We talked about sports for a few minutes; it seemed inappropriate not to, given various contexts. I asked him what he thought as a supporter of a team with more than its share of downs for all its recent ups (the Boston Red Sox, in case you were wondering) if he had any words of encouragement for Vol fans suffering through the rockiest season in recent memory.
He said, "Oh, you've got to hang in there. Even if it seems like it will never happen - and sometimes it does seem that way - things will turn around. But you have to keep up the support."
Within a week, Fulmer was officially on his way out. Ironic, that.
Maybe it's a blue state thing. I'm sure that plenty of Red Sox fans have called for management-level heads over the years, but it seems like they've accepted the cathartic rite of mutual commiseration - even in despair - as a right and true part of their fandom. Maybe they know something that we don't. Maybe they accepted a while back that when the wins have dried up, the fame has passed elsewhere, and your reputation has gone from champion to also-ran to laughingstock to truism of defeat, the team and those who coach it are still there, and that sometimes has to be enough.
Not so here. Vol fans don't want a family; they want victory. For all the orange they wear, they prefer red. They want blood, and if it's not the opponent's, they'll settle for some of their own.
It's a costly thing, that mindset. For the first time since Bill Battle's 1976 resignation, the Vols might have a head coach who isn't a Tennessee alumnus. What does a three-decade homegrown legacy go for around here? What kind of tradeoff is worth it?
But I digress. The show was blistering, of course. We don't get a lot of what a conservative market wouldn't call "safe" acts in this town, and I get the feeling that a lot of people were eying this one with that in mind. From what I could tell, the pre-sales weren't all that great, but the walk-ups stretched around the corner and down the block. I've seen a few "safe" shows at the Valarium with much worse turnouts; hopefully, this will convince anyone who still needed convincing that we might finally have the combination of venues and fanbases necessary to support the wide range of acts we'd like to see.