Saturday, September 26, 2015

chiefs donkeys part uno: the rubicon is crossed ...

sk: I chose to walk this back (somewhat), from what was ready to post on Monday night.  I have re-edited and re-written Part Uno at least seven times since last Friday night, when I began typing this.  (For whatever that’s worth.)

Now that Part Uno is finalized, I will contact my season ticket rep, regarding the absolute moral wrong damned near everything about last Thursday, is.  Not was – is.  (Sorry in advance, Zach, for the verbal new one I’m going to tear you early next week.)

Here then, are my thoughts on arguably the single most painful Chiefs game I have ever attended.  Buckle up gang.  This is not going to be pretty …

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“Man, I used to love this view;
(I’d) sit up here and drink a few!

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For those of you unfamiliar with history, the phrase “Crossing the Rubicon” has come to mean a moment in time when you make a decision that you cannot undo. 

Simply put, you make a decision guaranteed to change EVERYTHING for all parties involved in the decision, once and for all.  For better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or in health – NOTHING will EVER be the same, once you “cross the Rubicon”.

Julius Caesar faced this moment, as he massed his armies on the northern bank of the Rubicon, preparing to march on Rome, in January 50 BC.  Mr. Caesar was warned by the Roman Senate that if he crossed that river and entered Rome, he’d be declaring civil war on the Republic.

Mr. Caesar crossed the river.  Mr. Pompey and the Senate fled in fear and panic; they were bluffing in their power stand.  Julius Caesar entered Rome; he wasn’t bluffing in his demands.

And thus, the Roman Republic – for better or worse – officially became the Roman Empire.

Thursday, September 17, 2015, at approximately 1:30pm, on a glorious, 92 degree sunny afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs organization massed against the banks of the Rubicon on one side.  On the other side massed Chiefs Kingdom, as the fanbase of this franchise has come to be known as.

(I should note: I HATE the phrase “Chiefs Kingdom”.  I HATE it.  But I’m rolling with it in this post, for the greater good.)

Just as a little over 2,000 years ago, the ruler (Caesar) faced a decision to turn on his nation out of his own arrogance and pride and desire for ultimate power, or stay faithful to the citizen state that had put him in the spot to even contemplate crossing the Rubicon in the first place?  The Chiefs faced the same decision last Thursday: back down and let Chiefs Kingdom survive, or enforce the “new” parking regulations, and shatter the fanbase’s last remaining good will towards these guys.

To be fair to the Chiefs – for sixteen minutes, détente reigned.  Another fancy historical term, so for the clueless in history, détente is most famously known for what President Nixon achieved with Communist China: a recognition that yeah, the relationship is strained beyond repair … but rather than blow everything to hell over every minor disagreement, let’s find just one area we can co-exist in, we can agree on, and try to build off of that. 

For sixteen minutes, Chiefs Kingdom arrived.  For sixteen minutes, the Chiefs wisely chose not to take a step forward to cross the proverbial Rubicon.  For sixteen minutes, détente and sanity reigned on the west side of the Sports Complex.  (I can’t speak to the east side; my group tailgates in Lot G.)

Sixteen minutes.

Then came 1:47pm. 

Minute Seventeen. 

The moment the Chiefs franchise crossed the Rubicon.

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“Main Street and the high school,
Lit up on Friday night.”

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In my Second Parents basement, there is a painting of the parking lot scene at Arrowhead, and I’m guessing it was painted (and purchased) sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

It is a view from the rock cliff below the hill that leads you in and out of Gate Seven.  It is a straight-on view, from that perspective, of (from right to left) Lots N, F, G, and H, such as can be seen.  It is shot as the sun is descending, so I’m guessing it was for a prime time game. 

Maybe Pittsburgh in 1997, oakland or denver or Pittsburgh in 1998 (there’s no way it was Seattle).  Possibly Minnesota in 1999 or Seattle in 2000, or Indy or Philly in 2001. 

(Gun to my head?  It’s the Steelers Monday Nighter in 1998.  The sun indicates a late October sky, at that time of day.  Plus, I came home for that one, and the scene looks right, as I remember it.)

Present in that picture (and I would guess, the reason it was bought), is The Bus, sitting where it always has sat in that slice of heaven known as the Truman Sports Complex – on the grassy lot, directly north of the G30 sign.

Twenty years.  Twenty years of memories, of magical moments, of incredible pregame tailgating, postgame celebrations, and moments I wouldn’t trade for anything.  Twenty years of “In The Air Tonight” and “Dancing On The Ceiling” and (most importantly) “You Never Even Called Me By My Name”.  Twenty years, my tailgating group has been tailgating in that spot, going back to when The Westerner first claimed that spot back in the fall of 1994.

(The Bus arrived in the fall of 1998, in case you care.)

For twenty years, this is what you see, in the hallowed grassy knoll, just north of the G30 sign:


(According to the Chiefs organization, the “new” parking regulations regarding oversize vehicles was enforced last year.  I count at least three buses in the image above – dated 2014 – and Castro’s crew’s “Loud!  Louda!  Louder!” white bus in the island behind that stop sign to the right, is not visible.  #liars  Image credit: it’s date stamped, so Mona via the Canon digital thingy.)

So many wonderful, never forgotten memories happened in that spot.

We have witnessed friends become engaged in that spot, ironically against the donkeys on Thanksgiving Night 2006.  Nine years later, Davey and Tracey have two awesome kids, and still attend every game.  (At least for now; if anything, they’re more p*ssed at this franchise, than I am at this point.)  I’ve witnessed friends introduce their new partner in that spot.  Ten years later?  Joe “Knows” and Robert are still together, and thank God above, the Supreme Court finally has granted full and total equality of rights to every citizen of the greatest and most successful experiment in recorded human history.  (That would be the US of A.) 

Hell, I met “The Crush” in that spot eight years ago, for the first time.

(Sidebar: I completely deleted the comments after that last sentence, in the interest of (lost voice) “letting go” and “moving on”.  I think you’re welcome.)

