Archive for the ‘60/30’ Category

60/30: No. 24, Philips Arena

Andrew Unterberger is on the home stretch of his quest to see a game in every NBA arena. Here’s his report from Atlanta…

I got to spend an extra day in New Orleans before heading to Atlanta, though as it turns out, even by stretching the boundaries of the fourth meal, there aren’t enough reasonable eating opportunities to check off every foodstuff of note to be had in New Orleans. I managed to knock out a po’ boy (some catfish one at a bar near my family friend’s house), jambalaya (Coop’s Place on Decatur), beignets (Cafe Du Monde in the Riverwalk mall) and a muffuletta (Central Grocery in the French Quarter), the latter of which was so huge that it also served as my lunch and dinner the next day. All good stuff, but I missed out on having alligator, gumbo, oysters and crawfish — the latter of which, at least supposedly, weren’t even in season. Reason enough to come back, I suppose.

Walking down Bourbon Street that afternoon was a treat, in any event. Not as bustling on a Thursday afternoon as it would be on a weekend night, I suppose, but I still got solicited by three different strip clubs while stumbling around drinking a tallboy of Beck’s — would have to suffice as far as decadence goes. (I was also relieved to find that New Orleans boasts almost as many ridiculous stores of t-shirts with obnoxious slogans on them as New York does — I found “I got BOURBON-FACED on SHIT STREET” really funny for some reason.) The only down part of my stay was the hotel I stayed at on Tulane Avenue that night — not a bad place, and I got to watch the end of the excellent Spurs-Nugs game on TNT, but people hanging around the hotel kept warning me about the shady activity going on therein, and as I was checking out, the workers at the hotel desk kept cackling to themselves that I had stayed the night in Room 405. I’m trying not to think about it too much.

The next night I was at Philips Arena to watch the latest chapter in the heated Southeast Division rivalry between the Hawks and the Bobcats — the Stephen Jackson Bowl, Pt. 3.

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Andrew Unterberger loves flannel and basketball. Here’s his report from New Orleans…

Memphis — not a bad place for a music fan to take a day off in. After eating lunch at Payne’s Chris Herrington‘s recommended barbecue place (Love the way they do business in Memphis — my sliced-pork sandwich was huge, succulent and so sweet and tangy that it made my accompanying Dr. Pepper taste like seltzer), I started on a mini-tour of Memphis’s rock-history destinations: Graceland, Sun Studios and the Stax Museum. Graceland was closed on Tuesdays, amazingly, but Sun was open for touring, and our guide was a total gamer, relating the entire Sun story and demonstrating how Johnny Cash got the clicking percussion sound on “I Walk the Line” (Spoiler alert: Wrap a dollar bill around the guitar neck under the strings, and strum it muted.) Even cooler was Stax, which had me smiling for days with its revolving Isaac Hayes Cadillac (seriously, the actual car) and its huge wall projection of old Soul Train clips (with an accompanying dance floor, of course).

Before calling it a day in Memphis, I broke the seal on my soon-to-be-illustrious radio career with Chris and Chris Vernon on 730 AM Fox Sports, and had a podcast chat with the 48 Minutes of Hell guys about my stay in San Antonio. I also got to check Waffle House off my list of necessary road-stop destinations — though, to be totally honest, I still prefer IHOP, which I hit for the fifth time this trip before my way out to New Orleans.

Kings vs. Hornets for the second time this trip, the first being one of the more depressing games of sub-NBA ball I’ve ever witnessed live. Figured there was no way to go but up from there — especially with me in town, now a winner of eight straight.

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Andrew Unterberger survived Memphis and lives to tell his tale…

Hot off the most resounding win of my trip (my seventh in a row, incidentally), I put on my blue suede shoes and boarded the Corolla for Memphis. Stopped at Van’s Pig Stand in Oklahoma on the way there for what would be something like my 17th barbecue restaurant over about a five-day span. Roadfood pointed out two specialties — ribs and the pig sandwich — so I had the former for breakfast and stashed the latter for a mid-road snack. The ribs were good, though it was definitely the earliest in the day I’ve ever had ribs and I probably shouldn’t have stood on formalities with applying the barbecue sauce. (Hey, I never know what the etiquette is with these things — they made fun of me at a Q in San Antonio for not understanding the correct ordering procedure. Damn pork snobs.)

The sandwich was also quality, but by then the sandwich had been sitting in sub-freezing temperatures for a good four hours, and was perhaps not eaten at optimal conditions. As frigid as it was in Oklahoma, it definitely just got worse heading east, and as I waited outside the FedEx Forum trying to square away my credential details for the night’s Grizzlies-Blazers game, I could feel numbness gradually robbing me of my various motor controls. “It’s not usually this cold,” everyone assured me. Harumph.

