Category Archives: Photos

Navin-FACUP

Match Day Photo of the Month: August

Did you happen to catch the Man City-Liverpool game a couple of weeks ago?

The weather was crap, with icy cold rain, and at one point, they showed Mario Balotelli sitting on the bench with his new teammates. He had a hood over his head, if I recall, and looked as miserable as a stewardess with a horrible case of diarrhea on an Inter-continental flight.

I’m certain Mario was thinking, “Why couldn’t I have been bought by Sevilla? Or Napoli? Or Barcelona? Yeah, Barcelona. That’s the ticket. It’s nice there all the time. That’s where I should be playing my football. I’ll make sure to call my agent when the game is over. He’ll take care of it. Yeah, Barcelona. Shouldn’t have to do much more than chomp on some lad’s ear, and I’ll be off just like Suarez. It worked for him, and I’m just as crazy.”

Now, I’m not sure I’d like to have to play outdoors in the dead of winter in Liverpool either. And sitting on the bench can be notoriously boring, in the best of times.

The mind wanders.

I recall riding the pine for the Varsity soccer squad, as a freshman. We were playing in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, which is smack dab in the middle of the Pinelands. Lots of chicken farms, (hence the town’s name) and trees that go on for miles.

My friends Chris Kelly and Rominder Varma were sitting on either side of me. They too, were bored as hell. So Rominder turned to both of us and said, “If a pack of man-eating, wild dogs descended upon the field, ready to eat everyone here, where would you hide?”

Surprisingly, neither Chris nor I had the slightest qualm at taking his query seriously. We began to scour the horizon, looking for a port of safe harbor from those imaginary, famished beasts. Then, after a moment or two, we burst out laughing. Because that shit was hilarious.

Rominder was a funny guy. And he did not fit the stereotype of an Indian-American. He drank and partied, and cracked people up on a regular basis. He was the kind of funny you felt good about laughing at.

As opposed to the clichés about Indians and Indian-Americans that seem to be floating about in popular culture, sadly, to this day.

Recently, my young son got hooked on the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” trilogy. They go for easy laughs, for the most part, and of course they have an Indian character named Shirag Gupta. He’s shrimpy, and you’re meant to laugh at his thick accent, because, you know, foreigners are different.

(Sample dialogue, “I am Shirag Gupta. And I am single,” he says to the pretty, 7th-grade-blonde-girl who would never, ever, go for a guy like him.)

Then, just the other day, I heard Hank Azaria interviewed on NPR. Something to do with a Simpsons marathon they were hyping. He launched into his Apu accent, because everyone loves the Quickimart guy. This time, though, I didn’t crack a smile. It seemed so 20th Century, and a bit sad. White man making fun of brown people. You laugh, white man. Laugh.

Now, I’m well aware that you don’t know who I am, nor why I’m rambling on like this. I’ve done it every week for 3 years at my regular gig, for the photo industry blog, A Photo Editor, so please, bear with me. I’ll get to the point.

Which is, I loved the photo sent in to me by Navin Sharma, from across the river from my home state of New Jersey. Look at that picture. He’s standing on one side of a garish trophy, resplendent in a home Gunners jersey, and his strapping young son Nikolas stands on the other. (Wearing last year’s away kit, if I’m correct.)

Navin-FACUP

They look happy. Confident. Their shoulders are square. Navin’s taken off his hat, all class, but young Nikolas has his on backwards. Like kids are wont to do.

Maybe it’s their best day of the year so far?

They were in the Red Bulls soccer stadium in the industrial wasteland that is Northern Jersey, just up the train tracks from Newark Airport. But they don’t care. Arsenal came to town. Boo-yah.

And what’s with that trophy anyway? Can you believe they went to that much trouble to smelt and polish some metal to give away at the end of a silly friendly? In which guys like Jon Toral played a vital part for Arsenal?

That’s not a contest. It’s a dress rehearsal for a 4th grade play. That’s how much the results meant.

But tell that to Navin and Nikolas. There they are, standing in front of a perfectly crafted Barclays PR backdrop. The kind they erect out of some cheap scaffolding. It’s theater. But not the kind you laugh at.

Enlarge the photo, and you can see that each gent is warped in the trophy’s glare. Fun house mirror portraits, thrown in for good measure. And you can also see the white sheets perpendicular to the facade. Proof that all around this micro-environment, it looks as fancy as the bowels of a stadium. That’s the point of facades, though. You’re not supposed to see what’s behind them.

Then, in the distance of the trophy’s inner glow, you see bright light in the background. The outdoors, perhaps? The pitch? Where Thierry Henry plies his trade. The god of North London, displaced to North Jersey?

I love this photo. It reminds me why we all get so excited each match day. Why grown men will put on another man’s jersey. And so will teenaged boys too. Wearing Jack Wilshere shirts, while bearing a faint resemblance to our smoking box to box mid-fielder.

Hope the boys had a great day that afternoon, even though the Red Bulls took home the silverware. It’s sitting somewhere inside that miniature stadium, I’m sure. Collecting dust already.

