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Big Game Photo Extravaganza - Royal Exchange

Oh my God, the most amazing, sensational, traumatic, heart rending... exciting thrilling 37-16 game in the history of college football! California has won...the Big Game...over Stanford. Oh excuse me for my voice, but I have never, never seen anything like it in the history of I have ever seen any game in my life! The Bears have won it! There will be no extra point!

Mostly, because each team showed prowess at screwing up extra points.

But ya, that was a pretty exciting game for what was, at one point, 37-3.  The first half was incredibly taut with Cal somehow managing to give up 3 huge drives of 80+ yards and yet keeping Stanford to only 3 points.  Bend, but don't break to an extreme that made us all nervous.  Then, the explosive 3rd quarter where everything went right for Cal in a way that excited us all.  And then the nerve wracking fourth quarter where epic collapse was writ large over any Cal fan incubated before 2004. 

We here at the California Golden Blogs have photos of all this.  We have video, too.  I, personally, took about 500 photos in less than 24 hours.  Amazing shots like this:


Plus, TheNick, BigFoot, and TrisWeb also all took amazing photos with their cameras epically better than mine.  But we'll get to the mosh pit on the field ALL in due time.  Like any story, the story of the 2008 Big Game starts where pretty much any and every Big Game start, the night before.

Royal Exchange!


Royal Exchange is a bar in San Francisco's financial district.  And the night before Big Game, each year, it is Ground Zero for a huge Cal party.  Maybe some go to the bonfire.  Maybe some enjoy a quiet night in to prepare for the 9 AM tailgating the next morning.  But an absurd amount of people show up at Royal.  Why?  Well, the Band, of course!


The band comes rolling (or, alternatively, marching) in and pretty much instantly gets rent apart.  It's so packed you can barely move around in there, so keeping the band all in one place becomes impossible:




It was SO packed!  I hadn't seen that many people in one place since my bris.  Which, ironically, was also held at Royal Exchange. 

It gets so packed that the band gets stuck back in the cubbyhole booths (sorry that this video is sideways at times):

And while all those instruments were over there, the trombones were all in a totes diff section of the bar:


Great photo via TheNick:


Of course, this means sometimes you get caught near a section and can only really hear what they are playing.  Especially if those sections happen to be a)percussion and slash or b)trombones.  Case in point (Note, if you don't like the kwality of these videos, go to the YouTube site and watch in "high quality":

When it gets really packed and the band gets going, people start dancing around, having a fun time, it is good:


And the entire place will even start singing along:

Not every song does lead to dancing or singing, though.  Sometimes it's just the percussion showing off their skill(z):

The director was standing inside the bar, but I'm not sure how the band could really follow her.


Honestly, I was less than enthused about her directing.  I kept yelling over and over and over again that they play my favorite song of all time "Got To Be Real" by Cheryl Lynn.  A true classic, right? She said they hadn't had it in the music packet in years.  I demanded she immediately teach it to the band there and then play it.  She, then, looked away in what can only be described as a mixture of scorn, disgust, and pity.  DAMN YOU, DIRECTOR!  WHY DO YOU HATE THE 70S DISCO CLASSIC "GOT TO BE REAL" SO MUCH?  Why?  WHY?????????

But they do have this song, which rocks:

Alumni often like to pick up their old instruments and play along.  They like to think they are cool, because they still remember how to play the songs:


"I've still got it!"

Hey, guess what, shmuckzoids.  The real cool people never even knew the songs in the first place!  We just faked our way through 4 years.

Plus, when I was at Cal, I often found this embarrassing.  You don't want to be that guy who can't give up his college years.  I judged them harshly when I was at Cal.  I can only assume the current students judge us similarly harshly.  So, to avoid the judging, I like to just grab instruments I can't play.  Sure, I might have played this instrument for four years in the band:


But, let's be honest.  I was too lazy slash moochie to remember the songs back then, let alone 5 plus years later.  I'll probably sound just as good on this random metallic instrument:


And it doesn't make me feel like I'm trying to relive my college years.  Because I never had any college years playing whatever the hell that thing is called.

Of course, there are only so many instruments to go around.  It can lead to awkward situations:


Standing by the trombones for so long, as I was, you started to get hypnotized by them.  It's like watching the strings in an orchestra.  Just as the bows dance delightfully upon their violins, the trombone slides glide hypnotically through the air:

Here's an interesting story.  I was chatting with a few of the phonez players and somehow it came up that one of the lovely ladies I was chatting with was the girlfriend of the drum major.  Now, at the ASU game, I had previously written this about Frankie Garland, 2008 drum major:

Well, we finally made it to our seats, just as the rain was starting to die down.  The band was out on the field, doing its pregame show and I looked up to see this disasterous event:


For those who aren't exactly Cal Scenesters, the Drum Major throws the baton high in the air before the game and, legend has it, if he catches it, we have 7 more weeks of winter.  And Cal loses the game!  Well, Ok, only half of that is true.  And it seems even less likely that it's ACTUALLY true.  But that's the superstition!  Generally, the Drum Majors are good at catching it, but with the rain etc etc etc.  Actually, there has been some controversy this year at the Drum Major position.

