Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The second in a dozen pages has fallen off the calendar, and I’d foolishly presumed that tumbling right alongside February would be a London demigod and it’s usual procurement of Champions League football. Much to my dismay, then, was Stoke’s resurrection Sunday at Villa Park, which occurred about halfway through said presumption rounding into literary form. Congratulatory meditations will now have to be put on ice, and instead, I come in reprieve to the afflicted; bearing analysis of Arsenal’s plight through sheer irreverence and balderdash.
Precursor: I suspect I might be preaching to any number of choirs, but “hip hop” (used as an adjective here, and in quotes not out of buttoned-down ignorance or disdain but out of undying respect and for lack of a better or appropriate term) is the adhesive that binds today’s American sporting culture together amidst the countless pratfalls colluding to bring it all crashing down. Everyone’s definition and criterion surely differs, but the impressions left are canyons regardless. The NFL has it in spades; the NHL's almost completely bereft of. The NBA is redefining it on a daily, hourly, oh what the hell, minutely basis, perhaps even more than the actual genre of music itself does. Exhaustively numerous pieces documenting sport and hip hop’s symbiosis can be found elsewhere; what’s necessary here is a simple understanding of the following:
-A person’s hair, & the coordination, assemblage and semiotics of, much as in any sociocultural niche, is of near-peerless influence within hip hop’s cause.
-Arsenal have the finest coiffure collection in England, if not the world, and have this season in particular shown an intensified penchant for experimentation.
-Arsenal also register as the most hip hop football club in England, if not the world.
Those last two are indeed indebted to but not solely dependent on each other, for a well-coiffed club can fail entirely in being hip hop, and vice-a-versa. But it’s the Gunners with which my intrigue is piquing, and so without further ado.
Musical Bilocation: Brooklyn, '89
If ever the massive potential in Arsenal's fountain of afrocentricity floweth over (and I say this because, in case you hadn't already discovered, football sits rather low on hip hop's totem pole), one needn't look further for the undamming culprit than this here man. The Togolese wristbands, the dance with Henry, the antelopic strides, all of it--but really, it's that hair, an ever-shifting testament to the glory of all that is afroed. One could be compelled to start anywhere, from the pipe-cleaner-thin 'rows after the World Cup, to the subsequent hi-top, trapezoidal fro from the back half of last season. Before injury this term, he'd gone for something in-between, but in general he's been but a shell of last year's romping statement of arrival, enough to where I'd suggest something different up there, something raw, unabashed. His hamstring looks set to heal in the next week or so, and not a minute too soon, as another in-league nil-nil might cause the Emirates to implode entirely.
Robin Van Persie
Musical Bilocation: Glasgow, '82 / your local mall, present day.
Up until about December, he looked prepped and primed for his 4th grade yearbook picture, in all its gelatinous and vert-ramped splendor. Then young Robin was stamped a miscreant, and a homewrecker; he countered with a fervently rapturous Fuck You brace at the Bridge, and followed with what’s become the ultimate in new-leaf turning, a fresh 'do (see: Iverson, Allen). And a mohawk—genuine, no faux or fro, buzzed sides and all—to boot. Since the switch, Van Pershie has taken the team lead in goals, scored a sublime penalty in the ever-increasingly-important CL against Roma , skipped from 4th grade up to 10th, and most importantly, has preserved his health amidst copious compatriotic casualties (knock on wood), fooling the public into forgetting we once knew him as Mr. Glass. Seems to be the exception to the rules here, including the resounding lack of hip hop present.
Musical Bilocation: Orlando, '98
Oh, dear. Who sanctioned this? This is the most recent of the adjustments, and is triumphantly the worst. My ears are struck deaf to the season opener against West Brom; my eyes blind to the victorious brace against Man U. Frosted tips are the bane of a follicle’s existence, where style goes to wither & die, humbled & embarrassed by the monster it’s created. Stay a Franc, dear son, & don’t let any bubblegum Aryans beguile you, for it’s Zizou’s name they whisper when your feet and ball entwine.
(not so) Musical Bilocation: Cairo, 40ish BC
Will and does channel any, every, and all eccentricity through those blonde beaded curtains, leaving but a studious, award-winning, and frankly kinda boring-in-his-assuredness right back underneath. But any male attempting a grand theft eponym of Bo Derek surely can't be held all that accountable for his club's strife this year, so onward.
