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Cardboard Gerald shirt contest rules

To mark my 100,000th tweet and my massive use of time to make stupid jokes, I’m doing a contest to give away my medium size Cardboard Gerald t-shirt, which you can see below:

So with the help of a good friend, we’ve decide to conduct this in the following manner:

1. In Apples To Apples style, I will tweet out something (a person, a place, an event, something) for y’all to respond to as my 100,000th tweet (I’ve updated this post with it at the top). I will repost it here and remind people about the contest so people won’t be left out.

2. If you wish to be considered, tweet me back a joke OR a drawing OR a photoshop that relates to my original tweet. I’d also appreciate it if you tag the tweet with the hashtag #CardboardContest. You won’t be disqualified for not having it as long as you @ me in the tweet (I understand Twitter’s character limits can ruin the best laid jokes), but it would help me organize this.

3. The one I find funniest will be selected as the winner and I will contact them about where to send the shirt.

Consideration for the contest will begin immediately after the tweet and will end Friday October 26 at midnight EST. The winner will be announced the following day.

One entry per person

Good luck everyone and thank you for mostly being a bunch of neat lovely people


Old media Luddism and the new world of blogging

The past couple years as a journalism student at UNC, I’ve faced the same questions on the first days of classes each semester: “What’s your name, hometown and something interesting about yourself?”

And each class, every semester, my mind races with how I’m going to answer the last part of the introductory question that forms the foundation of my peers’ perception of me.

Do I say My name is Ben, I’m from Charlotte and I cover the Charlotte Bobcats for SB Nation? Do I replace that last part with and I’m the managing editor of SB Nation’s Charlotte Bobcats site?

Or do I just come out and say I blog about the Charlotte Bobcats?

Maybe this is over-analyzing the situation. I do tend to think that way. But the perception when it comes to a journalistic position and the word “blogger,” the connotations are very far apart. One is thought of a respectable profession and the other is often thought of as simply some bozo spilling his wild thoughts to the frenzied frontier that is the Internet, a lowly basement-dweller beneath the regard of even the loons that pen letters to the editor. And I have to think about how this will characterize me to my peers.

You could be a sports columnist writing homophobic columns for a small newspaper and that title will give you higher repute than blogging better-written pieces. And yet the old guard of print media with their feet willingly planted in concrete penny loafers tries to perpetuate this stereotype of bloggers being poor writers, wantonly making mistakes with reckless disregard for truth and effort that covering anything should get.

It’s rather disgusting. I understand that the financial viability of print media is faltering and has been for years now, and that saddens me. Like other art forms I hold dear, I value the physical form. I like reading newspapers and magazines to the extent that I have a newspaper subscription and pick up magazines that intrigue me whenever I can.

But even more than that, I like reading strong writing founded on good research. Unfortunately for newspapers (and other tenured media), print media is no longer the only major outlet for those who wish to express their well-researched opinions to a large audience.

On the whole, this is a good thing. It’s evolution of journalism, for better or for worse. Wider access for people creates a much more diverse landscape of viewpoints on a more diverse variety of topics, leading to a more informed audience. Quality writing for large audiences is no longer constrained to mainstream media outlets. Sticking your head in the sand and feet in the ground while making unfounded ad hominem attacks against bloggers is little more than journalistic Luddism. Further, if traditional media are such credible sources of news and writing, then why are their credibility ratings continuing to fall?

Times are certainly changing, especially evident with the wave of old-school writers joining Twitter to interact with the readers on the Internet. Thankfully, some of the aforementioned “old guard of print media” are eager to recognize the merits of blogging and are receptive to the new development. And though perception is changing, some refuse to accept that many of those who write online are not only gifted writers with expertise in their beats but trained as such with journalism and English degrees. We are not so different. In a different media landscape, a fair number of bloggers would have joined you at the horseshoe copy desk.

Ever still, newspaper scribes like the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont continue to put down bloggers as some kind of third-world writing. He likens bloggers to the “replacement reporters/writers” of journalism, nothing more than mere typists. Dupont pats himself and his peers on the back for charity work, making a mockery of his own underlying reasons for goodwill just to slam bloggers from a nonexistent moral high ground that he fails to research for a second. If he had, he’d notice the $200,000 that comic blogger sensation The Oatmeal raised for charities. Or if he just wants to focus on the sports realm, these are some I found in five minutes of Google searching — just on SB Nation. He cries that bloggers lack ethics or morals, but perhaps the ultimate ethical fault is laziness, and Dupont has certainly exemplified this as he tries to deflect his insecurities with uber-machismo wit that reeks of what I call “Trying Too Hard Syndrome.”

