Cannibals & Soccer Balls

August 16, 2008

Man is a product of history, many histories in fact
tugging at the corners.
I am succumbing to a history at this very moment,*
while watching a live Olympic soccer game, between Brazil and Cameroon.
We Brazilians don’t watch our national team because we hope them to win,
we watch them because we expect them to play well -that is to say:
queremos ver um futbol bonito -to play beautifully.
We become indignant with am ugly, malaccomplished victory,
and such expectation is a product of our history,
our Pele history, our generation of World Cups,
when the soccer game crystallized into moments of authentic grace,
small ballets with a ball, transcending mere display:
the triumphant perfection of the act of football as an aesthetic act.
Our history is a heavy burden for a football team,
when Brazil lost the World Cup to France and three goals,
we defined such an ugly loss as a conspiracy of sorts,
the machinations of capitalists… our players were drugged!!!
You may find us arrogant for such an attitude,
but what about the nation that names its basketball team the “dream team”,
as if their men were beyond history,
as if they were some conjured product, some Hollywood fantasy.
Then again, America wouldn’t take a day off for a world cup match.
Proud and drunk as we are, we aspire to our own history.
Our absurd nationalism is backed up by our absurd playing style:
Our aim isn’t to defend ourselves from football,
from the joy of it, the pass, the dribble…
Our aim is our history and our history is one of cannibalism
-that is, of appropriation.
At its best, our style is a kind of jazz:
the joy of the instrument, the ecstasy of the moment, the authenticity of the player
-that is, at its best.
Football is a human sport
and with our history we tend to become complacent with ourselves,
with our own technique, with our niches in Europe.
Our football team has never won an Olympic gold medal
-five world cups but no gold medals.
It’s true, not all of our famous players are on the Olympic squad,
most are under twenty-three,
but we’ve never cared that much for gold medals,
never cared beyond complacency.
Come to think about it,
FIFA has a good stake in our history

-s
* – if I were a film, this statement would always be true

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Withdraw My Drawings? Fuck You, Christian Man!

July 17, 2008

So my sudden burst of blogging productivity has been slowed down by a week and a half on Cape Cod with wonderful people. Although this is my second trip to the cape, it is my first time experiencing the “real” Cape Cod and lemme tell you… Cape Cod is really a sort of “Vacation Land”, but I mean vacation in the same way a heroin addict shoots up to take a “vacation”, it’s a bizarrely opiating place to be. Every house seems to be adorned with glaringly bright blue and pink flowers. Most people are chubby and dressed as casually as catalogs allows. There are bugs and sand everywhere. In Provincetown, the bugs and sad are delicately accented by many many gay men. But all the beaches close at sunset and the bars close at 1 in the morning. All in all, Cape Cod is a glowing haven for the American bourgeoisie who can afford to take a summer vacation, but seem incapable of dealing with “Europe” or a night life, it is a kind of lazy, pastel sub-culture. I’ve taken some pictures, but none characterize Cape Cod better than this one below.

Other than stepping all over these fantasies of American property ownership, I’ve been watching a lot of things: Shot-by-shot analyses of “North by Northwest” and “Notorious”… A comedy/musical hour with a fat tranny named Jackie Beat… A blind old blues guitarist at a bar… The Polo-shirted a Capella stylings of Hyannis Sound… With all this watching, you’d imagine I’d be out of the reach of trouble, after all, an audience is a passive structure. But you’re wrong. I, your faithful and timid blogger, raised some feathers, ruffled some flags and almost got into a fight with a very indignant middle-aged Christian male-type inside the “First Federated Church of Hyannis”… a church of all places! Granted, saying “almost got into a fight” is kind of an absurd thing to say, like “she almost got pregnant”, there’s either physical violence or not. Jimmy McNally provided an insightful linguistic analysis concluding that the angry Christian male was really a “pussy”, even though the Christian twice cornered me and threatened to beat me up. What would cause a respectable, bespectacled, polo-shirted cape-codding federated protestant to harass a stranger inside a church, in front of almost a hundred people?

Loud gay man sex? An abortion? Jeremiah Wright…? This time, the provocateur was art. With this week’s silly controversy over a New Yorker Cover, it’s kind of apropos to talk about art pissing people off. So here’s the story… First off, many of you know that I have a pretty heavy doodling habit. My biochemistry notes had more doodles than writing. My fiction/playwriting notebook is essentially a doodle pad with random writing scrawled in the margins. In a way, I’m way more attentive when I doodle. A lecture may be very interesting to hear, but very boring to watch. Doodling complements an aural interest with a visual one. In case of a boring lecture, doodling keeps me from falling asleep.

In any case, I decided to put the little golf pencils and books behind the pews to use during the Hyannis Sound’s a Capella concert… It made the entire concert much more appreciable than it would have been had I tried to look at singing boys in pastels from thirty pews away. Since there wasn’t any scrap paper, I drew on the inside covers of the hymnals and Bibles. I was very well aware of the potential for sacrilege, but I was feeling slightly subversive (maybe I’ve watched too much Bunuel), I thought I’d “engage” federated church members with art. Besides, there is a fine line between expression and defacement, between art and vandalism. Ask Banksy. By the end of the concert, I made four drawings (including the drawing below) in two hymnals and in one Bible.

As me and my two Jimmy’s got up to leave, the angry middle-aged Christian blocked the pew, the following exchange ensued:

“Have you been writing on the Bibles”

“Me? No…”

“Are you lying? Not that I am accusing you… but you have been accused…”

“Well… There are some drawings in the books.”

“Did you make those drawings?”

“I made one of them…”

The angry Christian insisted on seeing this drawing of mine, so I showed him the saxophone player I drew behind the cover of a Bible, pictured above. To say the least, he was certainly “engaged” by the art. He found it an unspeakable act. He threatened to show the art to the church’s administration and have me pay for the Bible’s replacement (how that drawing makes a Bible “unreadable” or “nonfunctional” is beyond me).

“Why did you draw this?” Torquemada demanded to know

“It felt right with the music.”

“Do you have an eraser?”

“No.”

The Christian huffed and puffed, but then he thought of higher meanings…

“You know,” he started “this is a very important weekend for me and I’m not going to get riled up by this… So I’m going to let this go… but if I ever see you at this church again -just talking to you is pissing me off… I’m going to kick your ass-”

“I don’t understand why you are being so disrespectful,” I interjected “I didn’t draw anything vulgar… If I choose to express myself to God by drawing, why can’t I?”

That didn’t appease the Christian one bit, he huffed and puffed again. We tried to leave, but the Christian guy cornered me again at the sanctuary door, saying he ought to “express himself to God” by “kicking my ass”. I ignored him and started walking away. He demanded that i never return and that I “get the hell out of here” before he “kicks my ass”… By then, Jimmy McNally took my hand as lovingly and queerly as he could and outside we went. We all had a good laugh over this, for a second, I was worried about getting into a fight. I am sort of relieved that I showed him the saxophone player in the Bible, rather than the drawing in the hymnal… The guy would have flipped two shits if he saw my portrait of a Virgin Mary holding a baby and a machine gun titled “Our Lady of the Guerrillas.”

– s