I spent the last week in New York City visiting family, roaming the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, seeping up inspiration from President Street to Carnegie Hall and spending my evenings with a cold beer bought from the corner store working on new writing. My feet ache but my mind's rejuvenated.
[An aside, I was hoping that New York's Red Bulls would have been playing while I was there, but no such luck. Altidore and the dudes were in between games. In a couple of weeks they'll be playing against the L.A. Galaxy, I'll be interested to compare scenarios.]
After spending hours in MoMA moved to tears by Jackson Pollack and beyond tears to the metaphysical by Picasso's work, I had an overwhelming sense of a real melding of passions and self. And it was in the first paragraph of Patrick O'Brian's biography of Picasso that I picked up at the MoMA bookstore that summed it up for me. He wrote, "For even the strongest individual is indelibly marked by the culture in which he is brought up; even the loneliest man is not an island; and even Picasso carried his cradle with him to the grave. 'A man belongs to his own country forever,' Picasso said."
Now, what is she talking about, you may be asking yourself. So how shall I put it. When it comes to art it's in me, when it comes to football, it's in me. Part of my culture, my heritage, how I was brought up. And football certainly is its own culture; a lifestyle, not unlike being a writer, it's a way of life, just part of who you are. So when the Los Angeles Galaxy came to play Toronto FC today in Toronto, it should have been about two clubs, the city's club, the city. Football was the working class sport, work all week for the game at the end of it, the reward, the outlet, the comaraderie, and respect for the players, and the sport. Today's excitement could have begun in a pub prior to the game with your mates, your team's colours segregating you from one side of the pub to the other, or depending on the rivalry separate pubs altogether, discussing the game, the players, the possibilities, the standings, the stakes. And the fact that one of England's great players is now part of the Galaxy is a really exciting factor. Beckham is exciting despite the hype, his hollywood celebrity - he's a great footballer. If you respect the game and its players to have Beckham over here in the MLS is huge. Some may say he's past his prime, well yeah, most players are at his age, that's why they make a move such as this, but he's no less great when it comes down to it. The fact that he's not fit, is part of the game, there's no shame in it. He's still part of the team. And I must say that for ninety minutes of play the most exciting moves in today's match were by David Beckham; composed and well-dressed in a black suit, white shirt and red tie he strode across the pitch and took his seat on the bench. His facial expressions intensified as the game commenced, hands held to his lips, eyes steely and darting, feet sockless and agitated like they were playing, brow furrowed, observing and pondering every move made during the nil-nil match. The football savvy and panache that injured Becks exuded from the bench was far more exciting than what happened on that field. To watch a player who knows the sport from the inside out, from birth, watch a game as it's being played can teach the critics, the boo-ers, and even the good fans a thing or two about being a great footballer, and teammate. "For even the strongest individual is indelibly marked by the culture in which he is brought up; even the loneliest man is not an island...'A man belongs to his own country forever.'" I think because of all that we're pretty lucky to have him over here, on or off the bleeding pitch.