SPINNING THE CUP with DJ Narthex
Artist: Tommy Lorente
Album: Stupefaction (2018)
Despite how outwardly impressive and incisive the content has been here on "Pitch Invasion" throughout this tournament, I suspect that the vast wall of knowledge and expertise that Peter and I project, with such ease, shows cracks pretty frequently. For every moment of Ronaldo-prediction brilliance that we’ve shown, we’ve probably let slip five moments that reveal how clueless we are about all of this this at our true essence.
We do make up for it with enthusiasm and nerve, I like to think.
I was reminded of this today in an idle moment when I posed a question, privately, to myself: If I could “be” a footballer, who would I choose to be?
I can give you instant answers on a number of other sports. Role-playing as a kid, it was always a rush to see who could “be” Fran Tarkenton during our backyard games. Baseball, I’d “be” a nerves-of-steel closer like Mariano Rivera. Hockey, I’d be a dominating defenseman like Bobby Orr.
Football, no idea. The first player that comes to mind is the first player I really admired when I got into the game, the great Italian forward Gianfranco Zola, for his grace, skill and overall class. But I had to think about it. I’ll have that sorted for sure by 2022.
What I know beyond much doubt is what kind of musician I’d “be” if I had lots more skill than I now possess. I’d want to be a power pop guitarist and vocalist. Or maybe a drummer. Or maybe a bassist. But in any event, the playing would be tight and muscular, the riffs glorious, the layers thick, the harmonies lush, the hooks and handclaps unstoppable. It would be a loud, sugary, crunchy beam of multi-colored laser light. It would be a blast to play and everyone in the world would love it.
This kind of an approach would do. I just heard about this French artist from an online review site I follow (Powerpopaholic.com). And I watched this video yesterday and noticed three things that make it even more STC-esque.
Watch. You’ll see M. Lorente make the now-universally known referee hand signal for a VAR summons. You’ll see him point to his watch. And toward the end, you’ll see him dangle his left foot for a moment.
I'm almost certain none of this is football related. But I'm going to nonetheless draw the cosmic conclusion that it's a signal. The obvious interpretation? The game ends on a left-footed winner in extra time, controversially adjudged a goal after review from the booth.
Who’ll kick it? Good question. This match has the potential to be the best one of the tournament, with both sides loaded with talent. All along the Group of 16, I’ve been thinking Belgium, Belgium, Belgium. But now, with this, I’m not so sure.
Oh, let’s call it. I’m seeing France in the final. Mon Dieu. Now, which French player would I want to “be”….
OK Gary, I’ll grab the baton and tell you who I’d want to be from each remaining side.
Croatia is easy; Luka Modric, he’s a tiny, point-perfect passing midfielder. He seems like he’d be a polite, unassuming teammate and citizen. He’s not a matinee idol, he puts in an honest shift. Aha! I was right, according to Wiki, “Modrić generally lives a quiet family life.” He dated his wife for four years before marriage, with three young kids, one of which he was jostling in the background after that last epic win. His wife is attractive, but not English-WAGGY modelish.
England: I wouldn’t be a player at all, I’d be Gareth Southgate, not the least because he was born on my 11th birthday.
I’d like to think I’d have the same sideline tranquility minus the waistcoat. And while I don’t fancy his style choice, I do like the stylishness. The hair, yes; toothy and unrestrained smile (when appropriate), I could do that; fit body, I wish. He has a professorial air that plays well when the team performs but may turn to arrogance when it goes pear shaped.
Everything is roses now so no worries. In fact I can see a single rose boutonnière for the Croatia game, can’t you?
France: N'Golo Kanté
According to Wikipedia, he is named for King Ngolo Diarra of the Bamana Empire. Yea, I’d like that. Also, he is one of the few French national team players whose Wiki bio doesn’t bring up a mistress or assault charge against a spouse/girlfriend.
Wiki says “he drives a Mini Hatch, interpreted by BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher as showing he is ‘uninterested in displaying his wealth’." Tuesday opponent Eden Hazard calls him ‘the rat’, according to The Guardian, which adds that Michael Ballack has described him as ‘like an annoying fly’. If I was a French footballer, I’d be a tenacious midfielder with modest tastes. Sounds like a match.
Vincent Kompany has a lot going for him. Education, family man, charitable, a rock in the defense. His best footballing may be behind him so a World Cup championship would be a well-deserved finish to his international career. According to Wiki, “He has an interest in politics and graduated with an MBA at Manchester Business School in 2018 after several years of study. In contrast with most of his football peers, Kompany has been characterized as ‘erudite’ and ‘eloquent’.
But let’s face it, if I were a professional Belgium footballer I’d own a pub—oh, he’s done that too.
On to the Beers:
France meets Belgium on the pitch as well as the bottle in today’s beer (style, actually), the Biere de Garde. Principally from the French northern, “beer consuming” region, it shares characteristics of both its yeasty neighbors to the north and malty brethren to the east.
A search of biere de garde will bring you a pile of beers from U.S. craft breweries, many of the most recently celebrated, but it’s worth seeking out this style from its European origins. It should be primarily malty—rich with complexity including some mustiness.
Try any of these commercial varieties suggested from the BJCP style guidelines: Jenlain (amber), Jenlain Bière de Printemps (blond), St. Amand (brown), Ch’Ti Brun (brown), Ch’Ti Blond (blond), La Choulette (all 3 versions), La Choulette Bière des Sans Culottes (blond), Saint Sylvestre 3 Monts (blond), Biere Nouvelle (brown), Castelain (blond), Jade (amber), Brasseurs Bière de Garde (amber), Southampton Bière de Garde (amber), Lost Abbey Avante Garde (blond).
Enjoy the game, it may be the unofficial championship, and we'll stop by again tomorrow.