I don’t generally talk about my assignments before they’re published, but I don’t think I’m giving any secrets away to say that some of them have touched on the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XL, of course.
Which, if you follow football, you know will be held in our fair city in February.
This is only the third SB to be held in a northern climate, and the question I keep hearing is, “But what if there’s snow?” As though snow is something so horrible, so incompatible with human gathering, that it must be feared and battled with incantations or, at the very least, flamethrowers aimed at the sky.
First. Trust me on this: Detroit is a city improved by snow. You simply cannot imagine what a dusting of powder does to spruce this joint up, especially in winter. (Needless to say, Ford Field is not an open-air stadium.)
Second. Winter, in general, is improved by snow. You want a depressing winter? Order up one where the temperature hovers in the mid-30s, and either it never snows or snows and melts and doesn’t stick. You want a sucking black hole of depression? That’s it, right there.
Finally. It has occurred to people putting on the Super Bowl that it could, theoretically, snow at this latitude during Super Bowl week. They are, in fact, prepared for it, and welcoming it. An adjacent downtown festival, the Motown Winter Blast, will benefit enormously from a healthy snowfall before and during Super Bowl week, and I hope they get it. Nothing like watching huskies pull sleds across slush to say, “It sure would be nice to have a little snow.”
So where did we get this snowphobia, this terror of a natural phenomenon? Certainly, snow presents short-term difficulties; it is a pain to drive in, and it’s a pain (sometimes literally) to remove. But when you’ve gotten where you’re going and shoveled the sidewalk, it’s all about the pretty. And that almost always lasts longer. Why fear this?
TV weatherpeople. That’s who I blame. They spread snow fear wherever they go. Send in the Blackhawk helicopters to bomb their Doppler weather centers. That would be the real war on terror.
Here in Michigan, it snowed the day before Thanksgiving. The forecasts started with 3-5 inches, then dwindled through the day until it matched with what we got — about an inch or two of mostly slush. It’s been a warm fall and the ground wasn’t cold enough for major stickage. But the accompanying TV-weather-reporting hysteria was enough to scare away my sister-in-law, who cancelled her Thanksgiving visit — there was a chance of an additional inch on the holiday, and that was enough to wave her off. (P.S. We had bright sunshine all day on Thanksgiving.) My friends John and Sam were elsewhere in Michigan that day, and Sam talked to a woman who didn’t want to “be out there traveling” in such horrible conditions.
Where did she have to travel? Sam asked.
About 15 miles. A lifelong Michigan resident, fearful of travelling 15 miles, through snowy conditions, in a car probably better-suited to snowy conditions than any she’s ever owned before. (Remember Delta 88s with rear-wheel drive? I do. Wheeee! That was a car that could spin.)
I now get my forecasts from weather.com. Alan favors the Lake St. Clair weather buoy. We’re much happier.
And I’m hoping for snow during Super Bowl week.
Oops, almost forgot:
As a piece of music, “My Humps” is a stunning assemblage of awful ideas. …The “humps” in question belong to Fergie, who brandishes her “lovely lady lumps” for the purpose of procuring various gifts from men who, one would assume, find the prospect of “lumps” very exciting�one lump begetting another lump, if you will.
While arguing with the pop music charts is like arguing with, well, TV weatherpeople, this is a pretty amusing takedown of a pretty awful hit.
mtk said on December 6, 2005 at 9:34 pm
I gotta add this 2 cents.
The snow phobia related to the Motor City was increased logarithmically back in the winter of 1998-99, when the snow plugged up Metro airport and kept all those people on the Northwest planes for something like 9 hours, with the bathrooms overflowing — and the drifts clogging the streets of Detroit during the North American Auto Show and visitors from around the world being nearly unable to move around. The snow plows from Oakland County riding the rescue in more prominent areas of the city was welcomed by the outsiders as altruistic help from the suburbs, but of course filtered through in Detroit as yet another affront from the affluent people outside Detroit rubbing the Motor City’s problems in residents’ faces. The fact that the automaking capital of the world had no tradition of actually plowing snowcovered streets was revealed before the shocked eyes of the world. Whew. So the idea that the Super Bowl is being played in this very same city during the same approximate timeframe (midwinter) gives appropriate shudders, no matter how much the city of Detroit might say it’s prepared *this time*. Maybe I’m overstating, but I don’t think so. I lived in a relatively small Downriver suburb and drove the interstate to work downtown and ONLY encountered problems once I got off the Interstate in Detroit…the whole rest of my commute was clean except where the City of Detroit was left in charge. Aaaah.
