My attempt to find what's new and exciting with D.C. United circa April 2007, as measured by a trip to the parking lot before Saturday's game, and a brief stay in the press box, before I got tired and went home. Some of this parking lot stuff will be shown on Washington Post Live at some point this evening, probably around 6. Which means, you'll note, that it won't exactly be live.
1) The Screaming Eagles have two shining new grills, which were hard at work on 25 pounds of tenderloin, 30 pounds of ribs, and many more dead animal products when I arrived on Saturday. Total grill cost: $3,100 or so.
2) One of the team owners now hangs out in the parking lot before games. I was sitting there talking to Screaming Eagles Prez Paul Sotoudeh, when Will Chang, one of the team's new lead investors, strolled up in a D.C. United jacket and sneakers. Well, he had pants on, too.
"Will Chang's here," Paul noted. "Will, would you like some tenderloin."
"Well....," Will said, before wandering over to stare at the $3,100 worth of grills.
"He's worth more than everyone else here combined," pointed out Douglas Thompson, who was standing in front of the grilling dead animals.
Will accepted a Screaming Eagles jersey, and immediately put it on. A few minutes later, after eating some of the handiwork of the $3,100 worth of grills, he wandered over to the Barra Brava tailgate, where he accepted a BB t-shirt, which he put on over his Screaming Eagles jersey, to much applause.
"Everywhere I go, they give me a shirt," Will said, laughing.
"That coat is AWESOME," Mike Palmer said, of Will's jacket. Mike went up to the owner. "Can I just saw how AWESOME that coat is," he said.
The guy who plays the big bass drum, known universally as the GrillMaster, then came up to the owner.
"Hey, I'm the GrillMaster," he said. Then he started explaining how D.C. United should go back to its old logo, how the current one looked too much like a badminton birdie. Then he offered Will some food.
"You're the best owner in professional sports," a guy named Aaron Beatty said to Will.
"I'm just one of those guys that likes to have a good time," Will told Aaron.
"He's out here drinking with us, with the supporters, having a good time like the rest of us," Aaron later told me. "Most owners that I've seen don't do that."
The fan known as Duffman made the obvious comparison, which most people out there had to have been thinking of. I was, anyhow.
"How 'bout this?" he said. "The owner comes out in the rain and hangs out. It's not like you see Dan Snyder hanging out at a tailgate with a bunch of fans."
Maybe not, but you can go to a Redskins draft day party. Free parking!!!!
Point being, Will told a group of fans that Barry Bonds would almost certainly come to a DCU home game this year, and that while he (Will) has certain suit-wearing obligations he has to carry out up in the official-person part of the stadium, he'd rather be hanging out with the lunatics in Lot 8, although he didn't use that word.
"This is more fun," he told me. "Don't you think?"
Considering 40 percent of my time is spent blogging about D.C. United fans, I'd have to agree.
3) There's this dude Emilio who scores once a game for United. Still, DCU has this issue where their defenders sometimes fall down, and then the other team scores. The DCenters are calling for serious introspection. BLCKDGRD called Saturday "a thorough [bad word] that calls into question personnel, coaching, front office." Ben Olsen's Beard says this "does not bode well." The Screaming Eagles podcast calls it "dreadful."
Just what Washington needed. I had all these questions about whether DCU could step into our city's gaping maw of badness and plug the gap, at least until Mystics season begins. I'll hold off on those questions for now.
4) What else is new? Carlsberg. In section 313. Carlsberg, as you're well aware, is heavy into football sponsorship. Well, the Barra Brava was looking for a sponsor, and naturally figured a beer company might make sense, and this guy William Chernicoff's girlfriend's best friend from high school's boyfriend is a manager type for Premium, a big local distributor, and so William asked about free stuff, and a week later the guy called back and said, "Are you ok with Carlsberg?" and William said "Um, yeahhhhhhh!"
So now Barra members have t-shirts with the Carlsberg logo, and they get a free keg at tailgates, and banners are on the way, and there are Carlsberg-related specials at RFD and Finn McCool's, and there is Carlsberg in Section 313.
"We heard this was the rowdiest fan group in the States, so we went after them," said a laughing Jim Kane, Premium's on-premise manager, who helped broker the deal.
"Most knowledgeable and passionate," corrected Chernicoff.
"There you go, passionate, that's the adjective I was looking for," Kane said.
"And we drink a lot of beer," Chernicoff said.
5) And, as previously blogged about, there is a new tattoo in the stands. I've traveled this ground oh so many times already, but you need the resolution, no? DCU fan wins free tattoo, other fan doubts he'll ever get it, they make a bet, the doubter promises to eat her tailgating shoes if she loses, she loses, lawyers get involved, she makes shoe-shaped cakes which she'll eat instead of her real shoes (which she says are covered in "literally years of funk," and also alcohol enters the picture.
"I got a bottle of single-barrel Jack Daniels," pointed out the Barra's Banshee Jay, the newly tattooed fan, who accepted this negotiated settlement instead of real shoe-eating. "That's like nectar of the gods. It doesn't get any better than that."
"My major concern is that he's not ousted from the family will," said Bill Stevenson, the tattoo artist in question.
"What makes you think he was ever in it," said Jay's dad John, who happened to be in town for the tailgate. I asked whether John approved of the tattoo. "No comment, on advice of my counsel," he said. I asked whether his son was still in the will. "The plan is for his mother and I to party 'till it's gone," John said.
[It goes without saying that while I was attempting to conduct this high-minded journalism, a smoke bomb was set off in the distance, somewhat clouding my field of vision.]
Later, Bill, the tattoo artist, met Will, the team owner.
"Let me know when you're ready," Bill said.
"Maybe I can volunteer my partner, Victor," Will offered.
Finally I tracked down Chico Solares, the Barra leader who had helped coordinate the settlement. He was parading around with a "Chico's Bail Bonds" t-shirt, offering to do weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. I asked about the resolution he achieved for Igiel.
"I saw that my client was being unfairly victimized, and I'm all about fighting injustice in the world," he said. "And I saw the possibility of getting free booze."
"That's why I'm here, free beer," noted Will Chang, the team owner, who seemed to be everywhere.
"I weaseled 'em out of a $60 bottle of booze," Chico continued. "Although watching her eat a crusty old boot would have been funny, getting a bottle of Jack was more important."
His opposing lawyer, actual lawyer Ed Kubal, was now in the conversation.
"He got whupped on this one," Chico said of Ed.
"You're only as good as your client" actual lawyer Ed Kubal said.
I asked about this negotiated settlement, in which Jack Daniels played the deciding role and in which both counsels agreed to take a cut of the alcohol, and Ed agreed it was "highly unorthodox."
"I think the attorneys made out better than anyone," Chico said.
"Someone's got to look out for the attorneys," actual lawyer Ed Kubal said.
It turns out that, as a Barra Elder, Chico was sort of the judge in the case, in addition to serving as lead counsel, but at this point I gave up trying to piece together the legal niceties.
"Judge and executioner," Chico said, describing his role. "And we're going to execute that bottle. It's a death sentence."
So really, as you can see, nothing's changed, at least in Lot 8.