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Matchday Photo of the Month #8: Cup and Pie

By Jonathan Blaustein, 80′s Mullet Chief 

I was watching “Stripes” on TV a few weeks ago. I clicked in near the beginning, and couldn’t help dropping into the 80′s time warp for a half an hour or so.

It was so good, I could practically feel my mullet re-growing, and my braces re-appearing, so powerful were the memories of the past.

Bill Murray. Harold Ramis. John Candy. Warren Oates. Sean Young. John Laroquette. The dude from Miami Vice who plays the moron. The all-time-great-movie-psycho-Francis.

That is a lot of talent working together right there. A comedy dream team, if you will. And when you’ve got the right talent, working together properly, all bets are off.

That was remarkably evident to me this past Saturday. I know it was partly a revenge fantasy, after the gory nightmare at Anfield last year, but really, it was more than that. Up and down the pitch, Arsenal were fielding “World Class” players, and Liverpool weren’t.

Say what you will about Raheem Sterling’s potential, but he’s not there yet. And while Coutinho may have ripped off a few crackers from distance this year, he’s no football-genius either. Who from Liverpool’s starting 11 would have made the pitch for Arsenal on Saturday? Mignolet? (Maybe. And he was awful anyway.) Nobody? (More likely.)

I know the haters have begun to hide under their rocks again, save d-bag Peter Wood, but there were many, many doubters over the course of this season. I wasn’t one of them. Why? Because I’m the good-old-voice-of-reason. Remember?

To the few of you out there who still revel in negativity, who refuse to admit how far this club has come in the 4 years I’ve been following, I’ve got a little “thought experiment” for you.

Allow me:

Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Debuchy, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlin, Welbeck, Walcott.

If Arsenal fielded that team all season, where might they place? Top 4? Top 6? Definitely top 7.

So the second team, (give or take,) is now better than most of the clubs in England. When I started watching the games, in 2011-12, Andre Santos was an important player. And he looked like he could have eaten Theo Walcott for dinner, and still had room for some Lee Dixon pie.

What’s my point? Do I have one?

If I did, it would be that Arsenal are now poised to repeat as FA Cup Champions. Maybe they choke, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I suspect we’re about 6 weeks away from raising the trophy for the second time in two years.

And then, what will the haters say? That we should have won the Premier League too? The Treble? Let them whine. Because after all those years of people torturing poor Arsene because he couldn’t bring home the silverware, 2 FA Cups in 2 years will be big, big news.

Why do I have the trophy on my mind? Why get ahead of myself? (Am I trying to break the record for the most rhetorical questions in a 7am kickoff column?)

I’m all fired up because on Saturday night, Matchday eve, I happened to catch some Graham Norton on BBC America. Frankly, I have no idea what people think of that guy in England. Is he a goofball? A mainstay? A dorkily-dressed trendsetter? No matter.

My wife and I watch the show sometimes because he gets charming Hollywood guests, there are few things that will hold both of our attention these days, and it gives a shade of European Glamour to our otherwise-boring-lazy-sofa-sitting endeavor.

They play the show here months after it’s aired in England, for whatever reason. He had Jessica Chastain on in this episode, and she really is a ginger fox. But he also had Gary Lineker on the couch, and he brought a friend along.

The FA Cup.

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It was poor form, IMHO, that they failed to name-drop the holders. It never came up. In America, that would never happen. You wouldn’t show off the Larry O’Brien trophy without giving props to the Spurs.

Spurs. Maybe that was it? Lineker, the former Tottenham man, couldn’t help short-sheeting his former rivals?

Whatever the reason, I felt compelled to freeze-frame the TV, and snap off this photo of the FA Cup in all its gleaming glory. So. Very. Shiny.

I’ve got no choice but to anoint this picture the Match Day Photo of the Month. (By default.)

Last month, I gave you guys mad love for raising your game, and sending me some good shit. Premium digital content. But this month, I didn’t get anything fresh at all.

Our buddy Steve, who made the runners-up-list last month, sent in this picture of his son eating a pie outside Piebury Corner. But it was from a game in February.

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And Imran, from Peterborough, emailed in a few pics from the Brazil v Chile friendly held at the Emirates. Now, Alexis Sanchez may well be my Man-Crush-of-the-Moment, but he does not single-handedly turn the Chilean national team into Arsenal.

We’ll include one of them here anyway, as I’m down with supporting my supporters.

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But I’d ask that you guys re-open the channels to your creativity next month. We’ve got a few games yet in April, and then May will be here, after which there will be no more games to play. We’ll cry. And begin the embarassingly-addictive habit of checking the transfer rumor pages 914 times a day. (I feel dirty just thinking about it.)

