Ok I admit it.
I’m excited about tonight’s game. Who knows what will happen.
UPDATE: Well, there goes that. GOOO ITALY.
Back in action here in soggy and cool Amsterdam. As I catch up with my news feeds, I notice, especially in respectable sources like Germany’s Spiegel online, a dominance of world cup related stories. Where once they addressed issues regarding people’s lives around the world, since the world cup began it is endless “match reports” and photo shows of who lost against who. And while I realize my blog has had a little of that lately, I expect better from respected news sources that people depend on to know what is happening and why, in the world around them.
It actually reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend in Berlin who works for a very respected news radio network there. Normally my friend researches and records segments regarding the lives of immigrants in Germany and the issues that are of major concern in those communities. – An important line of reporting, needless to say, to give voice to the often voiceless.
Yet as I sat having lunch with my friend, I was told about how since the Cup began, her bosses have turned many of her pieces away. Making “room” for world cup related content, they told her. Nevermind which children’s school is in a state of chaos or dissaray, we need to hear more from fans who have painted their chests in black, yellow, and red.
I tried to console my friend by mentioning a little sign I saw in many extra-alternative cafes near the Kastanien Allee, which read: “world cup free zone”. These places looked empty, but admist all the obsession and ignoring of real things happening to suffering and struggling people everywhere, a world cup free zone might do us all some good.
It would be interesting to know how many of the super-crazy-soccer fans watching at home or there in the stadiums, are the same people who vote for politicians and policies that close the doors to immigrants and make the process of immigration excessively difficult. So many wealthy nations have policies that seem to say — you’re welcome here as long as you can score goals or entertain us.. otherwise, too bad.
Mixed in you’ll hear audio from Karmabanque
as well as FreeSpeechRadioNews (circa 2003)
and Peter, who was with me in the Leipzig segment, can be found (in German) at Blogwinkel.
I’ve been slow to post because life in Berlin was like a vacuum of time. No matter what time it was, I was supposed to be going somewhere to see something or someone.
Not that I’m complaining; it so happens that I have some of the finest friends a guy could have waiting for me in Berlin whenever I’m up for a visit. They’re so influencial, I now have a new city I might one day like to live in. (I can hear my mom gasping already)
But summaries and additional stories will come soon, as well as getting back to real issues instead of the world cup distraction from reality. First I want to talk briefly of my visit to Leipzig to see Angola take on Iran.
My intention is not to talk about the game itself. You can read sports blogs for that crap. But I do want to talk about the people… fans.. as some call them. It was already exciting to be seeing a world cup match, in Germany, in a city was part of old East Germany. But to be seated amongst so many Iranian supporters, and a few sections over from a huge crowd of Angolans… it was quite the experience.
In both cases, it is unlikely any of these fans had actually flown in from the home countries. Most were probably immigrants living in Germany, perhaps even second or third generation. They didn’t sing the songs I think you’d hear at a stadium back in Luanda or Tehran, because they probably haven’t been in a stadium in either city in a long time. Instead they dawned the colors, joined with friends, and filled the stadium. They also cursed their players when they messed up, and shouted their favorite player names, over and over.
As I sat there thinking to myself…this is not a matter of nationalism for one’s country. This is about culture… roots.. and remembering. To cheer for a miracle or at least, a good day, for the idea of a noble and admirable nation that at that moment.. in that stadium… becomes a reality.
On the way out of the stadium, I was happy to hear Portuguese. Angolan Portuguese of course, the sweetest of all the accents, as far as I’m concerned. I listened and watched, as families and neighbors joked with each other about the failures of their team. Flag trading and handshakes were also a common sight between the two groups of fans.
At this point, lots of sports writers these days would praise this is the key to world peace and a sign of how great the world is. But I disagree. As nice as it was, both these groups have sufferred greatly to arrive where they are today. Entire lives were uprooted because of overwhelming and complicated circumstances.
A world cup match may provide some nice stories and some unforgettably sweet moments, but it should not mask the truth about the kind of world we live in and helped create.
(fixed because I am an idiot and it is 200 degrees centiheit in here. )
This apartment is like a furnace. My first impressions of being in Berlin will always be how dam hot it is. By second impression will be that of Alexanderplatz, as good friends from the Chaos Computer Club berlin took me to see some “Leftover shit from the East Berlin Days”. It was a fascinating walk just as it’s a fascinating city, especially with the very insane world cup being in full swing. As inept France stumbled to another tie, this podcast was recorded, focusing on just where we are in terms of uniting the east and west Berlin of old.