Although I can’t resist one subtle “screw you” moment: I (u2 voice) (still haven’t) found, what I’m looking for, in that slice of heaven known as OUR spot:


 (Who says mistletoe doesn’t work?  Not this guy!  This was from the 2012 finale against the Colts.  Me and “The Crush”, at last.  Image credit: someone via my iPhone 4c.)

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“Down there?  It’s another touchdown!
Man!  This year’s team is stout!”

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Every week, “The Voice of Reason” and his dad, Jasson and Tara, my brother, our buddy Neeck, and so many of you, make their way to “our spot”.  Ron and Ryan and crew coming up from Springfield know we’ll have two spots saved for them, no matter how late the traffic makes them become in arriving.  Ditto Chris.  They don’t have to call ahead and ask where we’re at.  They know where we’re at, and where they, anyone with them, and anyone who wants to be there, is wanted, welcomed, and handed a plate and a cold one, when they walk in the proverbial door.

Twice my tailgating group has been awarded by Price Chopper the “Tailgaters of the Game” designation – the 2008 Titans game … and the one I’m most proud of – the Thanksgiving Night game against the donkeys, in 2006.  The group next to us – Roger and his crew – have won the Hy-Vee designation twice in the last few years: in 2011 against the Vikings, and in 2013 against the raiders.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s our two wins.

2006 Tailgaters of the Game:


 (Image credit: unknown.)

2008 Tailgaters of the Game:


An honor shared with Monty and Sheila’s crew, who used to make the trips up from Dallas for each game … with yup, another oversize vehicle.  No clue where Roger’s bus is.  (Image credit: unknown.)

So let that sink in: Four times in the last nine years, one of the two oversize vehicles (used to be three) that occupy that grassy spot north of the G30 sign have been recognized by the Kansas City Chiefs organization, as being the best representatives of Chiefs Kingdom, that can be found in the parking lots of the entire damned Sports Complex.  Considering the winner usually comes from the east side (Lots A, B, and C), that’s damned impressive.

That spot?  Sorry, folks, but I consider that spot owned for any football game.  In case you doubt me -- for the greatest college football game I’ve ever attended?  The place we tailgated?  Chosen for one reason – because EVERYONE knows it’s “our spot”.  I didn’t have to explain to Doc or “bts” – or even my Uncle Bill, for God’s sake – where we’d be that day.  You tailgate a football game with me?

You know EXACTLY where to go.


 (image credit: someone, with some digital device.  And my God, how many great and (barney stinson voice) legen … wait for it … dary friendships from seven years ago are in total and utter (stewie griffin voice) roo-eens, at this point.  #verysad)

You know who else knows EXACTLY where to go?  My seven year old nephew, the A-Man, who came strolling in for the Chargers finale last year dragging his daddy (my brother), shouting “this is it!  This is Teve’s Spot!”  (God, how I wish I had the pics of Ayden sitting in his Unca Teve’s Rolling Rock chair, downing his plate like he owned the joint (and in fairness?  He will someday) … and then asking his dad “will we be back here next year, Dad?  Because I like Teve’s spot!”)

“Will we be back here next year, Dad?”

Words that prior to 1:47pm on Thursday, September 17, 2015?

NEVER had to be asked.

Because seriously – when a (at the time) six year old knows exactly where to take his dad who may or may not have had a few already (shaddup, it’s my family for crying out loud), when a six year old can steer (jimmy buffett voice) between the navigational beacons, and find us from Lot N?

Sorry, Chiefs – that is OUR spot.

Friends and tailgaters may come and go through the years, but if there has been a constant, every GameDay for twenty years, it is my group, in that spot, the moment the gate opens, for any football game.

We’re so invested in that spot?  That at least one of us cashes in the “early in pass” every week, to ensure we don’t have to wait in line for most games, to ensure that our spot, remains ours.

As do our friends next door, Roger and Brad and Diane and the rest of their crew.  They’ve got our back, just like we have theirs.  Whoever gets in the door first?  The first priority is to lay out cones and/or chairs, to reserve OUR spot.

Twenty years, we have paid rent on that spot, via season tickets, parking prices, utterly retarded parking setups, indefensible parking policies, ridiculous open-flame regulations, very ill-placed dumpsters and port-a-potties.  Twenty years, we’ve tolerated every damned thing thrown at us by the Chiefs, the Jackson County Sports Authority, the clueless idiots who manage the parking lots, even the greedy bastardos known as Good Times Towing.

Then came Year Twenty One.

When 1:47pm, Thursday, September 17, 2015, occurred.

The moment the Chiefs organization raised two middle fingers, shouted “screw you!” to every season ticket holders face, and laughed out loud, at our outrage over it.

Or, as I prefer to call it, the moment the Chiefs crossed the damned Rubicon.

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I can hear them going crazy –
And up here?  So am I.”

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Just in case anyone thinks this is a one-off fan whining about the only game he’s attended in the last twenty years …

I have missed a grand total (to the best of my shiraz, vodka, a “medicinally legal herbal product”, and Coors Light clogged memory) of three Chiefs home games that count, since I moved back to this amazing metropolitan area after graduating from TCU in December of 1998.  Lest anyone think I am some bandwagon, (hootie and the blowfish voice) fairweather johnson, anything but a die-hard fan, I have missed exactly three games, in fifteen years.

I missed the Rams game in 2000.  I’m not entirely sure why fifteen years later, although given the fall of 2000 was my dad’s first major battle against death itself, I’m guessing I spent that day at whatever the hell Overland Park Regional is called nowadays.

I missed the Dolphins game in 2008, because even I can only take so much.  A 2-12 team kicking off in negative seven actual temperatures (and negative thirty windchills)?  No thanks.  I’ll eat the ticket.

And I missed the Dolphins game in 2011, ironically because I was stuck in a Dunkin Donuts in the lovely Fort Lauderdale aeropuerto, my flight delayed trying to get home from my cousin’s wedding, to make the Chiefs game.  My flight should have landed at 10:30 in the morning.  It landed a little after kickoff.  By the time Drew and I got to long term parking, it was pushing 1pm, and the Chiefs trailed 21-3.  We passed.