Runners-up

1st Runner up

from Nick Pewter, of the Bermuda contingent, at the Crystal Palace game.

runnerup 

I have no idea what the Club Level means. I live in the mountains of New Mexico. How the f-ck should I know? But it sure does look swanky. In the words of the immortal Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”

2nd Runner up

from James Murphy: Twitter handle: @JAlexMurphy

Everton-pano

Sure, this looks like a standard panorama shot, from the away seciton of Everton game. But get a look at the dude all the way on the right. How drunk is he? Not exactly a flattering depiction.

Post Script

Are you going to a game this month? Want to see your photo featured here? Be creative and send your pictures to matchdayphotoofthemonth@gmail.com. – Tim

low

4 days in Munich a photoblog

(This is the second installment. In the first installment I go to London, eat pie, and watch Arsenal beat Everton 4-1. This time I eat sausage, witness an away fan march to the stadium, drink massive beers, and watch Arsenal get a 1-1 draw.)

Day 1

I left London at 7am and I landed in Munich a few short hours later. Just like London, the weather has decided to cooperate. It’s slightly colder in Bavaria but the sun is still shining. Normally, when the sun is first out, I find that everyone should be happy, but unlike last year, the Germans seem like they are in a sour mood.

Regardless, my hotel room is magnificent!

photo 1Having spent 3 nights in London I’m almost completely acclimated to the time difference. Still, I take a nap and then head out to the Hoffbrauhaus to see if there are any Arsenal supporters out and about.

hoffbrauYou can see them there! On the right. They were singing about yellow ribbons: “she wore, she wore, she wore a yellow ribbon!” The Arsenal fans’ chants rang in my ears from the moment I left the Emirates to the moment I made it home to Seattle. For the whole week I would be sitting somewhere quiet and I would hear ghosts of chants about Wembley. I’m still sitting here some times and I hear the dryer rumbling and I think “is that the Arsenal fans chanting somewhere just out of ear shot?”

sausage (2)

 

The fans in the square started getting a bit too rowdy for my liking so I slipped out and got myself something to eat. First meal in Munich: sausage and beer! Don’t judge me. Also, don’t be afraid of the sauerkraut, if you’re from America you’re probably used to a very sour, cold, crisp kraut. In Munich it’s warmed slightly and has an almost sweet profile. There are also a few spices in the kraut which give it a nice complexity.

herr schmidOn the way back to the hotel I got a taste of the local humor!

Once back to the room, I did a spot on the Clock End show with Adrian Clarke. Despite the nap I got earlier in the day I was dead tired during my segment. Hope I didn’t make a fool of myself!

Day 2 – Match Day v. Bayern Munich

I have stayed at my hotel before and the last time I stayed (last year) the hotel wifi was very strong in the lobby. This time, however, the wifi in the hotel lobby was atrocious. I couldn’t even check twitter. Wait… maybe that’s not a bad thing?

Anyway, I went to Starbucks for the free wifi. Oh and just in case you think I’m a huge Starbucks fan, I’m not. I never drink at Starbucks back home and only do it in Europe because they always have wifi. The coffee is overpriced and overroasted and the stores are always dirty and overcrowded but they have wifi. Their one selling point. I did also have this view…

blogger

I’m not exaggerating, that was the first time I’d looked at WhoScored.com for almost a week!

The other thing I hate about going to Starbucks is that I have to lug all that crap back to my hotel room. An hour later, I had my stuff dropped off, then I had to go back to city center to look for Anna, the Mad Ruskie Gunner.

My route into the city followed all of King Max’s famous statues. They love statues in Munich!

max-konig

And another view:

max

Just look at how beautiful the skies are! CRAZY European vacation for Tim!

Finally, settled in to the Hoffbrauhaus and got my first beer:

selfAnna got her first beer in:

ANNAWhen drinking liters (!) of beer it’s important to build a good base. Today’s base is brought to you by sausages.

sausages2

From there, everything starts to move fast. We met up with Terry Shaw. He’s so famous that he has chants about him!

terry-shawThat guy on the right is Darragh, He’s a cool dude, loves basketball.

anna-seanA rare Roaming Libero sighting.

IMG_5516

 

We started to sing and get a little rowdy but the security guys were having none of it. As soon as the first stanza of any song was dropped, they came over and told us to shut up. We could hear the throng of fans growing outside in the square and wanted to sing with them, so we paid up and went out into the dying rays of the sun for more beers and singing before the game.

ARRSCThe Russian Gooners were there and we all sang and drank until it was almost time for the match.

squareI don’t think the Polizei liked being touched…

IMG_5545

IMG_5546

I cannot believe I did that.

Akhil must have realized we were on the verge of being nicked so he led us out to the stadium. We sang the whole way there. I’ve never done anything like that and I’ve walked with the Sounders fans. I know it sounds cliche but the away fans are the best fans in the world.

