The Browns Fan's Tailgating Guide by Peter Chakerian

Gray & Company, Publishers

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Browns Fan's Tailgating Guide by Peter Chakerian
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The Browns Fan's Tailgating Guide

by Peter Chakerian

  • Softcover, 172 pages, 5 x 8 inches
  • ISBN: 978-1-59851-045-4
If you're new to Cleveland Browns fandom, you can read up on the etiquette and customs of the Dawg Pound and beyond; if you're an old hand, you can relive tales of the best and worst of Browns history. — Northern Ohio Live

Browns fans know: It's not if you win or lose . . . it's how you party in the parking lot before the game!

Now it's easy for any Browns fan to tailgate like a well-seasoned veteran. This book shares tips from Cleveland's top tailgaters—about where to, when to, and how to do it all, Browns fan style. It also tells inspiring tailgating tales from fellow fans and introduces some of the wild people, crazy vehicles, outlandish foods, and nonstop party activities you'll find in the lot.

For decades, hardy Cleveland football fans have enjoyed the pregame (and game . . . and postgame) in sun, rain, or sub-zero temperatures, sitting in folding chairs and clutching red plastic cups while watching a rack of ribs smoke on a homemade grill next to a brown-and-orange Winnebago.

This book celebrates the glorious tradition of Cleveland Browns tailgating. It will inspire you to don your dawg mask, grab your favorite beverage, and prepare to join the party!

Illustrations: 72 black-and-white photographs

Reviews
Offers a peek at the rituals surrounding a game in Browns' stadium. There's a little bit of history and a bit of celebration of the celebrations, especially in the Muni lot at South Marginal Road and East Ninth Street. Chakerian takes an appreciative look at costumes (bizarre), behavior (play nice) and other rituals (come early, party long) of Cleveland Browns' tailgating. — Morning Journal
Highly recommended. The book is a great, fun read. But then, what would you expect from a book that offers a drink recipe for “A Brownie Mary” on one page—and, on another, lists “The Most Essential R&B, Urban Contemporary and Hip-Hop Tracks” to play at your tailgate party? We give it two thumbs up! — sportstimeohio.com
Peter Chakerian gives a tour of the colorful world—and even more colorful characters—surrounding Cleveland Browns Stadium before any home game . . . A good starting point for any would-be tailgater looking to start some pre-game traditions of their own. — Stow Sentry
There is a different culture when it comes to Cleveland tailgating. Consider this book your reference guide to make sure you tailgate the right way . . . No matter if you are a veteran tailgater or a novice just starting out, by reading this book everyone can gain some insight on how to not just tailgate but tailgate better. — tailgatingideas.com
Part history lesson, part sociological study, part user's guide . . . Chakerian calls tailgating one of the last grassroots happenings still unspoiled by corporate America. And if you don't know the first thing about becoming part of it, this book is a good place to start. — Cleveland Magazine
If you're new to Cleveland Browns fandom, you can read up on the etiquette and customs of the Dawg Pound and beyond; if you're an old hand, you can relive tales of the best and worst of Browns history. — Northern Ohio Live
About Peter Chakerian
Peter Chakerian

Peter Chakerian is an award-winning writer, reporter and journalist. His byline has appeared in The Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, Sun Newspapers, Cleveland Magazine, Northern Ohio Live, Scene Magazine, America Online, Blogcritics.org, and dozens of other publications throughout the Midwest. Chakerian is the Managing Editor of CoolCleveland.com, a weekly online newsletter on arts, culture, economic development and all things cool in Cleveland. A lifelong Northeast Ohio resident and Browns fan, he lives in Bay Village, Ohio. More About Peter Chakerian

Question & Answer with the author...
Q: For someone completely new to tailgating, what are some things to know before heading out to the Muni Lot?

A: Tailgating at the Muni Lot for the first time is kind of like jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool without putting your toe in first. It's where the “hardest of the hardcore” Browns fans show up for every home game and it really can be overwhelming for a new fan. I like to call it a dysfunctional family picnic. Kind of like Mardi Gras, a circus, custom car show, frat party, camping trip and rock concert all rolled into one.