The only other time my ass has not occupied a seat inside that stadium for a non-preseason game, was the Steelers Sunday Nighter in 2011.  I have rarely if ever been as sick as I was that day.  I threw up six times during tailgating, before I was ordered to leave.  (“The Ex” took me home, where I promptly passed out and slept until 11am the next morning.)

But even despite a 104 degree fever and vomiting every thirty minutes?  I was there, ready to enter, to do my part to save the season.  (The Chiefs lost 13-9, to drop to 4-7.  Somehow, three weeks later, they controlled their own destiny, entering the debacle that was oakland 2011.)

Anyone who questions my criticism of this organization so far, and in the comments to come – and over the game itself Thursday night – re-read this section.

* 121 regular season games since December 1998.
* 2 playoff games since December 1998.
* 123 games that matter since December 1998.
* I’ve attended 120, of the 123, staged at Arrowhead in the last 15 seasons.

And that doesn’t count the road games I’ve made.  There are at least 8 of those I can think of, off the top of my head, the last 15 years: Cincinnati* and Minnesota in 2003, Dallas in 2005, Houston in 2007, Houston and Seattle in 2010, Tampa in 2012, and of course, the playoff debacle in Indy on my 37th birthday weekend. 

You throw in the roadies? 

I’ve OVER attended this team’s games, the last sixteen years.

And oh, yeah – I’m Minnesota bound in three weeks, via Sioux Falls, to spend some time with our raider nation friends, since both raider games occur after Thanksgiving this year, and weather’s always an issue for our ability to head up for the roadie, and theirs to head down for the home match

… .and because I am ANYTHING, but a fairweather johnson**.

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 (*: everything about that weekend in Cincinnati sucked eight ways from Sunday … so believe me when I type this next statement.  I have seen Mr. Reason at his angriest.  (It’s a safe bet to assume, I caused said anger.)  And yet, I feel VERY confident in typing and posting, that NOTHING I have ever done to offend him, even comes close, to his reaction to drunk Bengals fans, leaving that game, taunting us (and obviously him) as a “bandwagon fan”. 

I honestly thought I was going to have to post bail, Gregg was so furious in that moment. 

And sweet merciful Jesus, would THAT not have been, the ultimate “irony of ironies”, in our Joey and Chandler relationship as roommates.)

(**: “Fairweather Johnson” by Hootie and the Blowfish is arguably the most underrated, most ridiculously trashed effort of the last twenty years.  I thought it was vastly superior to “Cracked Rear View”.  Then again, my favorite song of all time (2015 edition, which I need to post at some point before this site posts its fond farewell to all of you) is older than I am (“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), and my favorite cd of all time is Lionel Richie’s “Back to Front”, so what do I know.)

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The last time the Chiefs won a game that TRULY matters?  I was seventeen, and (boy this is going to age me) the following had yet to occur for me:

* have a night of “frisky fun” with a member of the opposite sex***.
* apparently voluntarily place my keys in the freezer in a drunken stupor, then wonder where said keys were the next morning****.
* get so baked on the couch that I decided the monkey on the back of the Cocoa Puffs box looked like my college roommate, and wrote “Cocoa Vineet” on said monkey’s t-shirt to display for everyone to see*****. 

I had yet to drink, toke, smoke, or screw, the last time this franchise won a game that ultimately matters.  Which occurred on Sunday, January 16, 1994.

(Or to put it another way: the last time the Chiefs reached the “Final Four”?  Was the year before my group started tailgating in OUR spot.  I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry, or bash my head into the bathroom mirror while flogging a whiskey bottle against the back of my head simultaneously, over that fact.)

I turn 39 the day the raiders invade Arrowhead this season.  I have been hyping that as the greatest tailgate of the season******, one of the (hopefully) greatest days of my life.  It is the last great birthday I (hope) I’m guaranteed to see.

Readers?  I am still sure, barring death and/or dismemberment, that I’ll be amongst the 76,250 there, to celebrate the (possible) last great birthday of my life.

What I am no longer sure of … is that I’ll ever step foot inside that stadium again, after that day.

Because at 1:47pm, on Thursday, September 17, 2015?  The Chiefs not just crossed the Rubicon – they declared all-out war, on Chiefs Kingdom.

And yes, you can now add 1:47, Thursday, September 17, 2015, to the precious few moments in life, that I will never forget a single detail of, will never forget the consequences of.

Because the Chiefs franchise can NEVER undo the damage, crossing that proverbial Rubicon in that moment, did to so many fans relationships with this franchise.

Even if they try – even if they walk the damage back, spin things masterfully over these next three weeks (before the next home game)?  Even if they offer every incentive, perk, and/or reason to give them another chance, to give them a do-over for the utter idiocy that 1:47pm on Thursday, September 17, 2015 was?

I’m not listening.

Hence invoking the phrase, “Crossing the Rubicon”.

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(***: it never fails to crack me up that my mom, upon learning I’m on a date, or spending time with a girl, always advises me to “make wise choices”.  Let that sink in: in 22 years, she and I have gone from “no premarital sex, period!” to “have your fun, but please make dropping off Junior two times a week to watch the outcome of your fun, doesn’t happen”.  Who says evolution is an unproven theory!)

(****: this, sadly, is a true story.  I really did leave my keys in the freezer, during a drunken bender with “The Voice of Reason”, “bts”, and Jasson, I believe our sophomore year of college.  (It may have been freshman year.  Had to be one of the two – I know we were in Naismith Hall, when it happened.)  I don’t know what I was home for, but at least it was memorable in hindsight.  If only to thank God that I wasn’t the idiot who kept extinguishing cigarettes on the palm of his hand.  *cough Jasson cough*.)

(*****: yup, another true story.  As I noted in the Stevo Rules of Life once upon a time: “if you can’t laugh at yourself?  Brace yourself for everybody else laughing at you.”  I swear, a major broadcast network is missing out on at least a run to syndication, just airing my life as a sitcom.  Right down to David Leisure starring as my buddy Gus – the bat bleep crazy neighbor that nobody can figure out how he arrived, or why he’s still here … but we can’t imagine life without him.)

