Welcome to Aggro-Tourism, EDSBS's roaming safari tour of all those foreign cultures that spring up on fall Saturdays, right here in America. Now playing: The Oregon Ducks.
[via essential bro bubbaprog]
We've assembled a crackerjack team of Oregonian panelists to guide neophytes and continuing-education drunkards through the idyllic, loud-ass wilds of Autzen and its surrounding environs. Do enjoy.
SHIT TYRONE GET IT TOGETHER.
I don't know if I can necessarily define it, but ask anyone who visits, and they'll tell you. It's not like other places. There's this feeling of overwhelming camaraderie that only a Duckie knows. We've always been the underdogs, even though we know we're fantastic. Fair-weather Duck fans are not allowed, and we'll spot you from a mile away. We love this team.
Birds of War
We wear many colors: black, green, yellow, gray, white, and failing that, whatever adjacent team's color catches our eye and we decide to annex as part of our ever growing wardrobe. Make fun of our uniforms and YOUR TEAM WILL BE NEXT.
The gameday experience can be summed up as genial. The tots have a spring in their step, the older fans have a smile on their face, and the students have broken capillaries on their noses. Outside of the occasional meathead douchenozzle you're likely find near any major sporting event, everyone is focused on drinking copious amounts of microbrews and eating only so much food as won't get in the way of a good buzz.
Only potential drawback is the weather. It's wet, and since we play a lot of night games, often cold, and in November, can be foggy. Despite all that, you rarely get what people outside the Pacific Northwest think of as rain. In fact, PA announcer Don Essig's go-to pregame call is, "It never rains on Autzen Stadium!" Even when it's raining. (My bet is he's being ironic rather than drunk or senile, but you never know.)
So you had better just continue drinking until you feel dry, my friend.
Dear first-timers: we love you, we welcome you, and you will have an absolutely unforgettable experience, if you only remember a few things.
If you aren't hosting the tail-gate, go park over near campus and walk over on the Autzen footpath (just follow the migration of green and yellow bodies). Parking can be tricky though, so be forewarned. The U of O was green before it became trendy, so there are no parking garages. Anywhere. (There are plenty of bike racks though!) Be ready to walk.
Wear green and yellow like your life depends upon it, and leave your umbrellas at home. Not only are they not allowed in the stadium, but, even in a downpour, IT NEVER RAINS AT AUTZEN STADIUM.
Put succinctly, if you're cool, we're cool.
And yeah, weed.
PARK YOUR ASSES.
If you're smart, you'll park somewhere near campus and take the footbridge to Autzen. You can park pretty much anywhere south of Franklin Blvd., and the walk itself is eminently doable. It'll take you over the Willamette River and through Alton Baker Park, so it leans toward picturesque. If you insist on driving to the spot, be prepared for hellish traffic even if you leave many hours before kickoff. Like I said: only game in town. Anyone not getting shitfaced at the tailgate will be getting shitfaced at the nearby Chase Village apartment complex, so it's all pretty centralized.
At the stadium, there's plenty of parking lot, and across the street the Boy Scouts rent spaces out of the Masonic Lodge's lot. This is where the majority of the actual tailgating occurs. Cedar-plank-grilled salmon is our regional delicacy, but you see surprisingly little of it at an Autzen tailgate. Drink: Oregon microbrews abound, plenty of people willing to share them, and there's no enforced restrictions on open containers, etc.
Birds of War
You will make your way through a strange and forgotten part of campus where i'm pretty sure they keep live Leprechauns. Fuck else if I know what goes on over there. I went there for 4 years and never figured it out. Eventually you will cross a footbridge over the Willamette river, walk through a forest that will take you right to Autzen stadium. Admittedly after typing that it sounds kind of lame, but watching thousands of fans funnel onto one trail to form a gigantic yellow human-caterpillar is a sight to see and even more fun to be a part of.
