Listening to A Tribe Called Quest’s The Love Movement in Fall

I listened to The Love Movement longingly on a school bus in the early fall in Ohio, where the leaves began to fight against their inevitable departure. By the tree that hung over my bus stop, the leaves slowly began to gather around the tree’s base, as if to say We did our best. We’ll try again next time.

Go Ahead in the Rain, The Source Cover

Autumn in literature rolls into Monday.

Hanif Abdurraqib reminisces on listening to A Tribe Called Quest’s The Love Moment in the fall of 98.

Ray Bradbury’s Autumnal Avalanche

In a great autumnal avalanche of maple, sycamore, oak, elm leaf they hissed and rustled, fell in a shower of horse-chestnut, thumped like winter apples on the earth, with an over-all scent of farewell – summer on the wind they made in their rushing.

The October Country, Uncle Einar

Autumn in literature day 4ish. This series has been totally unplanned.

Here Ray Bradbury describes the Autumn wind in one 44 word sentence.

Murakami’s New York November

New York in November really does have a special charm to it. The air is clean and crisp, and the leaves on the trees in Central Park are just beginning to turn golden. The sky is so clear you can see forever, and the skyscrapers lavishly reflect the sun’s rays. You feel you can keep walking one block after another without end. Expensive cashmere coats fill the windows at Bergdorf Goodman, and the streets are filled with the delicious smell of roasted pretzels.”

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami

Autumn in literature day 3?

This passage feels like your jogging through New York alongside Haruki Murakami. What strikes me here is how he contrasts the natural (trees, air, sun) with the man-made (Bergdorf Goodman, skyscrapers, roasted pretzels).

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Autumn at Hagrid’s

Raindrops the size of bullets thundered on the castle windows for days on end; the lake rose, the flower beds turned into muddy streams, and Hagrid’s pumpkins swelled to the size of garden sheds.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 8, “The Deathday Party”

Autumn in literature continued. This from J.K. Rowling. All it takes is one mention of a pumpkin and BAM! We’re in autumn.

Autumn at the House of Elrond

So the days slipped away, as each morning dawned bright and fair, and each evening followed cool and clear. But autumn was waning fast; slowly the golden light faded to pale silver, and the lingering leaves fell from the naked trees.

The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2 Chapter 3, “The Ring Goes South”

More Autumn in literature. This from J.R.R. Tolkien. Including the detail of seasons in a story helps move time forward and can bring a fantasy world to life.

Autumn, Fungi, and Merlin Sheldrake

As a child I loved the autumn. Leaves fell from a large chestnut tree and gathered into drifts in the garden. I raked them into a pile and tended it carefully, adding fresh armfuls as the weeks went by. Before long, the piles grew large enough to fill several bathtubs. Again and again, I’d leap into the leaves from the low branches of the tree. Once inside, I’d wriggle until I was entirely submerged and lie buried in the rustle, lost in the curious smells.

– My leaf piles were both places to hide and worlds to explore. But as months went by, the piles shrank. It became harder to submerge myself. I investigated, reaching down into the deepest regions of the the heap, pulling out damp handfuls of what looked less and less like leaves, and more and more like soil. Worms started to appear. Were they carrying the soil up into the pile, or the leaves down into the soil? I was never sure. My sense was that the pile of leaves was sinking, but if it was sinking, what was it sinking into? How deep was the soil? What kept the world afloat on this solid sea?

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures. pgs 223, 224

We’ll let biologist Merlin Sheldrake usher us into autumn.

His book Entangled Life deserves its plaudits.

Dana Gioia’s Introduction to Edwin Arlington Robinson

Poet and information billionaire Dana Gioa has a YouTube channel. He regularly posts videos about the art of poetry, poem recitations, and profiles of poets past.

This week Mr. Gioa introduced me to Edwin Arlington Robinson.

Robinson lived a tortured life. His parents died while he was still a young man. He battled alcoholism. He was in love with his brother’s (Herman) wife Emma. And worked probably the worst day job of all time – 10 hours a day walking the darkness as a New York Subway time-checker. He once went an 11 year stretch without publishing a poem. And when finally published, the critics ridiculed his poetry. But despite life’s beat-downs, he found the fortitude to keep writing.

Success did arrive. An unexpected friendship with Kermit Roosevelt. Eventually, consistent publication. Multiple Pulitzer Prize wins for his Collected Poems, The Man Who Died Twice, and Tristram. And even romance, with the painter and the brilliantly named Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones.