Nance said on December 6, 2005 at 10:11 pm
True, MTK. But even given the incompetence with which the city generally runs itself, the SB organizers seem to have their act together. And the city knows how much they simply can’t drop the ball (ooh, football metaphor) for this one.
If no other streets are plowed, the ones downtown will be. And the interstates. The neighborhoods may well writhe in misery again, but the sportswriters can wear flipflops and not get their feet wet.
That’s my guess, anyway.
Danny said on December 6, 2005 at 11:31 pm
Nancy, I too have faith in the NFL. An organization so anachronistic that it has copyright control through the “blackout rule.” An organization which can claim outrage at the moral content of the ESPN fictional series, “Playmakers,” while having much more of a citizenship problem in reality. Yes, any organization that can ignore the fabric of space-time and reality has juice!
Michael G said on December 7, 2005 at 9:32 am
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. At the time I got my license my dad had a ’55 DeSoto. When it snowed we kids would go to the mall parking lots(they were called “shopping centers” in those days) and have a great time sliding around. If dad only knew. What a barge that DeSoto was. You didn’t drive it so much as herd it. But doing donuts for fun actually turned out to be good training for driving in snow. Of course, now I live in California and the snow stays in the mountains where it belongs.
Mindy said on December 7, 2005 at 9:45 am
The house I sold last year had an inground pool that was useful for forecasting weather. Steam rising from it announced the arrival of the first cool evening. Ice on the surface meant a cold front was fast approaching. Holes in the water indicated rain. Glare too harsh to look at directly meant sunny skies. Easy and accurate; I miss it. My intense hatred of yard art prevents me from installing a bird bath to serve the same purpose, but it would be too small to see anyway and therefore useless.
Randy said on December 7, 2005 at 10:18 am
The Black Eyed Peas did the half time show at our football championship game (The Grey Cup) a few weeks back. “My Humps” was one of the songs they did. It caused a minor brouhaha among parents who watched the game with their kids.
I watched it, and it was hard to tell if Fergie was shaking her humps, or having a seizure. So it was either sexy as hell, or alarming and freakish, depending on your POV.
I like Fergie, but still, I was worried she had swallowed her tongue.
brian stouder said on December 7, 2005 at 11:26 am
Isn’t that ‘XL’ designation funny? The Extra Large Super Bowl ™? Sounds like a new McDonald’s mcsoup offering.
I suppose it offers at least a little more defense against the inevitable “Super Bowl hits 40” my-how-it’s-aging midlife crisis essays…
Still, I can’t help but wonder how many 40-something super-sized men and women wearing XXXL-sized commemorative Super Bowl sweatshirts with a huge “XL” emblazened across it we will see in the coming weeks and months!
Connie said on December 7, 2005 at 6:22 pm
MichaelG, I grew up across the lake from Chicago in lake effect country. You were sneaking off to spin donuts in parking lots? Our fathers took us to snowfilled church parking lots and made us spin donuts in order to teach us how drive out of a spin. Sure we did for fun too, we called it doing louies. Can’t do them anymore with our front wheel drive cars, unless we drive backwards.
And Mindy, our pool gives no weather clues this time of year, that rigid mesh cover just doesn’t have the same reactions to weather that the visible water does.
And Nancy, our drive from Elkhart to Flint on the eve before Thanksgiving was extremely crappy weather and road conditions. Our usual table count went from 24 to 13 when the Cheboygan contingent decided not to take the highways.
alex said on December 7, 2005 at 9:52 pm
A lot of us cut our teeth, as it were, on big old rear-drive GM cars. My dad used to take me to a high-school parking lot and let me have at it while he’d run the dogs in the nearby woods.
