Their Cup Runneth Over
This piece originally ran last month in Artists Without
This is the quadrennial year for the World
Cup in which about 3,200 countries (32 actually… it
only seems that way to this bystander who doesn’t really
“get” this sport), will compete for supremacy
in the world of Soccer. This is serious stuff. And there literally
could be blood, as there once was for a poor guy who came
up short in the contest.
Los Angeles Times,
July 3, 1994
Colombia — Angry at Colombia's elimination from the
World Cup soccer tournament, gunmen Saturday shot and killed
Andres Escobar, the player who accidentally scored a goal
against his own side in a match with the United States and
helped seal the team's fate, police said.
Mr. Escobar’s fatal boo boo was the
equivalent of half of the only two goals the U.S. would score
by their own feet (or heads) over the course of the four games
they played that year! Which brings me to a question I have
vocalized on several occasions to devotees of the sport —much
to my own peril: how can you follow a sport in which scoring
occurs about as frequently as a solar eclipse?
There is such a profound imbalance between
offense and defense, that not only is it hard to score, but
so too, is even the potential to score. It is not
uncommon to see a goalie only have to make about three saves
an entire game. In another low scoring sport, hockey, New
York Ranger Goalie Henrik Lundqwist made an astounding 48
saves in a 3-2 overtime loss in the Stanley Cup final last
Of course in hockey, they are on skates and
can move up and down a rather compact rink at speeds of almost
30 MPH. In soccer, men in cleats have to traverse a field
larger than the state of Delaware, with the opposing goals
being in different area codes.
“All Americans care about is scoring,”
I’ve been ‘castigatingly’ told. “You
have to appreciate the footwork and ball control.”
If I wanted to watch great ball control without
the use of hands, I would watch a seal balancing a ball on
its nose. Though come to think of it, with the Ed Sullivan
Show long gone, where could I actually get to see that these
Here I am making sport of another guy’s
sport, one played around the globe, while I have waxed unabashedly
poetic and philosophic and even theological, on the wonder
and beauty of baseball. Which for many, is a game that can
bore them to tears for its being far too slow moving and ungoverned
by a clock. So while acknowledging my chauvinism on the matter,
I turn my attention to time and clock, and the Alice in Wonderland
way in which they are handled in soccer.
Time in a soccer game is not real, but alleged.
While claiming to play for ninety minutes, those
minutes include: time that the ball is knocked out of bounds
and therefore out of play …the time that expires as
teams leisurely set up for corner kicks and penalty kicks
and the like… the stoppage of play by a referee’s
whistle for some infraction, which is then often contested
by the perpetrator as if doing a scene from Pagliacci…the
team celebrations of hugging, kissing, rending of garments,
and in general, going into seizures over the sheer improbability
over what has just occurred—a goal! And all the while
the clock keeps ticking…
Of course if a player is seriously injured
to the point where he must be carried off the field, or given
last rites, they will add a few minutes to the contest in
compensation. Though that too will be inexact and rounded
off, and there will be no counting down of seconds by the
fans as the game nears its end, as you will get in other clock-sports.
No one really knows when the end is near. Suddenly, a whistle
blows. Game. You would think that in a sport where it is already
so daunting a task to score a goal, not a precious second
would go uncounted.
all that aside, the World Cup is a spectacle. And spectacles
are fun. And who doesn’t like a spectacle? (Aside from
maybe a participant from Columbia.). And I’ll tune in
if it gets interesting as the Cup moves along towards its
finale on July 13th. I’ve been known to watch Synchronized
Swimming if the U.S. was closing in on another Gold. My country
‘tis of thee, sweet land of dominancy. Of thee I sing.
Yet, when “we” won that first
game against Ghana 2-1 last month, while scoring the fastest
American goal ever in World Cup history at the 32-second mark,
and a soccer bar’s window in Seattle was shattered (Reckless
in Seattle?), I wondered if a record was broken along
with that window for the Jerkiest Sports Bar Moment for a
game that decided nothing.
Imagine if the U. S. of A.
were somehow, one day, ever to win one of these things what
might break out?
The odds of that happening this year, as of
this soliloquy, were about 250-1 according to London bookies.
Who of course drive on the wrong side of the road.
And for all my issues with the sport and its culture, I will
continue to root, root, root for the home team: USA!USA!USA!
If they don’t win it’s a shame …
In which case—though a soccer atheist— I pray
that Italy does.
Wherein creative lightning
strikes twice? Or is it a case of what might oxymoronically
be called self-plagiarism?
by Ron Vazzano©
days like boats drifting along slow-moving rivers, spring
evenings full of a plaintive melancholy that made the
past beautiful and bitter, bidding them look back and
see that the loves of other summers long gone were dead
with the forgotten waltzes of their years.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Beautiful and the Damned (1922)
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne
back ceaselessly into the past.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Great Gatsby (1925)
The Cape Beckons
you cut through the Long Island Sound, then cruise within
sight of the Rhode Island shoreline, you finally arrive at
the Vineyard in plenty of time to toil among those cracking
lobster while cracking wise; the shellfish eaters gathered
at the rail at Nancy’s hugging harbor.
night will be full of stars, seemingly in view for the first
time in years, not counting the Hollywood kind who
used to flood your local Starbucks in a past life; dim lights
mingling over lattes.
And this alone is worth a toast:
a summer night of slipping out of town, to look up to see
a real sky, unfiltered by urban distortions. How many such
nights as these go by un-tasted? Uncelebrated? Moored
to the dock of the daily grind? And yes, how much bad poetry
do such nights inspire? But you write it anyway and beg forgiveness
later, while sipping a dry martini.
while you experience much of the “usual wonder”
this New England getaway has to offer, of particular note
on this go round, are visits to the Edgartown Harbor Light
(a lighthouse not opened to the public on a last visit here
four years ago) and Chappaquiddick. These might be called
light and dark sides in the Vineyard’s history.
