Whenever I go out of town and miss a week of writing this tree-killing space filler, it’s always difficult to figure out what to write about upon my return home. Last week, I was in Monterey, Calif., at the annual Stanford Publishing on the Web workshop. I could write about that, I guess, but in just one week, I’ve forgotten more about Web publishing than I had learned in the previous 10 years. That won’t do. I could write about Monterey, but why, when John Steinbeck did such a thorough job already? Actually, Steinbeck’s depression-era Monterey and today’s Monterey are starkly different. After all, no sooner did his book Cannery Row hit the bookshelves in 1945 than the famous Sardines of Monterey Bay all but disappeared, taking the sardine-canning business and many of the colorful characters of Monterey with them.
At its peak, the annual harvest of sardines from Monterey Bay was around 500,000 tons. In the mid-1940s, the harvest fell more than 90 percent in one year, this to a fishery that had been producing huge annual harvests since 1903. By 1952, the harvest dropped to 20,000 tons, and soon after, commercial sardine fishing ceased. Only recently have sustainable numbers of sardines returned to Monterey Bay and any harvests are carefully monitored and regulated. I know what you’re thinking—BYU and Utah are playing this weekend, and that’s more important than sardines. I agree, but just remember this when you set your beer-gut jelly-donut fat ass into your couch come Saturday: Those sardines could have saved your life.
That’s because, without them, you’ve deprived your cardiovascular system of perhaps the very best source of Omega-3 oils that help ward off heart disease. The sardine, along with the equally diminutive herring, provides more Omega punch than salmon, tuna, trout or mackerel, but neither the sardine nor herring benefit from the societal romanticism that favors, say, salmon. Sardines get punched in the lip when it comes to Omega respect. That’s too bad because, right about the time Ute defenders Krueger, Burnett and Tate lay some smack on BYU’s Hall, Collie and Unga, you might clutch your chest as your myocardial infarction begins. You’ll wish you’d traded your life of cheese-fry feasting for just one can of oil-packed sardines.
The above only applies to a Ute fan since the excitement is clearly going to be one-sided this weekend, with a Utah rout over BYU all but a foregone conclusion (see predicted score in above headline). However, that doesn’t mean BYU fans should avoid having a tin of sardines at the ready. It’s equally proven that depression can lead to cardiac episodes. The upcoming loss to Utah this weekend will certainly cause some miserable Cougar faithful to make the fatal error of mistaking the pain derived from a seriously clogged artery with that of indigestion derived of combining scalloped potatoes with double-meat pizza. If I can give just one piece of advice to Cougar fans this weekend, it would be this: Please, for the love of God and the grace of Man, add some anchovies to your pizza.
I wouldn’t have given fair warning to BYU fans in the past. I’ve been a Ute fan since 1958 when my brother played a freshman season for Utah, and I’ll never forget my first entry into the old Ute stadium to watch him play. Coming from Bingham, the walk up the ramp and into the stadium was the biggest and best thing could have imagined. I was 4 years old, but I can still remember a couple of names from that era like NFL All-Pro safety Larry Wilson and George Seifert, who later (via coaching at Westiminster College) led the San Francisco 49ers to two Super Bowl championships. So, anyway, it’s nearly 50 years later and I’ve spent 49 of them saying bad things—deservedly in most cases—about BYU.
But, I bought Cougar football tickets this year because after those 49 years of being a blood-red Ute fan, and after about half of those as a Utah football season-ticket holder, the Utah ticket office gave me and City Weekly (which procured the tickets) the boot. I figured, “Screw ’em.” I swear, if there’s a more inept way of doing business than the manner in which the short-time gain Utah football ticket office practices, I’ve yet to find it. On the bright side, it’s comforting to know that the University of Utah—my dear and forever hand-out-grubbing alma mater—is so secure in its fund-raising that it can crap all over longtime donors. Which is why I bought the BYU season tickets.
I gave them all away. I’ll do it next year, too. Why not? Last year, I famously predicted a Ute win and a BYU loss early in the football season. That began a long series of e-mails from vengeful BYU fans who took delight in my missing both predictions so wildly. I became somewhat friendly with most of them. One even sent me a few boxes of Jell-O as a truce offering. While I still think many BYU fans are pathetically preachy grade-A whiners, I learned that at least a few were of good humor and as normal as beer on ice. So, I don’t hate BYU as much as I used to. Call me a softie.
Soft as I may be, I’m not ready to actually watch a game in Cougar stadium. That’s like mixing sacrament water with sardine oil. Thus, the BYU ticket giveaway. Plus, I’ll always be a Ute football fan despite the fact that Utah officials treat the fan base like the Monterey fishermen treated the sardine—like we’re in endless supply. Maybe, maybe not.