Bullet to the Net

Speaking of al-Maliki, well – no, dropping his name, basically, as I was doing and really no more than that, but – the Iraqi football national team won the Asian Cup yesterday, in a 1:0-win over Saudi Arabia. The final was played in Jakarta (Indonesia). People in Iraq celebrated the triumph. Also, people in Iraq died when bullwhipped suicide bombers exploited the situation – thousands of people crowding on the streets of Baghdad, –

The crowds briefly regained Baghdad’s streets from the gunmen, dancing to patriotic songs, waving the flag, and shooting into the air.

US army helicopters wisely interrupted their regular flyovers of the capital until the partying had stopped. (The Guardian)

– intoxicated over their team’s really quite spectacular success (they kicked out South Korea in the semi-finals, ranked considerably higher in the Fifa ranking [South Korea is at 58, Saudi Arabia at 61, Iraq is at 80] and so is Saudi Arabia, of course ) – and killed dozens of people, around 50 after last Wednesday’s win over South Korea.

Not one of the players on the Iraqi national squad plays at a Bundesliga side (although Bielefeld were just recently rumored [the guy on the photograph is Ernst Middendorp, Arminia Bielefeld’s coach, not Hawar] to look into signing Hawar Mohammed) – still, it makes me think.

Here in Germany, football is generally and by common agreement so definitely and only and exclusively a game, and just that – that is, politics are to be kept away from the pitch, and you won’t see clubs supporting any explicit political alignment oftheir fan base. That is not to say it doesn’t happen – especially (though not nearly exclusively) teams in East Germany have strong right-wing influences on the stands.

Still, basically, and at least as far as professional league football is concerned, match day is an opportunity to probe just how far rage, hatred, and intensity can go without starting a revolution or any political movement on any level. The most intense of these non-revolutionary experiences, for me, have usually come over the years in our matches against the league’s arch villains, FC Bayern München (I shall be damned if I directly supply them traffic in any way, so no link here). My side, FC Nürnberg, bless it, has its issues with the über-team from Munich – mostly because they have shoved us from the throne of absolute dominance in German football.

Growing up with the team involved, for the most part, a subtle maneuver between the glories of former days (nine championships, 3 cup wins, streaks of unbeaten games so long the sheer possibility of losing was a merely theoretical construct) and the embarassing pain of the present (six relegations, including one into third league football, plenty of amateurish players, ridiculously bad football that even a regular MLS game looks like the thrill of a century in comparison) – but however hard to bear it was at times, fans always stood firmly united against the Munich side – and the one notorious slogan you could always hear at the derbies, twice a season, even now that we’re are way better off again, run – Tod und Hass dem FCB (Death and Hatred to the FCB), often combined with some affirmation of Franconian independence – Franconia as opposed to loathed Bavaria, the grander unit on the political map, of which Franconia is a part.

There is a whole pseudo-political jargon arisen from that very intense rivalry – I remember talking to friends about the Bavarian occupying forces and their propaganda tv station (Bavarian Broadcasting – generally favorable to the Munich side, but not to us: or so it is said).

Now, seeing the news line on the Iraqi victory, the violence it inspired, as well as the joy, and the implications it might have (Iraq has a very real chance of facing the USA national team on the 2009 Confederations Cup, for which it qualified with its win) – I feel reminded that a) football is never a-political, that b) it is decadently foolish to even approach it in a fake-political way, and that c) I will henceforth refrain from refering, in the football context (not that I would do it anywhere else) to Bavaria as an occupying power like I mean it.


That’s when they chopped the mayor’s head off, back in ’93

Champs de Mars, Paris, La France

No, no – I don’t lapse into the age-blind nostalgia lingo of Lovecraft’s characters – that slangy, creepy way of telling things that happened 100s of years ago as if they’d had an active part in them. Not so. I meant this mayor here, Jean Sylvain Bailly, head of the first commune, in post-Revolution! – Paris, from 1789-1791. He was found indecent. Well, he was found indecent after he had deployed the National Guard, disastrously, to muffle, violently, a riot on the Champs de Mars, see above, that had arisen when an assembly had gathered to await the arrival of a petition that would have removed the king, Louis XVI, from office once and for all and for good. It didn’t arrive. People started lobbing rocks at the present National Guards, and mayhem was up and running.

Bailly was not forgiven for his deployment of the Guards. Having retired from office after the events on the Mars Field (and that is Mars, not as in the Misfits piece, Mars Attacks, but rather as in, Roman God of War), he was un-retired in 1793 and located, headwise, onto a guillotine bench, like so many . To quote the Schiller Institute’s tear-inspiring account of the final moments –

“You are trembling, Bailly?” asked one of the guards. “Yes, my friend, because of the cold,” serenely replied Bailly, as he walked up to the scaffold and put his head beneath the blade to receive the deadly blow.

Sniff. The grandeur of it.

Why I am telling all this as if I had had an active part?

Because the constructivist citizen of somewhere else is just about to tumble into instituting (not to say, constitutionalizing) a blogging commune, in fact: he’s already proto-elected himself a mayor, namely Michael Bérubé, and I think to myself, Daniel, this is your one chance of entering a commune without having the landlord tell you after a few days that all these commune-al friends have just set up a conscription service office for the French Foreign Legion, without your knowing of it, so go for it.

Therefore, I apply for a position in Blogoramaville, very coyly, mind you, – apply therefore for the as-yet-unofficial post of Laocoon of the Ville (for my first job act, see above: revolutionary mayors don’t live at ease. Neither do revolutionary scientists or scientists at all.) and answer the riddles the godfather of the Ville poses as an entrance exam.

The sphinx speaks these riddles, thus:

1. Michael Berube:[x=Republican Presidential Candidate]::a:b
2. Michael Berube:[y=Possible Mayoral Competitor]::c:d
3. Michael Berube:[z=Possible Running Mate]::e:f
4. Michael Berube:g::h:i

And it whispers something of – no similes! – and – no metaphors! – as if I knew what these were!

Ad 1)

Michael Berube:Mitt Rummy ::Michael Bérubé:Mitt Romney

Ad 2)

Michael Berube:Me :: Tenured:Adjuncted (d’oh!)

Ad 3)

Michael Berube:Lady Lazarus :: Closed Blog:Resurrected Blog (one year in every ten?)

Ad 4)

Michael Berube:David Horowitz :: Nuri al-Maliki:General Petraeus

Yeah, the answer to riddle 2 is cheap: shame!