Best aspect of the Autzen tailgate is without a doubt the location. It's adjacent to Alton Baker Park, through which the Willamette River (PronunciNazi Alert! will-LAMB-it) and the legendary Prefontaine's Trail runs. Folks that don't park at the stadium usually park near campus and go through Alton Baker to reach Autzen. It's a gorgeous walk.
Birds of War
Tailgating at the stadium is the most cost effective. And Auzten isn't for the namby-pamby types who like to fuss about beer drinking in public. It's both legal and prevalent inside the tailgating area (read, everywhere). Lately they have been letting people use the baseball field (literally next to Auzten) to drink and watch the game on the big screen, but it's BYOB.
Nate from SF
Non-football excursions - hike Spencer's Butte - half an hour, not terribly hard, very rewarding view. Pour one out at Pre's Rock near Hendrick's Park. Take a walk through the main drag of campus and see if you can recognize the building where Belushi & Co. brought the horse into the Dean's office. Go thank the bros at the SAE house for sending Masoli to the SEC.
Of course there are the tailgating gourmets who break out the venison-kabobs, the roast pig, the salmon and steelhead fillets grilled on the BBQ.
Birds of War
We are blessed with an absurd variety of quality beer here in Oregon. Thats not lost on anyone. However when it comes to drinking economy, it's all about PB-fucking-R. It's cheap and horrible, but not as horrible as high-life. And in the game of life that's all you really need.
Nate from SF
If you don't have a solid tailgate hook-up just do a lap around the stadium to see what you run into and eventually end up at the Mo Center. It is the indoor practice facility that turns into an indoor party/beer garden on game day.
The Moshofsky Center provides an excellent indoor tailgating experience for the pussies who complain about being cold but refuse to wear warm clothing. There are beer gardens, huge TVs and projectors, and many other fans related activities, and it's lots of fun... but you'll need a game ticket to get in.
Lucky for us Oregonians, there is more beer selections than you can imagine. Just go to any non-minimart and find shit that looks local. Believe me, you want to fit in? Pound a 22 oz Ninkasi and yell Go Ducks afterwards. People will slap you on the back and through the "O" up. Possibly offer up their daughter.
I don't know if there is a "signature" cocktail at the U of O, but a lot of visitors think getting Duck Farts is really cute. I'm not really into drinking something named after the gaseous jettisons of waterfowl (especially when it involves whiskey and milk-based alcohol), but to each his own; in the hippie spirit that people like to define us by, everything is welcomed. I will say this though: this state has some of the most delectable microbrews to ever cross your palate, and alumni will unload kegs of it at their tail-gates in true Bacchanalian fashion. Get into it.
IN THE LAIR OF THE DUCK IN PAJAMAS
Nate from SF
Important note - there are ins and outs allowed at halftime, the only major school that you can do this at on the west coast as far as I know. This will mean coming back in mid 3rd quarter and trying to follow the Blur Offense while already seeing double.
The most underrated thing about the Autzen Experience? You can leave at halftime, and go drink some more (I couldn't do this at Tennessee, so suck it, SEC). [WE CANNOT IMAGINE WHY NOT. --ed.] Just make sure to save your ticket and get a stamp.
BLOGGERS, SUSTAIN THYSELVES.
Pre-game hangout: tail-gating. Always. To down salmon-fillets and PBR.
Post-game hangout: tail-gating. Always. To down celebratory shots.
Birds of War
After the games most people head to downtown Eugene, to an area known as the Bar-muda triangle. There are like 6 bars all in a one block radius and it only exists during the hours of when drinking starts and 2:30 am when the OLCC mandates the all alcohol disappears.
The obvious choice would be The Cooler, if only because it's a few blocks west of Autzen. It's fairly big and it's probably the best-equipped in terms of big screen and regular-sized televisions to keep you apprised of other sports-related action. Drink prices are reasonable and the staff is friendly enough.
