I'm a UCLA grad but I've got to hand it to USC (my wife's alma mater) — they throw a wide party net when it comes to their alumni-sponsored Rival Week Activities before and during this Saturday afternoon's Big Game. In Manhattan, for example, the USC Alumni Club of New York takes over a Murray Hill bar, the Galway Hooker, for viewing parties every Trojan game of the season. Earlier in the day, these USC Hookers will anticipate the Rose Bowl match-up by playing a game of flag football with local UCLA alums at East River Park. (As a warm-up, Thursday night saw the Side Bar near Union Square host a happy hour with “dueling USC and UCLA Bartenders.” Tres exotique.
In fact, the well-organized – and well-connected – Trojan alumni will be converging tomorrow on sports bars and private clubs across the country. Locally, SC partisans will view the game at places such as Santa Monica's V Lounge and El Guapo Cantina on Melrose Avenue. So I was a little miffed when I logged onto the UCLA Student Alumni site only to find a single Bruins viewing party – at Soup's Sports Grill in Woodland Hills, no less. I know they're there, but I guess I should have begun my research earlier.
“From tailgate parties to book clubs,” promises the alumni Web site, “softball leagues to professional networking, the UCLA Alumni Association's clubs and chapters expand Bruin connections.” But no lists of where to find those tailgate parties or suggestions of aberrant pre-game behavior.
Today's Daily Bruin seemed to explain my old school's malaise. An article by Maria Lemus notes that while Spirit Week activities swirling around the match-up with USC usually occurs during UCLA's ninth week of classes, this year's game falls during the quarter-system school's 10th week – a time when the campus is put on virtual lockdown.
“So, instead of students participating in car-smashing events or bonding around a bonfire before the USC football game,” writes Lemus, “students are hitting the books and going into study mode.”
The UCLA alumni organization, it seems, is waging a low-intensity spirit campaign:
“'We have been and will continue throughout the week to distribute pins, (spirited) tattoos and flyers on Bruinwalk,' said Aly Yarris, UCLA Student Alumni Association director.”
So this is what UCLA's rivalry with USC has come to. Now, I realize that the Blue v Red gridiron face-off is not exactly the Crips v Bloods rivalry, but this is lamer than lame. I emailed the alumnus responsible for the Soup's hookup in the Valley, but never received a reply. Et tu, Bruin?