Q: Where do you suggest they start?

A: I don't necessarily suggest trying out the Muni Lot for your first stop. You might want to break yourself in by going to other locations like the Burke Lakefront Naval parking lots or the North Coast garage (adjacent to the Muni lot). The northern-most Port Authority Lot (also called the Yellow Lot) and the Great Lakes Science Center garage also tend to attract a lot of season ticket holders and families, so they tend to be a bit milder.

Q: Is tailgating for families too?

A: One of the more die-hard tailgaters in the Muni lot known as “The Taj” describes the Muni Lot as “age-appropriate,” which I think is a perfect way to explain the location. If the Muni Lot was a movie it would be rated PG-13 at the very least, and when AFC North rival teams come to town it goes R-rated in spots. Parents should spend time in advance scoping out locations. Tailgating is fun and it can be great for families, but you really need to find the right spot. All of the other lots featured in the book would qualify for a PG rating.

Q: How would you describe some of Cleveland's more interesting and colorful tailgaters?

A: Fans will recognize guys like Tony “Mobile Dawg” Schafer, “Dawg Pound Mike” Randall and Debra Darnell (aka the BoneLady) and some others. Schafer is a contractor and he brings a crew of tailgaters in from Sandusky in his converted Mobile Dawg Pound school bus, which has a working toilet with former Browns owner Art Modell's face at the bottom of it. Dawg Pound Mike is a marketing professional from Akron who has custom-made bone shaped hats. And the BoneLady is a professional artist by trade and probably has the most eccentric body adornments you could imagine.

Q: What are some of the more zany and unusual tailgating practices you've observed?

A: I've seen rambunctious Pittsburgh Steelers fans with their tailgating vehicle parked in the Muni lot––shrink-wrapped with cellophane, then covered with food. I've seen people have Cruiser Cooler races, and do line dancing and break dancing. I've seen pig roasts and lobster bakes for a nearly hundred people that weren't catered. Every week it's something new.

Q: How does Browns tailgating compare to other cities?

A: Cleveland is considered one of the hardiest tailgating cities in all of the NFL. Fans here tailgate rain or shine, sleet or snow, good team or bad. And it's consistent with cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo, where people support their teams regardless of the weather or what's being said in the sports pages. In warmer-weather cities like Phoenix, Jacksonville, and San Francisco––if the team is tanking it's a much different experience. Tailgating is a part of the football experience in these cities, but it's unlike Cleveland where we live and die with our teams.

Q: How did tailgating get started?

A: Food and football have gone together since the turn of the nineteenth century, if you are to believe some of the early claims. Most historians cite a Princeton-Rutgers college football game in 1869 as the first tailgate. I think most Browns fans will agree that the surge in the team's popularity in the 1980s—first with the Kardiac Kids, and then with the success of the Bernie Kosar and Marty Schottenheimer era—started the modern tailgating phenomenon in Cleveland.

Q: For Browns fans traveling to games in other cities, what tailgating advice do you have?

A: The best advice is to get connected. The Internet can be a great tool for the fine points, but it is no substitute for connecting with Browns fans in those out-of-town markets. Browns Backers clubs are a great resource. They highlight pockets of Browns fans in each major NFL city. The odds of you connecting with someone to tailgate through them are pretty good.

Q: How can people tailgate at home?

A: My suggestion would be to have a pre-game party outside your house with your barbecue and your fire pit. Make sure you have simple foods that kids like, and fun games for both kids and adults. It's never quite the same as being there, but I think if you get a big crowd and you have some extra space in your backyard or basement you can pull off a really good time. Plus, for those people who can't take the cold, moving indoors is quick and easy.

Q: What is the most surprising thing readers might not already know about tailgating?

A: People often say, “Oh, those crazy tailgating people,” like they're all a bunch of maniacs but that's a really small part of the overall experience. Tailgating is sort of what one tailgater calls “the last American neighborhood,” because people are actually engaging and interacting with one another through the common love of Browns football.

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