Monday, February 23, 2009

A rare post about sports.

OK, maybe not so much about sports as it is about the HBO documentary called The Battle for Tobacco Road: Duke vs. Carolina.

I love living in North Carolina, and even though I'm not a sports fan, I love the passion of this rivalry. My wife, an employee of Duke, is a Carolina alum and bleeds Tar Heel blue. She watches every game and spends hours on line reading about the players and the program.

A few months ago we were eating in a great pizza joint on West Franklin. My back was to the door. I heard someone come in and I saw Jenny's eyes go wide. "It's Tyler Hansbrough," she whispered, in the same awe-struck voice I'd use if Martin Scorsese walked in. All I saw was a really big guy. She saw a star.

I don't have any allegiance to Carolina, except marital. And I don't have anything against Duke. I like the positive influence it has on my home town. I've done research in Perkins Library, open to the public, thank you. I've been to the Nasher Museum of Art, free to those who live in the city. I've taken visitors to Duke Chapel, a truly amazing place. I met my wife doing Duke Summer Theater. And I've been probed in places all over Duke Hospital.

Duke is part of my life and a great part of Durham. Thank you, Duke.

But this rivalry? Well, it's part of the three B's of NC. The holy trinity of basketball, barbecue and the Baptist Church. And even the Baptists cuss when you mention Krzyzewski.

Before I tell you what I thought about the documentary, here's a quote from the director/producer, George Roy.

“Hopefully ... we will have completed a film that not only chronicles the great rivalry ... but give folks the idea of the psyche and culture and passion that exists around the importance of what this game means to people in your neck of the woods, which is pretty unique.”

After watching the doc last night in my "neck of the woods," I had two reactions:

1. It leaned heavily in favor of Carolina, the way Fox News leans heavily in favor of the GOP. The only difference is, Carolina isn't the nexus of evil.

2. George Roy is a condescending ass who thinks all roads below the Mason Dixon are draped in Spanish moss and the air is thick with plaintive fiddle music. The music, in particular, got under my skin. It was that pseudo folksy cornpone crap that strangers think is the Sound of the South.


At one point, the narrator talked about the 8-miles between Durham and Chapel Hill and the film showed a two lane country road (with requisite Spanish moss) with nary a pickup or tractor or barefoot boy with bamboo pole plying the sunstruck asphalt. In reality, the main artery between Chapel Hill and Durham looks more like this.

So, watch the movie if you care about this basketball rivalry, especially if you're a Carolina fan, but don't think we all live in shacks, wear bib overalls and play the fucking banjo.

And if you are a Carolina fan, I suggest you pick up this book by Will Blythe. "To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever." The title is perfect.

But, as has become an obsession of late, I had to read the 1-star Amazon review. Jesus, people are stupid. OK, look at the title again. Got that? Here is Blythe's opening, there on the Amazon page for everyone to see:

"I am a sick, sick man. Not only am I consumed by hatred, I am delighted by it. I have done some checking into the matter and have discovered that the world's great religions and wisdom traditions tend to frown upon this."

Now read this 1-star review:

"Too much of the book is just Blythe taking an opportunity to spew vitriol about Duke--not just the team, but everything from its campus to its students. His attempt to look at the rivalry with detachment falls short, and the overall effect is that he's simply immature."

Did you get that? This knucklehead read the title and then picked up this book expecting a "...look at the rivalry with detachment..." Do they let these people out where others can point at them and laugh? Because that would just be cruel.

The only thing I can think is, the guy must have gone to Dook.

Go Carolina.


Bluhiways said...

Split Duke/Carolina household way out in OK. W&L grad for Duke; R-MWC grad for Carolina. It's all about where our friends were or where we dated in college. Amazingly tenuous reasons for rooting, but they've lasted for 30+ years. Go Tarheels!

Jeff Shelby said...


Long time Duke fan. Several of my old students went to Duke and I'm happy to tell you that two of them snuck me into Cameron in the middle of the night (one happened to work for the athletic department) just so I could see the place.

Also - Hansbrough sucks.

David Terrenoire said...


I won't tell my wife. If she finds out, she won't let me play with you any more.

Scott said...

You know the barefoot boy with the bamboo pole is just the guy wearing an orange vest and shilling N&O's on 15/501.

I could argue that Carolina is the nexus of evil, but I'd only be saying that because they haven't hired me yet.

Neither has Duke. Uppity bastards.