIZE THAT YOU'VE FIREBOMBED YOUR ENTIRE FALL
It's 7:30 in the morning on September 2, 2016. I'm sitting in my Wrangler, a vehicle that is now held together with as much duct tape as actual mechanical engineering, and reset the trip meter on the dash -- this commercial dumpster with an engine is about to tick off the first of the almost 4,000 miles that it will cover over the next 13 weeks. This idea, one that was made with all the forethought of going to the grocery store while hungry, has yielded the realization that I have tethered my entire fall to a football team without a win warranty. There will come a point, I'm sure, where I will want to pilot my Jeep off of an exit ramp and directly into the nearest body of water.
With the exception of Syracuse's date with Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium, there really isn't an easy road trip on the agenda: The five expeditions that I'll take to Syracuse are, at a minimum, nine-hour round trip anger sessions; the two rides to New England are compounded by awful Friday and Sunday traffic; driving to the ass-end of Pennsylvania over Thanksgiving Weekend will make me want to punch a room full of puppies; and heading to Clemson (the best visit of the entire fall) requires flying out of and into LaGuardia, a great opportunity to get tetanus while a child with lungs strong enough to power an accordion screams in my ear for a few hours. It's not like this was an impossible-to-forecast reality, but being an idiot armed with time and sociopathic motivations, it was a truth that I only understood when I turned over the motor, dropped the emergency brake, and accelerated toward the longest autumn I've ever undertaken.
THE PARTY CAN START, GENNY'S HERE
I revel in trash as much as the finer things in life. This dichotomy -- I'm basically an overeducated animal -- creates a difficult reconciliation in my tailgating oeuvre: A menu that treats hamburgers and hot dogs like options fit for only the most destitute of the proletariat while also holding a loose code around the sewer water that I seek to imbibe. Genesee Light has somehow become my go-to tailgating drink over the last two seasons, making me more interesting to people and, if I have enough, parking cones and other inanimate objects. I have no shame in this fact: I want Michelin-approved feats of culinary achievement coming off the grill while I enjoy the carbonated two-stroke fuel that Genesee passes off as digestible liquid. This is both the most vibrant and darkest timeline, a travesty and a triumph existing on the same part of life's spectrum.
With an evening kickoff, we finally had a chance to build a tailgate around something other than eggs and other breakfast combustibles. Dave, our sorcerer at the Coleman for the day, suggested and prepared banh mi. Banh mi is apparently a Vietnamese sandwich that is made with pork and, based on my shoveling of the sandwich into the hole in the front of my face, rainbows.
In addition to the banh mi, we brought along some homemade pickles, a few pints of Bama Bombs, a cheesy jalapeño dip, and a pickle dip (OH CANADA!). Tailgating on The Hill is what you make of it: If you posit that Syracuse's tailgating scene is nonexistent/awful/not-worthy-of-putting-on-pants-and-making-something-on-a-grill-outside-in-perfect-weather-because-a-little-bit-of-effort-would-really-cut-into-your-doing-nothing-time, you're missing out on the best part of college football. The only impediment to a great tailgating experience is the desire for the unattainable (e.g., 70 acres of pristine tailgating space on a cramped urban campus).
"I HATE OLD PEOPLE"
Over 14 years have passed between the time I walked at Commencement and when I strolled into the convenience store on the corner of East Adams Street and South Crouse Avenue prior to the Colgate game. The philosophical tenets that an average college student adheres to at this point in human existence totally escapes me, but I did gain some insight when I tried to buy a 12-pack to replenish our reserves of latrine potion: Underage college students do not like old people that ask cashiers whether they're checking the IDs of said underage college students.
First, I respect the savage troll game from that old guy; to nut up, on a college campus, and attempt to temporarily block a college student from acquiring booze -- again, on a college campus -- is the kind of insanity that you have to acknowledge and revere because you know that he also has very defined feelings about post offices. Second, the drinking laws in this country are boisterously arcane and I applaud any underage human that attempts to undermine them by purchasing alcohol. Third, the confluence of these two things generated an intense tirade from a young lady that thought any person over 30 was old, passively dropping this thought in my vicinity as I pulled a dozen cans of what I can only assume was once tile cleaner from the cold box.
This was not good for me, as I am over 30 and edging dangerously close to doing very adult things like buying a house and owning many varieties of nail clippers. However, it is also uplifting, as this young hate machine was looking at her awful future -- being over 30 and actualizing the miserable destiny that we are all doomed to inhabit. This is irony: Rage toward your future that you have no way to avoid.
DOING THAT THING THAT YOU DO WHEN YOU COULD BE DOING SOMETHING ELSE
The hierarchy of things that I want to do during college football season is basically as follows:
1. College football things.
2. Not die.
It's a pretty simple list, but not everyone subscribes to this perfect life agenda. With Saturday open due to the Friday kick-off, I was presented with the opportunity to do some of the things that people do when they could be doing a college football thing.
Empire Brewing Company's new facility in Cazenovia is gorgeous. It seems like the vision of the farmstead is still a work in progress, but the tap room is rustically accessible, the food is aces, and the outdoor space is coming along nicely. The smoker on the back porch is a beast of a cooker and the farming operation is starting to take shape. Empire is going to have a massive destination tasting situation when this comes to full fruition; an afternoon could easily bleed into oblivion just farting around the farmstead.
As great as Empire's new facility is, though, it is still not college football. There was no marching band playing the waitresses out of the kitchen, I didn't not hear a train whistle when the beer flights arrived at our table, and none of the bartenders even tried to lay the wood on a customer that was bolting toward the door.
This was my maiden voyage to Beak & Skiff in LaFayette and, honestly, it is probably one of the most beautiful commercial facilities that I have ruined by entering the main gate. The rolling hills on the horizon are stunning, as are the well-maintained grounds and the attention to detail given to the compound's structures. The tasting we did was fine -- this is going to blow your mind: when everything is made out of apples, everything tastes like apples -- but the orchard itself provided a view that annihilated sitting on a porch and telling lies. Beak & Skiff was worthy of doing that finger-kiss thing that chefs do, but was it better than going to college football?
I see no reason why, if you have to make a Saturday visit to Beak & Skiff as part of your fall ritual, you can't go on September 10th, September 24th, October 1st, October 8th, October 22nd, October 29th, or November 5th. It's an apple orchard; all the same stuff is at Wegman's, unlike a college football game, which has never been played at an apple orchard or supermarket (yet). I may be an emotional cripple that is built merely to take up space above the earth before I claim residency below it, but an apple orchard doesn't run wheel routes or uncork face-rearranging pops from a safety.
Games Attended: 1
Syracuse's Record in Games Attended: 1-0
Miles Driven: ~510
Miles Flown: 0
T-Shirt Tucked Into Jeans Sightings: 1
Next Syracuse Game: v. Louisville
Next Syracuse Game I'm Attending: v. South Florida