One time, after reading an article in “Car & Driver” back in the ’70s about how body guard/chauffeurs who drove armor-plated stretch limos full of executives in Latin America were trained to evade attack, I decided to try some of the tips and tricks. As a novice driver, I was surprised how well they worked.
Slam the emergency brake while holding the release and cutting the wheel hard left and you’d do a perfect 180� and continue in the opposite direction at the same rate of speed. As a novice driver, much to my surprise, it worked. And got me reamed but good when my dad got back. The screaming tires could’ve awakened the dead, and fortunately the cops didn’t show up on a disturbance complaint.
Much more embarrassing was a donut adventure a few years later, but this wasn’t on ice. On my way to the car wash I spied a parking lot in a flood plane with about two inches of wet mud on it adjacent to a receding river. I thought I’d see if I could spin in mud the same as in snow. Actually, it was pretty much the same at low revs. Amazing traction at times when gunning it. While spinning I decided to give it more and more gas. The speedo was up to about 90. Suddenly the car caught hold of terra firma and took a flying leap, sideswiped a big tree and kerplopped into a flooded ravine. A huge sheet of mud and water rained down from above, the windows were open and I was soaked and spattered. Before I knew it the cops were on the scene, along with a fair crowd of onlookers, some of whom were people I knew.
The car was driveable, but even the carwash couldn’t get the large plugs of sod out of the fender wells and bumpers. My insurance almost cancelled on me and my rates were enormous for many years.
I’m happy to report that I’m now an excellent driver with a perfect record of twenty-some-odd years�thanks to learning the hard way. I only wish that all young kids who drive recklessly could be so lucky.
Claire said on December 7, 2005 at 11:59 pm
Talk about reminiscing! Spinning in the snow in our big car “boats” in the high school parking lot, learning the “proper way” to handle driving in the snow from dad…you’re all bringing back memories for me, too.
(btw, Connie, I have relatives in Elkhart and grew up visiting there. My cousin and her husband own the Matterhorn restaurant. It used to seem pretty fancy, I’m not sure how it’s doing now, have you been there? And my Dad went to Valpo…I have a heart for Northwestern Indiana (except for Gary).)
Nance, I was so happy to read:
“Second. Winter, in general, is improved by snow. You want a depressing winter? Order up one where the temperature hovers in the mid-30s, and either it never snows or snows and melts and doesn’t stick. You want a sucking black hole of depression? That’s it, right there.”
I SO AGREE!! Give me snow! At least it’s pretty, and you can PLAY in it for heaven’s sake. So many snow scrooges here, I am so glad to know I’m not alone in preferring the white stuff. I get so mad at the forecasters (although I love Jerry Hodak because he has been doing his job forever and hearing his voice is comforting) because I keep getting my hopes up that it actually WILL snow as much as they say it will and then it doesn’t! I WANT snow.
Phew, that was cathartic, thanks.
brian stouder said on December 8, 2005 at 12:14 am
“because I keep getting my hopes up that it actually WILL snow as much as they say it will”
We’re supposed to get 3-4 inches of snow beginning tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon/evening. I’m not getting my hopes up yet – but I am looking forward to it. Our 10 year old loves to run the ‘blowey’ – and I just started letting him this winter (I figure by next winter I will have to pay him!)
But the point is – 3-4 inches is small beer. I want 8-10, and a bit of wind. We’re overdue for a real (real!) “winter blast”. Remember 1978? Now THAT was a snowstorm! We all have our stories, and indeed a current day ‘biggie’ would be one for our kids to marvel at (as they stay home from school), as we sit back and say (in classic old-timer fashion) “you think THIS is a biggie – you shoulda seen when Uncle John and I had to dig out the front door” etc etc..
Michael G said on December 8, 2005 at 8:53 am
Well, Connie, it sounds like your dad was a little more enlightened than mine. I had a few more adventures with that old DeSoto but we’ll leave that for another time.