"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Don't worry, Hubert, it's not your Dome anymore

One of the "manly" things about football, tradition holds, is that it's played under nearly all conditions. Fog and snow are mere inconveniences. A muddy field makes for some fun highlights to watch later. There is really only one true impediment: lightning.
Well, you can make that two: an indoor facility that can't hold together under heavy snow. Our Metrodome turned into a calamity over the weekend.
The late Hubert Humphrey might be smiling in the grave, glad that his name is no longer associated with it. (At least, I never hear it referred to that way anymore.)
Mall of America Field at Metrodome could not be protected from the elements. Even though the Dome was built precisely for that purpose. . .
The news came as a surprise to me because the snowfall out here wasn't that great. We battened down the hatches for something worse but it didn't happen. It was merely a blustery and cold weekend.
We learned that the Twin Cities situation was much worse. The Metrodome became a mountain of snow. The team that was set to play the Vikings couldn't get here.
I'm glad that West Central Minnesota was spared such desperation. We at least hoped we could enjoy our blustery Sunday by watching our beloved purple people on the tube.
Would Brett Favre play? That was the question we thought would be weighing on our minds. Not whether the Dome would be done in by snow. The game ended up being postponed a day.
It has been forced out of Minnesota, too, to Detroit.
Maybe we really are a "cold Omaha."
I hope the perpetual mediocrity of the Detroit Lions franchise doesn't rub off on us. I suppose we're the "home" team. How many fans will a game like this draw, when for all practical terms it's a neutral site?
Should we feel embarrassed?
I'm embarrassed that the Vikings and the NFL might actually be happy about the situation. They're happy because they can crow now about the obvious need for a new Vikings stadium. It's odd that the TV cameras were running, positioned just right, and with the lights on, when the Metrodome roof gave in. The mountain of snow on top cascaded in.
You don't suppose this video would zoom around the Internet, do you? It might even compete with the piano-playing gerbil.
Big-time sports truly has us citizens in the corner. We can't live without it. Everyone knows that Los Angeles is courting teams. So everyone had better accede to the corporate demands for facilities and amenities.
Jerry Jones set the new standard in Dallas. He and his ilk are on such a pedestal, "60 Minutes" deemed it appropriate to interview him for Sunday's show. It was plugged as Jerry Jones being asked what it feels like to lose. He has poured money into a state of the art NFL stadium.
The big screen there is worth the price of admission, they say.
Why this course? The reason is that it's harder to get people to come to stadiums for games. The TV viewing experience has improved considerably over the last decade.
I had to laugh one year when there was a big rush to purchase new wide-screen TVs just in time for the Super Bowl, but the Super Bowl was played under rainy conditions that made the picture lousy anyway. That generation of TVs is probably obsolete by now.
I'm on the sidelines, refusing to buy any tech stuff because of its ridiculously rapid obsolescence. I use public computers like at the Morris Senior Citizens Center where I am now. It's Monday. Kickoff time is hours away.
The facilities at the Morris Public Library are terrific too. Kudos to chief librarian Melissa Yauk for keeping that system updated, and in general running a right ship.
The fellow sitting across from me at the Senior Center for lunch spoke classic Minnesotan when he said "you know, that Metrodome roof falling in, that's a heckuva deal, isn't it?"
A heckuva deal.
I'm not sure Jerry Jones is such an exemplary model for us to follow. Texas often seems like an aberration in our union. It seems to nurture institutions and people with such unbridled bluster and hubris. It was the home of Enron, the spectacularly crooked company.
It was the home of the SMU football program that got the "death penalty" from the NCAA. I recall Doug Ehlers of Morris encouraging me to place a bet on the "Mighty Mustangs" prior to one of my trips to Las Vegas.
Texas doesn't even seem to appreciate the importance of subtlety. It's the state that gave us George W. Bush, whose brazen determination is Texas-sized.
If we're so mesmerized by pro football that we accept blowhard Jerry Jones as an acceptable feature subject on "60 Minutes," the corporate interests are truly in the saddle. But was there any doubt? Their cries for continued "tax cuts" for the well-to-do have us under a spell. How much longer?
My (frequent) waitress at DeToy's Restaurant is a Dallas Cowboys fan. I didn't ask her if the "60 Minutes" interview was a must-watch. Certainly this is a trying season for her. The Cowboys deflated early-on.
We learned that Jessica Simpson maybe wasn't the jinx after all. Quarterback Tony Romo has ended his relationship with the glamorous blonde. So, no point in arranging for a stand-in impersonator in the stands - a ploy that seemed to work.
Romo is hurt and out of action anyway. His replacement is 38 years old.
I discovered Sunday that my waitress/acquaintance doesn't spell her name the assumed way. In the past I have typed "Felicia." No. In a Christmas greeting display at the restaurant, her name is presented as "Felixia." Wow! That must be a generational thing.
As an old newspaper writer, I should have known that you never assume the spelling of anything. The wonderful thing about writing online is that standards are relaxed and you can simply fix mistakes. There's no permanent record on paper to haunt you. Writers all prefer the new way.
Felixia is a psychology major at UMM from Elk River.
The Metrodome roof has proven vulnerable before. In the late 1980s, the roof began descending under the force of a thunderstorm. I was there! I remember we all felt rather scared for a few moments. I could just see our local headline: "Morris newspaperman among casualties in Dome collapse."
I regret that I never attended any Vikings game at the old Metropolitan Stadium (Bloomington). You could argue that was the real "manly" experience. And I think the test of manhood was to stand in a row of fans clad in snowmobile suits, passing a bottle of booze amongst themselves.
Wasn't it a booze bottle that was thrown toward a referee after the famous Drew Pearson catch? (Yes, Felixia, Drew was a Cowboy - congratulations.) Mark Mullaney was tackled on that play. Aren't tackles the norm in football? Not when Mullaney is a defensive lineman.
Referees are reluctant to call holding on a play like this at game's end. The recently-deceased Hal Scott was bold enough to make a strong editorial statement about this on the evening WCCO TV news.
That was the glory days for the 'CCO TV crew with Dave Moore at the helm, Bud Kraehling doing weather, Scott (with his loud sportscoats) doing sports and the left-leaning Al Austin doing the "editorial comment." (One could just imagine Floyd R. Turbo, the Johnny Carson creation, doing his "rebuttal," clad in the red hunting jacket.)
Moore himself was to the left politically. The left had a much firmer position in the media then. But those were the days when we could name a new stadium after Democratic Party icon Hubert H. Humphrey.
Why were we willing to do that?
Well, sonny, those were different times.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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