I’ve never been a fan of podcasts, preferring reading or listening to music on my daily commutes, but in my search for as many ways as possible to engage with soccer, I’ve come across several that are now in regular rotation, adding yet another formidable contender in the battle for the downtime that used to go to pleasure reading.
Even the pre-game experience was impressive, from the fun side events on the Bull-evard to the notably pleasant and friendly stadium staff, including the beer vendor who recognized me at our second match three weeks later. That one was vs. Toronto, the Red Bulls won 3-1, and the next week I bought two season tickets for 2015. Because ALL IN.
By the time the US bowed out in an agonizing loss to Belgium in the Round of 16, I took it as hard as any Mets or Jets playoff defeat, as if I’d been following them for years rather than weeks. I had truly come to believe that we could win! By the time Argentina lost its nail-biter to Germany, I was questioning what I ever saw in American football’s three-and-outs and relentless commercial breaks. Some of this feeling was definitely thanks to ESPN’s slick marketing and broadcasting packages, and some of it was thanks to sharing the experience via social media, with friends and strangers alike.
What started as a bit of a lark back in March 1998—when myself, Lynne Procope, and Roger Bonair-Agard took over the space at Bar 13 on Monday nights and started our own reading series—not only survived 16+ years in the deteriorating cultural landscape of New York City (and the fickle tastes of bar owners always looking for the next new shiny), but thrived, throughout myriad trials and turmoils—some external, some self-inflicted—as a weekly oasis of poetry that occasionally bent but never broke.
The slam isn’t the automatic audience draw it used to be (for us, at least), and I can’t help but wonder if that’s partly because, a long time ago, the organized slam became much less about putting on a good show for the audience and providing an open forum for a variety of voices, and more about establishing an alternative career path for a select group of poets. The revolution gone corporate, as so often happens.