Wednesday, April 2, 2008By Geoff Calkins (Contact)
Well, we do eat with our hands.
I mean, it's true, isn't it?
We eat barbecue -- with our hands.
We eat ribs -- with our hands.
We eat Pronto Pups -- with our hands.
In Los Angeles, they raw eat fish with chopsticks. Tell a Memphian to eat something with a stick and chances are he'll skewer it, batter it and dunk the whole mess in boiling oil.
So you can understand why people all over the country are having a hard time understanding what Memphis is doing at this year's exclusive Final Four gathering in San Antonio.
North Carolina, UCLA and Kansas are the right kind of people. Memphis is, well, here's Joe Gergen, from Newsday:
"If we were talking families here, the first three would be the Rockefellers, the Carnegies and the Stanfords," Gergen wrote. "Memphis would be the Clampetts."
It's true too. We don't have all the things those UCLA people have.
Elly May: I hear they got smog.
Granny: What's a smog?
Jethro: I reckon it's a small hog.
Better hope that The Rendezvous doesn't get a hold of it.
But the point is, we Memphians are viewed as interlopers, trespassers and party crashers, too.
"It's the blue bloods vs. the blue collars," said Memphis coach John Calipari, whose grandparents -- you may have heard this -- came through Ellis Island.
UCLA, North Carolina and Kansas have won 17 NCAA men's basketball championships between them.
Memphis won the NIT not long ago.
"Combined with UCLA, there's like 11 national championship between us," Calipari said.
UCLA has all 11.
Nice try, John.
UCLA is John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood. Kansas is James Naismith, the inventor of basketball.
Memphis is Calipari, giving out big screens in the upper deck.
USA Today ran a story Monday with the headline, "It's Memphis," explaining that the school is no longer called Memphis State.
The school's name was changed 14 years ago! Memo to USA Today: Memphis also has an NBA team. Or used to have one, anyway.
But why should anyone be expected to know stuff like this? We're fat Elvis and The Peabody ducks. A little too campy, a little too quaint and a little too gritty to know the secret handshake.
UCLA is all glamor and glitz. North Carolina calls itself a "public Ivy," whatever that is.
The "first graduate music therapy program was created in 1947 at Kansas," according to the school's Web site.
How about that? Kansas created music therapy.
Unless you count the blues, of course.
If the Final Four was a movie, we'd be Rodney Dangerfield in "Caddyshack."
If the Final Four was the House of Windsor, we'd be Lady Di.
If the Final Four was an awards show, we'd be Three 6 Mafia at ... hey, maybe there's a lesson there.
In 2006, Three 6 Mafia was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Nobody thought a raggedy Memphis rap group could win.
Three hours later, host Jon Stewart delivered the line of the night.
"For anyone keeping score, Martin Scorsese, zero Oscars," he said, "Three 6 Mafia, one."
So it's possible, isn't it? Especially this year of all years?
A beagle won the Westminster dog show. A former stripper won the Oscar for best original screenplay.
Who says a basketball team from Memphis can't win the NCAA championship?
And when it happens, really, no need for the rest of you to apologize.
In the words of Jed Clampett: "I reckon you done what you done because you didn't know we was who we was."