You know, in the course of blogging I get to do a lot of interesting things. But if you're talking work-blog-related stuff it would be hard for me to draw up a day better than the one I just had. MSP with Gavin and Chad and the crew on the radio in the early morning, kicking it with Casey and interviewing Kevin Pritchard on the podcast in the mid-morning, talking with Ben over dinner, then meeting up with a whole bunch of friends to watch a game at a great site to close the day. (Then, of course, doing the actual blogging, I suppose. That's right now.) It's like eating all 31 flavors of Baskin-Robbins on a single cone. I'm stuffed and way happy.
As you can see in Ben's post below and in the sidebar, Blazersedge Night was a rousing success. In fact we more than filled the place. The Agency serves these "Sliders" things...miniature buns filled with goodies ranging from the mundane to the exotic. I distinctly noticed that at the beginning of the night everyone was getting those cute little buns. (Insert your own Sophia joke here. Just keep it to yourself out of politeness.) But by the end of the night the Sliders were coming on dinner rolls, full-sized hamburger buns, oven mitts...you name it. We ate them out of bunnage. We filled every couch, chair, booth, and waiting bench in three rooms and still left plenty of people with standing room only. The cheers and camaraderie that filled that room left me in awe. I wanted so, so badly for the Blazers to make a comeback because even those near-passes at taking the lead were generating so much unified cheering and energy. I can't imagine what would have happened in that room had Brandon or Trout hit a miracle three to win it. I wanted to find out.
Even without the win, though, that was a special night for me. I mean, we didn't do much. (What could you do? Play 120-person twister?) At some point everybody just packed in and talked to their neighbors, usually having no choice over who their neighbor was. But that was the beauty of it. It didn't matter much. We had regular posters, lurkers, media folks, some people who heard about us on the radio, and at least one person who had never heard of us at all and just walked in because he was a Blazer fan. PERFECT!!! Everybody smooshed together and talked and ate and rooted and debated and got to know each other and...WHOA. It was real-life Blazersedge.
That, to me, was amazing. As most long-term readers know, I started writing not just out of an overwhelming sense of Blazer fandom, nor because of an o'erweening sense of the importance of my own words. Rather I started writing because back then, after 2-3 years or more of the "Jailblazer" era, something had been lost. Being a Blazer fan didn't mean talking anymore. Being a Blazer fan didn't mean rooting anymore. Being a Blazer fan didn't mean picking up a conversation with anyone, anywhere and having it responded to enthusiastically. Being a Blazer fan meant lonliness and blank stares, huddling with only your closest, closeted friends, eye-rolling and disappointment. That's not what I remembered from my childhood. The Blazers were supposed to unite and bond us, introduce and encourage us, excite and inspire us, not make us defensive recluses.
I'm not saying that Blazersedge is the answer. I'm not saying that Blazersedge even had an inordinately big part in the proceedings. I am saying that Blazersedge evidences the fact that what once was lost has been found again...not even so much because the team is better, but because we wanted and needed to find it again.
What you saw tonight was very Portland. What you saw tonight was Blazer fandom. What I saw tonight made me feel enormously proud and satisfied. I was in a room with a ton of people, all of whom were there for the same reason, all of whom possessed the same passion, none of whom needed anything more than that to welcome each other, nor to feel at home. I was in a room with (mostly) complete strangers and I left my brand-new Blazer jacket that my folks bought me for my birthday lying around with some of them with zero fear that it was going to disappear. People drank and ate and had a good time with zero incidences of unpleasantness (that I could see anyway). I even heard some people ask if they could swear before they actually did! (That last part is not so much about the swearing. I mean, what the heck? The refs did make some questionable calls. But rather the acknowledgement: "There are other people in the room besides me and I care at least a little about them." Holy crackers! How many times have you found that missing among groups of strangers in our society?) There were older people and younger people, singles and couples, plenty of folks of both genders and all backgrounds and all demeanors and styles of dress and nobody cared.
I feel tremendously privileged to be a part of this blog and the community that surrounds it. I felt enormously privileged to be a part of that gathering even if it was simple and it was a little crowded and the Blazers did lose. I feel utterly at a loss to describe how seeing people of all of those demographics--knowing that this team and this blog reaches across and obliterates so many things normally considered as "boundaries"--makes me feel.
I enjoyed talking to and shaking the hand of every one of you. Even if it was just as simple as "hi" and "welcome" you mattered tonight, to me and to all the rest of us and really to the Blazers in the big picture.
On a completely personal note I want to say that one of the highlights of the evening for me was getting to talk to Dwight Jaynes for a while about Blazer history and getting to talk to the Columbian's Brian Hendrickson about many things, including this blog and its comment section and how much he enjoys reading your thoughts. I was amazed how many media people--Jaynes, Hendrickson, Casey Holdahl, Sean Meagher, Gavin Dawson--showed up. Next time (and there will be one) I would love to set up some kind of media Q+A for people to get to know the folks who bring you coverage better, if they're willing to return for such a thing. I hope some of you had the chance to talk one-on-one with some of these folks. It's time well-spent.
My only regret of the evening was that an extremely pleasant young lady named Megan offered to buy me a beer--TWICE!--and I put her off--TWICE!--because the first time I was still greeting folks and the second time we were near no beer that I wouldn't regurgitate. Yes, I admit it, I'm a fussy beer guy. I should have just said, "Yes, indeed! Coors Light! Yum!" and then nursed that thing for the rest of the night. I could have covered the grimaces with glances at the scoreboard. Megan, I apologize (and have now done so in front of thousands of people in a multitude of countries) and I do promise there will be an official beer exchange the next time I am in town.
As I said, we will do this again. I'm not sure when. It won't be spur-of-the-moment and we won't overdo it, so it may not be until fall. But this will become a regular part of our blogging practices. Heck...maybe the next time will be at my place.
P.S. Thanks to Dennis Castle and The Agency for hosting us and thanks to another Dave for a good MAX ride home and to Ben for everything.