Saturday, February 3, 2007
all you need is lovie
Even though our beloved Bears lost the SuperBowl, it is still worth mentioning this grandiose piece of hometown history. Everyone knows the Chicago Bears won SuperBowl XX in 1986 and haven't been back since. Growing up with a dad who die-hardedly supported the Green Bay Packers (and the New York Yankees), the love of the pigskin was never really ingrained in me. Well no sport was really, but if I was going to invest any time in taking sides, it was going to be with Chicago. I figured if you're not going to root root root for the home team, then why bother rooting at all.
On May 28, 1991, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School--incidentally where I was ending my year as a second grader--held a school-wide surprise assembly. All six grades crammed into the lunch room and sat row by row, cross-legged, facing the stage. The surprise: none other than famed Chicago Bears linebacker, Mike Singletary. And he was there to hand out "E" (excellence) Awards to 60 students--2 from each class in all six grades. As far as I can recall, I'm pretty sure I had no prior knowledge that I was going to be a recipient of one of these awards (Amy can confirm this because she, of course, won one too), but sure enough they called my name. It was a year of recognition, as at age 8 I also won my first photo contest. I was a shy kid, and I'm sure I felt some anxiety about going up in front of the whole school and anticipating shaking the hand of this huge football player. That handshake ended up being reproduced photographically the following day in Chicago's Daily Herald newspaper.
Even though I went to school in NYC to get away from the confines of suburban Chicago, I couldn't hide my roots. Almost every day someone asked if I was from Minnesota because of my "accent," and I had a boss who told me I wasn't "in Kansas anymore" because I didn't find it necessary to run around the coffee shop like a disinterested maniac. I decided to embrace my "midwestern-ism" and this included representing Chicago's sports teams. While I was working at SNL in 2005, Patriot's quarterback, Tom Brady, hosted the show. For his photo shoot I wore my worn-in "vintage" Bears shirt (a prized ebay purchase).
The following day I found out we were shooting some photos for one of the sketches. A spinoff of VH1's Behind the Music series about The Superbowl Shuffle, with Tom playing Jim McMahon and a bunch of extras playing the rest of the 1985 Chicago Bears team. I was bummed out that I had just worn my Bears shirt the day before because what I really wanted to do was stand amidst all of them as the only real Chicagoan. No such luck. But I did convince the props people to let me try on one of the helmets and my boss snapped a few photos of that moment.
Twenty-one years after Superbowl XX, the Bears headed to Miami to take on the Indiana Colts. Despite the sub-zero temperatures, Chicago embraced football fever in all ways possible...
On Friday the Oldies station announced that the Mayor had thousands of Lovie Smith masks on sticks made and anyone interested could pick one up at the Millenium Park ice rink.
Several radio stations held contests for listeners to submit their own rendition of popular songs, changing the lyrics to revolve around the Bears going to the SuperBowl. Saturday night I was driving home from a play, listening to 97.9 the Loop, Chicago's classic rock station. Someone called in to request a song and the DJ said only if you say "Go Bears!" before the request. He had no problem doing that, especially because his request was the SuperBowl Shuffle.
I got in just in time for the start of SNL. But before that came on, I caught the end of the channel 5 10:00 news, which showed footage of the Lyric Opera singing "Bear Down Chicago Bears" and donning Bears paraphernalia. Surprisingly I couldn't find a video on youtube.com, but I did find these two.
I haven't been able to make it through a full-length SNL for awhile now because I get too tired and fall asleep, but I made myself stay awake for Saturday's episode, anticipating the return of the Superfans sketch. Sadly, Bill Swersky did not grace the screen. But there was a sketch about Donatella Versace (Maya Rudolph) hosting a SuperBowl party, in which Horatio Sanz guest-starred as Elton John decked out in an Urlacher jersey with the "54" filled in with silver sparkles. She at one point says to the half-naked men surrounding her: "You guys are so boring. If you were a football team, you'd be called--Da BOARS!" Hahaha.