Last year's Drum Major started off the season well catching batons left and right.  Then, he had a rough catch at the OSU game and dropped many batons in the ensuing games.  It was always close, but just at the last moment, his hand would slip or he'd conk himself in the head with it and the baton would touch field.  Many band groupies clamored for the backup Drum Major to come in, but he never saw the field.  He practiced catching batons left and right all week long and during the sidelines during games.  But it never meant much.

This year fans were ecstatic when the backup Drum Major got his shot.  But look at what happened up there.  Just look at it!  Luckily, Nate Longshore managed to overcome the new Drum Major and win the game.  Praise Be To Tedford for Nate Longshore, otherwise Frankie Garland would be KILLING us.  Just KILLING us!

And you just know (KNOW!) that Kevin Riley couldn't have overcome that disaster.

I asked this phonez player if she or Frankie had actually ever read the blog.  Once she put two and two together, she started excitedly jabbing me about the chest and shoulder region (which hurt, I'm so weak).  She was exclaiming "You are that guy!  You are that guy!  Who wrote about the backup drum major!"  She was......less than enthused.  She also claimed that I called Frankie Garland a Nazi.  I have NO recollection of that! 

I tried to explain that I was just joking and I had nothing but the utmost respect for Frankie Garland and the position of drum major.  This calmed her a little.  But I also have to be honest.  That is what blogging is about.  Honest reflection on sports.  So, I can't hold my tongue on any and all Frankie Garland facts.  Facts like:

1.  Frankie Garland assassinated Abraham Lincoln.

2.  Frankie Garland couldn't conceive a male heir to King Henry.

3.  Frankie Garland deregulated the American housing and banking markets.

4.  Frankie Garland wrote Gigli.

5.  Frankie Garland never wants Cal to go to the Rose Bowl.

6.  Frankie Garland personally took "Got To Be Real" out of the packet.

7.  Frankie Garland has never ever actually said Relax.  All urban legend.

Look, I can't hold my tongue any longer about all these facts.  And that's what they are.  Fact(s)!  I just have to get them out there, so Frankie Garland can accept the consequences of his actions (like ruining Jennifer Lopez' movie career).  I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my chest.  Frankie Garland, if you want to apologize for any of these previous transgressions, you have the floor!

If you don't want to deal with the insanity of Royal Exchange, half the band goes to play at the German restaurant, Shroeder's across the street:


via TheNick


via TheNick

Nothing really much to say about this video, just a nice snippet of a nice song:

I must say that San Francisco, when lit up at night can be truly gorgeous:



And what Cal rally, no matter how drunken and packed, would be complete without Fight For California:

Allow me to finish with a rather hilarious story.  In the vein of Jeff Tedford mocking me to my face, this is the sort of story that would seemingly embarrass or humiliate other people.  Yet, I found it wildly hilarious.  And still do!

While there, I met a few old bandmates, who I hadn't seen since probably 2001 or even 2000.  I was chatting with them, catching up, seeing what they were up to.  One, who is a very delightful person, looks olive-skinned.  I made a comment about how she looked Grecian.  She noted that she is from Italy.  Now, at this point, I had 2 avenues to take here.

First avenue, which was my first inclination, was to make a joke along the lines of "Well, you can't be Italian, you are too beautiful to be Italian."  This, of course, would have been meant as a giant insult to the Italian people, who are known worldwide as an ugly people. 

Of course, my next thought was that I'm married and my wife wasn't there, it probably wasn't the smartest thing to be complimenting other women on their beauty.  Could come off creepy.  Don't want to do that, right?

Right.  So, the next potential avenue (and the one that I took) was to take the opposite tack.  I said "Well, you can't be Italian, you are too ugly to be Italian."  This, of course, was meant as a giant compliment to the Italian people, who are known worldwide as an attractive people.  In retrospect, this was not the premier choice to make.  I probably should have gone with the third potential avenue of KEEPING MY MOUTH SHUT!  But that wouldn't be me.

So, I can instantly tell that I have done poorly in my joke selection.  I scramble in damage control.  With the world's WORST joke.  I mean seriously, is there a way I can blame this all on Dubya? 

I tried to calm everybody down by telling a joke that only my wife finds funny.  In one second, you'll find out why:

"Well, you know, as a married man, when it comes to things like beauty, there are two types of women in the world.  My wife, who is, of course, gorgeous, and all other women, who are, of course, ugly bitches.  You are, of course, an ugly bitch.  (Stage pause, then frantically) wait no no no no no wait wait that came out wrong wait wait wait no wait no calm down, no reason to yell, please wait, that came out wrong."

Needless to say, that didn't exactly, uh, help the situation.  And one of her friends was very upset with me.  She asked me to please leave them.  I couldn't tell, at first, whether she was serious or not.  People often tell me to leave them, but sometimes they are just joking. Sometimes.  Rarely.  It became, however, quickly obvious that she was, in fact, VERY serious.  So, I tried to leave.

But you've seen the photos up there.  I couldn't budge an inch.  And I was stuck right in front of the upset friend!  She started waving at me, saying that I was pissing her and her friends off.  Which was probably true!  Ai!  I eventually made my escape to live another day.  But that was as hilariously awkward a conversation as I have had in a long while.

And with that ending story, keep your eyes locked here.  We are going to have post after post after post of photos and video of the Big Game.  From high-fiving the players before the game to high-fiving them afterwards.  Unfortunately, minimal high-fiving of the players in betwen.  But it's OK.  BECAUSE WE HAVE THE AXE!  GO BEARS!