12:59 pm Jul. 11, 2010
It's World Cup final time. A lot of you will watch, or drink and sort-of watch, even though the U.S. has been out of the competition for a while now. But for us newbies, the personalities of the national teams are still a little foggy. To see what Dutch fans are talking about when they talk about how Holland is supposed to play, Josh Benson gives us a Holland-fan clip reel, and tells us what it means about their soccering ideal: "Holland is still in love with the Johan Cruyff-led teams of 1974 and 1978, neither of which actually won any championships, because they were the soulful bunch who invented the Total Football concept that allowed the game to flow by requiring all players at all positions to be able to do all things."
So a Holland win would be a victory for the idea of the "beautiful game," although actually Holland's opponent this year is arguably the true heir to Cruyffism, and is the more beautiful and skilled of the finalists. Mute the video if you don't like Yanni.
It was actually a huge week for sports hype. There was LeBron James' outrageous hour-long special announcing his decision to sign with the Miami Heat; we sort of thought Jay-Z's club, 40/40, was the perfect place to watch the results: after the embarrassing amount of money and hype we were throwing at LeBron, the room should have been a crucible of emotion. Well, it wasn't exactly. As Sam Schube writes, "The inevitable cascade of boos lasted mere seconds, and then the crowd carried on its evening. ESPN’s audio cut out mid-sentence and gave way to hip hop." After all, the sports press had been predicting this outcome for hours; if you were watching the story religiously you already knew the result, and if you hadn't you probably didn't care.
Of course, the press lives for these manufactured moments of drama, as we saw the following morning when the tabloids hit newsstands. LeBUM!" shouted the Post. "WHO CARES!" sniped the News. In fact, they'd spent the better part of a week caring, a lot. Maybe James will now be officially banished from the tabloid wood. Good riddance! Unfortunately a babe was thrown out with the bathwater: Anna Chapman, the confessed spy for Russia who we'd followed on her sexy New York high-society escapades in the pages of the tabloids for the last two weeks, was flown to Moscow via Vienna in a swap for a Russian nuclear physicist who'd been working for the U.S.
The other spies were thrown out too, including one who'd attended Columbia's MBA program. All this was greatly exciting to the vestigial summer staff of Bwog, the university's blog, run by our own comrade Eliza Shapiro, who commissioned some great art for Bwog to commemorate the business school's moment of international intrigue.
SUMMER IN NEW YORK CAN BE KIND OF A DRAG, if you don't know or aren't willing to search out the arts and cultural institutions that take advantage of the big guys' hibernation to give you stuff to do. Last night super-soprano Angela Meade, for instance, sang the lead in Norma for the first time at Caramoor. She talked to Zachary Woolfe about how hard the part is, and took us on a tour of her job last night; we can't wait to see the reviews.
From pastoral upstate to the gritty, hot-times streets of the city: For a while now you can still catch the first show in the season's "Shakespeare in the Parkinglot" festival, which takes place in a car park on the Lower East Side. Mark Sullivan liked what he saw in the cast of Love's Labours Lost. And over at Anthology Film Archives, Steven Boone previewed a festival of documentary films, mostly from the '70s and '80s, about the "other four" boroughs of New York. "Stunners" were Los Sures (the old name for Williamsburg, when it was one of Brooklyn's most vibrant barrios) and the more famous Police Tapes, which followed a group of police officers on a tour of duty in the South Bronx. "There's a lot to see at the 'Outer Boroughs on Film' fest," Boone writes. "It's worth making the time."