(******: this is an abject lie.  I mean yes, I’ve been hyping my birthday bash … but the Steelers tailgate is the one y’all don’t want to miss.)

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So let’s begin this recap – and let me state up front, it is split into two posts, since I’m already on Page (gulp) Nueve in Word. 

Part Uno takes us to almost the end of the tailgate (I’m saving one moment, for Part Dos, if only to hammer home just how thoroughly this organization crossed that bleeping river); Part Dos is “that moment”, the end of the tailgate, the walk in, and the game itself, which I am shockingly not all that upset about.  If only because everyone in Chiefs Kingdom, the blogosphere, the internet, and the media, is focused on the WRONG Jamaal Charles fumble, as the cause of that defeat.

So let’s begin this recap – (the readers voice: Sweet Jesus, BEGIN?  On Page Nueve?!?!?!” – at the beginning of the beginning. 

The beginning of the beginning.

I mean, if it worked for God in the Bible, surely it can work for this site, right?

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“Thinkin’ ‘bout you sitting here,
Saying I hate this, I hate this!”

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Wednesday, Russ, Mona and I got The Bus ready to go for the season.  We replaced some of the peeling numbers on the football field-painted roof, replaced the letters on the steps (“Get In.  Get Out.  Get Tailgating!”), and took it up to the car wash to give it a thorough cleaning.

Once that was done,  it was back to the Bus Barn for a late lunch.  Russ and Gus (or “Grus”, as we refer to them as) headed off for Lenexa to pick up our tailgating group’s t-shirts for the year. 

I thought they came out even better than I’d anticipated.

The front view:


And the back view:


(Both image credits: me, via my iPhone 6 something.)

Mona and I decided to make a “dry run” to Arrowhead, before heading off to Hy-Vee to grab the stuff for tailgating.

We entered Arrowhead through Gate Six, and headed down to the ticket office.  We both wanted the STM stickers the Chiefs couldn’t manage to include, in the mailing of our season tickets this year.  (Yes, Chiefs fans – they are available.  And they’re actually really cool:


(image: me, via my iPhone 6 something.)

All you have to do is talk to a ticket agent at the counter, and you can have two per account.  Considering they never asked for Mona or I’s account number, I’m guessing there’s a solid supply available.

Mine went up in my cubicle, on Monday.  If only because I work directly with a ton of folks in Seattle, who are in town 2-3 times a year, and I want to shove that bad boy in their faces.

I suppose the fact that as season ticket holders, we have to physically drive ten minutes to the damned stadium, to get a sticker that until this year had NEVER failed to be included in the mailing – and I guaran-damn-tee you, the longest holding season ticket member I know, “The Voice of Reason”’s father, can confirm that fact – the fact we had to approach and ask for a simple sticker to let this metropolitan area know we love this team, we stand with these guys, and we bleed Red and Gold?

Pretty much sums up, why the Chiefs officially crossed the proverbial Rubicon, at 1:47pm on Thursday, September 17, 2015.

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If you couldn’t stand living here?
Why’d you take it, take it?”

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Mona and I chose to do a “dry run”, because the Chiefs organization had been threatening all throughout the preseason, and the days leading up to the home opener, to force any vehicle over 30 feet to park in some newly formed bus lot at the back northern side of the Sports Complex.  (Or behind Right Field GA and the Royals Hall of Fame, for those of you familiar with the setup.)

So we drove twenty minutes out of our way, to scope out the parking lot setup, to see if we could possibly manage maintain the spot we’ve been tailgating in since the 1994 season.  TWENTY YEARS of loyalty, has led to this: having to sneak, snoop, and spy, to figure out if an oversize vehicle the Chiefs use in their advertisements to hype the GameDay experience – an oversize vehicle Chiefs owner Clark Hunt himself has toured and emerged impressed with – will be allowed to be a part, of said GameDay experience.

We not only did the dry run, I dropped $32 in the Team Store, on a bracelet for the season, a necklace that was half off (and, go figure – the chain is a piece of crap that I’ll have to replace … but – but! – the KC logo is pretty sweet) …

… and a decal to add to the entrance of The Bus, honoring not just the AFL, but Lamar Hunt:


(image credit: me, via the iPhone 6 something.)

Let THAT sink in, readers and fellow Chiefs fans – we PAID for the privilege, of engaging in a covert operation, to see if we’d be allowed to park, where my group has parked every game, for twenty gloryless years.

Upon leaving, and seeing how utterly screwed up Gate Six was twenty some odd hours in advance of Thursday, I looked to the north, and noted “hey, other than one barrier?  We’re free and clear to our spot (through the early-in gate, which happens to be Gate Seven)!”

For once?  I was right. 

So in the interest of fairness, allow me to say to every parking person manning the lots as folks arrived Thursday, I thank you for your consideration, your patience, and your understanding.  You let us – the sole reason this team exists in the first place – you let us, the paying public, the fans who had so thoroughly backed up Stadium Drive by 1pm (when we arrived at Gate Seven), that it was already backed down onto the Raytown Road off-ramp from 435 North, and Gate Six was so crowded, that the gates opened an hour early for everyone, you let us do what we do.

Get In.  Get Out. 

Get Tailgating!

And it is because of those parking employees, that for sixteen minutes, sanity reigned.  For sixteen minutes, the Chiefs stood on the banks of the river, and wisely did not take another step forward.

Then came 1:47pm, Thursday, September 17, 2015.

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“Give!
Me!
Back!
My!

Hometown!
‘Cause this is my?
Hometown! …”

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Anthony and I headed down as soon as we arrived.  We saw the lines to get in both Gates Six and Seven, rationally concluded “somebody better save our spot”, grabbed a few beers, and began the descent down the hill from Gate Seven.

