August 24 - August 30, 1995

B y  T o m  D a n e h y


I WAS GOING to use my column this week to give you my annual Camp Cochise (Arizona Wildcat football training camp) report. You know, drive down to Douglas, stand along the sidelines with some real-life journalists (and TV people), then report back. But in the interest of public safety, I decided against it. You people out there face a real danger of getting hooked on those Greg Hansen updates.

Besides, the Wildcats have toned things down this year. After raising people's hopes for the past three or four years and seeing it peak last year with the ill-fated Sports Illustrated prediction of Arizona winning the national championship, they feel that it's better that everyone follow the example and words of that great leader Jerry Brown when he was governor of California and lower our expectations.

The rallying cry in Wildcatland this year is "We're Number Three!" That way, fans will be less bummed out. As an added bonus, it has a built-in option for downward adjustment, if necessary.

There, I've saved the time and expense of making the trip. Now I'll do the Jeff Smith thing and tell you about my summer vacation.

The Danehy clan (Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter) always travels together. The master plan is to have the kids see all of the United States before they get out of high school. But there are 50 of those suckers and they're spread out all over the place. We're going to have to do some serious traveling one of these years, or have the kids repeat a few grades.

A couple years ago, we flew to Orlando, rented a car and drove along I-10 to New Orleans, catching several Southern states along the way. We spent about 20 minutes in Mississippi ("Okay kids, that was Mississippi!"). Besides, 20 minutes is about as long as you can be in Mississippi before you start losing IQ points.

This year, it was New England. Fly to Boston, rent a car, put a thousand miles on it in a week and see lots of people who look like their other brother Darryl.

Among the highlights:

• Drivers in Boston are the absolute worst in the United States, and they're damn proud of it. Their tourist literature brags about it--no kidding! Oh, they speed, run red lights and weave in and out of traffic like everybody else, but they have a unique practice that sets them apart.

When they're actually forced to come to a stop, they roll out into the intersection before coming to a complete halt. That way, drivers with the right of way have to go around them and are pretty much forced to make eye contact with them as they flip you off, often using the wrong finger. My late father, who used to extol the virtues of the fighting in Belfast, would be happy to learn that he was right: There's nothing meaner than an inbred Irishman. Or stupider, for that matter.

• They have something called brick-oven pizza all over New England. I don't think it refers to the way it's cooked, but rather to the texture of the crust.

• Burlington, Vermont, appears to be populated by folks who went to the original Woodstock and never found their way home. At this outdoor mall a couple of blocks from Lake Champlain, they hold (their version of) the Fourth Avenue Street Fair every day of the year, with classes where they teach the men to make tie-dye shirts and the women to braid the hair under their arms.

Special thanks to the woman who insisted on nursing both of her twins (I assume they were hers) at the table in the restaurant. Helped get my diet kick-started again. I felt my face shrivel up like Fred Sanford's used to do when he saw an old, ugly white woman.

• When we were in Maine, it was 62 degrees with a soft steady rain falling. I stood in the street, arms outstretched and face up like Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption. It felt like Tucson in December. I was kinda bummed out, though. I couldn't find one person who would say "Ayuh" to me. They probably all gathered like Stepford people and quietly chanted "Ayuh" behind our backs as we drove away toward New Hampshire.

• I have nothing bad to say about New Hampshire. We loved that place. I think God has it overrun with politicians every four years just to keep it from being perfect.

• We wanted to spend at least one night in each state capital, which we did with one exception. When we got to Montpelier, we decided to go to Montreal, instead.

When we got to the international border, they asked all kinds of questions. Where are you from? Where are you going? How long will you be there?

Yeah right, like some American is going to go to Canada and decide to stay there. That's real likely.

Montreal is a very pretty city. Even the people are good-looking. We were downtown around lunchtime when the office buildings emptied out and it looked like a models' convention. 'Course, on the downside, they all speak French. An entire city full of people who sound like they're hockin' loogies.

We went to the Hard Rock Cafe. I think it's a requirement; they won't let you out of the country unless you spend American money on T-shirts and stuff.

Right down the street from the Hard Rock is a place called (no kidding!) The Tucson Cafe. They even have a painting of that annoying coyote with the bandanna. If you go, be prepared for the $12 cheese crisp, made with cheese that doesn't smell like it came out of anything alive.

Oh yeah, there's no such thing as a Canadian $1 bill anymore. They've been replaced with coins, with the smallest paper denomination being $2. And you people ran Dennis DeConcini out of politics just because he had the same idea. The man was a visionary.

Well, that's all I have room for now. I'll save the rest (including Newport, Rhode Island; New Haven, Connecticut; and a Popeye's Chicken in Utica, New York) for a slow sports week.

Lord knows the baseball playoffs will be upon us soon.

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August 24 - August 30, 1995

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