Bloggers have come a long way to legitimacy. They’re making their way onto your television sets, into your newspaper (HEAVEN FORFEND!), onto your radios, into your favorite team’s front office, in your media availability scrums asking the best questions, you name it. The close-minded people that continue to demean blogging like Dupont are on the wrong side of journalistic and media history. Their intent is to hurt the image of blogging, yet just end up damaging their own.

Blogging has rightfully emerged as a growing new medium, especially in sports writingSo you’re damn right I’ve come to welcome my position writing in this so-called “blogosphere” with pride.

My name is Ben Swanson and I’m from Charlotte.

And I’m a blogger.

Blogging Lyric of the Day: “Shine Bloggas”

I’m on my grind, shawty, don’t blog my shine shawty,
Wait a minute, wait a minute, chill a little, sit a minute,
I can’t close my post no more ’cause I got too many comments in it.

— Big Boi, feat. Gucci Mane

Pro Golf and Hypocrisy

Golf is a beautiful mirage. Fans hold its morals and etiquette high above every other sport on a noble pedestal. It’s so very gentlemanly, you see. They wear nice pants and polo shirts and a clean white glove on one hand. They stride the course heads high, holding nothing. They don’t hold their clubs, the caddies hold the clubs. Can’t have those golfers carrying their own clubs, of course. That wouldn’t be very noble.

And nothing exemplifies this more than the Masters.

There’s no need for me to introduce the Masters – it’s the king of the golfing world. You win the Masters and you take home a million-dollar purse, immense honor, seeing your name splashed across Sports Illustrated in the next issue and, of course, donning one of the ultimate trophies in sports: the green jacket.

That’s just the outside. Viewers see the pressed pants, the tucked in shirts, the caddies in clean white jumpsuits, the beautifully-manicured course.

But it’s all a disgusting farce.

Golf is so fantastic because as an individual sport, it’s almost like a microcosm of life. Alone in nature, there are little to no distractions, optimally. You need not judge your ability but only by the benchmarks you hold yourself. Hole by hole, you take upon yourself the goal of getting a tiny ball in a hole in the ground. If you make mistakes, you deal with them and plod onward. Frustration mounts often for players because even masterful skill can easily mean little with just a slight sudden gust of wind. Understandably, emotions can run high.

That is, unless you’re on the PGA Tour playing in the Masters.

On Friday, Tiger Woods shanked a tee shot into a sand trap. Immediately upon seeing his shot heading off-course, he dropped his club to the ground and kicked it.

Within hours I saw an article about his actions, calling them “the equivalent of wiping your nose on the green jacket.”

The sport prides itself on eschewing these types of emotional reactions. They’re not elegant. It’s disgraceful to the game, the champions of the sport say. People love seeing the raw emotion of the victor in their moment of glory. But they can’t bear to see the other end of the spectrum: the frustration that the athletes endure at the highest level of competition in their sport at its most visible event.

To call such actions dishonoring the game is laughable, especially during the Masters at Augusta. Augusta National is a place where women can’t be members in 2012. A place where African-Americans couldn’t become members until 1990. A place where a female journalist was refused entrance to the locker room for an interview in 2011. A place where a founding member said “As long as I’m alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black.”

But they hold this honor of the game high above everyone’s heads as the objective for every person regardless of how well they’re playing. It’s a disgrace that players must abide by stoicism lest they be shunned as a dishonorable athlete.

We loved Michael for leaving everything inside him in the basketball court. We loved the moment he collapsed under the sheer weight of his emotions after he won the 1996 NBA Championship on Father’s Day, his first title since his father’s death. We loved the moments he fought his toughest opponents, win or lose. We loved the moments he barked trash talk and bantered with those brave enough to return fire. We hated to see him fall, but loved it because we knew he’d rise from it. To deny us the passion of frustrating losses is to deny us the captivating emotion of defeating it.

But maybe basketball’s not the honorable sport that golf is.

I couldn’t care less about that. The nobility is a farce, elitism in the sports world at its worst. Show humanity in the thick of your passion and unless it’s utter joy, you’re shaming the game and so you must be shamed, as well. They’ll call it immaturity, but if maturity means swallowing your frustration, then I know zero mature people.

And everyone seems to just accept this.