The lighthouse was first built in 1828…then destroyed
following a hurricane and rebuilt in 1939… then when
threatened with demolition decades later, restored by a civic
group consisting of movers, shakers, Kennedy’s and other
brand name celebrities, in 1988.
Lighthouses in general in the U.S. are an
endangered species, and you wonder why such totems of national
heritage haven’t been treasured. Looking out from atop
this one on a dry clear summer’s day, is a small celebration
in being alive.
The trek to Chappaquiddick is another story. This one of prose
and of dying. But you go all the same, not in the interest
of the macabre, but rather to get a sense for yourself, as
to how a man— albeit one seemingly inebriated and in
search of a place for a quick tryst— could wind up driving
his car into the drink, and in the process killing a young
girl named Mary Jo Kopechne. And also in the process, perhaps
changing the course of U.S. history.
Debarking from a five minute ferry ride from
Edgartown, you walk three miles ending up on a dirt road,
and there it is, Dyke Bridge: the scene of the crime. And
it still seems a rather dangerous place where one would not
want to be in the dead of night, even though it is now railed
and widened as it wasn’t in that July of 1969. At least
if one were to judge by the absence of lights and the warning
signs on each side of the foot of the bridge.
When you reach the other side, you are further
warned that there could still be live ammunition shells about,
as the area once served as a US Naval practice bombing range
until 1996. And as a matter of civic duty, one is directed
to report anything resembling the pictures of undetonated
bombs, posted on a public information board.
Having seen enough, you hitch a ride back
to the ferry compliments of a local resident. They have become
accustomed to such pilgrimages that end in weary feet and
puzzled heads, still pondering some unanswered questions.
Bless them for their graciousness.
There will be more of the Kennedy lore, as
you would once again ferry on another day—almost an
hour this time— over to Hyannis, which once served as
the setting for the summer White House. There you would visit
the John F. Kennedy Museum; a paean to the man in a series
of photos and home movies, emphasizing the so called Camelot
days. Days that are now of an ancient time, when the world
was young and all things seemed possible.
But truth be told, you are also in town to
catch a game of the home team Hyannis Harbor Hawks of
the famed Cape Cod Baseball League. One out of every six current
major leaguers once played there in their developmental years.
You watch from a perch in the press box alongside this young
man doing the play-by-play. He happens to be your son. Can
the Kennedy clan, still of course very much a local presence,
All too soon, the trip is done. You will go
home the old fashioned way— by plane. Time and tide
wait for no man. Your ship has sailed.
The Cape has always beckoned city dwellers
in search of a summer haven out of the city. Or at least since
the end of the 19th century. And to paraphrase the closing
lines from every episode of a TV series of the late 50’s/early
60’s… “There are eight million escapes from
the naked city. This has been one of them.”
Liberal Lamentations: A Fugue in Bb
for Four Old Friends
extraction from an actual on-line exchange of June 9, 2014
We were all so Liberal back in the day.
I have had it with the current
Obama and Hillary and their minions do, is political—
speaks truth to me. Or at least what I have seen with my own
I was for Hillary from the beginning; thought
she was the better man—
Until these past few weeks,
I’d been thinking that all this administration criticism…
Democratic Liberal wing clearly doesn’t care about the
a Conservative Liberal or maybe a Liberal Bigot.
I'm coming in late on this. I hardly ever
check this email address.
Was all a figment of Fox
network’s imagination— now I’m questioning
the American people are incredibly gullible sheep.
the more reason I live the hermit life, in my proverbial "lighthouse".
I use it when my main one is on the fritz.
Who says “on the fritz” who’s under a 100?
Didn't mind them monitoring
my E-mails. But that VA situation? Absolute disgrace.
fails —proclaim it a success. Benghazi/foreign policy
—make it a positive.
anger with the administration is a lot stronger on that issue.
Regarding that deal, was there a terrorist
or deserter to be named later?
We are trading 5 guys who
look like they will be blowing us up in a matter of weeks,
like Wally Moon as my avatar (note: onetime Major League baseball
Woody would say, “what does this have to do with sex
(or the Triangle)?”
It looks like the worst trade since Ernie
Broglio for Lou Brock.
But I’m willing to
let the Hostage deal play out. I’m just becoming aware
of the details.
was the case with the last misguided socialist, FDR, the worm
all have our beliefs. To be determined. And rarely black and
We were all so Liberal back in the day.
I really thought Obama and
his administration would be different,
can only hide your failures for so long.
am not sure which side has the better liars,
Nixon, maybe not such a bad guy after all?
Watergate, heavy on Nam, but what the hell.
It seems that nothing has
changed; politics coming before humanity and compassion.
all in the spin, and the Dems are clearly better liars and
I’m convinced both sides are far better at lying to
themselves than to me;
The Kennedys were falling all over themselves,
seeing in Obama, JFK incarnate.
Last and only time I voted
Republican, was for William Buckley for mayor of NYC,
are in a lifeboat and don't want any more passengers;
the current version of Republican politics is rife with insanity
I voted for Javits, Rockefeller and local
GOP hacks who might get me out of the draft.
I figured Lindsay would
be a disaster and bankrupt the city which he eventually did.
Democrats are also in a lifeboat and will take on passengers
until it sinks.
my meager knowledge of anything going on outside my lighthouse.
Snail mailed some bills today (no, you bastards,
I’m not going paperless!).
The prisoner’s father
was praising Allah in the press conference.
of us recall that our grandparents emigrated legally to America
"on the boat."
was acquired by the Mets from Cleveland for a player to be
We We We
were were were
so so so
Liberal Liberal Liberal
back back back
in in in
the the the
day day day