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"I want real people!"
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe
21 December 2012
Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro
Well, brother, we met, we talked and we went to the stadium. We actually talked and saw too little of each other, but I´m grateful for the chance of seeing the Ciclón´s last match together. For me, the previous time in Lanús was in 2009. The Granate [[i[trans.note[/i]: Deep-red. Lanús nickname] of that time was seriously fighting for the championship, but that tournament was dominated by Cappa´s [tr. note: their coach] Quemeros [tr. note: Huracán´s nickname] and finally won by Vélez thanks to that controversial outcome we alluded to in our last chat. In the recently concluded tournament, also won by the Fortineros [tr. note: Vélez nickname] (spotlessly this time), Lanús was again at the highest top of the ranking for a long time. The tie garnered by San Lorenzo last week was not a bad result. They fought well, ceaselessly pressing, and with a bit of luck, they could have ended the season with a deserved victory. Bordagaray had nice opportunities (especially the last one) to win that match. Migliore intercepted very well and Mercier was great - a beast. The best thing was that CASLA played united and without letting up for ninety minutes, as they have been doing of late. It was a follow up to the quiet recovery that Pizzi has been handling since he began managing the team. The truth is that it surprised me that "La Fortaleza" [tr. note: Lanús stadium] was more than half empty and that the local supporters made so little noise. Ours, although in smaller numbers, easily drowned them out when it was time to sing. Maybe the locals were depressed because they didn´t win the championship - I don´t know - but this doesn´t happen with our supporters. In good or bad weather, they are always present and eager.
The Cuervos I´ve seen on the streets of Boedo, Parque Patricios, Caballito, Flores, Palermo, Belgrano, Saavedra, Núñez, Martínez, San Isidro - among other neighbourhoods I could visit during the few days I was in the capital - seemed to be very glad, waiting for the start of the new tournament with optimism. One feels that things can get very interesting for San Lorenzo in 2013. Who would have thought so a couple of months ago? From the ashes...
The media coverage in the Argentinian sporting world has been dominated by Boca and River. Nothing new in that, of course. TV, radio and the papers talk non-stop about Ramón, Vianchi, Riquelme, Passarella (who suddenly is not the equivalent of Sauron for the millionaire journalists - must be because they signed the self-proclaimed "greatest coach in River´s history"), much less about Falcioni (already falling into Bosteros´[tr. note: Boca Supporters] oblivion in spite of having brought them a couple of cups with his approach typical of a great part of Argentinian first division soccer - conservative and fearful), about Trezeguet (now unjustly ignored by the Gallinas [tr. note: River supporters] as much as he was in 2006 by the French after failing that penalty in the World Cup final), about Mellizo (we´ll have to wait until la Bombonera [tr. note: Boca´s stadium] speaks again, unless it´s to ask for Diego [Maradona] to come back), about Schiavi´s farewell and the ephemeral legacy from Almeyda. With all this super-classic stuff, nobody pays much attention to CASLA. That´s fine with me. This way there will be less pressure at the beginning of the coming tournament. We´ll get attention enough if our lucky streak continues in the Fall. I think the pre-season tour, including matches in San Luís, Salta, Misione, Puerto Madryn and Chaco is a good move by our board. Going to those beautiful places where they rarely can see first division teams playing is a good and generous idea. I hope that this continues happening from now on, so they can reach the people all over the country who are passionate about good soccer in a direct way. This way we are going to win more supporters and members everywhere. Let´s hope that someday, if San Lorenzo continues on a good soccer path, international tours like those in the old days can be organised. Besides, the so-called "summer tournaments" are not so interesting lately. What they are going to sell in January 2013, especially the sports media, are the two first encounters between River and Boca. May the two of them have fun, and wear themselves out mentally before the official tournament. And let Riquelme come back. In spite of being a great player, he has created a lot of trouble in all the teams he´s played with. It´s a pity he missed the 2010 World Cup because of his pride, thereby depriving the National Team and the Argentinians of his talent, but based on his history, it´s likely that his taking part would have caused a certain chaos in the locker room. If he comes back to be coached by Bianchi, I´m guessing there will be a honeymoon followed very quickly by the usual controversy. The bigger the hassle gets between the Bosta [tr. note: "manure", Boca´s nickname] and the Gallinas [tr. note: "chickens", River´s nickname] the better Pizzi and his players will be able to work in peace. We´ll see if Palermo becomes a successful coach and complicates the thing further. I think CASLA will continue moving forward because of the right approach and the good vibe generated, adding points little by little. The tournament will be fun, but I don´t think it will happen as many are imagining and betting on.