I guess I should be shamed, too. I don’t play much anymore, but I grew up playing it. At golf, I was decent. At swearing, I was superb. Yet I loved it. It’s just you and the course. You go through the journey of your emotions, frustrations and elations and come out with an experience that makes you feel like you accomplished something. Refusing to even accept expressing yourself during a game because of dishonoring the sport is stressing dated traditions over humanity.

Ah, just another year of hypocrisy at the Masters.

Cardboard Gerald Goes To Atlanta

In many ways, the stars aligned for this.

I hardly ever do anything for spring break, so when a friend offered me his extra ticket to Radiohead in Atlanta, I gladly forced my schedule to permit me to go with him. But in no way could I have predicted the trip would include crashing the Georgia Optometrist Association’s State Convention after-party and a visit to Atlanta Medical Center.

Admittedly, I’m wasn’t the biggest Radiohead fan then. It’s not that I didn’t like them; I just didn’t listen to them as much as I should have. Regardless, I knew Radiohead tickets aren’t easy to come by and the band’s fantastic, so I tried my damnedest to make it work.

But it was complicated.

Originally, I thought it was during the week of UNC’s spring break, so all I’d have to do was switch shifts with someone in the event that I was even scheduled to work the Thursday of the show. It was actually the week before, on March 1, during the week of most of my midterms. Luckily, my Friday class’ midterm became a take-home due at midnight that evening, so there was no class that morning. Instead of attending my News Editing class at its regular time on Thursday, I went to the earlier class so we could leave in hopes of arriving in Atlanta without missing any of the show. The simple fact that my schedule worked out somehow allowing me to go to Atlanta on time and without missing any midterms was a small miracle in and of itself.

So we planned it as such: Tyler and I were to roll on down to Hotlanta, aiming to arrive a little after 6:30 p.m. With luck, we would find a place to eat quickly before the concert. Then we would saunter over to Philips Arena, marvel at some fantastic music, relax a little afterwards and head back home, stopping in Greensboro, N.C., for Tyler’s optional morning class. But as long as we were back in time for my work shift at 3 p.m., we were golden. During the trip, I would work on my take-home midterm, which was due via email at midnight on Friday.

But nothing ever goes as planned, and this was certainly no exception.

I struggled to focus during the long car trip to take advantage of free time in the car and only finished two of three short answer response questions and still had the essay remaining. We took a short pit stop at some place in the boondocks of South Carolina or Georgia where two Waffle Houses were separated by maybe 200 feet. With our time cushion shrinking, finding dinner before the show came into question. We parked a few blocks from the arena about 30 minutes before the opening act was set to begin.

The opener was decent, but Tyler and I decided to leave our seats and kill time by people-watching. Among the thousands of moments I noticed, someone shouted “Go Hawks!”, which is probably the largest Hawks cheer their arena’s seen since the Human Highlight Reel. I also saw a man in a weird 19th century explorer get-up. Even more embarrassing, many people wore the Radiohead t-shirts they clearly just purchased on the arena concourse. Rookie move, people. Take note. Moving on, spirits were reasonably priced. Just kidding, it was $7.50 for a light beer.

After a while we made our way back to our upper-deck seats. Tyler had the aisle seat, and I next to him. Two cute girls who seemed to be about our ages (me 20, Tyler 21) sat next to us. I struck up a conversation with them and we chatted a little before the show about where we were from (Me: Charlotte, Tyler: Chicago), where they were from (Atlanta) and about the show and yada yada yada.

Then the concert began. The music was fantastic, only surpassed by the dancing prowess of Thom Yorke. The sound was great; the presentation was impeccable; the experience was just about perfect.

After the final encore, the lights returned and people began shuffling out. I asked Leah, the girl who sat next to me, if she and her friend would like to join Tyler and me for a late dinner. She said she was going to meet up with her friends, but she gave me her number to get in touch with her later to see what she was up to.

While Tyler and I waited, we knew we couldn’t rely on her response as if it were set in stone. So we walked the streets of downtown HOTLANTA, trying to kindly shrug off a panhandler who told us he lost his daughter after she caught herpes. He then pleaded with us repeatedly to “NOT FUCK UP” and begged us for money. We had no small bills or change on us, so we politely declined and went on our way. Cutting through the Olympic Park, Tyler and I made our way back to the center of downtown. Plans with Leah fell through and the only open restaurant appeared to be a 24-hour diner. We headed back to our car in the parking deck to park closer on the street.

