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CHRIS ERSKINE / FAN OF THE HOUSE

The Rose Bowl remains his eternal favorite

There's nothing the author likes more than Saturdays (or any other days) spent around the Pasadena stadium.

November 12, 2009|CHRIS ERSKINE

I love the Rose Bowl so much I want to build a little cabin here, like Thoreau, and rent bicycles or kites, or maybe sell soy shakes to the thousands of hotties who show up each day to jog around it, or attend a UCLA game, or watch Bono grab himself as if dying. If Staples is the hub of the new Los Angeles, then the Rose Bowl is the crystal centerpiece of the old. And I assure you, no one knows old the way I do.

The Rose Bowl isn't just a sports venue, it's our Tuscany -- a Renaissance painting with helmets and shouts of "Get-him . . . get-him . . . kill him!"

I'd like to be buried here in the Rose Bowl's beery glow, though I don't know what the regulations are. With my luck, they'd inter me at the adjacent golf course, where I'd be unearthed months later by a Japanese tourist with a hungry nine-iron. "I remember him," the locals would say. "Used to complain all the time about the restrooms."

Till then, I will come here on Saturday afternoons to the swills and thrills of UCLA football. For 19 bucks I take a seat in the end zone -- $5 more for my young date.

"Go USC!" shouts my date.

"Um, it's UCLA," I whisper.

"Go UCLA!" the 6-year-old says with a wink.

Thus, he avoids a lynching and any other unpleasantness that might ruin this otherwise perfect autumn day, one of only two home games left, you know.

College football is winding down already -- can you believe it? In no time, we'll be smelling the turkey. In no time, I'll be cursing the price of Christmas trees.

Yes, college football always goes by too quickly -- like a bottle rocket, like a little tailback out of the flat. Indeed, of all the sports, college football is the only one that goes by just too darned fast.

Its season is, actually, a game or two short of being the ideal length, leaving room for God or whoever's in charge these days to look down and declare that some sort of playoff must take place, it simply has to. Then, and only then, the playoffs will be ordained, to start on Thanksgiving and end New Year's Day.

For sports fans, a college playoff system would be the holiday gift they'd never forget. Hello, White House? Anybody home? If you can't give us jobs or world peace, at least give us this.

In the meantime, we have this wonderful/meaningless game at the Rose Bowl, between the Bruins of Westwood and the Huskies of Washington.

"Go Dogs!" the Washington fans burp.

I'd always considered Seattle a rather sophisticated place, with running water and three or four decent restaurants . . . OK, maybe two. But after seeing these Huskies fans, I am reevaluating. Here at the Rose Bowl, I think they are selling deep-fried Twinkies with Huskies fans in mind. You study these large, hairy humanoids for a few minutes and you can only conclude one thing: That Sasquatch dude really got around.

"Go Doooooooooogs!!!!"

At halftime, my son and I circle the Rose Bowl. Round and round, round and round. The crowd is tame enough but the air befouled by rough language around young kids, which always gets to me a little. It's no secret, I guess, that America's favorite adjective begins with the letter F. Yet, it still amazes me how casually it's cast about in public arenas.

To be sure, these are tough, mean-spirited times, with unemployment up and even ESPN's Chris Berman having to resort to Applebee's commercials to make ends meet. He's my favorite new actor, by the way, replacing the estimable Rosey Grier. If Berman doesn't win some sort of honorary Oscar for his work with Applebee's, the entire Academy Awards will be viewed a sham.

Till then, back to our end-zone seats we go, where the gutty Bruins are struggling to an ugly but welcome Pac-10 win.

I want to love the Bruins, but there is always something that's not quite right, like a beautiful date missing an ear.

This Rick Neuheisel for one, who seems to suffer from tri-polar disorder -- one guy one minute, another guy the next, a third guy another time. Kind of reminds me of me.

To be fair, a certain craziness seems to ensure success in America -- a zany, maniacal approach to life. As fans, we're not sure if it represents brilliance or fearlessness, but we're always in desperate need of both. So maybe we have that to look forward to with this Neuheisel fella.

Miracles still happen all the time, you know. The other day, I got a chicken Caesar with real anchovies on top -- a mini-mitzvah for me, a truly transcendental experience.

Now, all I really need is that cabin.

--

Erskine also writes "Man of the House" in Saturday's Home section. chris.erskine@latimes.com

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