ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBAWWWWLLL!!
My first indication that going to the Oakland Raiders tailgate party would be different was when, as I stepped off the Oakland Coliseum BART platform, a guy thrust into my hand a key ring touting the Bad Boys Bail Bonds. (Their TV ads are hilarious. *Yer momma wants you HOME!* )
Upon hearing I planned to do this photo trip, I was regaled with lurid tales of fights, beatings and heckling from the Raider Nation.
I was kinda lookin forward to that.
Nah. Loud music, much booze, rabid black and silver everywhere - it was a west coast party with fans of all colors and areas rolling in.
As I walked down the ramp, the air was permeated by the aroma of cooking meat, beer and marijuana.
In fact, a group of New York Raider fans who had flown in for the game, faces painted in the tribal silver and black, were kinda agog at the scene.. saying the Jets, Giants and Eagles tailgate parties had NOTHING on this bacchanal.
Seriously tho, they were cool.. reminds me a bit of Chicago Bear fans. Taciturn, blue collar. Hard workin, hard partying.
Upon hearing I had come in from New York
"You a Jets fan?"
"Nah. Bear fan."
Bill Geist of CBS, there to do a commentary on the raider nation. He looked a bit concerned, probably more puzzled as to how surprisingly friendly the people were. I think he was disappointed there were no fights.
I expected more of the following nonsense..
But really, although loud - it was far more Cali mellow, rowdy friends just hangin out..
"Aright man, just hold it there."
"NAH man, make it natural - just take the picture like I am.. nunna dat posin' shit."
Heh. afterward - he cracked me and the crowd around his truck up with demonstration of all the posin people do...
Shit, I was getting e-mail and phone numbers un-asked.
I was thinkin THIS tailgate party taking place atop the hood of the car was kinda weak, until the guys yelled..
"Man, PUT your hand in there and grab yourself a piece of chicken!!"
So I did.
I was being fed without askin all evening.
I was even offered a ticket to get into the game. I declined, but I was touched by the generosity shown me all evening. :-)
"HEY! WATCHOUT for the horse shit!"
Then when I took pictures of the fresh splatter, there was disbelieving yells of "He took pictures of the doody!!"
This is where the doody came from..
Eventually, I was pointed to the famed Black Hole party central, but I got there after the music and crowds had died down.
By the time the game started and everyone started filing into the stadium, I would say most of the crowd was LIT UP.
At the entrances, the staff pats everyone down to make sure theyre not carrying booze into the stadium.
The extremely large trash receptacles at each station were being emptied at the rate of every five minutes, as the patrons held on to their liquid refreshments as long as they could.
And then the game started
Based on the smoke from inside the stadium, I would guess the tailgate parties carried on inside...
I left at halftime, overwhelmed by the sensory overload.
And people were still filing in..
Oh yeah, the Raider-ettes.. their progress through the parking lot marked by a lotta hoopin and a hollerin.
They were accompanied by a huge police escort, natch.
I gave Kate the Bad Boy Bailbonds key ring. She loved it. :-)