The only problem? The parking deck had closed. Metal shackles locked the entrance. ALl color must have drained from our faces. Upon noticing a side door, we pressed the intercom button and security let us in, get our car and opened the gate. And we thought that would be the crisis of the night. Hoooooooo boy, were we wrong.

We parked a block or two from the diner, then got seated at a table. Tyler, who’s vegetarian, desperately tried to find anything he could eat. Alas, the menu was basically a herbivore’s nightmare, and it wasn’t too appealing to me, either — and I eat meat. So we left and once again began wandering the empty streets of downtown Atlanta on a Thursday night in search of food. We tried a couple pubs, but with me being only 20, they wouldn’t let us in.

Eventually we found the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, which had a couple restaurants. We decided to check it out and were seated to a table, but to our dismay, the kitchen had just shut down.

Tyler and I were tired. We were hungry. We didn’t know where else to go. So we asked a hotel employee for any ideas. He told us we could just order takeout delivered to the front desk and we obliged to take his advice.

With 35-45 minutes between us and our pizza delivery, we headed to get water from a bar in an upstairs lobby area. It was oddly crowded for a Thursday night. The bartender, clearly unaware of my age, teased me with Jägermeister after I told him I just wanted a glass of water. I declined. We mingled in the crowd a bit and rode the elevator for shits and giggles to kill time. An elevator companion told us it was an optometrist convention, the Georgia Optometrist Association convention to be exact. “A bunch of drinkers,” he said after drunkenly fumbling his key card and loudly muttering profanities as he made earnest efforts to pick it up.

I continued texting with Leah. I sent her a winky smiley face. I’m quite smooth, you see.

Tyler mentioned he didn’t feel so hot, which we blamed on the whole ‘We Haven’t Eaten Since Noon And It’s Now About 1 A.M.’ thing. It had now been about 50 minutes. We retired to some large comfy chairs to wait by the bell desk for “Mama Mia” to finally arrive with our veggie pizza. While we waited, a different intoxicated optometrist tried his hand at comedy, asking us “Where are your skateboards?” Ha ha ha, because we’re punk skater kids? Anyway, the pizza finally came about 10 minutes later. We quickly scarfed down a few slices. It wasn’t very good, but hell, it was still pizza. We tossed the pizza in the trunk so it wouldn’t stink up the car and left downtown Atlanta.

Our plans had changed. It was well after the point that we could make it back in time to Greensboro. With nowhere to spend the night, we decided that we’d park the car at a Whole Foods parking lot. Tyler would sleep and prepare to drive back and hopefully I would knock out a few more questions of my midterm.

It just so ended up that we did neither.

I was more exhausted than I thought and drifted in and out of sleep trying to concentrate on the ideology of South Park. Meanwhile I heard Tyler hurriedly opening the driver side door. He rushed to a patch of dead grass in a median in the lot and vomited. Oh shit, I thought. Tyler was in some rough shape and there wasn’t anything we could do. He seemingly finished and fell back into his chair, hoping the worst was behind him and perhaps he could find some sleep. But he would continue to vomit intermittently throughout the early hours of the morning.

At one point around 5 a.m., a short, pudgy man walked by on his way to work. Through broken English in a Spanish accent, he suggested to Tyler that he should probably go to the hospital. Tyler resigned to the fact that this had become the only option. There was no way he would get better otherwise at a healthy rate, at least. Luckily, Atlanta Medical Center was barely five minutes away.

Tyler was admitted to the ER and immediately got hooked up to an IV and received some medication. His phone dead, he was essentially cut off from the outside world. I stayed with him a little while, but exited to finish my midterm at the Starbucks in the adjacent hospital building.

After finishing my last short answer question, I returned to check on how Tyler was doing at 7 a.m. He was asleep in his bed. I quietly woke him up to ask him how he felt. I told him that I’d be in and out between the ER and Starbucks and left him my number if he needed me since his phone was dead. There was no way he’d be discharged in time for me to make it to work on time, so I called in and told my manager what happened and everything was fine. I returned to working on my midterm.

Looking ahead, I texted Leah to tell her I was unexpectedly in town longer than I had anticipated and to ask if she wanted to join me for lunch. But as it turned out, she was still in school — in high school. The stigma attached to that forced me to question myself at first, but after all, I’m only 20 and she’s 18, so no big deal. She told me that she’d be out around 4 p.m. and I told her I’d call then.

The day took a turn for the worse from there when my order of Chick-Fil-A fries at lunch were clearly unsalted, or in the least, undersalted. I managed to push myself to finish my essay and hit the send button to finalize my midterm.

