This year's Super Bowl was a special one for a lot of cities -- Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay among them. But few had a scene comparable to Cave Creek, Arizona.
The hamlet north of Phoenix is most famous for drawing outlaws like the rapper DMX and Hell's Angel's founder Sonny Barger but it's also home to two of the most rabid out-of-town team football bars in America -- The Buffalo Chip, a hangout for hardcore Cheeseheads, and Harold's Corral, which caters to coalminin', meth dealin' Pittsburgh partisans.
They expected 6,000 rowdy fans between the two bars which share a parking lot. It's doubtful there was a more explosive conglomeration of opposing fans assembled anywhere in America -- besides maybe Dallas -- which made for an interesting evening of football watching for two Phoenix New Times staffers.
James King sat down at Harold's, home to one of the largest, loudest, nastiest crowds of Steelers fans you'll find anywhere in America.
Martin Cizmar bellied up to the bar at the Buffalo Chip Saloon, homebase for the comparatively gentile Green Bay fans.
Neither Jim or Martin had much of a stake in the outcome -- Martin is a Browns fans from Ohio, Jim is a Bills fan from New York. So working on Super Bowl Sunday, surrounded by joyful fans from teams they despise, wasn't a glamorous assignment.
Here's a running dialogue about the game from the two sides of the dirt parking lot:
After Green Bay ran out to an early 14-0 lead...
Martin: Reaction there?
Jim: Things got pretty quiet. Two packers fans cheered and were promptly told to "shut the fuck up." Highlight of the night: Cactus Hands, the (ahem) shapely Steelers fan who -- out of nowhere -- came to my table, sat directly across from me, and didn't speak. Uncomfortable, I asked "are you OK?" She stuck out her hand, which in the low-lighting seemed fine. It seemed as though she wanted me to grab her hand, which I declined. I again asked "are you OK." This back-and-forth went on for five minutes. Then the waitress came over with a roll of duct tape. The girl held up her hand and it was full of the business end of a cactus she, in her obviously drunken state, fell into -- and the duct tape was used to pull it out. How did it go over there?
Martin: This is the first time anyone here has said anything about "winning" all day... and this is the first I've dared dream of Pittsburgh losing. I thought the AFC winner would crush whatever NFC opponent no matter who it was but now I'm not so sure.
As the Steelers began to mount a comeback...
Jim: Big Ben's run was the first time anyone in this bar (sans the dickhead GB fans) have cheered for anything.
Martin: That run makes me sad. I especially hate it when he runs without getting hit at all. Concuss him! This guy used to be so fragile, I thought his career would end after a few more huge hits. But, seriously, the Steelers need to score. If this gets to 21-zip I feel the chances for violence at halftime between these bars increases dramatically. I should order a glass bottle of beer next for my next round... I tried to go authentic with a Leinenkugel's but it essentially tastes like drinking a Bud Light with a Werther's Original in your mouth.
Jim: If there's a fight I'm just gonna stand behind the Steelers fan in front me with the steroid problem and swastika tattoo on his arm. Should go over well considering I'm half Jewish.
Martin: Speaking of beer, Bud Light has never seemed less delicious than it does after the "Tiny Dancer" commercial. There is an odd absence of swastikas over here... Glad you're with dem Stillers fans while I'm with these friendly Canadian sorts! Speaking of Nazis... BMW commercial... I didn't know foreign auto makers were allowed to buy Super Bowl airtime?
Jim: When it comes to the respective fans, I'll take neo-Nazis over the Photos By Deb broad I saw camped out over in Packer Nation any day.
Martin: These are a simple, friendly people... Do they have Iron City over there?
Jim: I'm drinking Sam Adams. The Steeler Nation only appears interested in tapping the Rockies.
Martin: Pete Coors is basically a Nazi. I'm glad Fox at least briefly mentioned the rape "allegations" involving Big Ben... So only one guy here is actually from Wisconsin. How weird would it be if the Bills or Browns had bandwagon fans? How would you feel sitting in a bar full of front-running Bills "fans" being the only real NYer?
Jim: They'd have to win something first. I've met tons of people here from Pennsylvania...including a shockingly well-spoken member of the Air Force currently stationed at Luke Air Force Base. "It's the only Steeler bar around...I had to go," Jason Reed told me. Interestingly, nobody -- Jason included -- seemed to notice "Big Ben's" second pick. More concerned with the Coors Light.
