Friday, June 16, 2006

Fever Caught. Or, The Elegance Is Killing Me.

I've been having a hard time thinking of reedemable American cultural product--redeemable things about America other than Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln--and these World Cup photos are making it even harder. I'm sure all the players are thugs with craven fake-tanned hussies for spouses named Chardonnay, per the awesomely lurid BBC drama Footballers' Wives, but I'm not so sure when they look like they could play the lead in an Pedro Almodovar or Fernando Meirelles film, play guitar like Seu Jorge, and/or dance with the Bolshoi when they're not leaping into the air or racing down the long field. Per Mlle. Prunes and Prism, they are indeed muffintastic. The last picture is an Ecuadorean player wearing a handmade Spider-Man mask in tribute to a recently deceased teammate. Would A-Rod or Kobe Bryant do something so silly out of heartbreak and solidarity? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Also, this, from a Times piece about an Argentinian victory, brought tears to my eyes:

Argentine fans, starting to sense something special, were deafening in the closed-roof stadium with chants of ''Ole, Ole'' and ''AR-gen-tina, AR-gen-tina.''

Another screaming serenade, with Diego Maradona swirling a blue-and-white jersey above his head and joining in, also rang out over and over: ''Vamos a salir campeones, como en '86,'' or ''We're going to be champions, just like in '86.''

Maradona helped Argentina win that last title, and watching this rout, it's not difficult to start believing it could happen again.

Tevez, who is only 22 and a coming star with 18-year-old Messi, praised the teamwork -- the deft passes and perfectly timed shots.

''When everyone does it together, it's like that,'' Tevez said.

It's like a Sesame Street sketch, no?

But finally, an image of a fan being subdued by police to remind us that while the Europeans may have cornered the market on most everything noble and good, they also invented...the black boot of fascism!