Musical Bilocation: Hollywood, '87
Oh, sweet Nicklas, how you tangle webs and addle wits with your punctuations of effrontery. You fastened your name synonymous with the berry Vapors; you publicly fashioned yourself hip hop enough to garner guarantee in the Arsenal eleven. But I thought I'd been in their presences enough to know a whigger when I saw one; you've got me flummoxed to a foreign degree. Pink boots are well and dandy if when embracing your feet it's as though they sense the heightened audacity present and perform accordingly. Merely having confidence in oneself isn't enough, either; it's nothing but down-home bullshit if both before and after self-deification your game isn't cashing the checks your mouth's written. And though pronouncing the only superior to a pink boot an allover diamond incrustation screams hip hop, a blonde glamhawk--tested for any duration--screams "I was at Vixen on Sunset in '87, man. I was there."
Musical Bilocation: Brooklyn, '89, with Ade
Another in midseason transitions, Kolo arrived with his scalp covered in charred alfalfa sprouts, surely to either promote the organic jheri curl or veil an unsightly head wound, either of which would explain why his temples were shaved concurrently. This was hip hop at it’s most beautifully unkempt, a Jules Winfield guest-spot on a Jungle Brothers demo—only for the Ivorian to lose form, strain his calf, put in a transfer request, brandish and later bury the hatchet with Billy Gallas, and revert to a modest close crop, which I suppose is better than just shaving your head, but still. His form seems as though it's sharpened, though he was suspiciously troubled by Andy Johnson on Saturday, so the jury’s still out here.
Musical Bilocation: So many
When Arsene told fans he was going down to the store of convenience and asked if they'd like anything, near everyone listening said something to the tune of "central defense & midfield, preferably the experienced kind, no almonds". He instead went to the Russian deli, haggled for & purchased the finest vodka available, and liquored everyone up enough to forget their original requests. What's more, the vodka then decided that Londonians trained in the barbering arts weren't up to snuff and so arranged on his dime to fly his own stylist out. And at the sake of personifying inanimate objects any further, the lad's had only two games, so I haven't an opinion other than hopefully time & growth will be bringing with it more than simply the above exercise in (massively expensive) function. Though from previously premeditated stylings, who's to be sure?
Musical Bilocation: London, 1982 / Various towns in upper central California, i.e. Santa Rosa, present day
Jens Lehmann was (is) hip hop. Jens Lehmann, as you should already know, was once so incensed at being substituted off at the break after allowing three behind him that he right then and there boned out, in full keeper’s kit (circa ‘93, no less), paying for & riding the tram back home. Jens Lehmann did this just a fortnight ago.
(If confused, quickly imagine someone pulling off a teammate’s headband in the NBA with such malice.)
Manuel Almunia has had his hair this way for almost two years. Eccentricity is an evolving trait; often if one chooses to liberate their quirk through the hair on their head (Lehmann didn't) they do so in swift and anonymous intervals (see: Cisse, Djibril; Rodman, Dennis). I’d have trouble believing someone bleached their hair on anything but a whim, but to then decide upon that as your staple, your trichologic calling, unto which you give your good, unsullied name? It’s the reason why Marshall Mathers, damned hard as he tried, could never fully be counted as hip hop, and that that had nothing to do with the color of his skin. Manuel Almunia isn’t hip hop, nor is he trying to be, nor, do I reckon, does he know on what plane we’re even discussing the phrase; the recent photo of him walking his pink-drenched terrier is more than incriminating. But Arsenal calls for something more, more than counterfeit idiosyncrasy, & definitely more than this Billy Idol impostor.
Hark, the pundit's murmurs are in ascent, to levels of which our ears can now fully percieve. My perceptions of their diction go something like this: not only has their favorite French New Waver misplaced his dear plot, he's now searching for it in all the wrong drawers. But I shan't be that quick to carp or condemn; for nary a pundit has led his troops into the flames Thirty-Eight times and emerged unscathed every damn one of them. But maybe, just maybe, the Professor could use a trip down to his local salon, if only to reignite whatever spark may indeed lay dormant. Hell, with the degree in engineering the better hands for the job might actually be his very own. It's bequeathed success for an aforesaid few in his troupe, the catharsis cut; I'm not suggesting anything rash, but it's not as though the Parisian schoolboy look is solving the world's fiscal catastrophe or anything (or even catching whomever stakes claim to fourth this season).
And to think, I'm not even a Gooner.
(Postcursor: Had intentions to add ¡el capitan Cesc!, except he's both out another month and is probably the actual reason why the current Arsenal glow of a different, tamer hue.)