In Germany, however, the away fans are absurdly far away from the action.

allianzArsenal should take a page from this book. Putting the away fans that far away limits their ability to change the game with chants. It also makes them pay for the more expensive upper deck seats and frees up desirable seats in the lower tier.

Here’s the kick off lineup:

Arsenal

CazorlaIt’s like watching ants…

OzilThough, the zoom and image stabilizer o that camera did a fine job. Here’s Özil being marked out of the game. Pretty sure he already had the injury at this point.

UltrasHere’s their famous atmosphere: a couple hundred people stuck in one end of the stadium. It was very much like Liverpool away: they only have one song, they have some clacks on one end of the stadium making a bunch of noise and the rest of the crowd are prawn sandwich eaters. I met three guys later in the night who came from Israel and paid €400 each for the privilege of watching Bayern do their level best to not lose.

It was an exciting match, so much so that I didn’t even use my camera. I just got caught up in the moment and enjoyed Arsenal pressing the Germans to get the winner. Podolski looked pretty good and we’ll need him in the coming weeks but it was Oxlade-Chamberlain who stole the show, driving the team forward and giving the Germans fits. He was my man of the match again and I have to wonder if he can’t do it three in a row? As we walked out to the train, I snapped this picture of the stadium.

allianz2Off to bed!

Day 3

For the first time in years I slept in. I really slept in. When I finally got up I caved and bought the in-room wifi. It cost me €10 for one day (which is about half of my monthly bill back home) but I was too hung over to lug my stuff to the Starbucks and back for terrible coffee and free wifi.

Once I had written my blog I decided to get out and see Munich. So, I went to the Bavarian museum.

some-dude

 

The museum itself looked closed. When I walked up to the door to see why, the door opened on its own. It was very “Young Frankenstein”. So much so that I actually said “nice knockers”.

knockersInside the museum I was greeted with three bloody Jesuses. In fact, the whole museum was a blood bath.

passionHere’s a panel from a Passion triptych.

skull-jesusAnd just a skull in a paining about Jesus.

todAnd Death (Tod) riding a lion (löw).

panzerSome armor.

lowProbably my favorite thing in the whole museum. Reminded me of Maurice Sendak but it was hundreds of years old.

dungeonSome doors in the museum. I’m not walking through those doors. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons, there are demons or something on the other side of those doors and I have a hangover -4.

baby-jesus-apple

Baby Jesus with an apple. I love apples.

afrikaDown in the basement there was an exhibit featuring Nativity Scenes. It was an incredible journey through Bavarian cultural representations of the birth of Jesus. So many of the Nativity scenes were densely packed with intricately carved and posed pieces showing a huge variety of imagined scenes from the bible. African figures featured in almost all of the “Krippen” and these figures here are not meant to shock but rather a fair example of the detail that went into the construction of these scenes.

After exploring nearly all of the museum, they told me I had three minutes to clear out. By the way, I was the only person in the whole museum. It was quite disconcerting.

As I left the museum the sun was setting on Munich. I love the sunset on a clear winter day.

maxmilleneum

The Maximilineum (the Bavarian parliament house).

bike

Bicycle and trout (or grayling?) listen for the owl!

Too bad we didn’t get our own golden statue…golden

 

Day 4

I flew home! All day. When I got home, the house was a little musty so I baked a loaf of bread and made myself a cheese and pickle sandwich with some Branston’s pickle relish that I smuggled back into the country. I love cheese and pickle!

pickle

I’ve now been too Munich for two consecutive years and Arsenal didn’t lose either match. Still, Munich was a bit different this year. The locals seemed tired of foreigners. Perhaps because the City fans had been there earlier and their team had taken points off Bayern. I also heard that the City fans were a bit abusive and I wonder if that might explain why the German’s were reluctant to speak English and less forgiving of my rather poor German.

On the field I thought Arsenal played better this year over last. I know, you disagree. But we pressed better this year and kept them very quiet overall. People tend to forget that Arsenal were a bit lucky last year as Munich had a handful of shots that we would normally expect them to score go wide. And while you might point to Fabianski’s penalty save and say we were lucky again this year, I disagree. From my view in the stands that was a good save off an obvious dive by the Dutchman.*

The whole week in London and Munich left me recharged and ready to take on the rest of the season. I felt like I saw two very good performances and I know that the story du jour is Arsenal’s injury record but I can’t help feeling that Arsenal are hitting some kind of stride with this team. With Podolski scoring, Cazorla hitting a good run of games, and Ox putting in man of the match performances we might be able to weather this injury storm and come out of this season with a trophy.

Or even two trophies. Let’s not forget that we’re still in the title race, folks.

Qq

*I’ve seen the replays. Robben was fouled, I guess.

Sagnaman

Sagnaman

Sagnaman the man of steel. Or titanium. Whichever. He’s nigh indestructible.

Obviously that is quick and dirty. Someone can do better, I’m sure. Send a better version to 7amkickoff@gmail.com and I will post it.

Thoughts on the match tomorrow. In the mean time, look for my By the Numbers on Arseblog News.

Qq


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