My Perfect {schizophrenic} Saturday

2011/06/02 § Leave a comment

Some days are just perfect.  Like the Saturday past.

FC Barcelona won the Champions League finals in Wembley against Manchester United.  And they did it with the elegant style, ruthless passing, unsurpassed positional play and immense skill that has characterized the Barcelona game in the past three years.  Supposedly the culmination of the totaalvoetbal espoused by the Dutch and introduced by Cruijff in our hallowed Camp Nou.  It is intelligent, patient, precise.  It is as beautiful a futbol as anyone can ever see.

Although I cannot decide which between this or the November 29 El Clasico I like best – perhaps I should choose Saturday’s game if only for its significance.  [And for Man United’s class and courage]  The November Clasico was but another La Liga game.  One among 38 played throughout the season.  [Even if it were against Real Madrid.  The eternal rival.  And against Mourinho.  The crude and craven coach.]  While last Saturday’s was a Final, from among the best of Europe, the second in three years, the third in six, which essentially confirmed this Barcelona team’s place in the pantheon of greats.  And not just because they won the trophy, but especially in how they won it.  With their breathtaking, sublime football.

And so we lined up really early outside our favorite pub to guarantee seating in what became a packed house.  We were dressed in our blaugrana jerseys, scarves, caps and flags – draped  around our shoulders, tied around our necks.  We were going to be the superhero fans in the pub to our superhero players on the pitch.  [And it took superhero effort on my part to stay inside the pub for over five hours of sweltering heat once it filled up.  The airconditioning wasn’t working.]

Then it was Kick-off.  Our hearts were pounding.  We gulped our beers.  Man U started brightly.  A strong showing for ten minutes.  Then Pedro scores a goal in the 27th minute.  Rooney equalized promptly with a similarly brilliant goal.  We were biting our nails.  Gulping our beers.  Halftime.  More of Barcelona “passing, moving, offering.”  Stretched opponent’s defense here and there.  Formed innumerable triangles.  And laid to waste any of Man U’s shape or form.  Inevitably, Messi produced a magical Messi goal, followed by an even more amazing one from Villa.  We were standing on top of chairs.  Gulping more beer.  Over twenty more minutes.  Tiki-taka .  Tiki-taka.  Dazzling.  Mesmerizing tiki-taka.  Tic. Toc.  Game over.  We were jumping up and down.  Hugging everyone.  Screaming with joy.  Singing the “cant del barca.”  Spilling our beers.  All Hail the Kings of Europe!!!  Hail another majestic display!  Brilliant, brilliant Barcelona!  VISCA BARCA!!!

We were delirious.  Abidal lifted the cup.  We were fairly close to tears.  [For this wonderful man to battle liver tumor.  Come back in time to play the final.  For Puyol to give up the chance to be the only captain to lift the Cup three times in his favor.  What generosity.  What grandness of spirit in this team]

I walked home.  Still garbed in blaugrana, my shiny bandera grande fluttering behind me.  Tipsy, dizzy, happy.  Feeling both foolish and absurdly proud.  So many stopped to ask me the result.  To ask me how the game went.  And many congratulations even from Manchester United supporters.

The day was far from over.

Had to rush to dress for the ballet.  Giselle at Metropolitan Opera House Lincoln Center.

The New York Times had this to say of what I went to see:

“A double climax occurred on Friday and Saturday evenings at the Metropolitan Opera House when the two most idolized interpreters of the title role today, Diana Vishneva (Russian, from the Mariinsky ballet of St. Petersburg) and Alina Cojocaru (Romanian, from the Royal Ballet of London) danced for Ballet Theater. Here was the most luxurious exercise in Giselle compare and contrast by any Western company since Natalia Makarova and Gelsey Kirkland danced the role at Ballet Theater on consecutive nights in 1977.”

Of Ms. Cojocaru –  “Not since Ms. Kirkland has the role had so spiritually right an incumbent…she is a marvel.  Her art is one of transcendence.”

Of Mr. Hallberg – “No dancer today matches the noble perfection with which Mr. Hallberg executes steps; the refinement of his line, the arch of his feet, the clarity of his delivery are all miraculous.”

I was particularly impressed by Ms. Cojocaru’s warmth and sweetness.  That graceful, graceful shoulder, those arms.  Her flexibility and lightness.  And “her diagonal of entrechat-quatre” followed by a “succession of impassioned arabesques.”  Simply marvelous!  While Mr. Hallberg’s series of entrechat-six was just amazing.  Amazing.  Theirs was real poetry in motion.  It was a performance worthy of the long applause, standing ovation and numerous curtain calls.

Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!

After the show, we crossed the street from Lincoln Center to Bar Bouloud for a very late dinner of:

Escargots Persillade – Wild Burgundy Snails, Garlic and Parsley, Potato Croquettes

Tartare de Bouef Parisien – Black Angus Tartar, Gaufrette Chips, Capers, Romaine Leaves

Tarte Caragin – Salted Caramel Tart, Dried Chocolate Crepe Flakes, Cardamon Cream

Dinner was in keeping with the excellence that is the theme of the day.  Loved the tartare.  Lightly and perfectly seasoned.  As well as the mushroom fricasee and cauliflower gratin.  The salted caramel tarte was simply inspired.  It tasted like melted caramels with burnt spicy chocolate on top which was the perfect combination of sweet, salty, bitter, gooey, flakey.  Mmmm….

So this perfect day started in a pub.  Crowded, sweltering, tense.  People shouting and sighing  {profanities turning the air blue – all in good spirit}.  Despairing and exulting.  A primal and open appreciation of the performance on display.  A performance full of grace and refinement. Equal to what we later saw on stage at the ballet.  Except the spectators at the ballet were hushed and silent.  Similarly awe-struck.  And dressed in fineries.

The day ended with me and good friend chatting and catching up in leisure over light and wonderful dinner.  A wonderful and schizophrenic day, n’est-ce pas?

Thank you dear Lord for these kinds of days….

xxx

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