(And kudos to Chiefs Kingdom!  We got there a little before 1pm, and were nearly back to the curve leading down to Gates Six and Seven headed west on Stadium Drive.  The line(s) to get in to Gate Seven (the early-in gate) and Gate Six coming in from Johnson County?  Was backed up to the offramp to Raytown Road off of 435.  NINETY MINUTES before Gate Six was scheduled to open, on a school / work day.  How the Chiefs can devalue passion and dedication like Chiefs Kingdom has, makes no sense to me.)

(Also making no sense?  Page Thirteen, no * censored words.  I’m starting to scare myself.)

The setup looked exactly as it had, when Mona and I went undercover the day before.  Anthony volunteered to head over and move the barricade once the gates opened (because The Bus would have clipped the orange barricade making the right turn off the entrance from Gate Seven).  He had no issues with moving said barricade.

As soon as The Bus came around that corner, I approached our parking attendant standing in the street between Lots G and H, and the following occurred:

(stevo) hello ma’am.
(parking attendant) Hello.  How are you?
(stevo) I’m good.  Hope you are too.  Listen, see that red bus approaching us?
(parking attendant) yes.
(stevo) he’s going to pull right here (I point to our spot), pull in, then I’m going to move a cone, to allow him to turn around (inside Lot G) so that we’re pointed out.  We have our Red Reserve pass if you need to see it, to let this happen.
(parking attendant) nah, that’s fine.
(stevo) Sweet.  I just wanted to make sure you didn’t think we were stealing our way into Lot G!
(parking attendant) (laughs) no problem; just please put the cone back when you’re done.
(stevo) not a problem!  And thank you!

And that is exactly what happened.  The Bus drove over the curb, I moved the cone, The Bus turned around, pulled in to our usual spot, and parked in a way that ensured once traffic died out leaving the game, we could easily head into the main road to Gate Six, and be on our way.

And that is exactly what has happened, every game at that stadium, since the oakland Sunday Night opener in 1998.  And has happened in that spot with at least one of our vehicles, since the Montana / Young Showdown to open the 1994 season.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

We began unloading our stuff.  First thing to come off was chairs – had to save a few spots for Ron and Ryan and Michelle and their crew.  Tried to save a spot for Roger and his folks, but they took a look at the new (and unwelcome) dumpster that is now where they used to park, and decided to move a few spots west of us. 

Got the speakers off, and the wind was so brutal, it knocked them over.  Two gigantic speakers, laying back down on the ground, the wind was so brutal.  Thankfully, the intelligent one of our group (and note: that will never be me) suggested we stack a couple coolers behind them, to prop them up.

We had just gotten the coolers offloaded, were setting up the tables, and I was getting the speaker wires attached to get Mixology going, when “The Rubicon”?

Was officially crossed.

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“All the colors of my youth?
The red, the (gold)?  The hope, the truth?
Are beating me black and blue --
Because you’re?  In every scene.”

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“Sir!  Sir!  You are going to have to move that bus!  You cannot park here!”

-- Chiefs parking attendant, 1:47pm, Thursday, September 17, 2015.

(stevo taking a very, very, very deep breath, knowing he’s about to cross the proverbial Rubicon, as well.)
(stevo chugging a very, very, very stiff drink, knowing he’s about to cross the proverbial Rubicon, as well.)

I would like to think, that in the great beyond, I made the late, great Randall Carlyle Wakefield not just proud of me (and my group’s) response to this parking attendant’s demand?

I’d like to think?  

I made him DAMNED proud.

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“My friends?  They try to cheer me up.
We get together at the Pizza Hut.”

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I cannot defend why I responded as I did, in that moment.  I can explain it, I can rationalize it … but I can’t defend it.  And in hindsight, even I’m bothered by it. 

Because my immediate response?

Is arguably the second most offensive thing I have ever said to a person in my life. 

But I refuse to walk it back.  Not even one step, not even one inch.

Not until the Chiefs organization walks it back, to their side, of the proverbial Rubicon.

Once you pull back and retreat?

I’m willing to talk.

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“I didn’t have the heart to tell them?
That?  Was our place.”

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My buddy Anthony responded by pointing out that there was another bus just down from us, and asked “you gonna make them move too?”

The parking attendant noted “I’m going there next.  None of you are allowed here!”

Wait – what?

“None of you are allowed here!”

--------------------

(And … the gloves come off.  Welcome to the NC17 portion of this post.  (waldorf and statler voice) What took so long, Stevo?)

(Pause).

(OK, fine, I can't resist.  This is the funniest thing I've seen all year that doesn't involve Nick Ocean and the "Love Theme from "Jaws"":


I defy you to not laugh out loud, at least five times, in this sketch.)

--------------------

(deep, deep exhale … because Mount Stevo is about to erupt like it rarely, if ever, has.)

Let me get this straight, Chiefs organization:

We’re not allowed, in a spot we’ve occupied for twenty years?  A spot so well occupied for so long, that our Bus is featured in pre and in-game advertisements for this franchise, to hype what the “Arrowhead Experience” is?

Our neighbor Roger has Clark Hunt’s signature on his bus.  The King of the, uuh, Kingdom himself visited our area last year in preseason – when THE CURRENT PARKING REGULATIONS WERE ALREADY IN PLACE, as per the Chiefs organization – and somehow, “we’re not allowed here”? 

I mean, seriously, Chiefs organization, are you really this clueless?  Are you really this “special”? 

Hell, even I will go there:

Are we REALLY going to have to rename this team … the Kansas City Stevos?

Are you REALLY this out of touch, with the very people you should be going out of your way, to cultivate a lasting, meaningful business relationship with?

Or to put it more appropriately:

Are you REALLY this f*cking stupid?

--------------------

“The sleepy streetlights on every
Sidewalk, side street?”

--------------------

Chiefs Kingdom simply wanted to be left alone. 

For fifteen years, pushing twenty now, we have absorbed insult after injury after indefensible wrong after unforgivable mistake.  Let’s run through the list, and I will freely admit, I’m missing some things.

