Fri Oct 31 10:20am EDT
A chance at the SEC and mythical championships could be on the line, and Gator and Dawg fans will want to remember this afternoon in Jacksonville forever. Alas, there's little hope of that, unless DVRs are in full force. Holly Anderson's weekly tailgating guide hits Jacksonville as quickly as possible for the SEC East's game/drinking binge of the year.
Let's get this out of the way: Our feelings on the summarily altered titles of classic rivalry games are well-documented in this space, but the insistence on moving away from calling Georgia v. Florida "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" is rendered even more ludicrous by the complete failure on the part of everyone (well, almost everyone) to make even the feeblest of efforts at choosing a replacement name. Guess what they call it now? The Florida-Georgia Game. Or the Georgia-Florida Game. Sirs, you're not even trying. And we're not buying. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party it remains, world without end, amen.
Onward: Ever been to Jacksonville? How about Warsaw? OK, imagine that, but with sketchier meat-based food products and a greater margin of women sunned to Melanoma Threat Level: McCain, and you've got a suitable picture of what you're in for. This Saturday, Florida and Georgia converge with murder on the brain (figuratively! mostly!), and the setting couldn't be more appropriate.
Environment aside, both sides are big fans of the neutral site. As one Dawg explains, "We couldn't be that comfortable in their town and they couldn't be that relaxed in ours." Another adds, "The dirty secret is we're all the same people for basically the balance of the weekend, and we actually get along for the most part. We joke with one another, tailgate with one another, drink to excess with one another, make out with each other in places that weren't nearly as private as they appeared to be when we started making out in them." Well, there you have it. Bring your fighting shoes and check your inhibitions at the gate.
As far as tailgate ambiance goes, it's a pure parking lot environment down here --get in early, stake out your patch of asphalt, and thank the heavenly thing of your choice this game isn't played in September.
What to Wear
A flak jacket? A Georgia alum warns, "It is no accident that this game's most famous play call ends with the breathless exclamation that there's going to be some property destroyed tonight." With the 50/50 split seating arrangements in the stadium, you'll want to rock whatever shade will set you apart the most from your opponents, and that means blue or red.
• If you're strapped for sober drivers, The Landing is the only place to go, both literally and figuratively. It's a stadium-adjacent riverfront collection of shops and restaurants, and sports a conveniently installed JumboTron for those who find themselves without tickets at kickoff. A full listing of available options (and a ridiculous WLOCP-themed Flash intro) is available here. It's fun for the entire family, if everyone in your family feels at home at a frat party:
• Got a car and someone to operate it safely? Make the shortish drive to Jacksonville Beach and hit a beach bar. Lynch's Irish Pub on 514 1st St N isn't exactly a rum joint, but is highly regarded by gameday veterans who can't stomach the food court vibe of the Landing.
Gator and Bulldog fans respond as one with the following recommendation: Get out of Jacksonville. In for the weekend? Well, if you must:
• Wacko's, 3701 Emerson St. This bar and grill is renowned for its burgers, lunch specials ... andemployinggirlswhotakeofftheirclothesonstage. Your mileage may vary, but it's highly recommended by fans of both sides for the spectacle factor alone.
• Mavericks Rock N' Honky Tonk, The Landing. Curiously, no one we interviewed this week mentioned this venue, but it advertises upstairs bottle service at something called "Miss Ellie's Bardello." We are morbidly curious to learn what exactly goes on in a "Bardello." Any brave souls willing to find out? (Just be sure to pack your Purell.)
In a pinch, you can go back to The Landing, which retains the same raunchy atmosphere after dark, with the added possibility (okay, probability) of violence:
What to Drink
This is the game of the year for blue, orange, red, and black. Our Florida correspondent explains, "This fearful irrationality causes everyone to magnify their behavior, like animals in fear or in heat." So do what you can to take the edge off. One longtime veteran points out, "The RVs in the lots are crammed together without regard to loyalties and it's hard to walk down the sidewalk without being offered something potent in a Solo cup." Take it, say thanks, tip it back, and enjoy your stay. (And maybe check you hotel bed for stray needles before you turn in.)
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Thanks this week to Georgia's own Doug Gillett and T. Kyle King and Florida's Jonathan Oum. Holly is a Tennessee-born writer and digital film editor based in Los Angeles, associate editor of Every Day Should Be Saturday, and 1/15 of the PtF coven. She welcomes your adulation and scorn at nastinchka-at-yahoo, etc.