The Beginning 2016 - Impermanence



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Our Nina is growing up. She´s already four months old.

© Viggo Mortensen.
Although it's old news (it happened a month ago), I mention Real Madrid´s shameful way of firing Rafael Benitez because it seems to me that the big clubs are increasingly behaving worse everywhere, and that people are accepting, almost without blinking, the disrespectful behaviour of disgraceful misers like Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid. This time Florentino did it really badly, even worse that he had done it with Ancelotti, Casillas, Pellegrini, Raúl, or Vicente del Bosque on their deplorable departures. He has signed Zidane as the new coach, and things are going more or less well so far for the legendary French-Algerian. I want Zidane to succeed as coach, but what´s been done to Benitez is not right. This appeared in El País about the dismal outcome of the dismissal:

The Real Florentino
"We've made a difficult decision, how to resolve the issue of Rafael Benítez' first team contract. We have before us a magnificent professional and a great person. I want to thank him for his work over the last few months. The Board of Directors has decided to name Zidane as coach of the first team." With that, in just 22 seconds, Florentino Pérez dispatched Benítez' tenure as coach of the "Whites." [tr.note: Real Madrid]

Rafael Benítez
Rafael Benítez
But the treatment of the man from Madrid goes beyond that, since they had still not officially communicated to Benítez, at the time these words were being uttered, he'd stopped being Madrid's coach. In fact, during the same afternoon yesterday, they'd told him that the decision had not been made, but that he should come over to Bernabéu. Something that he didn't want to do to avoid having his picture taken while entering the stadium. In fact, his agent, Manolo García Quilón didn't go either. A clear conscience. The coach, who will get paid an additional six months of his contract, appeared surprised when he found out that Zidane's family was there. "One more of the many things they've done to me," he commented, resigned, to those close to him, who are sure that he leaves with a clear conscience. He repeats again that the club asked him to do what they didn't dare to do... punishing James or Jesé. "It's impossible to work like this," he told his closest associates.

Benítez, on the other hand, showed that he's an honorable man by saying good-bye to the club and to the Madrid supporters in writing (since Florentino didn't give him the opportunity to do it in person in a decent way):

"I want everyone that makes up this organization, from the Board of Directors to every last one of its fans, managers, workers, followers and sympathizers, to know that for me it has been an honor to hold this position in the club that has seen me grow as a soccer player, as a person and as a coach of the junior levels, moving up to the first team. I would like to thank in a special way all those people who helped me, from the first day that I set foot in the new "Real Madrid City" or our "Santiago Bernabéu," to all those who have made my job easier during these months, to so many that have given the best of themselves to try to achieve our common goal."

He also had nice words for Zidane, a remarkable gesture in that tough moment: "I would like to wish all kinds of luck to Zinadine Zidan, my substitute, and to all of his work team, as well as each and every one of the players, trainers and staff, those who work for the good of the Club as much in Valdebebas [tr. note: The Sports City where the training facilities are] as in Bernabeu [tr. note: RM stadium]. His luck will be that of our Real Madrid, to which I wish all the best."

That's the way things are done. In difficult moments, when the impermanence of things stands out, is when the character of people is put to the greatest test. I wish you well, Rafa.

P.S. We presented the movie Captain Fantastic, written and directed by Matt Ross, for the first time at the recent Sundance Festival in Park City, Utah. It's the one we shot last year in the north-western forest of the US and in New Mexico, right after CASLA won the Libertadores [Cup]. It's a bit similar to Little Miss Sunshine - our story also has a peculiar family that embarks on a long journey on the roads of North America - although it's my view that it's a little more profound in terms of serious questions about society and coexistence. I'm sending you a picture of the "family" that appeared in the Los Angeles Times the day of the opening, and another from the shoot:


Here there's a hell of a heat wave, with high humidity and mosquitoes. I just finished writing a column for the newspaper where I write, and I'm sending it to you because, somehow, it summarizes, more or less clearly, I think, what's been happening to me these days. On the other hand, if everything turns out OK, we are going to the countryside for four days that are holidays. CASLA debuts today against Patronato, and next we'll play the Supercopa against Boca. (I think this is an open match for either of the two.) Here's the column:

On the Path of Gichin Funakoshi

Today I saw a picture in the newspaper of Andrés D'Alessandro crying during a press conference. The guy was leaving Inter - on bad terms with the Board of Directors, according to the press - and was returning to River. I don't know why, when I saw the picture, I thought that Andrés was crying because of the emotion of returning to River. But it wasn't only that. He was crying because he loves the Brazilian club so much and was sorry he had to leave that way. D'Alessandro was crying about leaving one place and returning to another. I too was moved to tears last Tuesday, sitting in the locker room of Onbu Dojo to resume doing karate after being absent for a long year. I say doing karate because, in spite of practicing it for ten years and having a high belt, I still haven't gotten to the place where karate does me. I have "to do" karate, practice it, struggle against it, for it to accept me. I´m a karateka outlet. But despite that, despite not having the slightest ability to step firmly into the dojo, karate is already a part of me and I simply can´t stop practicing it, awake or asleep. I came back from the holidays with the conviction that not doing karate last year was a mistake. I mean, arguing that the successive setbacks of everyday life prevented me from going to the dojo - it's not true. It´s self-indulgence. I should have gone once a week or once a month; I shouldn't have stopped going. Karate, says Sensei Gichin Funakoshi in his advice on how to practice, is like hot water; it needs to always be under a flame, big or small, otherwise it gets cold. Many times what the conscious mind doesn't say, the unconscious does. During the holidays, I repeatedly dreamed I was in Sensei Mitsuo Inoue´s dojo - with whom I've practiced all this time - listening to his voice, trying to do one of his katas that are so difficult for me in real life but that are perfect in dreams. And I would wake up excited. Could I be a perfect karateka, with kime, who dreams he's a karateka outlet? Or vice versa? The thing is, as Carl Jung says, sometimes the unconscious sneaks into real life, modifying it. During the holidays we stayed for several days in a house that the genius Pedro Montes lent me in Santiago de Chile. Attached to the house there's a bookshop, and in the window, you could see the elderly face of Gichin Funakoshi on the cover of his book, Karate-Do: My Way of Life. Incredible. A book I had been searching for for years, that seemed untraceable and about which I knew things because my dojo colleagues had told me - was there, waiting for me. I read it in one sitting and it has accompanied me in mind and spirit until today. "Any place is a dojo," says Funakoshi, urging us to practice karate everywhere and applying the teachings of karate to anything we do in everyday life. "A karateka should seek weakness, not strength," he says at one point. And explains: "...this might not be fully understood, but to those who practice with care and concentration, it will become clear." There's something from Karate-Do that comes from Chinese teachings: not having a goal or a tactic to embed in real life, like joining together two Lego pieces, but rather that the vital strategy consists in action naturally taking the appropriate path. In the book Funakoshi talks about the teachers who trained him and about his life as a practitioner and promoter of martial arts. It's an enjoyable read and its pages hold a certain mineral freshness. Funakoshi is also careful to demystify the exploits of the karatekas. He is a realistic karateka and the tricks are for "Neo" fighting against the "Matrix"; there are no supermen here destroying bricks or guys flying through the air. In karate, the ultimate goal is spiritual; without that, the technical conditions become irrelevant. Funakoshi also writes poetry. With characters that look like paintings, he says: "Penetrating the old is understanding the new; the old and new is only a question of time. In every case man must have a clear mentality. This is the path: who will follow it correctly?"


Thanks, Fabián. When I see you again you must show me this book by the great Japanese master. I too am gradually resuming an old path, that of daily poetry. I cannot sleep and wrote this two minutes ago:

Son las cinco

de este invierno nervioso
abro la ventana de la oficina
salgo en manga corta al balcón
hay mucho borracho en la plaza
será que es viernes por la mañana
pero también hay algo primaveral
esta noche de recién febrero
están sentados en el cemento
riéndose y rodando sus botellas
por la acera sin temblar
no entiendo esta brisa
o que el roble esté brotando
y los castaños también
es muy temprano para eso
y me hace temer el verano
que ya pinta largo y letal
todavía no leí los dos libros
que recibí el Día de Reyes
hago cuenta atrás y coloco
los laburos, amores, muertos
y desencuentros olvidados
en un orden que entiendo
para ver cómo va la cosa,
cuánto me queda de tiempo
y memoria para armarme
contra el muro implacable
cosas del amanecer solitario
rutina perdida que me sorprende
y me anima
como el subir a un pingo
después de tantos inviernos
pensando ¡qué maravilla,
cuánto lo extrañé! sé
que tendré que hacer siesta
por haber dormido tan poco
quizá sacaré a la perrita
antes de que pueda cagar
en la cocina.


