Louisville, KY–The recipe for a great rivalry may vary from batch to batch, but there is at least one common ingredient: fans.
“I hate Kentucky,” panned Louisville loyalist Roland Rawls, owner of a local limousine company, Rolan’ Down the River. “But I don’t even worry about them kitties right now, because we the best team in the state, baby!”
With basketball bragging rights secured for the year, Louisville Cardinal Fans, or as defined in the Urban Dictionary, The L-Yes Nation, are not wasting any time taking full advantage of their Bluegrass superiority.
“That’s just how we do it in the ‘Ville, bang, bang.” Explained Ryan Jennings, a senior at Louisville’s Trinity High School. “Ricky P. T-Dub. E-nickel . Keyser Sose. What you know about the Ville, UK, what you know? L-Yes forever.”
When reached for comment, a spokesperson from UK could only offer this token statement: “Currently, we do not know about the Ville, however we are looking into our resources and expect to have an answer soon. We thank the UK community for its continued patience and support.”
To the victor go the spoils, indeed. Still, I wanted to dig deeper. One only has to glance upon the streets of Louisville to understand the significance of this bitter intrastate rivalry, where blue sidewalks and red sidewalks snake along side by side, emulating a diagram of the circulatory system. I wanted to get to the crux of the animosity–shake hands with the motive; bear hug the objective. What led to this allegiance of city over state?
“You know the theme song from the Sopranos? That’s my alarm clock.”
I am at 4th Street Live, a modish sundown hotspot in the heart of the Derby City and popular Card Fan hang out.
I run into a table of Birds at Hotel, a chic and ever-so-succinctly named nightclub, where the menu of discussion ranges from clear tail lights to which color of LA Looks provides the biggest bang for the buck (consensus: Mega Hold).
Besides rooting interest, what separates Louisville fans from their University counterparts?
“You see this,” one of the men say as he points to the English L embroidered baseball cap atop his head, “this bill measures exactly 180 degrees. You could hang Christmas stockings off this bad boy.”
It was a unanimous declaration.
“Rule #1 of life: never let another man touch your bill. It might end up curved.”
Speaking of curve, the table smelled as if it has been dipped in the stuff. I asked the waiter…sure enough, it was.
“You know the theme song from the Sopranos?” Card Fan Vinnie Rothstein asks. “That’s my alarm clock. I wake up in the morning, iron my bill, put my studs in, and strap up the wrist bands. Do it up for the 5-0-2.”
Wrist bands, I ask?
“Yeah, I always wear wrist bands on my arms. Even when I’m not playing anything. But that’s just it. You either gotta be ready to play, or be played, homey. Write that down in your book and smoke it, hoss.”
Consider it smoked. But that’s just the vanity aspect. I wanted to cut down to that Cardinal core, and I knew I needed help.
I immediately ordered three rounds of Hypnotiq, a well-known truth serum amongst the wankster contingency.
After we sucked back the necessary courage, I again posed my line of questioning. Why?
“I guess, if you really want to know,” Rothstein stammered, “I guess a lot of it has to do with my older brother.”
Bingo. I mentally fist pump.
“He’s just, he’s always been the favorite. The favorite, the smartest, most athletic. He’s got a college degree, a good job, a cool wife. All I have is this.” Rothstein pulls out a 4×6 printout of DeJuan Wheat. “All I have, is, this.”
A tear trickles down his cheek and falls on the picture, blurring his object of affection. It likely didn’t hit him then, and probably not even the next day; but if there is anything I have learned from my research, it’s that while Card Fans have a firm grasp on basketball bragging rights, metaphor still eludes them.