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Andrew Unterberger is somewhere in the middle of the United States. Here’s his report from Oklahoma City…

Someone please tell me what the fuck it’s doing being so cold this far south? OK, so maybe my dreams of consistently sweating through temperatures in the 70s and 80s as I traversed the country’s lower half were never particularly realistic — aside from my afternoon in Phoenix and maybe a couple hours in San Antonio, I don’t think I’ve gotten much warmer than the 60s. But as I drove north to Oklahoma City and saw the temperatures on my car thermometer drop from the low 50s to the 40s and gradually to around freezing, I couldn’t believe it — at the very least, I figured I’d be able to go until my DC trip before I had to see my breath again. I thought I was so clever (accidentally so, anyway) structuring my trip to spend the start of the winter closer to the equator, but I guess no matter where you are, December eventually finds you. Bummer.

Anyway, no time for fretting over that, since the Ford Center was to mark my third game in as many nights, and after a goodbye Sunday brunch with my grandparents, I was off to see the Thunder take on a suddenly very despondent Cavaliers team. Hard to believe that when going over my schedule with my friend Jake at the beginning of the trip, he had actually earmarked this as potentially one of the better matchups, but an easy W at this point would continue my sudden hot streak and do me just fine.

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Andrew Unterberger is two-thirds of the way through his quest. Here’s his latest report…

After getting some high-quality breakfast tacos to eat and watching about 20 minutes of the Bill Simmons broadcast of the Heat/Warriors game (seems like he did OK, though most of his early points were ones I’d already heard him make about a half-dozen times each on his podcasts), I left Austin to head back up to Fort Worth once more. There my grandfather and I caught a TRE train to Dallas ((he had raved all trip about the efficiency of taking the train to the game, though showing up 45 minutes early to catch it nullified its benefits somewhat) for the Mavericks-Jazz game at the American Airlines Center.

My grandfather has become a Mavericks nut over the past decade — rarely a visit between us passes without him waxing rhapsodic about Dirk’s scoring and Kidd’s passing — so I was excited to get the chance to see a game with him live. And after one of the better games of my trip in San Antonio, I expected the Mavs to raise the bar even higher with their Saturday night showdown to continue their double-digit win streak.

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Andrew Unterberger is all up in Texas, eating Mexican food. Here’s his report…

My Texas sojourn was definitely one of the stretches of the trip I was looking forward to the most. Having spent three or four weeks a year visiting my grandparents there in Fort Worth during my youth, it’s certainly a state I’ve always felt an affection for — even if I had forgotten that yes, it does in fact drop below 80 degrees on occasion during December. From Houston I headed back north to FW to meet up with my grandparents and head to my all-time favorite restaurant, Uncle Julio’s. As a kid, I was contented with their basic tortillas (and I was utterly enraptured by the workings of their tortilla-making machine, always out on display), but I’ve since graduated to the Plato Gordo, a behemoth of ribs, fajitas and bacon-wrapped shrimp. Highly recommended if you’re in the area, and probably if you’re not, as well.

After a couple days off in FW — which also included a tour of the new Cowboys stadium in Dallas, which my grandfather had raved about with religious fervor just about every time I’ve seen him over the last few years — I headed back south to San Antonio to catch the Spurs play the Hawks at the AT&T Center. Along the way I picked up my newly-Lone Star-arrived cousin Brian in Austin, and we read over a half-decade’s worth of Tim Duncan-related Onion headlines during the ride down.

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Andrew Unterberger is in Texas. Pray for his safety. Here’s his first report from the Lone Star State…

Long-ish drive from Phoenix to Houston. I broke it up with some more Roadfood stops and a long-overdue visit to Sonic (they don’t have the corn dogs that I remember from my younger vacation days in Texas, but still good), but if ever the road started to wear on me, it was during this 17-plus-hour stretch. I realize now that that the most annoying thing about driving long periods at once by yourself is that you start to get sick of hearing your own voice in your head, and start to play out entire conversations you may or may not be planning on having with people you know just to add a little variety. Maybe next time I’ll call them up at a rest stop to ask them to sound off on certain matters.

More car fun in the meantime — my first oil change of the trip became a necessity when my engine started making unpleasant grinding noises upon arrival in Phoenix. (My friend REL advised me in Minnesota to get it changed every 3,000 miles, but I laughed him off. I guess you could say he was right, but really it was like at least 7,500 before it became a problem, so suck it, REL.) I also thought I was getting pulled over for my second ridiculous speeding ticket 50 miles or so out of Houston, but it turns out I had a busted headlight. I was let off with just a warning, but about five minutes later, another cop signaled me and I had to go through the same spiel over again. “Is there anything I can do so you guys will stop pulling me over?” I asked, getting antsy looking at my watch. The cop just sort of laughed at me and wished me a sarcastic good luck.

Eventually made it to Houston with about 20 minutes to spare. I had been looking forward to the upcoming Rockets-Pistons game ever since I realized that it represented spurned one-time superstar Tracy McGrady’s Toyota Center homecoming — not exactly LeBron coming back to Cleveland, but likely the closest thing I would get on this trip.

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