Thursday, October 31, 2013


I guess there are fans that are in it for the blood, although I think most bloodsuckers are into the sports where death is a constant thrill and the infliction of pain is the main attraction. I never understood NASCAR or events in the boxing ring. I love football, but its brutal aspect is not its enticing feature at least not for me. I'm in it for the competition. I love to root for my team as if it's an extension of myself and my very being is affected by the outcome of the game. Win and I'm ecstatic, lose and I can't sleep. I understand how fans can literally die from heart failure while watching their team, the anxiety level so high and the results so precious. We all want to be winners and supporting a team that has a winning record by some extraordinary feat of transference gives us that winning glow and sense of being a part of something great. There is so much superstition connected with being a sports fan that grants us the permission to take some credit for a win because we wore our socks inside out, or drank precisely 13.6 ounces of beer at 6:13pm the day before the big game and it was due to that that our team won. The reverse is also in the mix when our team loses. We chose the wrong socks to turn inside out or we accidently spilled point two ounces of beer laughing at a rerun of Will & Grace tainting our karma and destroying our luck.
This was the enthusiasm I took to the Kettle of Fish, a New York bar that embraces Packerdom for every game the Packers play. I had read about the bar when surfing the web for the Packer-Vikings starting time for last Sunday's game. We had recently decided to bite the bullet and rent an apartment in New York. October was our first month in the apartment and true to New York living the cable was first late on delivery and then installed incorrectly with a cable box that didn't work. I had no TV of my own and there was no way I was going to miss the game, even in New York.
The Kettle of Fish is located on Christopher Street right next doot to the Stonewall, site of the initial gay uprising. What one has to do with the other I'm not quit sure but the lady at the door to the Kettle I'm sure could have broken my arm in several places if she really wanted to.
There's a twelve-dollar cover to get in the door. For your twelve dollars you get two tickets worth two drinks and a seat or standing space near one of the many TV's showing the game. Unlike other sports bars there is only one game on all the monitors and it's the Packers. The added bonus is they pump the volume up so you actually get to hear the commentary as well as see the action. There isn't one person in that bar during game time that isn't completely focused on the game.
You'd think most establishments catering to a crowd ready to spend on food and booze would be prepared to do whatever it could to make those patrons drop as much coin as they could squeeze out of them. Unlike those other bars the Kettle only serves brats on game day but lets you order in from any other restaurant or pizzeria willing to brave a rowdy crowd. Some fans had been stacking out their viewing tables hours before kick-off. That meant there was a steady stream of delivery boys running through the front door carrying hot boxes of pizzas and paper bags full of ribs.
The bar is divided into two rooms: one with the bar, bathrooms and counters and the other with a scattering of tables. The tables are filled well before game time by regulars all dressed in their appropriate green and gold. Your status is measured by which table you are allowed to sit at. These tables are reserved well in advance and the Kettle has a punch card system that gets you entry into the bar for play-offs if you have enough holes punched in your card. Prior to game time pitchers of Wisconsin beer splash and swill as their liquid gold makes its sloppy journey from the pitcher's mouth to the pilsner glasses bubbling and frothy with foam.
Just before game time and over Jon Gruden's pre-game jocularity the room breaks out into the Packer song. As a new initiate I didn't know the words but by the end of the game I think I had most of the verses down. This was quickly followed by a very loud rendition of, "The Bears Suck". You definitely don't want to show up here in any combination of blue and orange or wearing a Jay Cutler jersey.
The Kettle is owned and run by Patrick Daley, a man with more energy and Packer pride than any one person should have. When he's not hoisting trays of clean glasses back to the bar and dirty ones back into the kitchen he's circulating from table to table high-fiving the crowd over a Jordy Nelson catch or an Aaron Rodgers touchdown. I don't think there was a patron at the bar whose hand he didn't shake or shoulder he didn't squeeze and there was a big crowd.
Now the hoot of the evening for me was just before game time, Madison's local CBS affiliate news team waltzed into the bar with a film crew in tow.  Apparently Susan Siman and Mark Koehn had been beating the streets of New York looking for stories connecting Wisconsin with the Big Apple. What better way than with a beer and brat and crowd of Packer Backers screaming for the home team in a home far from home.  Too bad they didn't call us for a look at a couple of Mid-Costals commuting weekly from our comfortable Madison home to our New York energy intensive lifestyle and the design connection between the two. Come on Sue, you missed the boat there.

1897 Harvard Football Team
Pach Brothers, photographers
Vintage print

No comments:

Post a Comment