Defending Napa Valley

January17/ 2000

As we bid adieu for this season to Mr. Kenan’s pine rimmed greensward … migrating south to the hallowed rafters of Mr. Dean’s Dome; it’s high time for BobLee to jerk a knot in a sizable portion of Tar Heelia.  UNCers do so love their “traditions” … even if they were created by “the enemy” and have only the remotest connection to reality. .. Yeah verily – “Fat Cats” are people too … and mighty fine people too.  Join Mr Swagger for a tour of “Napa Valley” – the mythical Land of Wine & Cheese Between the 40s.

   His name is Sam Cassell.  He played basketball for Florida State and has enjoyed a 12+ year career in the NBA.  He has two NBA championship rings from his Houston Rocket days.  A dozen “rings” and countless NBA mega-bucks will never supplant his greatest contribution to the American sports scene.  It was “Sam I Am” who, in 1992, first labeled Carolina Tar Heel fans as “a wine & cheese crowd”.  

   History shows that within 32 seconds of Sam uttering that phrase, silk screeners in West Raleigh had it emblazoned on a wide range of wearables available in Wolfpack Fan shops.  The sale of anything carrying that slogan continues as a hot item among all ACC rival fan bases.

   That rivals swooped down to market that “meant to be derogatory” stereotype is really not “the story”.  Rather, it has become a bloodier bludgeon when wielded WITHIN the UNC fan base.   

   “Wine & Cheese” has become the war cry for a near sighted, narrow minded, class-envious mob of rabble who wear themselves out claiming to be “real fans”.  Even some of you fine upstanding SwaggerSays readers live on the cusp of this mindless rabble, so pay attention as BobLee explodes The Myth of Carolina’s Napa Valley … where the “wine & cheesers” cavort.

   First, we must deal with the much stronger “myth” that UNC is unique as the epicenter of all that is worthwhile in the collegiate universe.  Do you know what a “tea sipper” is?

   A “tea sipper” is a University of Texas “Orangeblood” that can afford to purchase prime seats for Texas football games.  They sit “between the 40s” and enjoy college football games in a fashion consistent with their demographical, chronological and occupational stations in life.  This is not to say that they do not cheer and are not moved emotionally by on-field fortunes of their ‘Horns.  They do and they are.  Check Mack’s e-mail to see if “they care”!

   A look around America will reveal dozens and dozens of large Liberal Arts colleges with “successful” alumni/fans who attend their alma mater’s sports contests.  A portion of each school’s overall fan base resent this group for their rank and privilege.  The only difference is that Sam Cassell did not give them a slogan to use. 

   Let’s go to a point that almost every Tar Heel fan CAN agree on.  The “game atmosphere” in Carmicheal was “electric”.  Carmicheal “rocked”.  Larry Miller, Charlie Scott, Phil Ford, Sweet D, George Karl, all the way to, His Airness, “Michael”.  These blue clad gods of the hardwood performed before raucous legions of screaming fan-freaks from 1965 until 1985.  Mr Swagger “was there” when Carmicheal opened in 1965.  Exactly WHO do you think were those “raucous screaming fan-freaks” in Carmicheal in the 60s, 70s, 80s?

   They were the very same Burberry blazer wearing “Fat Cats” that are now so maligned by the ignorant class envious rabble thanks to Sam Cassell.  Today’s 50-ish “Fat Cats” in “the lower level” were uninhibited undergrads in the late 60s.  They crowded into the bleachers behind the teams in Carmicheal.  They made life miserable for Vic Bubas, Frank McGuire, Terry Holland, Press Maravich, and “The Old Lefthander”.  Their tuition check-writing parents occupied the other 7,500 seats in “electric Carmicheal.

   What happened to those “crazy kids” in those bleachers over the past 30 years?  They “grew up” … YIKES!  Stimulated by a UNC education they went forth … contributed to society … and prospered.  You can find them today in operating rooms, courtrooms, classrooms, and corporate boardrooms around the world, across America, and throughout North Carolina.  Doctors, Lawyers, Corporate Chiefs … and still Tar Heel Fans.

   The natural metamorphosis that transformed these Tar Heels of the 60s and 70s happened to their parents and will inexorably happen with their own children … today’s blue-faced, obscene t-shirt wearing, f-bomb throwing “real fans” of the new millennium.

   For every late-arriving, early-departing Fat Cat one want to use as a broadbrush negative example … I’ll counter with 1000s of solid Sons & Daughter of The Old Well who have been loyally attending Tar Heel games since before the “real fans” fell in love with #23 and jumped on the Big Blue Bandwagon.

Definition of “Fat Cat”  

“Anyone who sits closer to the 50 or to midcourt than I do”

A very relative term

   Growing up has its drawbacks … you don’t sleep as soundly, pee as far, see as well, drink as much, act as crazy, dream as wildly, or treat a “game” as life or death.  Oh, you still “care”.  And you still can cuss about an Athletics Director, a Coach, a Chancellor, or a Campus Cop giving you a parking ticket.  You just go about it differently.