It was now 3 p.m. and I returned to check on Tyler. He told me the doctors had been incrementally notching up his medicine after he couldn’t keep down water. I began to wonder how much longer they would keep him in the emergency room. And so I decided to hedge my bets. I told him the situation with Leah and reminded him that I left him my number. I instructed him to call me immediately if he was discharged and I would end my get-together and pick him up.

I felt terrible about leaving but didn’t want to have regrets about not trying hard enough to get to know Leah better while waiting hours for Tyler’s discharge as he slept.

My call a little after 4 p.m. went unanswered. I left a text message. I could feel the window closing with every ticking second. I drove Tyler’s car back to the Whole Foods parking lot to kill time as I waited and to charge my phone. After about 15 minutes, I gave up amid conflicting feelings to go back to check on Tyler.

Upon returning to the ER, I showed security my visitor’s pass they had given me earlier, which listed Tyler’s name and room number. The guard squinted to read the room number. Tamika? he asked. No, Tyler. Room twenty, I said.

Oh shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. He’s been discharged and he forgot to call me, I thought.

I wandered through the normal places in the lobby and hallways searching for him. Nothing. I went outside, now wide-eyed and fearful that this could turn into a long search.

But then I saw him in the adjacent building. We both showed visible signs of relief and exhaustion.

You ready to leave? I asked. Yeah, let’s get out of here, Tyler said.

It was 5 p.m. Rush hour. In Atlanta. On a Friday afternoon.

Throwing caution and intelligence into the wind, we picked up I-85 from smack-dab in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Tyler was obviously not in the shape to drive, so I took the wheel. I had only gotten an hour or two of on again-off again sleep, but yes, I was the man behind the wheel.

I made it barely outside of Atlanta in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic before I knew I had to stop for caffeine and sugar or else I would kill us both.

I’ll skip the boring details of a 7-hour drive for your sake, but we survived. Another bout of vomiting outside Charlotte and massive fog threatened to set us back, but the one stop in Charlotte was the only one before we got home.

Unfortunately, Leah and I never got to meet again, but c’est la vie.

What a trip. What a way to begin spring break. I couldn’t have predicted or asked for anything more.

Behind Enemy Lines – A UNC Student At Duke

While the UNC-Duke game raged on late in the first half in Chapel Hill’s Dean Dome, I made a solitary exit from the town via 15-501.

And I’m a UNC student.

This might be perplexing. Why would I want to go away from the epicenter of the action while my school’s team played its largest game yet not a 30-minute walk from my apartment? It was a calculated risk.

Tasked with covering the game for my Creative Sportswriting class, I had no ticket, no credential — just my TV. So I figured I’d try something unique: watch half the game in Chapel Hill and then trek to Duke and watch the rest at their popular Armadillo’s sports bar on campus. Regardless of which team won, I knew I’d get a unique perspective of the game that perhaps no one else would have. If UNC prevailed, their celebration would probably still had been continuing by the time I returned and if Duke won, well, I’d be at the center of the action.

I still wanted to get the UNC atmosphere too, so a few hours prior to tipoff, I set out to walk around Franklin Street and all the way to the edge of campus to the Dean Dome.

An ambulance marked the beginning of my night as an intrepid reporter. EMTs placed a young lady on a stretcher and into the back of the emergency vehicle, probably ending her night before 6:30 p.m.

Things had yet to ramp up on Franklin Street, though it was somewhat busy with the hustle and bustle of an anxious throng of people. Knowing that students lines at the arena had been forming for hours, I left the main strip to check out the horde of UNC fans in line for the game.

My god, that line. It zig-zagged in a huge queue that stretched up the outdoor stairs all the way to the Kenan-Flagler Business School. People had been there for hours; one student was still in medical scrubs pants, clearly having come straight to the line from med school. The atmosphere was one of hushed excitement. I overheard one person say they were nervous about the game, yet confident that UNC would defeat Duke.

On my return trip back to my apartment, I passed by Franklin Street again. Crowds were beginning to form outside a few hotspots. The Varsity Theatre had transformed its movie showing into huge game viewings. The most popular sports bars had begun slightly overflowing into the street. As I left, another ambulance’s siren neared from the distance.

With a little over four minutes remaining in the half, I started up my 25-year-old Volvo and left town on an empty 15-501.

