Saturday, November 17, 2007
I was a student when It happened. You wanted to insert your smarmy Aggie joke and resume your moral superiority like nothing ever happened. But you couldn't. Parents of the dead were there and sobbing uncontrollably. Their children weren't coming home for Thanksgiving. No more Christmas's. Those parents would never get to see their kids graduate and get their first job or make their first million bucks. They were fleeced of their grandchildren and their memories permanently hijacked. And their children weren't dead b/c of something unpreventable like the Virginia Tech shootings. No, they were dead b/c a bunch of logs fell on them. And why did a bunch of logs fall on them? B/c they were improperly stacking the logs which would have been the Aggie Bonfire.
The Aggie Bonfire is supposed to symbolize the burning desire that they have to beat t.u. Great. First of all, they may have a burning desire to beat the crap out of us, but their record against the Longhorns suggests otherwise. Common sense would have dictated that rather than the students build a 57-foot high monument to inefficiency, they'd be better off just practicing harder and getting better recruits. Alas, that wasn't the case. So the students were committed to building, and burning, an effigy. They were going to build a 57-foot high monument to someone they didn't like very much, but weren't very good at beating either.
Meanwhile, the parents continued to sob.
In Austin, we mobilized and started immediately raising money. White ribbons, our respective schools mutual color, were ubiquitous and inescapable on the 40 Acres. Nightly prayer vigils were held. We cried on campus w/ the Aggie Parents. Some of those fallen in the rubble were our friends, our brothers, our sisters. This wasn't another Aggie joke. We watched in horror as kids our age died. We weren't supposed to die. Not this young. And certainly not like this. Not for this.
And yet they did. And when we all went back to our respective homes over Thanksgiving break, we couldn't muster the proper enthusiasm for the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry. I know I couldn't. In fact, I even remember thinking that it would be nice for them to win it, if for no other reason than for them to have something to cheer about. And sure as hell, they did win. That would be the last time I would ever have anything positive or friendly to say about A&M ever again.
After the game, one of the brainwashed masses in the stands told ABC Sports that "we're gonna have a Renegade Bonfire next year b/c that's how much we hate t.u." The College Station faithful roared w/ approval at this remark and cheered him on while he babbled incoherently like a steroid-fueled pro wrestler. I remember sitting w/ my family, just about ready to puke, at these remarks. We raised money for you. We prayed for you. We sent our campus representatives to help you. We sent our best psychologists and grief counselors to your campus to care for you, so that the sadness and tragedy of the last week would not overwhelm you. We damn near helped you win a football game. And this is how you repay us. You verbally murdered us in front of a disbelieving national audience.
I'd like to believe that the student and the surrounding people in the stands were just hyped up on Jack Daniel's and stress. But Monday morning after the game, the Aggie faithful took to the morning talk shows and said that "tradition must continue in Aggieland." Really? A completely dangerous and pointless exercise of building a 57-foot high effigy of someone you apparently hate must go on? Your kids who just died for this idiocy must see to it that this continue? Over a football game? It's that important to you? Really?
This wasn't like Judas selling Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. This was closer to Saddam Hussein gassing the Kurds. This was just an evil and pointless act that bordered on insanity. The Aggie Bonfire was apparently going to continue. The Texas A&M administration no longer sanctioned it, but wasn't going to stop it either. Robert Gates, now the man appointed to find Osama bin Laden, washed his hands like he was Pontius Pilate, and declared that he wasn't going to stop it.
So tradition has continued in Aggieland. They still every year about this time build their Monument of Hate. They light that Monument ablaze every November, and it hasn't mattered that the logs came tumbling down on that fateful day in 1999. The administration, the student body, the alumni never stopped to consider that, even in the name of tradition, some traditions must come to a close. Gladiator fighting was a tradition in ancient Rome. Burning witches at the stake was a tradition in medieval times. They both had to come to a close b/c they were stupid, killed many innocent people, and devalued the sanctity of human life.
The Aggie Bonfire cheapened human life on that day. It devalued the sanctity of human life. It was stupid. It was ignorant. It was, by their own admission, hateful. And still it continues.
A few years ago, I made the residential edict that no one would be allowed into my house wearing Texas A&M gear. My parents still think this is a strange proclamation. But I have no room in my house for someone that explicitly or implicitly encourages such behavior, such pointless martyrdom.
All I can hope for as a University of Texas graduate is that every year, we kick Texas A&M's ass to a point somewhere beyond embarrassment or shame. If the score is 200-0 in the third quarter in our favor, I would go for two. You see, it's gotten to a point where Texas-Texas A&M isn't like any other rivalry. Most schools hate each other because they are distinct geographical rivals. Oklahoma-Texas being a prime example. A&M chose to hate us for some strange reason, I'm not totally sure why. But on that day when they crossed the bounds of human decency over a football game, I want them to be reminded forever of what they said and what they did. I want them to be reminded that of all the Aggies jokes in the world, when they wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, they are the saddest, and perhaps cruelest, joke of all.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Awesome. A word that just gets thrown around. Seems these days, people think EVERYTHING is awesome. But they are wrong. The brilliant, kick-ass, picture above proves my point.
Few things are awesome. Even fewer people are awesome. And guess what... I met a fellow blogger who is in the quest of proving her awesomeness. Meet T n’ Airre (yes, it’s a play on T&A) (http://tnairre.blogspot.com/). She has embarked in a yearlong journey to compete and win an international air guitar competition. I am honored to be part of her support & preparation crew and I’ll give y’all updates on her progress from time to time. I will no-doubt have great tales in the months to come, as she strives to achieve total greatness.
To become a true rock star, she’ll have to party like a rock star. She’ll have to live like a rock star. She’ll have to BE the rock star. She’s started off on the right foot by installing a stripper pole in her living room. Her parties have now gone up a notch.
She’s also agreed to teach class at my next party (details coming soon). The party can be thoroughly described by two words: Drunk Yoga. Did I mention she's a professional yoga instructor?
Well my faithful readers, it’s time for me to sign off. But… before I return to work, I’ll leave you yet another truly AWESOME picture….