Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Day in the Muni Lot

Welcome to the excitement and exuberance known as a parking lot. Specifically the Cleveland Municipal Lot - The Muni Lot for those in the know. For those not from Cleveland, I dare say you have not seen tailgating until you have been tailgating in the Muni or one of the other many city lots.  The Muni Lot is not just a little itty bitty parking lot you know.

It's ginormous. Gigantic. Huge.

And there are multiple lots. And then there is the Pit, which is an entirely different lot and subculture that we won't go into here. Let's just agree that Browns fans take their team, the game and tailgating seriously.

A few weeks ago, I got up at 4:30 am to get ready to go on another adventure in the Muni Lot. These people are *serious*.  Did I mention that?

I'm fortunate enough to have friends that are what I like to call "tailgating professionals" to hang out with. These folks have food, drinks, a tent, chairs, extra gloves and 5 hour energy shots for those that need them. They even have a potty tent. *That* my friends, is serious.

We left at 5:30 am to get in line to get in the lot. We had to wait in line to get into a parking lot at 5:30 am. As you can see from the photo, we weren't the first in line, but we were in decent shape. You don't want to get stuck too far back in the lots because the walk back from the Stadium can be painfully long.  Especially around 4 pm,  almost 12 hours later for those of you counting.

The view from our parking spot is amazing. Looking ahead and being able to see the Rock Hall and Browns Stadium is a great thing. The view is about as Cleveland as you can get. The air was filled with the smell of tasty meals simmering and grilling. While our tent had a grill and a toaster oven thing, some spots even had flat top griddles (which made yummy egg sandwiches). I didn't see much haute cuisine, but I certainly didn't see anything to complain about.

By about 9 am, the Muni is in full swing. There are buses and converted RVs with djs some of which even had dance floors. Yes, dance floors. Some of the folks that have been, let's say partaking in beverages of an adult nature, are hunted out by the local news. This guy from channel 19 picked a guy in a Browns painted Boba Fett mask to chat with. Well, not so much chat as bark and woof. There was no political commentary on this Sunday. It was all Browns football.

It was about this time I had to pee.

It happens.

My friends have a set up a pee tent. A pee pee tee pee if you will.  Previously, in the tent, it was a bucket that you did your business in and then dumped out. Eww. I'm sorry, but all I could think of is we are in 20th century America and I am not chucking the contents of my chamber pot into the street. OK, OK...honestly, I'm not very coordinated and all I could picture is me falling over in the pee tent and dumping the contents of the bucket all over and the tent toppling and giving the lot and the highway a show.

After nixing the tent idea, I went to find a porta potty with a short line. I finally found one and a bit of ugliness followed.  I was inside, carefully trying not to touch anything and desperately struggling to make sure my scarf didn't touch anything when it happened. I was in a scene out of one of those bad teen movies. All of a sudden... BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! Someone was kicking the heck out of the porta potty that I was in, all with me being in a bit of a compromising position.

Visions of Jackass danced through my head. What was going on and oh my God is this thing going to tip over and cover me with its contents?

Suffice to say, when I gathered myself together and opened the door, I wasn't happy. I was honked off. The guy standing in line was in my direct sight. As I marched up to him, he started waving his hands, "It wasn't me! It wasn't me! It was that guy" and he pointed to a rather large Bluto looking fellow. If I had to guess on who would have thrown a car battery onto the court at LeBron given the chance, it would be this guy.

I was not happy.

I went directly up to him, toe to toe and asked him what his problem was. Oh, yes I did. The smartest thing I've ever done? Not even close. But I was upset. I almost wore poo people. Our conversation was about as far from civil that you could come. He was screaming, rude, vulgar and as his friend said, giggling, he was drunk.

Let's take a little timeout for a second.   I've been a bartender off and on for over 10 years. This guy may have been drinking, but he was hammered like Mel Gibson was on his rant. He wasn't drunk enough to be that much of a jerk.

There are very few things that I know for certain; if there is a crack in the sidewalk I will trip on it, winters in Cleveland are cold, birds chirp and if I had been that guy in front of my friends, it would have been a different situation. I can bet that they would not stopped me from yelling and screaming that way, especially in front of *my* child. They would have apologized to the person I tried to tip over and would have let me have it later on.

