Beppe Furino – The Timeless Water Carrier


Every team needs this player.

State side we call them defensive midfielders, or holding midfielders. Back in my U-10 parks and recreation soccer days we called them stoppers.

In Italy they’re called the Mediano, the water carrier.

John Foot describes the Italian interpretation of this player in his book Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer:

In order for the skillful players to have the space with which to work, somebody had to get the ball, and give it to them. The playmakers couldn’t be expected to do the running that was needed, the dirty work, the pressing. Every team had at least two players of this type, if not three.

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 146, 147

Juventus of course, had whom many consider to be the greatest mediani of all – Beppe Furino.

Beppe, to the right, in the black and white Juventus stripes

Juventus specialized in mediani, and the greatest of all was Beppe Furino in the 1970s and 1980s. Little Furino, from Palermo in Sicily, ran himself into the ground in order to get the ball to a succession of playmakers such as Franco Causio, Liam Brady and Michel Platini. Yet Furino was not a one-dimensional player. Team-mate Marco Tardelli called him ‘the most tactically intelligent player I have ever seen. He was always close to the ball.’

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 148

A mediano doesn’t revel in personal glory. But their trophy cabinets are flush with silver.

The life of a mediano was thus a melancholic one. They were always destined to be the supporting act, straight men, water carriers. They could never be stars and would remain forever in the shadow of their more skillful colleagues. Furino won a record eight titles with Juventus in the 1970s and 1980s, but is rarely mentioned in accounts of those years.

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 148

Beppe Furino and water carriers like him are tactical survivors. No matter the era, they remain relevant.

4-Panel Friday: Johnny Appleseed



I’m only now starting to dig into Paul Buhle and Noah Van Sciver’s Johnny Appleseed.

Johnny Appleseed was the original American hipster. He traveled across the United States on foot. He kept a rockin’ beard. And he lived with minimal possessions.

His ideas and legend spread. Not by an instant digital network, but through conversations, tall tales, and the written word.

Walt Whitman: Great are the Myths pt.5

Great are yourself and myself,

We are just as good and bad as the oldest and youngest

or any,

What the best and worst did we could do,

What they felt..do we not feel it in ourselves?

What they wished..do we not wish the same?

Was Walt Whitman a stoic?

Parts of this poem make it seem so. I need to research his biography to learn more.

Follow up soon…

From: Leaves of Grass 150th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics), pg.156,157

Finding Sentences

If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.

Joan Crawford

Good sentences, enviable sentences even, can be found in places other than books or articles. In his book How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One, author and law professor Stanley Fish shares this story:

One nice thing about sentences that display a skill you can only envy is that they can be found anywhere, even when you’re not looking for them. I was driving home listening to NPR and heard a commentator recount a story about the legendary actress Joan Crawford. It seems that she never left the house without being dressed as if she were going to a premiere or a dinner at Sardi’s. An interviewer asked her why. She replied, “If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.”

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One, Stanley Fish. Pg 4

Fish breaks it down:

It is the bang-bang swiftness of the short imperative clause-“go next door”- that does the work by taking the commonplace phrase “the girl next door” literally and reminding us that ” next door” is a real place where one should not expect to find glamour (unless of course one is watching Judy Garland singing “The Boy Next Door” in Meet Me in St. Louis).

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One, Stanley Fish. Pg 4

Woeful Targets

I had to add this to my online common place book:

“Remember this, son, if you forget everything else. A poet is a musician who can’t sing. Words have to find a man’s mind before they can touch his heart, and some men’s minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens.”

The Name of the Wind. Patrick Rothfuss. pg 106

How to Read a Book. Turns out, I had no idea.

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. By Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren.

It’s a book I hesitated to buy. A book on how to read a book? Come on. I got this.

But people far smarter than I recommended it.

Kevin Kelly mentions it on his selections for the Manual for Civilization. Maria Popova has it listed on her Brain Pickings piece – 9 Books on Reading and Writing.

I clicked BUY NOW.

Structurally I thought it would be a step-by-step guide.

Step 1 – Open the book. Step 2 – Don’t use a highlighter. That sort of thing. Instead it’s broken into topics. Essays on how to read specific topics and genres.

Examples include:

How to Read History

How to Read Philosophy

And the chapter I started with: Suggestions for Reading Stories, Plays, and Poems

Adler and Van Doren’s argument for reading quickly surprised me.

The first piece of advice we would like to give you for reading a story is this: Read it quickly and with total immersion. Ideally, a story should be read at one sitting, although this is rarely possible for busy people with long novels. Nevertheless, the ideal should be approximated by compressing the reading of a good story into as short a time as feasible. Otherwise you will forget what happened, the unity of the plot will escape you and you will be lost.

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. By: Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren, pgs 212,213

I’m a slow reader. I’m looking to absorb every character in detail. Adler and Van Doren suggest we’ll remember who’s important:

We should not expect to remember every character; many of them are merely background persons, who are there only to set off the actions of the main characters. However, by the time we have finished War and Peace or any big novel, we know who is important, and we do not forget. Pierre, Andrew, Natasha, Princess Mary, Nicholas- the names are likely to come immediately to memory, although it may have been years since we read Tolstoy’s book.

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. By: Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren, pg 213

They argue this is also true for incidents. We should trust the author to flag what’s important:

We also, despite the plethora of incidents, soon learn what is important. Authors generally give a good deal of help in this respect; they do not want the reader to miss what is essential to the unfolding of the plot, so they flag it in various ways. But our point is that you should not be anxious if all is not clear from the beginning. Actually, it should not be clear then. A story is like life itself; in life, we do not expect to understand events as they occur, at least with total clarity, but looking back on them, we do understand. So the reader of a story, looking back on it after he has finished it, understand the relation of events and the order of actions.

