Bali Ha'i Will Call You

By Patrick Vint on July 31, 2019 at 11:21 pm
That's a bison.
American bison (Wikipedia)

"People in their fantasies are at their most creative when bored. Boredom begets grandiosity, the kind that gets you into trouble when the dreams become responsibilities, when the family of your dreams won't let you sleep at 3 in the morning, when the film you wanted to make becomes a bogged-down fiasco millions over budget and in danger of implosion, when the lover you would have killed for becomes the person asking you, another normal person who hates doing tedious things, to take the trash out because it stinks."

-- Spencer Hall

I left Iowa City for good in June 2006, law school done, bound for Davenport, Iowa, bar exam on the horizon.  I knew nobody else there.  I wasn't going to start work for another two months, and I was moving into an apartment about as far from civilization as one could get while staying within the Davenport city limits.  I spent the next eight weeks studying for the bar exam, listening to Destroyer's Rubies, and reading the first, protozoan college football blogs.  My daily routine was to wake up, turn on Destroyer, and read Every Day Should Be Saturday.

There's not much for an unlicensed lawyer to do, and the bar exam doesn't get graded on site anymore, so even after the test was over and I started working in early August, I couldn't really do anything.  That only left more time for reading college football sites, and that quickly got dangerous.  Orson Swindle, Brian Cook, were clearly dudes about my age who hadn't played college football but didn't shy away from writing smart stuff about it.  And so, one Friday night at my apartment following a few beers, I started an Iowa Hawkeyes blog.  The next day, Kirk Ferentz's team staged a seven-play goal line stand at Syracuse.  It was awesome.

The comment threads at Every Day Should Be Saturday were batshit.  It's hard to underestimate the vitality of message boards and comment threads in the mid-aughts, in that weird time period between the death of the AOL chat room and the birth of Twitter, where they were the only home for like-minded individuals with common interests and inside jokes.

I was intimidated enough by the EDSBS threads to lurk and rarely enter.  That never seemed to be a problem for Jebus H. Christ, the reigning king of Iowa fans among the EDSBS threads.  Jeebs was one of the most active commenters on the site with a vicious, hyperkinetic sense of humor that would leave any man unfortunate enough to use the wrong verb grasping for his recently-removed spleen.  

And then, of course, there was Oops Pow Surprise, the Iowa Fan 1A to Jebus's 1.  OPS was marginally less critical than JHC, and substantially goofier.  Like me, he was writing an Iowa fan site.  Unlike me, he had the street cred that came from hanging with Orson Swindle, at least virtually.

In the summer of 2007, Oops Pow and Jeebus began to conspire to start a bigger Iowa football site.  For reasons I still don't quite understand, they emailed me about joining this blogspot they called "The Hawkeye Compulsion."  Then they kicked it off with a multi-part series where Ron Zook had a full-on hair smelling fetish.  Within a month, that site was Black Heart Gold Pants on SB Nation.  Within the year, EDSBS would join the same platform.

Every Day Should Be Saturday closed its doors yesterday.  Orson Swindle, now Spencer Hall, hadn't been an active participant in the site for the last few years.  Hallmarks of the early years, like the Fulmer Cup, had gone by the wayside, and social media had filled the need for hot take-based social interaction.  Maybe there wasn't a space anymore for what EDSBS offered, an absurdist take on a sport that has only become more openly absurd with every passing year.

Or, perhaps, that first paragraph above, taken from Spencer's gorgeous essay on Urban Meyer's first retirement -- still to this day the most elegant piece of prose I've ever read about college football -- finally rang true for him a decade later, as it has for all of us who evolved from the cro-magnon days of the college football internet.  Hawkeye State became me.  Oops Pow Surprise became Adam Jacobi.  Orson Swindle became Spencer Hall, then became a mainstay at or near the top of the SB Nation organizational chart; he has a family that probably won't let him sleep at 3 in the morning and a repeated request to take out the garbage because it stinks.  As he wrote yesterday, Spencer started his site out of boredom, but that boredom has given way to responsibility.  And eventually, that responsibility runs into the grandiosity begotten of boredom; the grandiosity might put up a fight, but the responsibility eventually wins out.

It's a simple truth that this site would not exist were it not for Every Day Should Be Saturday.  It's equally simple that the college football internet, as it presently exists and has for the last fifteen years, would not exist without it, as well. 

And while we know that Spencer isn't really going anywhere -- he said as much on Twitter yesterday -- we hope he understands that we all appreciate everything that he and his cast of immensely talented contributors have done for us.  He owes us nothing after giving all, and can marinate in his own personal slice of Bali Ha'i for now.

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