, Salem, MA


February 9, 2013

Super Bowl leaves dark stain on U.S. image


If a Super Bowl cannot be put on in a Superdome without the lighting engineer having a shot at becoming the Most Valuable Player, then American pretensions to being a superpower are over. Au revoir.

Pity we the people. Pity the poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free but still on foreign shores, and tuning in to the Super Bowl on their steam-operated TVs only to find ... darkness. “Hey, Papa,” the little ones shout, “the Americanos have forgotten to pay their utility bill — our hope is doomed.”

As of this writing, nobody knows what went wrong, which is even worse. How humiliating for formerly can-do America, where technology prospered, where the Internet sizzled into life, where invention after invention — the radar detector and the TV remote — changed the path of the human species. Hey, anybody got any spare light bulbs? That’s our new motto.

It wasn’t just the dimmed lights. The famous TV commercials were infamously disappointing. Previously the best minds from the Ivy League would steer clear of professions like medicine and the law in order to write comic tributes to beer, but on this night their efforts were flat. Oh for the cutely flatulent animals of yesteryear!

Somebody did resurrect the broadcaster Paul Harvey to do a commercial about farmers, whom he said God makes. It was so moving that some of us were tempted to go out and buy some farmers, only to discover that corporations have lately driven up their price.

It wasn’t just the darned commercials. It came to my attention that certain Steelers fans, usually the creme de la creme ale, were rooting for the Baltimore Ravens, something flagrantly against the order of nature.

They had their paltry reasons — such as the San Francisco 49ers would have equaled Pittsburgh’s record of six Super Bowl victories if they had won. No wonder the lights failed. The Almighty, pausing from making farmers for a second, made an electrical malfunction and then let there be light when the Steeler fans did not get the message. They are cursed now; they will find that their Terrible Towels have been starched by their spouses.

The lamps are going out all over America. We can only hope that some bright spark can relight them.


Reach Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Reg Henry at

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