Sunday, November 20, 2016
Saturday, October 29, 2016
testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well.
Larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
into that hot eye. Who cares that he fell back to the sea?
See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.
--Anne Sexton, “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph”
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
In 1932 the great scholar and poet W.E.B. Du Bois staged a pointed historical pageant titled, “George Washington and Black Folk”, in deep contrast with the near universal hagiographical treatment of the nation’s first president, Du Bois highlights Washington’s ambivalence on ending slavery, his reluctance to act, and puts a spotlight on the many contributions of black Americans in the Revolutionary War. The hero of the pageant turns out to be former slave and leader of the Haitian Revolution Toussaint L’Ouverture, of whom abolitionist Wendall Phillips wrote, “I would call him Washington but the great Virginian owned slaves.”
Days before the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team was set to play New Zealand in a friendly, Saudi Arabia, with the tacit approval of and using weapons sold to them by the United States, bombed a mass funeral in Yemen, killing and wounding hundreds.
This is what ran through my head the evening of the October 11th at RFK Stadium when the American Outlaws unfurled their banner proclaiming us, “First in War, First in Peace, First in Soccer.”
It made my stomach turn in disgust. “First in War,” is not something to be proud of and I have yet to see evidence of either “First in Peace” or, indeed, “First in Soccer.”
I’d been expecting something different, something lighthearted. This wasn’t a competitive match, after all. Why not a banner making a reference to some of New Zealand’s cultural output--a joke about Flight of the Conchords or The Lord of the Rings, perhaps? But the fun, bantering atmosphere that I’ve come to love at D.C. United games is completely absent from U.S.M.N.T. games.
I attended my first Men’s National Team game earlier this year, during the Copa America tournament. My buddy Paul had an extra ticket to the game against Paraguay at Lincoln Field in the Stadium District of Philadelphia and, not knowing better, I accepted it.
There was a big, very friendly Paraguayan family seated to our left and a drunk American bros on every other side, including a real gem of a bro in Edgartown Red shorts kept standing up to flip the bird at the Paraguayan family. The chants of “USA USA USA” felt inappropriately belligerent and more than a little nativist. Chanting “USA USA USA” at the local immigrant population was not something I felt comfortable doing. I didn’t join in with that or any of the cheers.
Later that month, also during Copa America my friend L., who is Mexican-American, was going to attend an American Outlaws watch party with her husband, who is white. They ended up separated by the crowd. He was waved into the bar but she was turned away. “Members only,” the guy at the door said.
After those experiences I had decided never to attend another national team game or watch party again. That nativist atmosphere was just not something I felt comfortable with. But when this game against New Zealand was announced, I’d decided to give it another try, especially after local boy Bill Hamid was called up by Jurgen Klinsmann. My hope was that a friendly against a “white” country that didn’t also represent a local marginalized immigrant community would be free of uncomfortable jingoism. I was wrong. It still felt like a Trump rally when my section rose to its feet chanting “USA USA USA”.
I’d brought a cheeky handwritten sign with me expressing my disapproval of Jurgen not starting our homegrown hero in goal: “FREE HAMID.”
I’d intended it as a lighthearted joke but as the game wore on, and my discomfort grew, it felt more like a protest. FREE HAMID to join the Black Lives Matter protests or take a knee with Colin Kaepernick if he wants to. FREE HAMID from having to suck up to Europe-biased Jurgen or put up with these nativist chants of USA USA USA. FREE HAMID from this bullshit.
I’ll still cheer on and support the players on the national team but I cannot in good conscience participate in that supporter culture.
I’ll stick to D.C. United.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
[D.C. Untied 22-23] D.C. United vs Orlando City SC, September 24, 2016, and D.C. United vs Columbus Crew SC, September 28, 2016
Oh me of little faith.
Two weeks later and we’re sitting on our first winning streak of the season: 3 wins in a row, including a massive win on the road against Toronto FC. D.C. United has gone from clinging onto 6th place with our collective fingernails and a series of hard-fought draws to racing past Philadelphia and hot on Montreal’s heels in a fight 4th which would guarantee us a home game in the playoffs.
And I’m late writing about it for a few reasons.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
And a note from me: Get well soon, Sean!!
The story of D.C. United at Red Bull Arena begins almost two weeks ago on Thursday, September 1 at Yankee Stadium. Days after an incredible 6-2 hosing of the Chicago Fire, D.C. United traveled north to New York to face N.Y.C.F.C. To say that expectations were high is an understatement. D.C. United had just scored six goals. They looked good and the fans were ready for the first winning streak of the season.
The problem is that N.Y.C.F.C. is a team that can win games. They’re very uneven and their defense is one of the worst in the league but they can win. N.Y.C.F.C. spent big money on David Villa (17 goals) and Frank Lampard (12 goals) for a reason. If they’re going to win, they’re generally going to win by outshooting you, not by keeping goals out. D.C. United, on the other hand, under former defensive midfielder Ben Olsen, has spent the last few years winning by defending and has spent most of this year unable to score much of anything and scraping out a fair number of 1-1 draws. You have to add up our top seven goal scorers this season to equal the total of N.Y.C.F.C’s top two, and one of those seven is centerback Steve Birnbaum!
But D.C. United seemed to have figured it out. And they played the first 75 minutes of the game against N.Y.C.F.C. like the team we’d seen take Chicago out behind the woodshed. Fluid attack, keeping N.Y.C.F.C.’s chances to a minimum… but we’d only scored once. And we’d lost that 1-0 lead too many times this season. Would this be the game that broke the streak? As the clock ticked on towards 90 minutes, all of us watching at home started to hope. Yes, it would be today!
And then it all came crashing down.