As usual, we in the Bluegrass don’t have a “home team” to pull for in the Super Bowl. Thanks, Bungles.
We are, however, somewhere between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots’ home near Boston.
What the Patriots and the Falcons have in common is that they hail from culturally rich parts of the United States. Boston is the metropolis of New England, a key region of the Revolutionary War and the capital of Northeastern intelligentsia. Atlanta is the South’s largest city, rich in Civil War history and, in recent decades, a major media center and purveyor of Southern hip-hop.
Whether you prefer to let the air out with Tom Brady or watch Matt Ryan toss precision strikes downfield — hmmm, who is the writer pulling for? — if you want to immerse yourself in the culture of your team, it isn’t hard to do.
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Here are some suggestions, culled from good old-fashioned research and 21st-century crowdsourcing on Facebook.
What to eat
Atlanta: Atlanta is the South. Fried chicken! Barbecue! Neither of these are hard to obtain here in the Bluegrass, whether your tastes run to KFC or local establishments such as Blue Door, Red State or Winchell’s. Atlantans might suggest Chick-fil-A — buy ahead, because the restaurant is closed on Sundays — or Atlanta icon The Varsity, purveyors of hot dogs, burgers, desserts and similar fare. We don’t have The Varsity, but Parkette can serve up similar helpings of greasy grilled food and nostalgia.
Make sure to accent your meal with a Coke or maybe a brew from SweetWater Brewing Co., which is definitely taking Super Bowl sides on its Facebook page, and a pecan pie would be a perfect cap to your Southern plate.
Boston: There is a reason you reflexively say clam chowder with a Boston accent: chow-dah. Massachusetts is the Bay State, and she loves her seafood. Lobs-tah is a big favorite, and a classic lobster roll can be obtained at Clawdaddy’s. As landlocked as we are, Smithtown Seafood, Grillfish and Charlie’s Fresh Seafood Market are just some of the area restaurants that can make you smell saltwater. But you don’t have to eat seafood to dine as if you’re from Beantown. Italian-style thin, chewy pizza; deli sandwiches or subs also are favored in Boston. One of our Facebook friends specifically suggested that you get “a ‘wicked big sub’ before the game while listening to the Dropkick Murphys’ ‘Shipping up to Boston’”.
Sam Adams Boston Lager might seem like an obvious brew for your Patriots weekend, or you might try Harpoon or one of the other craft brews out of the Boston area that are available at Liquor Barn and elsewhere. By name, Boston cream pie is a no-brainer for dessert, but one of our Boston friends also suggests finishing your meal with Necco wafers. Then again, it might be just as easy to go to Dunkin Donuts.
What to listen to
Atlanta: Atlanta and surrounding areas have given the world a wide variety of music. Drive into the Peach State and you are immediately reminded of the Ray Charles classic “Georgia on My Mind” on the welcome sign. It’s easy to start sprawling around the state when you talk music, because Georgia has produced James Brown (Augusta), the Allman Brothers (Macon), Little Richard (Macon) and many bands from Athens, including The B-52s, R.E.M., Drive-By Truckers and more.
Atlanta itself was dubbed “hip-hop’s center of gravity” in 2009 by the New York Times’ John Caramanica in an article about Gucci Mane, citing artists Young Jeezy, T.I. and Soulja Boy. Other Atlanta based hip-hop and R&B artists include Usher, Ludacris, Janelle Monáe, Cee Lo Green and, of course, OutKast. Pop on “Hey Ya!” to get pumped for the big game.
Or maybe you like your tunes with a twang. The Peach State has produced its fair share of country stars, including Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, Trish Yearwood, Zac Brown Band, Kane Brown, Sugarland and Jerry Reed, to name a few. The Atlanta area also is a hotbed of Christian rock, with acts including Third Day and Casting Crowns.
Boston: There is the band named for the city, whose self-titled debut album seems to be in heavy rotation on album rock stations even to this day. Then there’s that singer-songwriter whose signature song references the snow-covered “turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston.” Many years after “Sweet Baby James,” James Taylor penned a tribute to the Boston Red Sox with “Angels of Fenway.” When the Boston Globe put out a list of “Boston’s 25 Greatest Pop Music Acts Ever,” it included Aerosmith, Pixies, Donna Summer, The Cars, New Edition and New Kids on the Block, plus indie darling Aimee Mann. Dropkick Murphys were mentioned with the sentiment, “If the concept of working-class Boston could be scientifically translated into a musical equivalent, it would be the sound of this endearingly scruffy band of punks.”
To many people, Boston is synonymous with classical and orchestral music, thanks to decades of great performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, with its legendary conductors Arthur Fiedler, John Williams and Keith Lockhart.
What to watch
Atlanta: “Gone with the Wind,” released in 1939, is the iconic movie of the South, and quite a bit of it takes place in Atlanta, including the legendary burning-of-Atlanta scene. The movie has drawn larger numbers of detractors in recent years because of its racial content, but it remains one of the most popular and awarded movies of all time. Another Atlanta-based movie that won a best-picture Oscar was “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. Other Atlanta-based movies include “Ride Along” (2014) and “Drumline” (2002) The city has seen a lot of film action in recent years for movies that were shot there but not necessarily set there, including the “Hunger Games” franchise and “The Blind Side” (2009).
For something completely different, you could indulge in a “Real Housewives of Atlanta” binge from the Bravo network. If you are a bit more high-minded, you might catch up with the new and already-awarded series “Atlanta,” Donald Glover’s production about two cousins navigating the Atlanta rap scene.
Boston: A lot of crime dramas come out of Boston — maybe this is why one Facebook friend suggests Bostonians cuss a lot — including Martin Scorsese’s best-picture winner “The Departed” (2006) and Ben Affleck’s “The Town” (2010). Having “Departed” star Matt Damon and Affleck as A-listers for the past couple decades has earned Boston a lot of silver-screen time, and it all started with the 1997 movie “Good Will Hunting,”, which won the pair a screenwriting Oscar. The reigning Oscar winner for best picture, “Spotlight,” focused on The Boston Globe’s investigation of sexual abuse in the Catholic church. For a lighter side of Boston, you might catch the rom-com “Fever Pitch,” in which Jimmy Fallon plays a guy whose Red Sox obsession is a bit mysterious to his girlfriend, played by Drew Barrymore.
TV gave us the light side of Boston for years in the bar-based sitcom “Cheers,” featuring Ted Danson as a former Red Sox pitcher — a lot of baseball in this football story — who owns a bar with a lively staff and clientele. Boston doesn’t have a “Real Housewives” show, but it was the location for Season 6 of MTV’s “The Real World.” Boston also was the setting for numerous dramas, including “Boston Legal” and several other legal shows, “Dawson’s Creek,” “Ally McBeal” — can we call a show with a dancing baby a drama? — and “Crossing Jordan.”
Super Bowl LI will air at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on Fox.