And what else can be said about Tigre and their adventure in Sao Paulo, Brazil? I watched the match, listened and read everything I could about the Copa Sudamericana final. It made me sad that Gorosito and his team had to go through all that. The contrast between the fate of the Tigre players in the locker room during halftime, and the celebration of the locals on the field in the middle of the match with their sullied trophy, seemed very ugly to me. We have to admit that, as much as some of them like to cry and throw themselves on the ground, the aggressions suffered by the Argentinian team inflicted by the representatives of the "security" corps in the Morumbi are not the Sao Paulo players' fault. From the point of view of those of the Tricolor, I guess they were happy because of having gotten a 2-0 advantage during the first 45 minutes. I guess they also must have thought that Tigre was very tough defending and trying to restrain the Brazilians´ individual brilliance during the first time period. What the Sao Paulo team didn´t know was that their rivals had been attacked in their visitors' locker room. There´s no doubt whatsoever that the arrogant attitude and the insulting comments by Sao Paulo´s coach, the disgraceful Ney Franco - a presence in the professional soccer world more revolting than that of Jose Mourinho, if possible - were disgusting. The lack of generosity and compassion that he and his club´s board showed as hosts brought shame to the city of Sao Paulo and Brazilian soccer. When Franco´s luck runs out, as happens to all of us, hardly anyone will cry.
The Disgraceful One.
The indignation expressed by Sergio Massa, the Tigre Mayor, after the match seemed quite correct to me - although it´s difficult not to recall that he seems to have forgotten a bit his historical fanaticism for San Lorenzo. I guess he could buy some metres for the Return to Boedo to soften the tensions carried by his mild sporting schizophrenia...
Meeting at Municipio de Tigre, 05.24.20011
Image Daniel Fariña.
© Municipio de Tigre.
There are destructive generalisations regarding any nation, race or tribe. I think that one of them that many citizens in Brazil have gotten into their heads is that Argentinians and Uruguayans are cheaters and play dirty. On the other hand, the idea that all the Brazilian players do a lot of "theatrics" so the referees can charge faults is also a regrettable generalisation. There's everything everywhere, from the best to the worst, but players in any country of the world almost always try to play well and cleanly in principle. A lot depends on the example that the captains set and above all, the coaches and the boards of the clubs. In any case, speaking of the soccer rivalry among the South American greats, I'm sure that things will be straightened out within a year and a half.
The San Miguel barrabravas [tr. note: violent soccer supporters] who attacked the Excursionist people for no reason and without mercy should all to go to prison, and the police that permitted the barbarity as well. It was an extremely ugly situation and the lack of a serious penalty is terribly sad. That way, nothing changes. The lack of commitment on the part of police officers was criminal and the continual lack of commitment on the part of the AFA and the federal government to eradicate uncontrolled violence in national soccer is deplorable. The famous "Soccer for All," which seems like a great idea to me, will never become a reality while honest supporters and families with their children cannot go to the Argentinian fields to enjoy the king of sports without fear. It´s a shame that the highest authorities in the country are not determined to follow the example of Spain and England, whose governments knew a long time ago how to stop almost all the corruption and senseless brutality of the barras bravas. One thing: you cannot forgive the first division barrabravas, allowing them to go to the field after they have committed aggressions, when those from inferior divisions are forbidden entry to the following matches. The situation in Argentina regarding barras is a total disaster.
There´s no excuse; this has nothing to do with passion. It´s a criminal question on the part of the aggressors and the complicit authorities. When we don´t clean house in this country, we can hardly reproach Brazil. I have also seen examples of brutal and shameless behaviour on the part of so-called San Lorenzo supporters. While they continue to devote themselves to beating up and insulting people instead of watching the game and supporting our team, I´m not interested in sharing anything with them, no matter how much they call themselves Cuervos.
Hello Viggo, of all the things you are telling me the one that surprised me most is with what promptness and self-assurance you were driving the rented car, and your knowledge of the suburban streets that were taking us to the Lanús stadium. When I was in the United States on a six-month fellowship, I had the urge to sit down on the sidewalk and break down crying for my mother to come and fetch me. Obviously afterwards everything settled down, and the guys who, in Iowa, seemed to be speaking in Viking began to speak in a language I could understand. I remember the exact day when I realised I didn´t need to first translate in my head from English to Spanish to be able to understand it. I was watching TV in the room I had with the fellowship (it had a large window overlooking a wood where deer and a brook ran, like on a mineral water label) and they were trying Bill Clinton. Suddenly, without realising it, I began to understand what was being said on TV as if it were my native language. Afterward, when I returned, the girlfriend I had then told me that when I dreamed, I dreamed in English. Soñar sonar [To Dream, to Dream] is one of the great movies by a genius who's as Argentinian as dulce de leche - Leonardo Favio. And this thing about dreams came to mind because today I had an intense karate class where we spent a good part of it doing kumite - that is to say, sparring. And I worked with a companion who's a black belt and who I like a lot for a very special reason. She's named Mariana, and when my daughter Anita was born I was outside the hospital having a coffee and thinking about fatherhood and its mysteries (while Guadalupe was resting with the baby in her room in the clinic), when Mariana passed by on the sidewalk with her older daughter, who was, let's say, twelve or so. I came out of the bar and called to her and told her that I was a father as of two days ago and she congratulated me. Nothing more happened but for me, that everyday scene was constructed with the perfection of a dream. Everyone has dreams, even if when they wake up, they forget them. And as Borges said, one constructs dreams as if they were stories. In other words, there is an aesthetic to the way we place the furniture in our minds while we sleep. So there I was, with my feet newly set in the world of parents, and my (karate) companion and her daughter (who symbolized my future) were on the sunny sidewalk, giving me a clear message: the karate discipline is what´s going to support you so you don´t sink during your stay in fatherhood. That's why as soon as I returned from those long journeys that I told you about in our last chat, I started doing karate almost every day I can.