Email us some good photos this month, unless you’ve tired of my discursive nonsense. Lord knows, Tim, with this run-on-sentence columns, and thoughtful poetry, doesn’t need my help to classy-up the joint. He’s doing a bang-up job on his own. And the rest of the blog-team gives you a natural break from his voice anyway.

So let’s see what you’ve got, readers. Snap some pics, make it good, and I won’t ever have to award myself my own trophy again.

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Matchday Photo of the Month: what’s in an euonym?

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’ve got a cousin named Jonathan Blaustein. I use the word “cousin” in the loosest sense of the term. I’ve never been able to understand the rules, with respect to cousin-hood.

What’s the difference between a cousin-once-or-twice-removed, and a second or third cousin? Really, I have no idea. To me, they each mean people that are related to you tangentially, rather than meaningfully.

I’m really close with my first cousins on my mother’s side. I’ve smoked more reefer, drank more booze, and done more stupid shit with them than with almost anyone else. (Ages ago, of course. Now, I’m a respectable Dad.) As for the younger ones, I view them as if I were an affable uncle: offering advice and support, and discouraging bad behavior.

On my Dad’s side, though, it’s a different story. My first cousin Jeff is a good guy, but we don’t have much in common. His sister, Michelle, is a complete stranger to me. We shared food during Passover Seders, growing up, but that’s about it. Haven’t spoken to her in a decade.

C’est la vie.

Jonathan Blaustein, though, is now a High School student in Mahwah, New Jersey. His Dad was my father’s first cousin’s son, so what does that make him to me? Again, I haven’t a clue. Jonathan’s Dad died of a drug overdose a few years back, and I was genuinely sad to hear it. He was a good guy, taken down by his demons.

Names are funny things. We take them so personally, our names, but they’re just meant to designate one human from another. If we were all named Numbers 1-7 Billion, it wouldn’t make a spit of difference. The purpose would be the same.

(Hey, number 6,323,654, your farts smell like rotting tofu. Might be time to take one of those juice cleanses, and start drinking a little Kefir, OK?)

Where is this all coming from, this rant of mine? You came here to read about football, and a bad comedy routine broke out? Shame on me. Is there a point? As my regular readers at A Photo Editor can assure you: always. (It just might not be a good one.)

This is now my seventh column writing for 7amkickoff, my favorite Arsenal blog. (Sorry Arseblog. You’re a solid second.) I feel like things are starting to come together, as evidenced by the strange co-incidences brewing in this month’s submissions. Not to mention, the volume and quality this round was particularly high. (And I’m not, at the moment. Clean blood, I assure you.)

Our winner, the Matchday Photo of the Month, was submitted by Andrew Luck. What? The super-star quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts is an avid reader? And Arsenal fan? Holy Shit! How cool is that?

What? Did I look carefully at the submission? (Pause.) Oh. Wait. He lives in London, this Andrew Luck. So I guess he’s just a regular dude. Not “The Andrew Luck.”

No matter. The photo he sent in is badass. Not only that, it’s an homage to a classic, old school image made at Highbury. And Andrew was nice enough to point out that Highbury is the stadium where Arsenal used to play. You know, because I’m an admitted new fan. (He wanted to make sure I wasn’t a complete moron, but still, I applaud the consideration.)

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He took this photo to counter claims that Emirates Stadium lacked charm. So not only is it a cool photo, that references a classic bit of Arsenal history, but it’s also an FU to the haters out there. Andrew Luck, I wish you the best in the 2015-16 NFL season. I hope you have better “luck” against the Patriots next time around.

The runners up are really solid as well. This little triptych was sent in by Wojciech, who visited the stadium during the Stoke match. You know, the one where we beat the pants off those goons from up North. I’m really hoping that since I’m mocking the meatheads, some Stoke fan will write in the comments with typical use of horrifying-English-grammar-studded-with-spelling errors. Come on trolls, what have you got?

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Oh yeah, and Wojciech? Is our now-second-string-keeper secretly reading the blog, and trying to get his pictures published on the Internet? I guess we’ll never know…

Next, we have a solid offering from Steve, who took this one outside the stadium on Aston Villa matchday. Really gives you the flavor of the neighborhood, I’d say. Steve, are you lucky? That Villa game was the best we’ve played. Not to mention the total score of 8-0, home and away. We might have to consider you our new good-luck-charm. (Sorry Andrew, couldn’t resist.)

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Finally, yes finally, we have a new photograph from Karl Jende. Do you guys remember Karl? He’s the Gooner from Minnesota, who wrote back to agree he’s got the Absolute Perfect Name for a Minnesotan. You go, Karl. I hope you get yourself a nice, Scandanavian-American hottie one of these days.