My favorite will always be Rennie's Landing, on 13th and Kincaid. It's one of two bars on campus, and, though it's a small hike from campus to Autzen (over the river, near Pre's Trail, across the footbridge - really, not a bad walk at all), it's totally worth it. Beautiful building, great staff, and same lovely, laid-back vibe that permeates throughout the Euge. When you go, A) ask for Rico and tell him Legs sent you; B) sit up on the balcony and share your pitchers; and C) for the love of all things holy, get yourself some cheesy-bacon fries. Good thing about Rennie's: they open at, like, 7 in the AM, and their hangover breakfasts, while not as good as the Glenwood's (right down the street at 13th and Alder), will be put in front of your face in about ten minutes (and Rennie's bloody Mary's should be deified).
It's semi-famous in that ESPN's Neil Everett always namedrops it during Oregon highlights.
Any of a number of friendly local microbrew pubs are what Eugene is known for (High Street, East 19th Street, Steelhead are but a few).
A quick aside for food: the best late night purveyor of vittles is the taco truck right outside Taylor's. I'm not kidding. It's fucking choice.
Nate from SF
There's also East 19th Street Cafe a block south of Hayward Field (track) - which is a McMenamins that features all sorts of Oregon micro-brews. Yes, we're known for that shit and can be ridiculed for it, but there's some damn good beer in there.
If it's an ears-ringing-rump-shaking-filled-to-capacity dance party you're looking for, Taylor's near 13th and Kincaid is your spot. The sexiest and scantiy-cladiest specimens of either sex will be there, but be forewarned: they are deeply stupid and they are intensely focused on rutting. Tempers have been known to flare and the bouncer is very proud of his stun gun.
Nate from SF
Track Town Pizza - legendary pies and all sorts of Ducks memorabilia on the walls. 6th Street Bar downtown for younger alums post-game...stiffest cocktails in town. Post-Game: Good Times for live music. Late night grub at The Glenwood.
Finally, if you prefer more intimate fare, you can go to Max's Tavern on 13th between Patterson and Ferry. Why is it intimate? Because the interior is so tiny it might in fact be a derelict WWII submarine. Still, the alcohol selection is quite good, and you can shoot some pool or go smoke half a pack of cigarettes out back on the heated porch. Major upsides include: (1) They tend to play excellent (re: not Top 40) music; and (2) The place is (believably) rumored to be the inspiration for Moe's Tavern on The Simpsons.
TALES OF INTEREST.
My favorite tailgating anecdote involves my friend Matt, who encountered Ducks legend Kenny Wheaton at the tailgate before the 2009 Halloween Ducks-USC blowout and proceeded to a) thank him for singlehandedly dismantling the entire University of Washington football program and b) re-enact "the pick" using Kenny Wheaton's own body parts to demonstrate Kenny's actual run downfield. Complete with color commentary including the immortal line "Kenny Wheaton's gonna score!!"
Matt, as he is moving Kenny Wheaton's body parts around, is overheard making the following exchange:
Matt: anyone else would have just fallen down, but not you Kenny Wheaton, what did you do?
KW: I cut back.
Matt: THAT'S RIGHT Kenny Wheaton you did. (moved KW into cutting back position). You cut back into GREATNESS.
The origin tale of the I Love My Ducks video:
The guys who do this video are students in the Journalism school at Oregon. They made a video last year, leading up to the Civil War game that decided who'd go to the Rose Bowl, and the college tried to shut it down because these guys didn't get license to use Puddles in the video - the university came around, Chip endorsed it, and they showed it on DuckVision before the Civil War game. It was such a hit, the boys made another, and this time, the university is all about it.
My most memorable Autzen story is from a Fog Bowl, 1993's Civil War Game. Some friends were graduating, and in the spirit of going out in style, bought a $100 keg of microbrew the night before for our tailgate. Game day comes, we get to our spot. Our friend busts out the keg. We notice a tap is already attached, and he tells us, "I tapped it last night!" He wanted a beer, I guess. So we drank flat Pyramid Hefeweizen on a miserable, cold, dank, foggy night in Eugene, and the Beavers won an awful game between bad teams, 15-12. This was a typical Ducks football experience in the old days, what the folks at Addicted to Quack refer to as The Suffering.