What a lovely poem, Viggo. It reminded me of the poems of Cesare Pavese. Have you read them? They have something of that everyday flow used by prosaic verse that yours has, although in other settings. Pavese writes a lot about his town, the fields, the hills, and your poem takes place, in part, in your apartment. Furthermore, I liked the ending, so simple and funny resembling that of humorous haiku.

Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
Return From Deola

We will return to the streets to look at passersby
and we too will be passersby. We will consider
how to get up early, surrendering the disgust
of the night and go out with the step of other times.
We will bend the head of the work of other times.
Stunned we will smoke again, down there,
against the glass. But the eyes will be the same,
also the face and the gestures. That futile secret
that lingers in the body and gives us a vacant look
will slowly die in the rhythm of the blood
where everything disappears.
We will go out one morning,
we will no longer have a house, we will go out in the street;
the disgust of the night will abandon us;
we will shiver with loneliness. But we will want to be alone
We will stare at passersby with the dead smile
of the defeated, who neither shouts or hates
because he knows that since ancient times luck
- all it has been and will be - is in the blood,
the whispering of the blood. Alone, in the middle of the street,
we will lower our brow, listening for an echo
in our blood. And this echo will never vibrate.
We will look up, we will look at the street.
-Cesare Pavese
(translation by Ollie)


Yes, a new tournament started. It's tailor-made for Bosta [tr. note: Boca Juniors], obviously, with the two little groups - one that includes River, Central, Independiente and San Lorenzo and Boca in the other. What thieves the Bosteros are! How afraid they are of us and the Gallinas [tr.note: River] Shame on our children; how badly we raised them. With the one still ruling in AFA, and one who now is taking apart everything positive that was achieved by the federal government during the last decade. And I'm not the only one saying it as a Cuervo. Look at this which I recently found in Olé, a comment from a Boca Juniors supporter regarding the new format of the First Division tournament:

"Matías Campos - 11 hours ago:
As a Boca supporter, I've just seen which teams the zones are made of: ZONE 1 River, vélez, san lorenzo, independiente, racing, central… They handed Boca the championship (BOCA); could it be that the nation's president has something to do with it??? I already feel disgusted with Argentine soccer. Macri didn't win everything with Boca; it was the players!!! Those players who saw how that ass Macri was making deals out of their passes, stealing the 15% due to the player..."

Pavese! It´s an honour that you compare one of my poems with what he wrote. I haven't read him for a long time. What I remember is that Scott Wannberg, a poet friend from California, once told me that Pavese was like an American poet somehow - that he had something of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams, or Hart Crane - and he committed suicide rather young (like Crane.) When I later read a book of his poems translated from Italian into English, it seemed to me that Scott was right, that his simple, direct style, - so different from that of his Italian contemporaries - was a little Anglo-Saxon/North American.

Well, I just finished watching the match played in Entre Ríos. If it hadn't been for Pipi, we would have lost. A free kick great goal. Thank you Captain! San Lorenzo played much better in the second half, and Cauteruccio could have won the match with a bit of luck during the last few minutes, but it wasn't to be. Typical for us, suffering from the very start of the championship. But a point is a point. Hold on Ciclón!

Boca is tied against Temperley, without goals. Two minutes left. If it stays like that, it will be a big win for La Celeste. Like our tie was for Patronato. They already have played three additional minutes. They are still 0-0. How many more minutes are they going to give them for the Bosteros to score? Four, almost five... I can't believe it. And it's over, scoreless draw. Good. We'll see each other next week, sons.

Last year, we published a huge book of Scott Wannberg's poetry at Perceval Press. I think that we've talked about him and his death in 2011 before in this column. The new anthology of his poems, the third book of his poetry we have published, is called The Official Language of Yes. I think I gave it to you in Buenos Aires when I went to see Bauza's last match (against Temperley), right? I don't remember now. I'm not sleeping well these days, and although the confusion that this brings is useful for me in "receiving" poetry without judging it so much, it's not very good for remembering what happened yesterday and what I have to do today. I know that my intention was to bring you the book. If I didn't give it to you, tell me and I'll bring it to you. I don't want to send it because, as we are seeing, Customs is unpredictable. This is Scott's book:

© Perceval Press.
Speaking of Scott, I'm sending you an article written in the (northern) autumn of 2011 when Scott died, by a writer who knew him since they were kids in Venice, California. It's a special look at this singular poet and friend whom I miss so much.


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Last edited: 2 April 2016 09:09:58