We have absorbed a 100% rate hike in fifteen years, from $15 to $30/game for the cash lots.  We have absorbed no longer being allowed to save a spot or two for our tailgating friends and family stuck in line at the gates, so that we can park and tailgate together.  We have absorbed the insult that was the Steve Schneider Era.  (Although to Mr. Schneider’s credit?  At least his contact info was published on kcchiefs.com.  And also to his credit?  He NEVER failed to reply, to every query you made.  Today?  I happen to know the head of parking at Gates Six and Seven, because I work with the guy.  If I didn’t work with “Rufus”?  I’d have no clue, who to reach out to, to air our concerns and issues, with parking in 2015.)

We have absorbed no longer being allowed to park where we desire, within the lot we pay to be in.  We have absorbed the insult that is parking attendants forming a row, forcing us to the front, using police crime scene tape.  (And yes, that is sadly true – they really did pay people to stand in a row, holding a long string of crime scene tape, to force folks to the front of Lot G, like we’re petty criminals or hardcore murderers or something.)

We have absorbed being towed – literally being towed! – from the lot we pay to park in, if we dare not move to the front of the lot.  (Again, enterprising young attorney: there is one MASSIVE class action lawsuit just waiting to happen against the Chiefs, the Jackson County Sports Authority, and Good Times Towing.  Please, someone get on that, stat!)

We have absorbed being told cones are not allowed in the parking lots … only to see the Chiefs use cones, to replace the police tape, to force people where they want them to be.  (Sadly, this is probably a step in the right direction.  At least we’re not insulted by the crime scene tape anymore.)

We have absorbed the barricades – be they the sawhorses, the “Road Closed” construction signs, and now the plastic orange thingies that a two year old can move out of the way and defeat.  We have absorbed insulting parking attendants on power trips.  We have absorbed having to cash in points to arrive even earlier than five hours before kickoff, just in order to secure our desire to be allowed to have a few hours of fun on the grass.

But until 1:47pm, Thursday, September 17, 2015, the Chiefs had never crossed the line, crossed the Rubicon.  They’d insulted, degraded, used and abused Chiefs Kingdom, but they’d never truly gone (brewer and shipley voice) one toke over the line.

Until this:

“None of (us) are allowed here!”

Really?

No – REALLY?

I’d love to have just one shot, at the chance to b*tch slap the head off of whoever came up with the idiocy that is 2015’s edition of parking at Chiefs games. 

And trust me – I’d only need one slap, to accomplish the purpose, of said slap.

Because telling me – TO MY FACE – that “I am not allowed here”?

Knocked my head six feet across the concrete.

Chiefs organization?

You may consider the godd*mned Rubicon?

Crossed.

--------------------

“None of you are allowed here!”

At first, there was stunned disbelief.  A few fellow tailgaters stood around, both out of utter shock at that insulting comment, but also waiting for one side to budge.  Mona dropped a few naughty words.  Russ was busy getting the generator set up.  That’s probably a blessing in disguise; I guarantee you, someone would have died, had that parking nazi said those words to him.

And it wouldn’t have been Russ. 

I didn’t freeze, I didn’t rant, I didn’t threaten physical violence.

As always, say what you want to about me – most of it negative, probably all of it true – but whatever you may think of me?

At least I have a pair, and I am sure as all hell, not scared to use them.

I acted. 

--------------------

“They shed a light on everything?
That used to be!”

--------------------

And honestly, that’s not a fair statement.  I didn’t act.  I RE-acted, to the indefensible wrong the Chiefs organization was trying to do.  When you RE-act to an offending action?  You aren’t the problem.  The aggressor, not the responder, is the problem.

I wish everyone in life could grasp that concept – that when someone punches you in the throat?  You’re completely justified to take a tire iron to their junk, in return for said punch to the throat. 

When you don’t start sh*t?  Said sh*t ain’t your fault!

We didn’t start this fight, Chiefs organization.  YOU did.

And come 1:48pm, Thursday, September 17, 2015?

Chiefs Kingdom responded to the beachfront landings, far more competently and effectively, than the Germans did in North Africa in 1942, Sicily and Italy in 1943, and most especially, in Normandy in 1944.

--------------------

“Give!
Me!
Back!
My!

Hometown!”

--------------------

I grabbed Anthony and shouted “go down there (to the other bus).  Make them stand their f*cking ground!  (Pause).  I’ll deal with (parking nazi)!”

Because as Anthony sprinted down the fifty feet to their bus, I approached that parking attendant, smug and arrogant and repulsive as hell itself in her cushy little golf cart – and … hang on. 

What’s worse than a NC17 rating, XXX?

Consider this your XXX alert.

I’m not editing what I said to this rot gut evil human being, because I want my rage and anger and hurt and pain – utter and total emotional pain no thirty eight year old dude should ever feel over a sports team – at the instantaneous destruction of EVERYTHING the Chiefs meant to me, this parking nazi approaching us and saying what she did, this “crossing the Rubicon”, I want my disgust and anger, to come through unedited. 

I want to ensure the Chiefs organization knows EXACTLY how Chiefs Kingdom took being told we aren’t welcome or wanted, at that Sports Complex anymore.

“None of you are allowed here!”

Which is why I said the following to that parking attendant’s face, when I stood next to her, sitting on that golf cart:

 “Then go bother (the bus I sent Anthony down to), you mother fucking cunt.  Because we’re not leaving.”

And then, channeling the inner soul of the single most smug, arrogant human being you could ever know, I dropped a line even he’d have to laugh about, at the irony of me using it, in a “f*ck you” moment of defiance, at the Chiefs crossing said proverbial Rubicon:

“Deal with it!”

--------------------

“Because this is my?
Hometown! …”

--------------------

The folks Anthony went down to talk with, offered the same “f*ck you!” moment of defiance.  As the leader of their group noted: “they mailed me a 50 Year Season Ticket Holder pin.  Fifty Years, and all I get in a pin.  And now I’m not allowed in a spot I’ve tailgated in for the last 35 years?  F*ck ‘em!  God f*ck every last g*ddamned f*cking one of them!”

(Needless to say, I liked the guy immediately.  #merica.)

Fifty effing years.  Means NOTHING to the Hunt Family, and this franchise.

Just as twenty effing years?  Means NOTHING to the Hunt Family, and this franchise, when it comes to us.

