Weekender Survival Notes – From a Veteran.


I wrote a great piece on this when I was in business school, but can’t find it on my “old” computer.  I bought that machine in 2003, so finding anything on it is impossible.  I believe that each computer year is equivalent to 35 human years.  So – my surprisingly heavy 2003 laptop is 245 in human years.  It is just like George Washington’s wooden dentures; the latest and greatest technology at the time, but damn near worthless today.


The “Weekender” is an annual road trip that is taken by what seems like all Trojan undergraduates on the weekend of the Cal or Stanford game.  (A real Trojan fan already knows that we play Cal or Stanford in the Bay Area on alternating years; so I don’t need to explain that.)  So – that’s a lot of people heading up north.  The information in this column can keep you ahead of the herd; partying and sleeping in the right places.


Since the “Weekender” is the event, and not the game; who we are playing is not important.  So; don’t get confused by my references to Berkeley.  It doesn’t matter who we’re playing – IT’S THE WEEKENDER!


I only spent 3 years as a USC undergraduate before graduating, but I did pack at least 15 years of living into there.  So – I went on three weekenders and had a great time at each.  Here are the steps you need to follow:


1.    Leave early in the morning on Friday.

You should be able to make the drive in 6 ½ hours or so (my record is 4 hours flat.)  If you leave at, say 6AM, you should be able to find that magic window where you escape LA before traffic builds up; and can cruise right over the Bay Bridge around 3PM or so.  When I was in college; if I was up at 6AM, that meant I hadn’t gone to sleep yet.  So – we ended up leaving at 2PM each time.  This ensured that we sat through traffic in BOTH LA and the Bay Area.


2.    Make sure that you know where you are staying.

As I stated in an earlier post – the odds of finding a decent hotel room in San Francisco on the weekender is pretty slim.  So, if you’re a respectable fan, book your room in advance.  My buddies and I were a bunch of degenerate college students, so we never paid for accommodations.  We merely planned in advance who we were going to mooch accommodations from.  Here are the techniques that worked for us:

a.   Crash at a fraternity house in Berkeley.  My fraternity at USC had a chapter up in Berkeley.  By playing the “help a brother out” card, we were able to get free accommodations despite the fact that the Berkeley guys couldn’t stand us.  (And vice-versa).  The only things we had in common were an enthusiasm for liquor, the fact that we joined clubs that had the same name, and an intense hatred for one another.  Nevertheless, the “help a brother out” card plays well.  A crucial part of this is to know the names of some of their recent alumni.  Claim to be friends with them, and you’re in.  This takes some research on your part – don’t name-drop the guy that nobody likes.  And, for God’s sake, make sure that you start badmouthing their horrible beer, ugly women, crappy house, or socially inept pledges AFTER they have said you can stay AND you’ve moved your luggage in.  (Although we often got this order wrong ourselves.)

b.   Sleep in your car in a San Francisco parking garage.   As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is how I spent Saturday night of my first weekender.  Obviously, this is best used as a “Plan B.”  If you do this, look for a less-scummy neighborhood to park in.  A good rule of thumb is; the farther north from Union Square you are, the better.  Also – I did this in 1995.  Parking is unbelievably expensive now – it could cost you $40 to sleep in your car.

c.   Pick out who you’re going to mooch lodging from, and hang out with them all night.  This one works best.  Just make plans to meet up with some people in the city.  Verify that they’re staying in a decent hotel, and that they’ve got room.  (Like 2 people staying in a room with 2 queen beds – lots of floor space there!)


3.   A real Trojan doesn’t watch the game from a stadium.

A real Trojan fan doesn’t want to be around Cal or Stanford fans.  He’ll find a bar that’s been taken over by USC fans, and watch among “his people.”  Or, as I did one year, he’ll park himself on the porch of a house in Berkeley and hurl abuse at Cal fans walking by – both before the game and after we laid a 40+ point whippin’ on them.


4.      Don’t go to Palo Alto.  Spending time in Berkeley is acceptable, but you should not set foot in Palo Alto this whole weekend.  That would be like spending a weekend in Los Angeles, and going out to a bar in Fullerton on Saturday night.  There’s plenty of stuff to do in San Francisco – and it’s a sufficiently neutral territory for watching the game.


5.      Hippies are not friendly people.  Despite what you would think, a good number of hippies are angry and potentially violent people.  While partying in Berkeley during past weekenders, I have had a number of hippies threaten to “kick my ass” because of my collegiate allegiance.  None of these hippies have ever attempted to follow through on such a threat, even after I offered to settle things in the parking lot.  So – I think they’re all talk; but you never know.


6.      Don’t take a cab from Berkeley into San Francisco.  The getting there isn’t so much the problem as getting back is.  Refer to my previous post Here.


That should be enough to get you by.  Any more, and you’ll have to take notes.  The Weekender, as with any college road trip, should not involve even taking a pen with you.  That reference is probably as obsolete as the fact that I did all these drives without mapquest, or cell phones, or that I waited until my second semester before I even bothered to set up my USC e-mail address.  You should know what I’m getting at, though.  Get together some gas money and go!


     I’ve got more suggestions, but I’ll let you in on them next year.  As for the game vs. Stanford, I am cautiously optimistic.  If you think we’re going to lose; don’t watch.  We don’t need your bad vibes.



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