The theme of Robinson’s life was tragedy, but his perseverance inspires.

Worth watching all the way through.

Euro 2020 Journal- Entry 6: Marco Verratti. Italy’s Best Player, Hidden in Plain Sight.

Despite the chatter of a new, progressive Italy, the emphasis on certain positions remains. Italy’s last two major international triumphs possessed world-class goalkeeping. Buffon in 06′ and Donnarumma today. A center-back pairing peaking at the right moment. Cannavaro and Marco Materazzi in 06′, Bonucci and Chiellini today. And an underrated, world class, ball playing midfielder. Pirlo in 06′, and Verratti today. And while Donnarumma, Bonucci and Chiellini have captured hearts, and rightly so, Marco Verratti hummed along as Italy’s best player.

Maybe it’s because he missed two matches. Maybe it’s because he didn’t score any goals, or pick up any red cards, but Marco Verratti Euro 2020 performances hid out right in front of us.

Consider, despite his treadmill mouth and stick-in-the-spokes tackling, he picked up only one card (a yellow). He completed 401 out of 425 passes, good for 9th in the tournament. His pass completion finished at a 93% clip. He created three assists. Impressive for a midfielder who at times was playing so deep, he was initiating build ups next Bonucci. He recovered 30 balls. Led the tournament with 30 tackles. Finished second with 8 tackles won, and also first in tackles lost with 22 (haha). Talk about getting stuck in. He also covered 49.9 km.

But statistics are limited. How do you measure cool? How can you measure composure? How is courage to receive the ball in the tightest of spaces, under the harshest pressure tallied? It’s Verratti’s trait of calm that helped Italy whether Spain’s press and control possession in midfield in every other match.

Locatelli’s brace was an early tournament highlight. Jorginho is rightfully in the Ballon d’or conversation. Spinzzola (before injury), deserves his newfound admirers, and Donnarumma must be the best keeper on the planet. But don’t forget Marco Verratti. His midfield play throughout Euro 2020 was a performance for the ages.

Euro 2020 Journal- Entry 5: Between matches. Where Karl Ove Knansgaard Intertwines Diego Maradona and Virginia Woolf

Home and Away is an underrated football book. It’s the rare football book not written by an ex-pro or football journalist. Instead, it’s two friends, two writers, Karl Ove Knansgaard and Fredrik Ekelund, corresponding during the 2014 World Cup.

Between exchanges on fatherhood, immigration, writing, feminism, and reading there’s the football, and what it means to each of them. And while these letters were sent via email, their tone brings back the days of pen-pals and ink stained stationary.

One passage in particular struck me. In an entry marked Glemmingebro, 18 June, Knansgaard intertwines Diego Maradona and Virginia Woolf’s generational talents. He concludes that unless you’ve tried over and over to play in midfield, to play the perfect pass, or control the ball under pressure, or labored for years over words and sentences and bringing characters to life, that it can be difficult to appreciate how amazing Maradona’s and Woolf’s feats are.

What is it about Maradona? Why does he merit our admiration? After all, he was only a footballer. Perhaps you have to grow up with football to understand, go through all the stages, perhaps it is not possible to understand how liberating it can be, how impossible something is if you yourself don’t physically know the ground rules, the framework and its limits? It is a little like writing. Only the person who has written a lot, really tried to form words and sentences for many years, with total dedication, can actually understand and admire the opening of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which I have chosen as an example because of the theme, because only someone who has tried themselves will be able to appreciate how extremely difficult it is to breathe life into a character as Woolf does, not only that, into a whole era, milieu and culture, and render it in such fresh, vigorous, indeed such uniquely precise terms. If you have run around the midfield for many years and hit passes to teammates, simple, unspectacular passes, if you have chested balls, laid on crosses and shot at goal, you know in yourself how magical and impossible, original and amazingly unexpected Maradona’s play was. I can’t think of anyone who has even been close.

But why admire that?

It is only football after all.

It won’t lead anywhere, change anything or create anything either, for the moment something is done it has also disappeared. Nothing lasts in football.

The counter question is why not?

It is a game. It is anti-seriousness. Anti-meaning. Anti-intellectual.

It is the kitten chasing after the ball of wool, it is the horse running alongside the fence snorting, it is the falcon gliding on the wind, it is the otter sliding down the snow-covered mountain on its back, it is that which has no meaning, it is only fun. It is a sparkle.

And no one had more of that sparkle than Maradona.