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. By: Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren, pg 213

A book can lose your attention because it’s not clear in the beginning. I fumbled through the first chapter of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, not sure what was happening. I kept on though. It turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Adler and Van Doren on the importance of finishing a book:

All of this comes down to the same point: you must finish a story in order to be able to say that you have read it well.

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. By: Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren, pg 213

With that, I’m going to give this reading quicker idea a go. Starting with Patrick Rothfuss‘s Name of the Wind.

I’ll report back.

Keep reading.

First Sentences

The prisoner in the photograph is me.

Hole in my life, Jack Gantos

On a sticky August evening two weeks before her due date, Ashima Ganguli stands in the kitchen of a Central Square apartment, combining Rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl.

The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three.

Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

I noticed writing out first sentences is like sliding them under a microscope.

By removing them from their natural habitat – the paragraph they’re resting on, you can see what they’re up too.

See what their hiding.

These three sentences all establish a world. A tone. They all introduce a character and a problem.

Efficient!

Seductive!

Come read more, they beg!

Jack is in prison.

Ashima is pregnant and alone in an apartment that doesn’t feel like home.

And while cloaks of invisibility exist in Ingary, apparently being the oldest of three is a problem.

This makes me think of the first sentences I’ve written.

Did they create the same effect?

The Look Up Artist

I underline words as I read.

My reasons vary.

A word sounds smooth in my head.

A word sounds crisp when spoken out loud.

It may be a fancy word I want to remember, like say, pretentious. But fancy words are like my Air Jordan 11s – you pull them out only for special occasions.

After underlining a word, I make a silent promise to myself. I promise to return to the page. I promise to grab a real-life dictionary and look up the definition.

I break these promises to myself almost every time.

But today I kept it.

Definitions from a few pages from Dryer’s English:

Ossified v. – cease developing; become inflexible.

Fundament n. – 1 the foundation or basis of something. 2 humorous a person’s buttocks or anus.

Knell n. – the sound of a bell, especially when rung solemnly for a death or funeral.

Keeping promises always satisfies.

Lost on the shelf. The power of an unread book.

The Story of Astronomy has lingered in my library, unopened, for years.

Not a crease across the spine. Not a dog ear between the pages.

I pulled it down from the shelf, hoping it would inspire a poem.

My hope was mislead. But I did learn the sky has a remarkable influence on the Muslim faith:

Allah had put these signs in the sky for a purpose. The stars helped Muslims to work out the direction to Mecca; while the Sun indicated the five times of day when they must pray. The first appearance of the crescent Moon marked the beginning of a new Islamic month. And – by investigating the heavens – Muslim scholars would literally get closer to knowing the mind of God.

Faith and science speaking with each other.

Rare.

Keep those unread books close. Someday they’ll reveal a new truth.

Kicked Off: A new Eredivisie season begins

In celebration of the Eredivisie kicking off, a few passages on Dutch football:

First, from Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano recounts Cryuff’s origins:

This scrawny livewire earned a spot on the Ajax roster when he was only a child: while his mother waited tables at the club bar, he collected balls that went off the field, shined the players’ shoes, and placed flags in the corners. He did everything they asked of him and nothing they ordered him to do. He wanted to play and they would not let him because his body was too weak and his will too strong. When they finally gave him a chance, he took it and never let it go. Still a boy, he made his debut, played stupendously, scored a goal, and knocked out the referee with one punch.

Galeano’s Gullit piece reads like it’s speaking to 2019, not 1993…

In 1993 a tide of racism was rising. Its stench, like a recurring nightmare, already hung over Europe; several crimes were committed and laws to keep out ex-colonial immigrants were passed. Many young whites, unable to find work, began to blame their plight on people with dark skin.

Ruud Gullit, known as “The Black Tulip,” had always been a full-throated opponent of racism. Guitar in hand, he sang at anti-apartheid concerts between matches, and in 1987, when he was chosen Europe’s most valuable player, he dedicated his Ballon d’Or to Nelson Mandela, who spent many years in jail for the crime of believing that blacks are human.

I googled The Black Tulip to see if Ruud Gullit would hit my screen first.

Nope.

Instead, the search engine delivered another historical rebel – Alexander Dumas, and his novel titled: The Black Tulip.

Now, from David Winner‘s Brilliant Orange:

A dedication worth reading:

For:

Dad, who taught me to love football,

Mum, who taught me to love art

and Hanny, who taught me to love Holland.

It’s clear to me now, but back in 2004, Winner’s book introduced me to the Dutch mentality of controlling the game. Also, Winner taught me there’s more to Dutch football than Johann Cryuff.

‘It’s a thinking game. It’s not running around everywhere and just working hard, though of course you have to work hard too. Every Dutch player wants to control the game. We play the ball from man to man; we wait for openings. That’s how to play football: with your brains, not with your feet. You don’t have to be a chess player, but you must think ahead. Before I had the ball I knew exactly what I would do with it. I always knew two or three moves ahead. Before I get the ball I can already see someone moving in front of me, so when the ball arrives I don’t have to think about it. And I don’t have to watch the ball because I have the right technique.’ If ball control comes naturally to a player, he needs only one touch to get it where it needs to be.

Arnold Muhren

Lastly, two transfers to watch out for:

Jordy Clasie returns to AZ on a permanent. Could a return to the Eredivisie see him mount a national team comeback?

Former Johan Cruyff Trophy winner and Pochettino outcast Vincent Janssen has landed in Monterrey. Could the ketchup finally flow?