Back to the story...

As we are "conversing loudly" I looked over and saw a boy, maybe 10, watching and laughing at Bluto. I put my hands up to him in surrender, muttering something about Father of the Year and left the situation.  I was dumbfounded that there was a child to all of that.

Kids do not belong in the Muni Lot.

Let me repeat, kids do *not* belong in the Muni Lot.

This was something I saw over and over. The worst part of it was that these kids were not with responsible parents, in my humble opinion. There may have been some, but none in my view. We had Bluto and his son, and there were even children jumping into beer pong games. They weren't drinking, but they thought it was great fun to try and get the ping pong ball into the cup. Just wrong. Wrongity wrong wrong wrong.

Jumps off my soapbox

With the exception of Bluto the porta potty kicker, everyone I met was fantastic. Were they drinking? Sure. Was it rowdy? Absolutely. Look people, you don't go to the Muni Lot for tea and scones. There are adult beverages freely flowing and nachos everywhere.There has been quite a bit made lately of opposing fans getting hassled in the lots by Browns fans. Does this happen? Absolutely. If you wear an opposing jersey, I will boo you. I won't hurt you or throw my beverage at you, but I will boo you. But if you say, "Hey, I'm from New York" and you are a Jets fans, you will get less grief. If you wear a Jets jersey and you are from Shaker Heights, you get what you get. This is happening at stadiums all over the country. If you can't take the boos, wear something else.

I fully support razzing and booing, but I do not support tackling and throwing peanuts.

Walking around the lot is fun. I love the creativity of the remodels of buses, vans, RVs, cars.

Among the party people, the ones that stand out most to me are what I call the Four Loko kids. At one time they were the Braylon Bunch but now they are just the Browns Bunch (which is just as well). They have the blaring DJ and microphone heckling anyone trying to maneuver with their car through the lot after 9 or so. I saw quite a bit of that and it must require nerves of steel. Trying to drive your car through throngs of people and corn hole games.

The kids have games and a massive spider looking beer bong. Actually, when I saw that, I realized how old I truly am. There was a day where that would have been fun. Now I just wonder how they clean it and how many people have put their lips around the tubes before me *shudders*. 

One of the games that they have is keg bowling. Knock down the pins and win some shots of Four Loko.

Lose and you have to do push ups, as a friend soon found out.

As game time approached, people started giving away their last booze remnants, all the less that they would  have to take home. People drinking that last beer before you leave the safety of the lot and have to pay $7 for a beer in the Stadium.

This gentleman was fueled by Four Loko and skating with no shirt as I was freezing huddled around a heater.

And then the LeBron jersey burning. There was a decent crowd around as they lit the LeBron jersey on fire and then...well, I'll save my blog readers from the photo, but then there was a fight about who was going to urinate on the jersey to put the fire out. Finally, two guys decided to share in the "honor."  At most games there is some jersey on fire. Usually a LeBron jersey and whatever player has earned the irritation of the fans. Braylon Edwards was pretty popular.

Finally, the long walk to the stadium began with chants and cheers. Signs raised high into the air. Lots of Peyton Hillis signs.

We went down to the wall and I snapped this picture and we were eventually hustled to our seats after security was instructed to "Get those girls off the wall."

Touchdowns are also missed while waiting in concession lines. I always get a hot chocolate for the travel mug. AT&T had a great thing that they would take your picture and text it to you. I'll never go with AT&T, but it was a nice gesture.

After the game, the lot was a disaster. Trash strewn everywhere. The trash dumped on the ground was only partially from the fans. The can pickers would go through all the trash looking for cans to recycle and they weren't exactly tidy about it.

All in all it was a great day. Few things are better than spending time with good friends and catching a Browns game in person, as opposed to a sports bar with the sound on another game.

It's safe to say that I'm happy in Cleveland.

1 comment:

  1. As a native Clevelander, this couldn't be more accurate! I, too, have "professional" tailgating friends... It truly is an art, and Cleveland does it best! Nice shot of Hillis, too!! OOH, LA LA!! Well done!