SPINNING THE CUP with DJ Narthex
If It’s Not Hand Crafted, It’s Not Worth Brewing
Artist: Matt Farley
Nation: United States
Album: Private commission (have Matt do one for you at moternmedia.com)
It’s coming home.
I don’t mean the World Cup, of course. That’s gone to France, which eventually made their win deserved on Sunday with goals three and four after a disgraceful, shameful dive leading to the first goal and a dodgy penalty leading to the second. The match was, in most respects, a pedestrian affair to cap a tournament so filled with vibrancy and dazzle.
In the end, France was able to fend off, skillfully, the not-quite-strong-enough Croatian attack. That’s what showed most the significant gap in quality between the two sides. Had it ended 1-0, it would have been a souring thing. But the French goal production and the flashes of magic from Kylian Mbappe showed that yes, on this day and between these two sides, the best nation won. And the tournament was marvelous.
No, what’s coming home is the journey I’ve been enjoying for the past few weeks as I’ve tried to explore and interpret the tournament through music. I didn’t have a plan when we started, really. I tried to let the happenings of each day lead me to something meaningful, either drawing on something I knew or venturing off into something unfamiliar.
We zigzagged all over the place, from Danish metal to Senegalese rhumba to Croatian pop to extended Nigerian grooves to Uruguayan-Minnesota advertising hybrids to French beat music about cacti. I’ve even heard from a few of the artists I featured. I’ve enjoyed it, and I’ll miss it. I’ve made a Spotify playlist of what I could find cataloged there, which was most of it – look it up at “Pitch Invasion 2018 with WBC.”
And in the post-tournament dust, we’re also all headed back to our own “homes,” whatever those mental or physical places are. Gone are the reasons to sneak a midday Twitter check to see how Group B is doing, or the reasons to pound out some work to free up time to catch a late-afternoon match. Gone is the reason to see what tomorrow’s schedule will be, gone is the impetus for traversing international reference rabbit holes about music, culture, history, geography, food, and a million other things.
And so today, that well-traveled boomerang we threw last month completes its full oval, slicing back through corn and soybean fields and summer thunderstorm anvils to land at the historic Central Avenue storefront of Worth Brewing Company. It’s come home.
Home – the real one -- is where the music gets played, the glasses get filled, and the rants and laughter get shared, as I’ve had the chance to do across the miles with your humble brewer and my pal of just about 30 years. I so admire what Peter, Margaret and the whole team there have done to make their community a better place to be. I remember when it was being dreamed up, and I was there the day it opened. I don’t know that the oddsmakers would have said.
Actually, yes I do. It was at least “pre-tournament Croatia to make the final” odds. It’s quite the story.
So I thought it would be good and fitting to close out the music in the Tap Room. I turned to the great Matt Farley, the writer of more than 19,000 songs and whose Cristiano Ronaldo song graced this blog a while back (hire him to write one for you and check out his work at moternmedia.com). And he came across with this one-take brilliance.
When I was in college, I used to hang out sometimes at a Minneapolis bar called Bullwinkle’s. Every night at close, they’d turn the house lights up and play Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” and the whole place would sing as the staff started cleaning up. I could see that same thing happening with this song down in Northwood, just as the taps get shut down, just as the stray glasses get rounded up, just as the coats get zipped up against the howling North Iowa wind.
Just before everyone goes home.
See you in 2022.
-- Gary Hornseth
Gary has shamed me into a more thoughtful farewell but I won’t let the peer pressure get to me. No rhapsodic wrap up this. I’m going to take a sober review of our highlights and perhaps some regrets and
Pitch Invasion, a Blog Invitation:
Laziness and lack of technical interest kept me from properly designing the blog to accept and encourage reader feedback. This was a glaring fault both because reader content can be the best content and, more importantly, the work would have been much easier. Any future blog will remedy this oversight and properly publicize it beforehand. If only I knew someone with the expertise to maximize interaction?
PI,aBI was a work in progress for the entire month. The balance of football, beer, music, food was often lopsided and the format was not consistent. The original guiding principal of imported beer matching the sides on the pitch each day was a bust from Day One and never really materialized. Our minimal focus on the football was proper given all of the better alternatives. I’d like to see Nat take more of a role in any new endeavor because food is a universal interest and we have to take advantage of all of our talents and interests. DJ’s work was sublime, and I’ll leave any review in that area up to Gary.
Solid philosophical principal
Consistent structural outline
More original photography
More food content
Significant reader content
Completing 27 or so blogs this month is itself our greatest accomplishment. Kudos to all for the effort. Damn, that’s six months of weekly blogs!
I’ve quickly looked back at the month’s work and am pleasantly surprised. My memories are of small bits of interesting work punctuated by desperation—all held together with appropriate musical interludes. I may have been harsh.
I never doubted the value of Gary’s contributions. His structure is succinct and spot on. A personal memory connects us to the football, then the music. It culminates in the articulate tribute above. I couldn't thank you enough and couldn’t ask for more.
My contributions may fall loosely (sloppily?) into the following categories.
High concept. Ranking towns, teams, posters. Photos with players, etc.
Tortured metaphor. Dandy Harry Kane
Farcical self reference. Peter’s Luxury Apartment®
Personal. Spain 1982.
The best would be a measured sampling of each, but I think I’m most suited to the more impersonal category 1. Some specific chronologic notes.