--------------------

Roger, joining the rapidly mobilizing defense against the beachheads: “they tried to stop us (from parking).  I told (her) that she could stand still and get run over, or move out of the way and live.”

(Note: parking dudette moved.)

The folks who park across from us, at the bottom of the hill below Gate Seven, literally drove over two signs to stand their ground, to claim their usual spot.

Our parking attendant, the one I politely conversed with (probably five pages ago)? 

Literally laughed at the signs being run over, being destroyed.

How I wish to God I could laugh, about the metaphor that represents. 

This is what your franchise has devolved into, Mr. Hunt:

Chiefs Kingdom’s Residents, having to DRIVE OVER SIGNS, to occupy their seat at the table, we pay thousands of dollars each season, to sit at.

How crazy is that?

And more to the point – how f*cked up bat sh*t crazy of an organization have you got to be, to employ those who engage in the tactics they do, against their most loyal of fans?

Do the Chiefs not realize it’d be cheaper to buy a new couch, four recliners, and a 96 inch projection television, pay for the Sunday Ticket, and sit at home every week, than it costs my group to head out to Arrowhead seven times this season?  (Because in yet another whiz on the fanbase maneuver, YOU gave away a game to London for a potential future Super Bowl.  Everyone who thinks KC is getting a Super Bowl on the first Sunday in February without a roof over the stadium, raise your hand.  (Pause).  Put yours down, Mr. Hunt – Mr. Goodell is a person so stupid he should be required to wear a helmet and a drool guard at all times … but not even he’s stupid enough, to give you a Super Bowl without a roof.)

You are literally shooting off your own foot. 

Are you really too damned stupid, to feel the pain of the exit wound?

--------------------

“You can have my grandma’s locket!
The knife out of my grandpa’s pocket!”

--------------------

The parking nazis finally gave up, though not from lack of trying.

We were not forced to move.  In fact, not a single other parking attendant interacted with my tailgating group the rest of the day, save for the nice lady I appropriately addressed earlier, taking me up on my offer for a bottle of water. 

Oh, Ron, Michelle, Ryan, Tyler and crew arrived a little after 2pm.  I had the unfortunate duty to let them know last spring that the Gates on 40 had burned to the ground.  They always bring the Presidential Platter to every tailgate.  Mona had the unfortunate duty to remind them last week that the Gates on 40 is no mas.

They arrived a little after 2pm.

Gates in hand.

(gary busey in “drop zone” voice) God bless America!

--------------------

“And my state champions jacket!
I don’t care – you can have it!”

--------------------

Perhaps the highlight of tailgating was me, down seven (20-13) in the bag toss game, and tossing last against Tyler, needing at least six to stay alive, seven to tie, nine to win, in my four tosses.

Center hole, center hole, center hole.

And a triumphant chucking of baggo numero quatro, onto the concrete in celebration.

I may suck at washers … but I can chuck a bean bag.

And man, was that wind a mess to navigate.  Ryan, Tyler, Anthony and I staged a game in which literally you could see the bag float 45 degrees away from where you aimed, it was so strong.

--------------------

“Every made memory? 
Every picture?”

--------------------

The menu was perfect – broncos burgers, hot fries, jalapeno poppers I may or may not be enjoying the last of typing and proofing (for the seventh time) this post (and I’ll still miss at least five typos), along with some Chipolte, Gates, and a ridiculously good Price Chopper cookie cake.

Even more perfect?  One of the girls who arrived with Ryan and Tyler, approached me as I cracked open a bottle of Andre.  (You’re damned right I ran out of Coors Light.  12 pack of the 16 ouncers, gonzo by 4pm.  Or, given that The Muppets are back, is it “gary” by 4pm?)

This conversation occurred:

(stevo) hello.
(chica) hi.  You opening (the bottle)?
(stevo) yeah.  You want a glass?
(chica) hell yes I do!
(stevo) (in a rare moment of drunken sanity) let me find you one!

Go figure – not a (toby keith voice) red solo cup in sight.  So I did what any semi-sane person would do: I boarded The Bus, found one, and poured her a glass.

For the record, I got a kiss on the cheek, and I got a promise she’d return for the Steelers game.  And I truly pray she does return.

Because she is freaking hot in every way that attracts me.

Right down to the nose stud that irrationally gets me?  

Uuh, irrationally excited.

--------------------

Every broken dream?
Yeah – everything!  Everything!  Everything!”

--------------------

Had a few great moments with Jasson and Tara.  I didn’t even notice them arrive (in my defense, I was trying to respond to a text from my brother at that moment).  I love seeing greatness in person.  Those are two of the best friends a dude could ever have, especially Jasson, who somehow not only laughs off his inability to spell (hence “Jasson” as his designation), he embraces it.

They were en route to their main tailgate, but still, here we are twenty plus years later, and Jasson knows exactly where I’ll be before a Chiefs game – rain or shine, sleet or snow, hot or cold.

Ditto “The Voice of Reason”, who did not make an appearance on Thursday, although he had other priorities, like appearing on the NFL Network in their pregame coverage.

I wandered down to say hello to Boomer’s aunt and uncle, and Davey and Tracey and Joe Knows.  The day began by noting Vessie’s return from her Red Coater duties, and taking a moment to remember a giant of the Chiefs family no longer with us, her late husband Bill. 

(Scroll back up half a novel to the 2006 Tailgaters of the Game Photo: Bill is the African-American gentleman holding the Price Chopper novelty card on the right.  Red Coater, season ticket holder for forty plus year, held his retirement party at the Arrowhead club.  Still can’t believe he’s gone, and it’s been eighteen months.)

I could roll on through the accolades from yesterday, and tailgates past.  Because damned near every one of you reading this, has taken the time in days gone by, to spend time in that spot.  You don’t even need directions; you just KNOW where we are, where I am, come 8:25am, on a typical Sunday GameDay morning.

So many of you reading this, know my spot. 

And really, that’s a copout.  Because it isn’t my spot.

It’s OUR spot!