Today I began reading the book you gave me, The Devil All the Time, and it, as you said, owes a debt to Cormac McCarthy. It seems very good from the little I've read of it so far.
© Libros del Silencio.
The very day you called me to say goodbye, I'd finished Stoner by John Williams, a book that, if you haven't read it, I recommend to you. It's a true masterpiece of staggering simplicity.
© Viking Press.
And another thing to remember from these weeks of the championship final: the confidence with which the team played (I think we could have won at Lanús) and the impression that Matías Lammens, the president of San Lorenzo, made on me when you introduced him to me - to me, he seemed like a transparent, genuine guy. I wish him the best. In Iowa, I met an actor who was on a fellowship and became buddies with him; we used to go out to a grubby bar on the outskirts of the city to have spaghetti and meatballs and when he got drunk, he would say, "I want real people!" That's it! I want real people; I think the prez is one of those.
Hugs, brother Cuervo.
P.S. Remember what Jung said: Fate is everything that I don't know about myself.
I am familiar with Soñar, soñar by Favio, with that evocative music by Pocho Leyes. I saw it again last year, while I was filming with Ana Piterbarg in Tigre. Favio's work was a "little" film in terms of its budget and box office results, but great in its lyrical value and for the sincere performances of Pagliaro and Monzón, playing the characters of "El Rulo" and "Charly." Along with Juan Moreira, which Favio presented a couple of years before, Soñar, sonar was one of the most important films of the time right before the terrible military dictatorship era in Argentina. When the audiences saw, in the theatres of 1976, the two leading actors as prisoners together at the end of the movie, it must have aroused very strong feelings in them. At the time it was screened, the coup had already happened and a long night and autumn were coming.
© Choila Producciones Cinematográficas.
I haven't read Stoner by Williams. I'll do it when I can. Speaking of books, I just finished a biography by Andrew Wilson about Patricia Highsmith, the author of so many powerful stories, best known for her series of books in which the amoral character of "Tom Ripley" figures. In English, the biography's called Beautiful Shadow - A Life of Patricia Highsmith. "Beautiful Shadow...," isn't that a lovely title? I don't know if it's been translated into Spanish. It could be, since the original publication was in 2004. I recommend it to anyone who likes Highsmith's work.
I just finished the filming of The Two Faces of January, a more or less free adaptation of the novel of the same name by Highsmith by the talented scriptwriter Hossein Amini (he wrote the script for Drive, for example). The editor of our film gave me the Wilson book as a gift at the end of the filming. While we were shooting, I had been reading books of short stories by Patricia Highsmith, like Mermaids On The Golf Course, Exquisite Corpse, The Snail-Watcher And Other Stories (Eleven), and the one I liked best, The Animal-Lover's Book of Beastly Murders. In the stories of that last book, the animals take revenge for the mistreatment they received from human beings - some great misanthropic stories. I think that Jung would have loved them, and Freud even more so! So many books to read; we'll never get to read them all, buddy... But the effort's worth it, even if it's doomed to failure.
I agree with what you said about Lammens. The guy is a spring breeze, and much appreciated!
I think that the Highsmith biography is translated into Spanish, so I'm going to look for it. I am a fan of biographies as a genre. Through a good biography, I've often gotten into an author that I didn't quite get, who didn't interest me. So biographies are inherently interesting - this year I read one about Beckett, another about Jobs, another about Gramsci - and I enjoyed all of them. I like biographies that don't take sides and that try to reflect the author's life without sentimentality. I think the Naipaul biography, The World is What It Is, written by Peter French, is the best biography I've ever read. You could write a biography of a club, of CASLA, for example, as if it were the life of a complex, contradictory human being with its glories and sorrows. Borges said it was possible to write the history of the human spirit without mentioning people's names. Big hug.
It seems to me that removing names can often be all right. As the woman in love in Shakespeare´s Romeo and Juliet says:
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
Okay, Fabián: to you and yours, to all the Cuervos and all of those who are "real people,"
A VERY HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Last edited: 9 July 2013 20:16:46
© Viggo Mortensen and Fabian Casas.