SuperBowl Sunday I spent about an hour driving around downtown to do a mini photo documentary to show how Chicago had gone Bear-crazy. First stop--the Picasso statue at the Daley Center plaza. What would the famed artist think about a Bears hat sitting atop his masterpiece?
Next up, the lions guarding the Art Institute. Turns out I wasn't the only insane person freezing my ass off. The right lane of Michigan Avenue had a line of cars flashing their hazards, waiting for their turn to get closer to the entrance. I decided the most efficient thing to do, since I didn't have a passenger with me, was to leave my car running, put on my hazards, and run around like a nut snapping as many photos as I could before jumping back in my car.
Orrrr getting verbally reprimanded by one of "Chicago's finest."
"Whose vehicle is this??" she yelled.
Luckily, I was done taking pictures and was standing right next to the car trying to take a picture of two tourists at their request.
"You can't leave your vehicle unattended like that!"
"Ok..." I started.
[commence stare down]
"They asked me to take their picture, so I'm trying to help out."
"EXCUSE me?! I don't care WHOSE picture you're taking! You can not leave your vehicle unattended!"
I apologized to the boys and handed back their camera and glared at the cop before stepping off the curb and getting back in my car. She proceeded to start in with her exaggerated "EXCUSE ME?!" with one of the tourist boys when he asked her to take the picture instead. He is my new hero. I snapped a photo of them arguing as I pulled away. I love using my camera as a weapon.
That woman needs to take a freaking chill pill, I said out loud to myself as I headed towards Lake Shore Drive. A few minutes later I drove past Soldier Field as I winded my way through the "Museum Campus" en route to the Field Museum. Final stop--the dinosaur wearing a giant orange Urlacher jersey. I am not kidding you. The temperature was -1 without the windchill. With the windchill it was -22!!! And I left my gloves in the car. Smart move. I ran in my moon boots to the dinosaur and snapped as many pictures as I could before I literally thought my hands were going to fall off. It got to the point where I was watching my finger on top of the shutter-release button, and my brain was telling the finger to "push down" and it just wasn't functioning. I forced a few more shots, then haphazardly ran/stumbled back to the warmth of my car...all the while clenching my fingers into fists and spreading them wide to try and get some sort of circulation flowing.
From there I drove to the burbs to meet up with my dad before heading to Glenview to watch the game at the Joseph's house. Since my dad refuses to root for the Bears, I decided to propose a bet. He told me to name my price but warned, "Remember--you never bet more than you have." I decided on $25. Whoever lost would be responsible for doubling the $25 donation I already planned on making to an organization for a friend's birthday gift.
I don't even know how the game of football is played. It's so stop and go that I find it quite boring and even during the most important game of the year, zoning out. Physically, my eyes were looking at the TV, but nothing was registering. Of course in the beginning I was into it, even jumped up and yelled, "Go go go!" at one point, but the later it got, the more of my body became one with the couch. I did pay attention to the commercials, and despite the high rate of violence and suicide, managed to pick my top three favorites.
1) Bud Light's Rock, Paper, Scissors
2) Bud Light's (?) where the dog ends up a fake dalmation
3) Taco Bell's lions trying to pronounce "carrrrrrne"
My dad wore a Packers sweatshirt and a Yankees hat, yet ended up pulling for the Bears halfway through so he could win his "square pool" at his office. My mom joined us after she was done at work, and we took a picture for Sheri (who's currently studying abroad in Spain) wearing "los osos" shirts created/left in the mailbox Sunday morning by David Sampson and holding a paper plate on which I wrote "We miss you Sheri." Now that I think about it, I should have written that in Spanish tambíen. Packers sandwich.
Bears lost 17 to the Colt's 29.
I displayed my sadness with Jello helmets.
Oh well, there's always next year. All you need is Lovie...
MORE SUPERBOWL PHOTOS