Aluminum: The New “Amphibious”?

Empty Kenan Stadium
September28/ 2015

From my viewing stand perspective, there is no such thing as “Too Goofy” when it comes to overly-caffeinated institutional partisans throwing their feces back and forth at one another.

Over twenty years, I’ve learned to simply step back out-of-range and watch’em fling it.  Fling it back/forth long enough and it all looks and smells the same.  With that, I am now declaring:

Aluminum Is The New Amphibious

For the benefit of the 1% or 2% who do not have an immediate reaction to the word “Amphibious” allow me a brief edification.

Back in the mid 80s, NC State had a basketball player named Charles Shackleford and a quippy coach named Jim Valvano.  After The Albuquerque Miracle in 1983,  Jim was The Toast of Toastmastering…. as adept at mesmerizing a rubber-chicken audience as he was devising game strategy on-the-fly.

Jimmy V could get laffs reading the warning label on a bottle of shampoo…. or poking fun at himself or his own players.   Later he would gain everlasting fame for a legendary speech about Courage when dealing with life’s ultimate adversity.   But before “The ESPN Speech” Jimmy V made Charles Shackleford forever infamous for

“Today at practice, Charles told me “Coach, I can shoot with either hand…. I’m Amphibious”.

Charles Shackleford

That play on words  – “Amphibious” / “Ambidextrous” – was NOT original with Jimmy V and, non-partisan historians pretty much agree Charles Shackleford NEVER said it.

Folks who knew Shackleford growing up in Kinston have always maintained “Shack’s” very limited vocabulary did not contain either “amphi/ambi-“ word.   They are NOT “ambivalent” in that assertion.

The line likely originated with either Peahead Walker or Abe Lemons or some unknown Vaudeville comedian of The Orpheum Circuit.   But anything “V” said from 1983-1988 either got a laugh or made a headline in The News & Observer or both.

Once the “I’m Amphibious” line was “out there” (along with Shack’s teammate Chris Washburn’s woeful SAT score of “475”), together they became THE catch-phrases used by “hated rivals” of The NC State Wolfpack…. specifically those partisan to a certain “Flagship” over in Orange County.

Those Flagship partisans fancied themselves “an intellectually superior sleeping giant”.   A throwaway quip confusing amphibious and ambidextrous was PERFECT to capsule the stereotype that:

“NC State farm boys who drive tractors, dip Skoal, and probably have sex with domesticated farm animals” ….. also don’t know the difference between two big words.  Ergo, ALL NC State athletes, faculty, staff, alumni and fans are, by broadbrush guilt-by-association, also really stoopid too. ….. …. snicker, snort, giggle, giggle.

Jim Valvano passed away in 1993.   His “amphibious” quip has, arguably, been quoted as much / more than “Never Give Up” ….. or “Three things you should do each day.”  Certainly more so along beautiful Franklin Street and wherever two or more Tar Heel fans gather since around 1987.   That is coming up on 30 years, but whose counting?

Just that word – “Amphibious” – even if said in a Biology class about newts or salamanders, never fails to get a snort and a snicker from a Tar Heel partisan.  It is Pavlovian.

Alas, it is equally Pavlovian in a “fingernails on a blackboard” way to NC State partisans.   The circumstances of Jim Valvano’s dying and his valiant final years have far eclipsed the indiscretions that led to his dismissal as NC State Basketball Coach.   The mere word “amphibious” goes to those indiscretions when said sneeringly by a rabid hated-rival fan.

After almost 30 years, one can see how “it’s gotten kinda old”.   But NOT to a snickering snorting goggle-eyed mouth-breathing dimwitted board monkey who realizes, even after almost 30 years, just saying “amphibious” still “gets to most State fans”.

Lose five football games in a row; just snort “Amphibious” and somehow that “evens it up”.??   To quote the old-timer ….. “That old dog still hunts”.  So long as that’s the case, keep using it.

Which brings us to “Aluminum”.

Early symptoms of aluminum toxicity include flatulence, headaches, colic, dryness of the skin and mucous membranes, tendencies for colds, burning pain in the head relieved by food, heartburn and an aversion to meat. Later symptoms include paralytic muscular conditions, loss of memory and mental confusion.

After 30 years of not so passively enduring “Amphibious”, have NC State partisans now got their very own “A” word to use as a one word sledge-hammer retort / insult against their hated rivals to the West?

To those 1% or 2% that don’t know what “Aluminum” means in this rivalry….

It refers to: Empty Kenan Stadium

A prolific preponderance of Empty Seats “amid the pines” in Kenan Stadium for a UNC Tar Heel Football game.  The bleachers in Kenan Stadium are made out of “aluminum”.   When a TV camera pans the stadium or a photograph reveals a significant number of “empty seats” / “aluminum” that means:

All UNC alumni / fans (Wal-Marters and otherwise) are sorry, no-count fair-weather, bandwagon human debris for not coming out to support their football team.   THAT is a High Crime meriting The Death Penalty but John Swofford is a no-count dirty bird ……”  snicker, snort, giggle, giggle.

The taunt is, obviously, most effective during times when NC State football fans are filling their own stadium proving they are NOT, by definition, also  “ sorry, no-count ………. debris”.

That happens to be the case so far in 2015 so the word “Aluminum” is popping up A LOT among NCSU partisans and in Internet feces-flinging between rival gangs of dim-witted goobers which both fan bases have in equal abundance, apparently.

Taunts such as “Amphibious” or “Aluminum” don’t have to relate to current circumstances to be hurled back & forth.


A never-before-seen image of “Mr. Amphibious” sitting on Kenan’s aluminum

UNC “student-athletes” have certainly had high-profile instances of “un-smart” behavior requiring special adaptations of standard academic practices.    Ya Reckon?   Is there a Swahili word for “Amphibious”?   WHAMO!

Likewise the turnout for NC State Basketball, other than when hated rivals come in, reveals a lot of whatever PNC seats are made from.

This past week,  a UNC Football player named “Bug” made an impassioned appeal to UNC partisans to spend $50-60/person to come out in 90 degree heat or in an all-day rain to watch him and his teammates play “The Fighting Blue Hens” or one of The Big Ten “I” schools.   He noted that 20,000 DO come out and pay to watch UNC Basketball play whozits.

For the record, even the most blindly-partisan Wolfpackers allows that “at least 20,000” also do turn-out for UNC Football in Kenan Stadium (cap. 60,000).   The same “20,000”???

As more comfortable Fall weather arrives with “opponents you’ve heard of”, MAYBE there will be less “aluminum” visible “amid the pines”…. or maybe not.   Again, Reality won’t matter.

When it comes to taunting one’s hated rival – be it Amphibious or Aluminum – if the taunt doesn’t really apply…..

Just Yell IT LOUDER and with more vitriol in your snarl.


PS:  Speaking of John Swofford.   Mr Commissioner will be this Wednesday’s speaker at The Raleigh Sports Club.   Google Raleigh Sports Club for info on when/where/how.  Guests are welcome.   I will attending as 58WK’s guest.

I am considering unveiling my new nickname for The Swoff – “The Tri-Lateral Commissioner” – because his name gets linked to so many conspiracy theories.

What do you think?


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