Home / Robert Farley / How Can I Sleep When Our Couches are Burning?

How Can I Sleep When Our Couches are Burning?


Some preparatory celebration…

Jubilation over the University of Kentucky’s win over the University of Louisville quickly turned into scenes of couch-burning mayhem in key celebratory areas around campus.

State Street, which had become the epicenter of couch burning in recent weeks, was quickly filled with thousands of people, smoke and flying beer bottles. Police in riot gear with fire extinguishers and batons dodged bottles from the growing crowd and tried to stop a raft of couch fires.

Police blocked people from an empty building, but could not stop at least five cars from being flipped over, set on fire or vandalized. Much of the violence was accompanied by people chanting a war cry of “C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats!”

Fire department officials said at least 39 fires occurred in the campus area, mostly on State Street, and mostly to couches and trash. The Fire Department also made 12 first-aid runs….

On April 1, 1996, crowds took to the streets after UK won the national championship against Syracuse. Cars were crushed; police officers and bystanders were hit with rocks and bottles; and a television news van was overturned and set ablaze.

City and UK officials had also urged fans repeatedly through the week to keep cool after the historic game.

But now city and UK officials have yet another night to get through, that of the championship game itself on Monday night.

“If this is a preview for Monday night,” said Samantha Shirley, who was watching the crowds on State Street, “then I feel sorry for the police.”

I’m sure that the UK student body will do its best to ensure that Lexington is visible from the International Space Station on Monday evening. The course of the game will merely determine how the fires are fueled. For our part, we’ll be parking the cars in the garage, booby trapping the couch, and enjoying the game over a snifter of brandy with an appropriately aged crowd.

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  • I blame Obama for not using the power of the bully pulpit to thwart the neoliberal couch-burning agenda.

    • Well he is a racist hatemonger who sat in Alinsky’s church for twenty years.

      • c u n d gulag

        And Michelle surely hate couches!

        She’s out there trying to make our kids active, and recommends playing outside the house, instead of letting them sit inside playing games on the computer, munching on high-fat/high-carb snacks, and turning into young couch-potato’s.

        This is ALL the Obama’s fault! EVERYTHING IS!!!

        “We want our country back!”

    • joe from Lowell

      I blame Obama for not using the power of the bully pulpit to thwart the neoliberal couch-burning agenda.

      Can we finally admit that Obama wanted the couch-burnings all along?


    • DrDick

      All part of Michelle’s insidious war on couch potatoes!

  • It looks more and more like that Calipari will finally have a national championship vacated by the NCAA next year.

  • Kevin

    In other news…we now know that the collective noun for couch fires is “a raft”.

    • joe from Lowell

      What’s the collective noun for rafts?

      • firefall

        a panic of rafts I believe

      • A couch-fire.

      • PhoenixRising

        In KY? “appliance recycling”

        (if you ain’t been over ta Pike County and followed directions that include…”take a right at the third break in the guardrail, then follow that trace down past all them refrigerators then make a hard left onto the ford…” this isn’t funny.)

  • rea

    I remember something like this in Detroit after a championship, and much being made in the national media about the city’s out-of-control (dark-skinned) criminal element . . .

    • c u n d gulag

      But these are mostly young white people, so it’s just a case of hijinks due to youthful exuberance, and not angry, violent, Black Panther thugs determined to destroy the property of their betters.

  • Douglas

    Is that a reference in the title to Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil?

    Probably the first shout-out to the Schools and Early Childhood Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia on this site, but hopefully not the last.

    • firefall


  • JMG

    So how did the couch burning tradition get started, anyway? I had always thought it was a University of West Virginia invention, but don’t really know. I mean, there’s lots more flammable furniture than couches, and crummy student housing NEEDS its couches for the students themselves. Why don’t they burn kitchen chairs or desks instead?

    • Elijah

      Back in my day, we took fatted calfs, after soaking them with twelve barrels of water, and the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And then I made sure to kill the prophets of Baal, because that team was a bunch of losers.

      • rea

        It is true that rioting after sporting events has been around for a long time.

        • c u n d gulag

          In all fairness, it didn’t happen earlier because there weren’t enough lions in the street of Rome, and the Christians couldn’t riot – not just because they lost, but if they did, they’d end-up in the future as lion-chow.

    • I was wondering that myself, but I suspect that the answer has more to do with kindling than anything else. Stuffing and covering are easily flammable — maybe with a little alcohol for accellerant — in a way that solid wood wouldn’t be.

      • witless chum

        I suspect the college tradition of a crappy couch on the front porch of your crappy house makes couches kind of a target of oppurtunity. Michigan State had a riot while I was there that went from couch-burning to car burning.

        That one I kinda respected though (but didn’t participate, I think me and a couple buddies went to watch He Got Game.) because it was semi-political. The university closed an intramural field near the stadium to alcohol use on football Saturdays and students organized a protest at the field.

        Which then proceeded to March on the president’s house (This was M. Peter McPherson, who couldn’t appear in front of the student body without getting booed. He later tried appearing at a football game flanked by recently-returned soldiers from the Afghan War, which led to a smaller boo, and then gave up and went off to help ruin Iraq.) who wasn’t home. Denied the oppurtunity to yell at a useless Republican hack in person, they marched to downtown East Lansing and started tearing shit up.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know what’s going on in Lexington. Back in my day we’d just drink ourselves into oblivion and dance in the streets.

  • adolphus

    Well it is Kentucky. Chances are all those fans will all go pro after this one riot and be drafted by National Couch Burning Association today. One-and-done!

  • efgoldman

    My daughter went to UMass, where they burn couches and dump them out of the high-rise dorms for no goddamned reason at all on Friday night…

    On football Saturday mornings, the 350-member marching band used to do their first rehearsal (8:00am-ish)in the shadow of those dorms, so a fusillade of beer bottles and cans put a new layer on top of the couch remnants.

    KY is a Commonwealth.
    MA is a Commonwealth.
    Calipari’s first major coaching job (and vacated Final Four) was at UMass….
    For sure its Obama’s fault.

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