Nov 14, 2010

Dean Lets the Thugs In

Last Tuesday, Dean opened up his home to an uncivilized lot:  footballers, wankers, thugs, and the like.  In keeping with Buford’s decidedly lowbrow motif, Dean served up bangers and mash and peas and pudding.  But it was like no workingman’s meal I ever tasted during my years in England.  Dean’s bangers, for example, were a gourmand’s dream, made by the Lockeford Meat and Sausage Company near Stockton.  His blue Stilton and aged cheddar were direct from the UK.  The only false note was the dessert. The English don’t get our style of pudding and most of them believe that fresh fruit is an affectation of the rich!

Among the thugs who crossed Dean’s threshold were two of Marin County's more reprehensible knaves.  John and Garth appeared to have arrived straight from the terraces at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge.  In the picture below, they are flanking Stan, who needs no makeup for the part….

The Book 
Buford’s seminal study of crowd behavior—specifically the behavior of football fans in England—has been hailed by no less than Newsweek as one of the most important works of the 20th century.  Whether it’s his academic pedigree (UC Berkeley, Cambridge, and publisher of Granta), his peculiarly American perspective, or his willingness to immerse himself fully in the subject matter, we all agreed that Buford’s examination of the phenomenon of football hooliganism was utterly absorbing.  Our fascination, however, came with all the enjoyment of watching a train crash (or, as Peter insisted on reading aloud, a man extracting and bursting a police officer’s eyeball--using his mouth!). 

Dan’s story about his brother’s employee in Manchester added to our discomfort with Buford's thesis.  According to Dan, the employee was unequivocal in his hatred of Liverpool and its supporters.  Not rivalry, not competitive dislike—but pure hatred.  Doug asked why such animosity—and its accompanying violence—doesn’t exist here.  None of us could say why, other than to fall back on some of Buford’s own suppositions (cultural differences, chronic unemployment, island mentality, lost imperial glory, etc.).  Roy felt that such violence wouldn’t be condoned here:  at the first sign of agitation, the guns would come out.  Of course, that prompted George’s recollection of Kent State, where the guardsman’s warning shot precipitated rather than prevented violence.  Against the backdrop of street riots in Oakland stemming from Johannes Mehserle’s light sentence for killing Oscar Grant, we all appreciate how sometimes even the most foreseeable crowd behavior can’t be averted. 

Our consensus was that Buford’s treatise was an unexpected if disturbing pleasure.  The voting was uniformly high, coming in at a respectable 7.3 and vindicating Dean’s persistence these last three years.  Dean, I apologize for my steadfast opposition to Thugs; I was wrong.  (And, Garth, I apologize for all the colons and semi-colons in this write-up.)

Next Up
Next month we read J.R. Moehringer’s much-acclaimed memoir, The Tender Bar.  It was sufficiently compelling that Andre Agassi allegedly kept putting the book down so as not to finish it too quickly.  When he finally did finish the book, he immediately called Moehringer and persuaded him to ghost write his own memoir, Open, which was published last year under Agassi's name only.  Explaining his absence from the title page, Moehringer told the New York Times that "the midwife doesn't go home with the baby."  Let's hope that we share Agassi's enthusiasm for The Tender Bar when we meet next month.


  1. Thank you: Andrew, for: a well-constructed and amusing blog. Most of all: timely. I remain amazed: Stan's ability to upstage; even the makeup pros can't compete.

  2. Nice write-up. All Stan needs is a fag hanging out of his mouth and there’s a striking resemblance to the guy on the cover.

    Sorry about the pudding. And the fruit, with a Yale grad in the room, got to treat em like royalty.