My roomies and I, during undergrad, were the Joey (Harrington) Girls. There were four of us, so we each held up a giant, obnoxious, neon sign that had a letter of his name. We took them to all of the games, including the Civil War and the Fiesta Bowl (as in, bringing them on the plane with us). After the Ducks killed the Buffs at the Fiesta Bowl, we were cheering with the other fans in the student section, waiting to congratulate the players as they walked off the field. Joey walked right over to us and said: "Thank you so much for all of your support this season. You guys are wonderful! I love you" (I may have made that last part up). One of my roomies, who may or may not have been in love with him, was so starstruck that she could not speak. She could not breathe. She could only cry, bursting into tears like my mother did when she first saw Elvis in concert.
Birds of War
One of my roommates and his girlfriend had tickets, the rest of us didn't. Said roommate called us 2 hours before kick-off:
"Um... I need your help, [NAMEOFGIRLFRIEND] passed out in the south-side bathroom and threw up on herself. I need you guys to come pick us up."
Getting a car not only to the stadium, but THROUGH the Autzen parking lot on gameday is akin to Reggie Nelson trying to have sex with a mouse. No matter how many times you over it in your head, you just can't see it working. I brought up this point to my friend, and he goes "No it's fine. Tell the security guard at gate that you're here to pick up the girl in the bathroom."
So we roll up to the entrance and I talk to the security guard. "Hey man... we uhhh... are here to... uh, our friend called us and we need to pick up... uh" and more such stuttering until he asked us point blank if we were here to pick up the unconscious girl currently monopolizing the concrete floor of the south-side bathroom. Why yes, we are. He radioed someone and said the following which I was not at all expecting: "Ok sit tight. We're going to take you through."
So there we are, during the zenith of gameday, rolling through the parking lot in my friend's shitty 1994 Ford Taurus with a full security escort waving drunk college kids out of the way. It's worth mentioning just how cool about the whole thing the security guards were. Even the cop that greeted us outside of the bathroom was chill about the whole underage-girl-passed-out-in-the-bathroom thing. We got her limp body successfully in to the car (although we may have tommy boy'd her head on the door) and got the fuck out of there.
True Story: (circa 1995) Some friends and I were carelessly self-medicating in the Rose Bowl parking lot, subconsciously aware of inevitable defeat we would suffer to the Nittany Lions when none other than Ken Kesey, the electric-kool-aid-acid-tester and Oregon-alum passed by. "Hey Ken! Come have a beer with us man!," we yelled.
Kesey stopped in his tracks, moseyed over and grabbed a beer, shook hands with the gang and talked Oregon football for a good half-hour. Eventually he glanced at his watch and said "Hey fellas, it's been fun but I've got to meet up with some friends." Everyone, save the drunkest one, immediately assented and started off the well-wishing and handshaking and good-lucking. The drunkest one couldn't/wouldn't let Mr. Kesey off so easy however. "Aw, c'mon Ken, you know we're more interesting than your stupid friends, stay and have one more beer with us!" he slurred/commanded. Kesey nodded as though there were some validity to his statement but waved and smiled and said "Sorry gotta run guys. Go Ducks!"
Not good enough for my friend who stepped forward menacingly "C'mon Ken, you're either on the goddam bus, or you're off the goddam bus." Kesey's eyes popped and he quickly turned on his heel to which my glassy-eyed buddy tossed his beer cup and screamed, "Hey Ken! Ken Kesey! SOMETIMES A GREAT WRITER, EH?"
The rest of us stared at our beers in silence.
Neon ducky thanks to our Oregon correspondents: Quack Patty, Mike Halstead, Joey C, HoodRiverDuck, Nate from SF, Tracey, Jojo, Kara McManus, and Birds of War.