Equal Night: the Spring Equinox and the Sports We Love

Friday, March 20, marks the Spring Equinox… Equal Night… one of the two moments every year when night and day are equal…the start of spring! Happy Spring, where hope runs eternal.

Spring training is now in full swing. We’re in the middle of the first week of the NCAA tournament where 68 (used to be 64) teams get whittled down to 16 (in the seven days from Selection Sunday to Sweet Sixteen Sunday). Daylight Savings Time & St. Patrick’s Day hangovers are nearly over. And soon the snows from this crazy winter will be gone.

Funny how things balance out. The universe seems to want to it that way. And for the most part, so do we. We don’t like it when things are out of balance. We strive to make things fair. Especially when it comes to our sporting events and games.

If there’s one thing that Americans can agree on, it’s a fair game. For good or worse, we as a culture are obsessed with sports, and to most of us, fairness and a level playing field are sacred. Americans love to compete. We play to win. And although we may root for different teams, most of us hate cheating and unfair advantages. We won’t stand for a rigged game. We hate unfair competition. So with balance and fairness in mind, we ask you a couple questions:

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God’s Cod, Jack Salmon and America’s Future

fishfryLast March, I was having dinner with a friend and her father. And even though religion and politics are still not considered polite conversation, our discussion turned to the changing demographics in America and the fear that it sparks in many older white Americans. (It was just a few months later that America By The Numbers with Maria Hinojosa — an excellent show about the changing demographics in America — premiered on PBS.) I’ve been aware of shifting demographics for quite some time, but was surprised at the concern that was expressed. Fear really is the enemy of a democracy and of a dinner date. But then, as the waitress brought me the steak and asparagus that I had ordered, I got hopeful. For some reason, I thought of “fish fries.” That’s right, “fish fries,” and I felt a wave of hopefulness.

Most Americans, even if they’ve never attended one, have at least heard of a fish fry. They’ve become very popular with local print and broadcast news in the Heartland. I guess because they have nothing better to cover, local media produce numerous guides, directories and features about fish fries every spring.

Fish fries have always been popular in the Midwest and Northeast, especially in Roman Catholic communities, and especially on Fridays during Lent when abstinence from meat was/is required. But fish fries can be found in any community in any region and religious affiliation is unnecessary. Throughout the years, many restaurants have had fish specials on Fridays, but my memories are of parish and community fish fries. A great way for the community to come together and for an organization to make a little money.

Back in 1960s, when I must have attended my first fish fry, the standard menu consisted of battered or breaded fried fish served with french fries, coleslaw, lemon slices, tartar sauce, ketchup and some sort of dessert. The fish was usually “God’s Cod,” but I remember Jack Salmon — not salmon at all, but a cool name for walleyed pike, a large game fish pulled from the lakes and rivers of the northeast.

beerIn German areas, like south St. Louis where I grew up, beer was/is the beverage that “pairs best” with fish fry fare. Sometimes there were potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce and maybe a slice of rye bread. In St. Louis, you could find mostaccioli as a side dish along side the mac & cheese thanks to the Sicilians who came to the city in the early 20th century.

Of course, the south invaded a while back bringing catfish and cornmeal batter, along with hushpuppies and cheese grits as sides. Up the river from NOLA came snapper, shrimp, Jumbalaya and Louisiana hot sauce.

So you can see where I’m going here and why I was feeling hopeful last spring thanks to fish fries. Fish fries in Gateway are showing a more gentle and tasteful swing in demographics.

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Fish fries have been around for a long time. Certainly Native Americans came together and cooked big fish dinners for the whole community long before the rest of us got here. Over the years, different ethnic groups have brought great recipes to the classic fish fry menu. Today, here in Gateway, one of the most popular fish fries is the Mexican Fish Fry at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Parish. It’s so crowded that people order and schedule pick up online! On their menu: salmon, cod, shrimp, chile relleno, tostada, quesadilla, chips and pico de gallo, tamales, and sometimes, fish tacos!

Yes, I’m hopeful — and I’m getting hungry! Fish fries are part of our heritage in the Heartland (good health or not), and they’re still going strong. You can still get “God’s Cod” battered and fried with the same sides that were served in 1964, but you can also get flavors from around the world! You’re still at a fish fry! You’re still in America. And you’re still in good company!

—Wheelhouse

nowshowing.474wWho knows what a fish fry will be like in 50 years. The writers and producers at Gateway-TCR are thinking about fish fries (and other things) in 2064,1964 and today. We’re practicing a “careful futurism” as we build the sustainable stage upon which the Gateway-TCR stories will be told.  That means we’ll be looking back as much as we look forward. -50 | 0 | +50, our method of careful futurism, compares the change in POV from 1964 to 2014 and then uses it as a governor for predicting what the community will be like in 2064. What will fish fries look like in the future? Will they be more healthy? Will influence and recipes come from China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, South America, Africa? Will we live in stronger and more just communities? Won’t America be even stronger because of our diversity? We can only hope and pass the tartar sauce.

Analytics in Like a Lion

Google-Analytics

Like the month of March across most of the United States, Gateway-TCR’s first analytics report came in like a lion.

Change from early January 2015 to early March 2015 is as follows:

  • Sessions: +449%
  • Unique Visitors: +433%
  • Pageviews: +638%

These increases are tied to our aggressive social media and content campaigns, and the unique and interesting content being posted on Gateway-TCR.com in Q1 2015.

Conservative projections are for continued traffic growth for the rest of Q1 and through Q2.  That conservative growth would get Gateway-TCR to 2190 sessions/month, 1470 unique visitors/month and 5340 pageviews/month by the end of June — WITHOUT the next episode segments: Segment 1.2 and the Pilot Prelude.

If production schedules and budgets allow completion and posting of Segment 1.2 and/or the Pilot Prelude before the end of Q2, we project Gateway-TCR.com traffic will be 9,000 sessions/month, 9,000 unique visitors/month and more than 30,000 pageviews/month by the end of June.

Advertisers and sponsors take notice!