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In the meantime, Karl spent the horrid NLD matchday snowcat skiing just up the road from me in Keystone, CO. He sent us another shot, this time of his mates enjoying a group photo. If anything could wash the sour taste out of a Gooner’s mouth, after a crap match like that, it’s some champagne powder on a crisp winter day.

Keep ‘em coming, Karl. And if any of you want a pic featured next month, don’t be afraid to email me. I swear, I won’t bite. As for the other Jonathan Blausteins out there, I make no such promises.

Submit your photos to matchdayphotoofthemonth@gmail.com and let Jonathan Blaustein take a bite out of crime.

With Inez

Matchday photo of the month: the Asian connection

By Jonathan Blaustein

Kids. They grow so fast. Everyone says so.

That said, you’re never really prepared when it happens to you. My son is not-quite-7-and-a-half, and he’s leaving home for the first time today. Off to Mexico for a week with his grandparents.

They’ll take good care of him, sure, and he’ll be back on Sunday. It’s not like he’s headed off to college, or one of those British Boarding Schools. Can you imagine shipping your young child off to some pretentious institution at that age?

No thank you.

Normally, I’d need something to distract me from my creeping anxiety. Sports (or sport) is a great way to transport your mind elsewhere, but it doesn’t exactly offer a respite from stress. Unless you’re playing Villa at home, that is.

No, this weekend I got all fired up for the North London Derby, and hoped it would refocus my mental energy away from feeling like my little boy was all grown up. Come on, fellas. Put those shitty Spurs in their place, and give Daddy a reason not to cry.

That was the hope, at least. And we all know what happened next.

It was as much fun as watching Clive Owen operate on some schlub while jacked up on piles of legal cocaine. All that fake blood oozing out of inner organs, while Soderbergh’s camera zooms in on the viscera. (In “The Knick,” not in real life.) I’d rather have my eyes forced open with toothpicks and be made to stare at the manufactured gore than re-watch that horrible football match.

But I’m not the type to over-react, right? I’m the self-proclaimed “Voice of Reason.” It’s just one game. There will be others, including Leicester tomorrow. I’m sure Arsenal will kick the snot out of those punks, and re-establish their Masters of the Universe Mojo.

At least I hope so.

With respect to the NLD, I’m not sure there’s much I can add. But it was pretty clear to me that Alexis and Ox would have made a huge difference, if fit. Aside from the occasional Welbeck foray, we sorely lacked an aggressive dribbler, tearing off towards the defense like a flash flood.

Once again, derailed by injuries, even when most of the squad is fit. I’m willing to give Santi a pass for his sub-par performance, because homeboy has been a genuine genius. As to Aaron Ramsey, I was happy to slag him off in the early part of the season, and thought he was playing rather well lately. But boy, was he poor.

Boy. There’s that word again. Reminding me that my son will be out in the world, in a foreign country, where I can’t protect him. I thought that stuff would happen later in life, but it’s right up in my grill today, and I don’t like it.

I remember when he was just born. I had no clue how to change a diaper. How do they hand you a little human and expect you to know what to do? And yet, most of us figure it out.

When he was a baby, I hadn’t even heard of Arsenal. I was satisfied with American Football and NBA Basketball. Little did I know the BPL was more physically addicting than high-grade-reefer. (Which we all know only hooks you psychologically…)

I might not be a life-long fan, and neither is my boy. But Ethan sure is.

Who’s Ethan, you ask?

Ethan is a tiny Indonesian dude whose Dad, Marvin, is a massive Gooner. So massive, in fact, that Marvin’s boss bought Ethan a full kit on a recent trip to London. A kit that Marvin just HAD to pull out for the “official professional photo shoot,” Jakarta style.

With Inez

My first thought was, “Wow. Tim’s really popular in Asia. I wonder why?” My second thought was “So. Damn. Cute.” My third thought was, “I can’t believe my firstborn is all grown up. I want to cry again. Fuck, why am I such a softie?”

This is now the second time that we’re featuring a cute kid as our “Matchday Photo of the Month.” It’s not what I expected, when I began this column, but it’s not entirely inappropriate either. Sports bring families together.

It’s an inherently emotional experience, following a team, building a life-long allegiance to men you’ll never meet. Nothing could be more American, or English, or apparently Indonesian, than watching the match with Dad, giggling while he tries to stifle his potty mouth.

So keep the kiddie photos coming, I say. It’s a great reminder that we do care about things beyond our favorite footballer. And that the games are always more fun when you’ve got a buddy to watch them with.

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Our runner up this month comes from Ika Radzran, in Malaysia. (What, you thought I was exaggerating about our Asia-heavy demo?) Not surprisingly, everyone loves Alexis these days. Heal up, Chilean Stallion, because we’re sure as hell gonna need both of your hamstrings through May.

If you would like to see your work featured here send your match day photos to matchdayphotoofthemonth@gmail.com