Ageism: 61 Mundial years
Forecast: 30C (yes, it’s cooling off)
Couple of random items, short post. Let’s start with the personal. Last night, sitting out in the Friedrichstrasse’s Hackescher Market, drinking a Berliner Weisse mit Schuss – a white beer, with red raspberry syrup mixed in (you can also get green). Sort of like sour cream soda with a mild kick -- sounds horrible, but actually quite good.
|Happy birthday Chris, you big teddy bear.|
Eight years ago at France ’98, on the same day, I was with World Cup traveling partner Martin Smith of Journal de Montreal, staying in a small seaside hotel in the little Mediterranean town of La Ciotat, home of cinema pioneers the Lumiere brothers, and had a specially-made bouillabase birthday dinner prepared in a sandy tented restaurant that remains a favourite memory. We were there for three days before the semifinal in Marseille. It was a great way to unwind after the craziness of following this tournament in a leased minivan we dubbed the Hearse.
Apart from the unwinding, this is very different. One of the notable things about being in Berlin for the World Cup final is that it’s like any great and enormous city when a big event comes to town – there are always places where the World Cup doesn’t exist, and this was one of them. After a month here being surrounded by it, this was a welcome escape zone.
A three-piece Latin jazz band played for a while. Then as we were getting ready to leave, a 14-piece brass band moved slowly into the square, playing as they advanced, complete with a baton twirler and a women in a sort-of cowboy outfit tossing a silver hoop up in the air. Tricks and brass no-wave mashing -- a little bit of Latin, a little bit of Lounge Lizards, a hint of New Orleans and more. You can't beat it.
Then they played happy birthday for someone. I mentioned to the cowbell girl that it was my birthday too. So of course they did it again, and at the finish, one of the percussionists came over, threw her cymbals to the ground at my feet and bowed. I hooted and applauded, and the band, Brooklyn’s riotous Hungry March Band (for a WMP sample, go here) are playing tonight and tomorrow here as part of a European tour. So it’s a date, then.
As for the footy, Germany's Lukas Podolski has been named the best Young Player of the tournament, and FIFA released the shortlist for the Golden Ball award given to the World Cup's most outstanding player. I don't have a vote, but if I did I'd go with Fabio Cannavaro, Italy’s stalwart defender and, for my money, the most influential player here. Here’s the field, feel free to tell me I’m wrong and you’re right with your choice:
Thierry Henry, France
Patrick Vieira, France
Zinedine Zidane, France
Michael Ballack, Germany
Miroslav Klose, Germany
Fabio Cannavaro, Italy
Gianluigi Buffon, Italy
Andrea Pirlo, Italy
Gianluca Zambrotta, Italy