' ' Cinema Romantico: Pitch Meeting: The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Pitch Meeting: The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

The Florida/Georgia game was played Saturday (stay with me!). It’s a significant rivalry in college football and a rare rivalry too in so much as it is generally not played on one of the school’s respective campuses but at a neutral site in Jacksonville, Florida along the St. Johns River. Colloquially the game is known as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, an evocative moniker coined way back in the 1950s when Florida Times-Union sportswriter Bill Kastelz noticed people employing binocular cases to carry flasks into the stadium with police doing little policing in regards to public drinking. Though that nickname was, for a time, official, it was rescinded in the 80s and eventually CBS, which began broadcasting the game in the late 90s, was asked to stop saying it too because such a sobriquet did not necessarily help the game’s reputation as a drunken hundred thousand person bender. In fact, preeminent college football scribe Spencer Hall, writing for his subscription site Channel 6 last Friday, recounted that in 1985 his friend’s Dad went to the Florida/Georgia game and did not come back.

“Like, not a few days,” Hall wrote. “I mean a while, a week or two at least.” He did “eventually come back,” Hall continued, “but with no explanations and without his mustache. This was my first introduction to the Cocktail Party. My friend’s dad traveled there for two nights with a mustache. He returned several weeks later without a mustache. Whatever the (The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party) was, it held the power to make men disappear and whip the hair right off their lips.” You know what’s coming... Stop the tape.

I imagined a movie: “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” I imagined a movie with Michael Shannon as a Florida Man, a Florida Man with a mustache, one who bids his family goodbye for the weekend to drive to Jacksonville for the Florida/Georgia game. Except we wouldn’t start there. No, no, no, no. This is one of those movies where we’d start with Florida Man in the Jacksonville Zoo, being attacked by alligators, as if his own Gator fandom is coming for him, and then comically freezeframe with Shannon making a facial expression like this one as he says the traditional “You’re probably wondering how I ended up here” thing before flashing back to his setting off for the Florida/Georgia game.

It will sot of be Cinema Romantico Films’ spiritual sequel to The Sun Bowl Follies, a Harold and Kumar-ish comically harrowing adventure in which Florida Man eats the nuclear spicy pickled pigs feet of some fellow Florida Fan from the panhandle (Kevin Corrigan), hallucinates and essentially misses the game despite being present, kidnaps Uga, the Georgia mascot, with a blitzed Florida Woman (Abbi Jacobson) he only realizes later is the chair of the UF College of Medicine before the Georgia Alumni President (Holly Hunter) recaptures Uga and drops Florida Man and Florida Woman in the alligator exhibit at the Jacksonville zoo. They escape, of course, if barely, and, exhausted, Florida Man collapses onto a couch that seems to just be out on the street for no apparent reason, nodding off without realizing that his makeshift bed is about to be set on fire by some Georgia students celebrating their team’s victory. His mustache is incinerated. 

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