So how fitting, that the last meaningful moment of the tailgate on Thursday?

Was pounding a shot with someone who used to own the island across from us.

(Pause).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

There is NO such thing, as coincidence. 

--------------------

“Give!
Me.!
Back!
My!
Home!
Town!

Because this is MY?
Hometown! …”

--------------------

He strolled in a little after 6pm.  The grills had already shut down, although there was still some food to be consumed.

I didn’t even notice his arrival at first – I was facing off against Tyler at the bean bag game thingy.  But he most certainly saw me, and our core members there.

The moment he waddled over (note: the fact I used the adjective “waddled”, pretty much gives away who it was), the moment he waddled over, I just broke into one gigantic smile, and ran towards the guy, for one awesome man-hug in the center of the tailgate.

Castro.

You’re damned right I headed down to his crew – displaced a few hundred feet farther east now, across the street from us – and pounded a few shots with him.

Because God bless it, if Castro knowing where we are every week doesn’t hammer home everything wrong with last Thursday?  If my seven year old nephew knowing exactly where we are every week doesn’t hammer home everything wrong with last Thursday?  (And again – he’s seven!  He can barely tie his own shoes, but he knows EXACTLY where our spot is!) 

If “The Voice of Reason”, Mr. Reason’s father *, Jasson, “bts”, Doc, “The Perpetual Intern”, “The Sister I Never Had”, “The Crush”, the Springfield folks, Chris, Dr. Frank, “The Ex” – screw it: if even The Champ and the Chica could still stay between the navigational beacons, to arrive at OUR spot, twenty years in the making?

Why, exactly, Kansas City Chiefs organization, are WE not only not allowed there, per YOUR official representative in that golf cart, but are also made to feel beyond unwelcome and unwanted, every chance you get, in OUR spot?

--------------------

(*: you are in my prayers sir, as you are with every member of my family, both blood related and Chiefs related.  You will win this fight.  And I pray to God above, I get one chance to not just shake your hand, but give you a hug, to attempt to express all you have meant to me, over the last twenty years I’ve known you – most especially that Spring of 2002 when my life fell apart – at least once this season.  Because like your son?  You never – never! – gave up on me.  I can never express proper thanks for that.  Although I hope I get a chance, to try.)

--------------------

I choose to close Part Uno with this.

Channel 5 interviewed a gentleman by the name of Bob Danley, who is (as of this season) a 35 year season ticket holder.  (Or since 1981, for those of you not mathematically inclined.)

His quote?

PERFECTLY sums up, how I feel at this moment.

“I bought a house next door to us, to fill up with all my Chiefs stuff.  And now?  I’m wondering why.  I really am.

Every time I come (to Arrowhead)?  It ruins my day.  And I don’t know how long I can do that.

This?  Is no fun.”

Readers?  Peoples, peepettes?  Drunk, stoned dudes reading this? 

“Every time I come here?  It ruins my day.”

That, Clark Hunt, Norma Hunt, the Hunt Family, John Dorsey, “Fat” Andy Reid, every front office employee, every assistant coach, every ticket seller, every vendor, every (especially) parking lot employee, that?

THAT?

That is what YOU have created.  Fifteen plus years of parking regulations that would be overturned in any court of law, should some enterprising person seek to sue you over them.  (And that cannot happen soon enough.) 

Fifteen years of utter inept, incompetent, indefensible responses to legitimate fan queries, like the (never great) parking guru Steve Schneider noting “well, you could all meet up at Blue Ridge Mall, and follow each other in”.  Yeah – eight cars and a bus in a row, not getting interrupted at any moment in time, from five miles east of the Sports Complex, through the wait, through Gate Six, straight into the parking lot.  Right …

Twenty years of forgetting and disrespecting the ONLY reason you exist.

Us.

For twenty years, we’ve bent over and taken it.

After Thursday?

Never again.

I mentioned throughout this post, that the Chiefs have crossed the Rubicon.  For me personally?  They have.  I’ll never view this team in the same way again.

But they can still salvage this. 

Provided the Chiefs have the natural instinct, to retreat back across that proverbial river known as the Rubicon, before everything is lost.

After all – October 11th is a mere fifteen days away.

And if the Chiefs don’t back down, if they don’t turn tail and flee back across the Rubicon they’ve crossed?

I truly and sincerely fear, we’re going to be reading about fan on parking attendant violence, come October 12th.  If the Chiefs try this again at the Bears game?  Someone is going to get seriously injured, if not killed.

And the entire blame should fall on the Chiefs organization, if that tragedy occurs.

Because THEY created the conditions, in which that tragedy could potentially occur.

All because of six simple words, they can never walk back:

“None of you are allowed here!”

(stevo in full disgust voice) The fuck we aren’t.

--------------------

This “special relationship” will NEVER recover from 1:47pm, Thursday, September 17, 2015.  It will never be what it once was.

But it can at least survive that moment in time, if the Chiefs are willing to do what doesn’t come naturally, but what needs to be said:

“Dude?  I f*cked up, and I’m sorry.”

I’ll even give the Chiefs permission to say “messed”, instead of “f*cked”, if need be, to retreat across that proverbial Rubicon.

Because EVERYTHING about Thursday that involved the Chiefs organization itself?  Was wrong.

(Pause).

Well, almost everything. 

--------------------

There was one thing the Chiefs organization had to absolutely nail.  One thing that no matter how badly they fouled everything else up, they HAD to absolutely NAIL.

Amazingly, they did.

And if you were there, you know the moment, and how epic it was.  Hell, even “The Voice of Reason” admitted his emotions were moved to the point of possible tears.  (I’m man enough to admit, I was bawling like a freaking baby, at that moment … as Logan, the new STM member next to me, can confirm.)

That moment, and the game recap, coming in Part Dos … which begs the obvious question:

If the Chiefs could so perfectly nail the most pressure packed moment of the night?

How could they f*ck up every other moment, of the morning, afternoon, and night, of the biggest home game of the year?

--------------------


FYI: the theme throughout this post was “Give Me Back My Hometown” by Eric Church.  

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