But, seriously, why did Ryan from The Office shave his beard?
Jim: Brett Favre started growing sexy scruff. It was played out in the Midwest.
Martin: Just walked outside to try to hear the noises from next door... I feel like the Grinch listening for the crying down in Whoville. It's so quiet over there... They must have gotten in touch with the true spirit of Super Bowl Sunday -- not winning, just warm feelings for football.
Jim: For the record, I've left my (New Times-owned) computer unattended several times. Try doing that with Packers fans. They'll steal it and sell it for beer money... And buck shot. They're basically Canadians. Of course they're nice, that doesn't mean they won't rob you blind. They'll just say "thank you" afterward.
Martin: You're really missing out by not sitting at a bar where old dudes are trying to run game on younger girls like here. It seemed like things were a lot rowdier of there when I stopped by -- this is a much more wholesome crowd.
Jim: Just pissed next to a female steelers fan. Like me, she used the urinal. Not kidding. Another guy was washing his steeler face paint off. I said "its only 21-10." He said "eat shit."
During the Black Eyed Peas Awful Half Time Show...
Martin: Why is Will.i.am dressed like an evil Captain Eo? Also, there were three Black Eyed Peas last time I counted... Now there's four? Where did this Apl.de.ap dude come from? He seems new and unfamiliar. But, seriously, I hope they sing the actual lyrics to "Let's Get Retarded" instead of the PC "Let's Get It Started."
Jim: Wardrobe malfunction is my guess.
Martin: Fucking Slash... Ugh. I'm vomiting right now... Axl is calling his lawyer...
Jim: Fergie sounds like a meth head doing karaoke.
Martin: You can imagine how much I, as a professional music critic, am enjoying the people next to me offer their critiques. But, seriously, how long has Apl.de.ap been a Black Eyed Pea? People here were dancing... I imagine people there may have been less joyful.
Jim: Steeler nation is lovin Slash. The Nazi isn't too fond of the pick for the halftime show, it appears. Just watched a guy flossing his teeth while sitting at a table. Then he smelled the floss. Then he went back for more. I was more shocked he had teeth. I want to go home. Seriously though Joan rivers is the new Go Daddy "girl?" This Betty White, old-lady trend needs to end, like, now.
Martin: Think of all the compliments you've paid her on the blog... "One (Fabulous Ass)" and all that. You're sorta creepy and weird, dude. You're on the record saying Joan Rivers is hot. Wow.
Jim: Fuck. I'm calling that motherfucker at GoDaddy who's been feeding me those pics all week and I'm gonna flip out.
As the Steelers started to make the game really, really close...
Martin: I want to choke Joe Buck to death. These over-the-top calls just grate on me so badly when I'm already not happy with what's going on in the game.
Jim: Looks like we've got ourselves a game, Cizmar. Are they crying over in "Title Town?"
Martin: They're only half paying attention. Cheese buzz. But, seriously, Apl.de.ap is a member of the Black Eyed Peas? I could swear there were just the three of them.
Jim: The Nazi's currently screaming "uh, boo ya, boo ya, uh. Get some." National socialists and hillbillies seem to have a lot in common.
Martin: Fucking Rodgers...See, Favre would have thrown an INT there rather than take the sack...
Jim: Then sent a picture of his cock to a girl half his age.
Martin: At least Favre would probably agree Joan Rivers is not super hot...
Jim: At least they're roughly the same age.
Martin: We have Stella on tap -- that commercial made me want one -- my guess is you don't... I was the only one here booing Dubya and Condi Rice when they appeared on screen. No one cheered either, though.
Jim: Really, they have more than just Milwaukee's Best Ice on tap over there? Authentic Packers bar my assistant.
As the Packers Took Control and Vanquished the Steelers...
Martin: My phone is about to die -- I'm going to finish my s'mores dessert (they bring you a cool little plate of ingredients long wooden sticks and an alcohol flame to roast them by) then come over to Harold's to taste their tears.
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Jim: A kid just blew a vuvazella in my face -- even the little ones (Steelers fans) are scumbags. The crowd here just went fucking crazy after that touchdown. It's gonna come down to two-minute Ben. Cards repeat.
Martin: This game's over -- the Steelers just didn't have the heart to win.
Jim: Sounds about time for a Cizmarian gloat-fest. How about we wait until we're a comfortable distance from the Steelers bar -- and any male Steelers fan -- and you can start talking shit to women decked out in the black and gold?