A friend at Duke had suggested watching the game at a sports bar on campus called “The Armadillo Grill”. By the time I got there it was halftime and the place was packed. Every TV was set to the game, with the projector screen on a small time-lag. I felt a little uncomfortable as a clear outsider, though nothing could identify me as a UNC student. I took a seat on one of lower layers and quietly watched the rest of the game.

The Duke students were fairly animated, groaning as the team fell down 12, and screaming as the Blue Devils roared back.

When Austin Rivers hit the three, the restaurant exploded. People stood on tables and chairs. One girl D-Generation X’d out, performing his trademark hands-to-groin gesture and yelling repeatedly, “Suck my dick!” The television cameras cut to doubled-over UNC players overcome by their emotions. The Duke students responded by mocking their despondence.

After a couple minutes, people filed out and rushed into the quad. I followed dutifully, pen and pad in hand.

That’s when things got wild. I found myself towards the middle of a huddle of a few hundred Duke students. Many students had midterms the next day but excused themselves from their studies to celebrate. “There is no sleep happening,” one student said. I tried to take notes of my surroundings to mixed results. I pushed my way out and tried to get a handle on the scene. Students desperately wanted to burn a bench, but they had no fire permit. Rumors that passed through the crowd said that didn’t stop others.

“Are we going to burn anything?” one student said.

Hell yeah! I’ve got lighter fluid back in my room!” responded, his friend.

Students chanted relentlessly, yelling “Au-stin Ri-vers!”, “Thank you, Zell-er!” and “Go to Hell Carolina, go to Hell; eat shit!” One crowd-surfed on his peers.

It was at this point that I found an old high-school friend. He led me around the crowd, introducing me to friends, always overjoyed to tell people I go to UNC and get a laugh from each person. A helicopter appeared far into the pitch black sky and the students roared in approving cheers.

Then came the mass exodus. News spread quickly that the bus was on its way back from Chapel Hill.

Students ran to the gym parking lot and began forming a crowd that would grow into the thousands. Police tried to create space but more streamed into street. I took to the high ground for a decent vantage point of my surroundings. Time stretched on as the bus still didn’t arrive. Bored drunken college students began to get restless. One attempted to climb a large oak tree, but failed to pull himself onto a limb and was forced to lower himself back down. Later, he tried again with some help from friends giving him a boost, and made it, to the delight of the crowd.

Then the bus arrived. I moved closer, but I figured the bus would drive past me. It didn’t. The next thing I knew, I was in the middle of a 2,000-person mosh pit as every tried to get close to their triumphant returning heroes. I wore blue suede Pumas and could feel step after step on my feet. The crowd pushed to and fro, knocking waves of people off-balance. I wondered how soon it would be until I fell and got trampled, considering my size. So I pushed my way back out.

Players were mobbed and pummeled with heavy-handed pats on the back, but they took it happily in stride. As the last players entered into the gym, I decided to leave, though still afraid I could miss something even more amazing.

I passed a smoldering plastic trash can that emitted smoke and fumes that must have been quite unhealthy. And then I returned home.

I had gotten in touch with a friend who had gone to the game and asked him how the atmosphere in Chapel Hill was after it concluded. He told me everyone was pretty much shocked and stunned. One of his friends’ dads had been arrested and jailed after an incident concerning a Duke fan’s spilled beer. At least one sports bar refused to play SportsCenter on its TVs. The scene was somber.

When I got back to Franklin Street, it sure as hell was somber. The sidewalks were empty, save for the occasional quiet student. Four police cars, lights a’blazing were lined up on the north side of the street, though the officers were just huddled on the sidewalk to ensure there were no conflicts. But it wasn’t like the street was empty. Restaurants and bars were still crowded, yet there was barely any noise. Upbeat pop music wafted down from Top Of The Hill’s open roof, but fell upon deaf ears, and seemed to haunt the street more than anything.

Such are the effects of such a devastating loss.

Now you may wonder how I could stomach being a lone UNC student amongst thousands of my so-called despised rivals. Well, I’m simply not a big Tar Heel fan. I never developed the love for UNC and college basketball that many of my friends did. Rather, I grew up loving NBA basketball with a connection to the hometown Charlotte Hornets. Yet I had no connection to college basketball. I thought I would develop a love for UNC sports after deciding to attend school here in Chapel Hill, but that’s just not how it worked for me. And so when I found myself surrounded by Duke students going insane inspired by the thrill of victory, I was not crushed or stunned into silence. I just tried to observe and take in the experience as best I could.

And what an experience it was.

Me – last row, far left

The Cardboard Gerald Shirt Exists.

Tadow! How ya like me now!