If you’ve spent much time around SDSU Twitter over the past year or so, you may have seen the term “Barry” floating around. What does this mean? Who is this man? Why is he from La Mesa? Where in God’s name did he get his fashion sense?
Before we get into all that, let me take you back to one of the first pieces I ever wrote for this here content optimization funnel.
The year was 2016 (approximately 7 years after I defeated Kawhi Leonard at beer pong) and the recap of my trip to Chicago / Dekalb, Ill. for the NIU game included a note about how SDSU fans are — at at the risk of being mildly over-dramatic — some of the worst people on the face of the Earth.
Then there are the guys in this shirt that will not go two minutes without telling you how much money they donate to the Aztec Club or dishing out some veiled racism regarding Winston Shepard.
You know this person. They sit in good seats in Viejas Arena with their arms folded and scowling. They don’t react to any good plays, but holy shit do they get fired up about missed free throws.
Jamaal Franklin? Talented player, but would’ve been a hell of a lot better if he ever stopped trying to be so flashy.
If Christian Chapman completes nine straight passes, they have nothing to say. But if he overthrows the receiver on the tenth pass: “Classic Chapman. How’s he gonna blow it this time? We haven’t had a decent QB since Todd Santos.”
The closest they get to actual positive support of their own team is screaming furiously at all game officials for every call that goes against the Aztecs. If anyone is gonna call out Malik Pope it’s gonna be HIM, DAMMIT.
In their day, The Murph sold out every game, with standing room only crowds totaling at least 90,000. Everyone was allowed to bring a milk jug full of Bud Dry into the stadium. Today’s fans will never appreciate the passionate rivalry we had with Long Beach State. They punched Bobby Bowden square in the jaw on three different occasions. Monty kicked Dwayne Johnson’s ass and anyone who says otherwise is a Lee Corso-following lemming.
You get the idea.
These guys suck ass. Every fanbase has them. In fact, the USC, Alabama or Ohio State versions of these guys are probably much worse. Just as entitled, only with some shred of legitimacy behind the arrogance.
So my friends and I have spent the better part of our post-graduation lives mocking these assholes. In fact, for the Mountain West Basketball Tournament in 2016, we set out to take back the ugly black and red Hawaiian shirt look these guys have cornered the market on.
The persona was well known and firmly established back then, but the name wouldn’t come until the following summer.
I was in fabulous Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport, shoulder-to-shoulder with about 700 people at Banker’s Hill Bar, the Busiest Bar In The World At All Hours No Matter What, preparing to depart for the bachelor party of the gentleman on the far right of that picture above.
As is required at millennial bachelor parties, we all packed in our suitcases a different, equally obnoxious Hawaiian shirt to wear out to dinner one of the nights. (White people: we’re all just varying degrees of insufferable!)
Over a delightful $14 airport beer, one of my fellow bachelor party attendees said something to the affect of “Man, Friday night we’re all gonna be dressed like those shitty old Aztec fans.” to which I replied, “Yeah, we’re all gonna look like fucking … Barry from La Mesa.”
And at that moment, we had a title for our adversaries. Barry™ was born.
Since then, the Barry Phenomenon has taken on sort of a life of its own.
Old dude in a bad shirt? Barry.
Not-so-subtle racism from a middle-aged guy? Barry.
Daily poster on Aztec Mesa? Oh buddy, that’s a Barry.
It’s not exclusive to males, either. Are you a woman who “used to watch the NFL but not anymore after all this anthem protesting crap”? Well lady, you’re a Debbie.
Now, why does Barry hail from La Mesa?
Well, he isn’t always from La Mesa. For instance, there’s North County Barry and East County Barry. Two different people. Oh, they both voted for the same presidential candidate, but for very different reasons. There’s also South County Barry, who still wears his Shawne Merriman Chargers jersey to his daughter’s softball games.
Despite the highly identifiable shirt, Barry is much more of an attitude than a look. So next time the guy next to you at Viejas Arena claps a little too hard when the star takes a seat and the token white Hustle Boy comes in in his place, or someone at STADIUM curses at Rocky Long because we failed to convert on third down while up by 26 on in the 3rd quarter, at least take some comfort knowing that there are people like me out there who share your annoyance.
The Barrys were here long before us and generations of them will outlive us all, but at least for now we can make fun of them together on the internet.
That’ll show ’em.