DJ debuted on June 14 with one of the best tunes Grimas y meriendas from Detergente Liquido. Better still, he cultivated a relationship with the band that will probably culminate with Fran? Flashing her bewitching smile on the Bee Hive Stage®.
Three days later we produced a killer with the The Joachim Low bit and Gary’s continuing quest for the comliest leading lady with Mexrrissey. We continued the hot streak the next day, perhaps reaching closest to the original intention. The labored metaphor aside, you can still feel the energy. Gary seemingly without effort ties the footy action into his international music. Nat fills in some culinary history. Solid.
June 20 will forever go down in Blog history as the day Gary casually informed everyone that the Tournament’s highest scorer may as well go back to Portugal. And it’s also the day we were introduced to Matt Farley and his Cristiano Ronaldo Athletic Rock and Roll Song! Who would have thought he'd drop the mic on the whole endeavor?
You could feel my frustration rise and enthusiasm wane as we entered week two. Gary’s incessant exercising showed however as he was only just breaking a sweat. His Geoff Barnett riff for June 23 was a classic and the thread that helped keep the blog together.
I think the June 25 Poster blog is solid. I like my quick analysis of differing opinions and Gary returns to the musical sirens with Mapa Do Coração, from Ana Moura. He also begins his Ronaldo reminders.
By June 26 we’re analyzing WC U.S. host cities. These high-concept works are tortured, but they keep me away from the facile football analysis and syrupy personal anecdotes. And Gary does what he does best, weaving personal experience with musical expertise. See: Open & Close, Fela Kuti and Africa ‘70
June 27th marked the anti-text blog, full of photos and stand-alone video of ABBA to riff all over the German pain. This blog also illustrates the value in variety. Even though I would have preferred more structural consistency good blogs flow with the feelings.
June 29 was notable for DJ taking a deserved lead and as an illustration of the power of collaboration. I recall this day as being an empty well until Gary’s contribution arrived. This would rank in my top three blogs. I had the advantage of reading everyone’s content and adapting before posting. Should future blogs include more of a web-based editing session before posting?
June 30 is notable for the non-music Montevideo video. Worldly and sappy in just the right proportion. And Nat’s eggs--I should have counted. “Nat’s Kitchen” will have to be renamed, “Put and Egg on It”.
Like spouses who begin to dress alike or people who take on the appearance of their dogs, Gary and I had a few moments of blog ESP. As we entered July we both independently ranted about PKs. Eerie.
July 3 featured a good Beatle bit from Gary with the nadir of my blogging clogging the top spot.
My favorite music was released by the DJ on July 5 with Jacques Dutronc’s, Les Cactus. The only time I succumbed to the babe picture, an unnecessary bit of laziness in an otherwise okay discussion of VAR.
A prescient July 6 blog featured Croatian fare below Screed No. 1 about unpunished diving. Topping them all was an appropriate musical selection from the ailing DJ. Gary made a solo appearance on July 8, the first since Peter’s opener.
July 9 brought one of my top few favorite blogs. In included the second of what would be three French songs—all of which I would place in my top six. The Who You Wanna Be theme was solid throughout.
I mined the most personal depths on July 10th in an attempt to explain my interest in the tournament. Again, without foreknowledge Gary delved into the personal past as well to describe his initial footballing memories.
Withered and died on July 11 was a poignant farewell to our favorite team. We ended the regular blog with a killer chanteuse that’s in my top three.
Day One AF: The Game
My expectations as I settled in to watch the final ranged from transcendent to boring. This was my most anticipated final, featuring a true underdog against a recognized powerhouse. Croatia had captured the hearts of neutrals with their fortitude through the knockouts and seemed typecast for the dangerous underdog. I hoped for an exciting game but knew the likelihood of dull football was even greater. Either way I didn’t expect any feeling to be more than fleeting before getting on with my Sunday.
I couldn’t have imagined the game would leave me frustrated, almost depressed. Soccer is a cruel sport with the deserving team often on the losing end. These games usually feature a lesser team hitting on their one opportunity. Sometimes it’s the better team playing poorly, but still getting a break to win. To be the better team and lose the chance to compete largely because of cheating and referee decisions in a final goes beyond the normal. I'm not as circumspect (wise) as Gary in this opinion. Excellent goals are a lot easier to come by when your opponent is desperate. Goal 3 was totally against the run of play. Yes, like tonight it's about finishing and France are World Champs at taking their opportunities.
I’ve turned to sport in the past year or so to get away from some of the everyday news that begins to affect my mental well-being. It seems sometimes that no evil deed goes unrewarded in the world around us and I got that same feeling as the clock ticked down the last few minutes today.
The lack of accountability by players, the acceptance by the media of the simulation makes me question my interest in the sport. I’m not metaphorically moving to Canada; I’ll be back at the computer monitor in a month to see if Sunderland can win in the 3rd division (can I even follow the games on the internet at the depths they’ve fallen?*). But I’d sure be more likely to spend my time following this sport if the tide begins to turn on the cheating.
*Rehabilitation for my dislocated football enthusiasm may involve a Friday night blog reviewing the mid-sized English towns and grounds Sunderland will be visiting this season. Just a thought.
On to the Beers:
No beer. I try not to drink alone when I’m surly.
See you sooner than 2022.