   If “Dr. Jimmy” is going to be administering anesthesia to your infant daughter as she undergoes a life-saving operation on Monday morning, do you REALLY want him bare-chested and bellowing on Saturday.  If “General Bill” is going to order your son into “harm’s way” in Falujia do you want him distracted by “that missed field goal”.  That guy handling your retirement portfolio … if he’s so mad at Dickie he can’t see straight … you could lose a bunch of bucks with a few errant keystrokes.  That business executive with impatient stockholders and 100s of employees expecting paychecks … he wishes he had “a stupid coordinator” to blame.

   I am fortunate to have numerous wonderful friends who invite me to join them in Kenan’s “Napa Valley” for Fall Saturday’s.  This Internet Legend gig does have its perks!  I’ve been in the belly of that bountiful beast on many many occasions.  When the team is exciting and competitive, it “rocks” as well as any SEC “hot bed”.  When the team is getting butt-whipped and bitch-slapped it is less so.  I see the same faces each week.  The past few years have been “lean” but they keep coming.  One dear gentleman I see “on the 50” every game actually has Alzheimer’s but loves his Tar Heels.  In the fog of his mind, Carolina wins every game.  

   Yes, I was there at Mack’s last Duke game.  “Napa Valley” was as full as the rest of Kenan was/wasn’t that day.  Where were the so-called “real fans”?  The “Fat Cat” Rams had already sent in their checks.  The absent “real fans” made no investment at all that day … not one Beefmaster … not one t-shirt.   

   And another thing … those “Fat Cats” earned the right to purchase those prime seats via their ongoing financial loyalty to Carolina.  While the self-labeled “real fans” glare beady-eyed and menacingly at those in either of UNC’s Napa Valleys they conveniently forget who paid for that building … built the Kenan Center … bought out Roy’s contract at KU … rebuilt Finley Golf Course AND will be there THE NEXT TIME their University needs them to ante up.  

   Hey, “real fan”, thanks for buying that blue cap at Champs.  Hey, “Fat Cat wine & cheeser”, thanks for that check for $20,000.  Here’s a UNC decal for your Beemer.

   The goggle-eyed loon faction want the “Fat Cats” to “give Spurrier a blank check” … but want to evict those same “Fat Cats” from their seats.  Those loons are so full of rage and contemptuous envy they have no room for a modicum of common sense.

   Now, to be fair, Ye Olde Legend and “Skippa” Bowles did err in one key area.  They should NOT have concentrated all the “grown ups” in one prominent area under those hallowed rafters.  More recent “big arenas” learned from Dean & Skippa’s judgement error.  Maryland’s ComCast and NCSU’s (Wake County’s) RBC Center set aside primo areas for their “less inhibited” fan faction … ergo … allowed for “the bleachers in Carmicheal”. 

   Carolina’s “Napa Valley” is not, and never has been, a function of character or group personality … so much as it is merely a product of faulty architectural engineering.

   Even the cyber blow torch that is SwaggerSays can not erase ol’ Sam’s trite little comment.  Class envy and abject stoopidity are most worthy adversaries to engage.  But if each of you passes this incredibly profound column on to one friend … and they to one friend … and they … then come next Fall I’ll have even MORE friends “in Carolina’s Fabled Napa Valley”.


Swagger’s Stumper

“Plop Plop ____ ____, Oh ___ __ ____ __ __!”


Chinachgook was Uncas’ father.  Both were bloodbrothers of Hawkeye (aka Natty Bumpo).  Although younger, Uncas died first … leaving his Father, Chinachgook, as The Last of The Mohicans.

This world is chockfull of really neat folks.  I met two more at the VaTech game … The Thomas’ from Charlotte.  Missed field goals at the buzzer notwithstanding, any day I get to meet loyal SwaggerSays readers is “a very good day”.  Saturday was “a very good day”.  I also met Norwood’s “sweetie” … very cute AND very Conservative … dynamite combo!

It would be a lot easier to wage war against those doggone Liberals if it wasn’t for folks like Jon The Bear and Lydia.  While misguided politically, they are both so darn nice I gotta love’em.  Jon The Bear owns The BBQ Joint off Weaver Dairy Road in Chapel Hill.  Drop by and tell him, Swagger sent you … he’ll give you a free scoop of his special banana pudding.  Jon sought me out Saturday to offer his congrats on Tuesday.  Quite cool dude that Bear!

Let me take a moment to remind my disconsolate Lupine friends … as Pa Swagger loved to remind me “There’s never a horse that couldn’t be rode … never a rider that couldn’t be throwed” … It truly is just a freakin’ game, guys.

Two BobLee Alives coming up this week … Kernersville Rotary on Wed AM and Kinston Rotary on Thursday (at Kings).  Mooresville and Charlotte the following week.  All BobLee Buddies always welcome to crash the party.

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