by John Walters
Is Lionel Messi the best soccer player on the planet? Yes.
The best soccer player ever? Perhaps.
Now the diminutive Argentine , who has been a fixture in the No. 10 jersey at Camp Nou for F.C. Barcelona since 2004, wants out. Messi, 33, has informed his club that he wants to head elsewhere.
For a full decade, from 2009-2018, the world’s top two soccer players, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, played in La Liga, the top Spanish league. England may have been home to the Premier league, but due to these two, La Liga was soccer’s premiere league. It was sort of like Comedy Central when Jon Stewart hosted The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert his semi-eponymous show. You didn’t need the network for anything else, but these two made it must-see.
Messi, whose six Ballon d’Or trophies (world’s best soccer player) are a record, has designs on reuniting with his former FC Barcelona manager, Pep Guardiola, who’s now the manager at Manchester City. It would be a shot in the arm for the Premier League if Messi, even at this stage of his career, migrated north. And devastating for La Liga, which two years ago lost Ronaldo to Serie A, the top Italian league.
The Screen Door Slams
It was 45 years ago yesterday (August 25, 1975) that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band released Born To Run and changed everything. None of the songs on Springsteen’s third album were radio hits (the title track charted highest at 23 on the Billboard charts; decades later Rolling Stone would place it higher, 21st, on the list of greatest rock songs of all time) but that didn’t really matter to the thousands of fans who would soon be swept up in the gospel of Bruce.
I did not discover the album until five years later, which is odd because our family lived on the Jersey shore when Born To Run was released, but, we had to get out while we’re young, so in 1978 we moved to Arizona. Also in that interim my grade school friend Charlene Accardi, who wrote me once our family moved, found Bruce’s wallet on the boardwalk (perhaps Asbury Park, I’m not sure). This would’ve been in late ’78 or ’79. She really did because she somehow got in touch with Bruce and he showed up at her home in Red Bank, N.J., to retrieve the wallet and snap a few photos. She sent me one. He’s wearing the same outfit he wore on the cover of Darkness On The Edge of Town.
It’s really him.
Anyway, I discovered the album in 1980, during the first semester of high school. Put it on a list of albums as I joined the Columbia Record & Tape Club. Within two days it was my favorite album of all the ones I’d purchased for a penny. Within two weeks I knew every lyric on the album (they were printed on the inside cover, but I would’ve learned them anyway by osmosis) from “The screen door slams…” to “Tonight, in Junglelaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.”
In November, during announcements at my high school, they staged a contest and said the first person who could come to the office and recite the first ten lines to “Jungleland” would win two concert tickets (alas, not to Bruce, but to see Kansas). I raced out of my Latin class and ran down the hallway of Loyola Hall and blurted, “The Rangers had a homecoming/In Harlem late last night/And the Magic Rat pulled his sleek machine/Over the Jersey state line/Barefoot girl–“
“Stop!” I was ordered. And the vice principal handed me the tickets.
It would be a full 12 years after before I finally saw Bruce live in concert. In 1992.
As the decades pass, I consider Darkness On The Edge Of Town to be this album’s equal, at least. But Born To Run was the album that assured Springsteen that he would never be one of those broken heroes with which the highways are jammed, on a last-ditch power drive.
This is the sound of the Jersey shore where I grew up. And it’s nice to have a soundtrack to your youth that places you right there. Thanks, Bruce.
Our latest get-rich-slow scheme: a nationwide franchise of crematoriums. Funeral homes seem to be the last businesses that have yet to go box-store or franchise on us, and meanwhile no one ever seems to talk about how they got a great deal on roasting Uncle Ernie.
But why not? Why not a crematorium that offers low, low prices? We’ve even got our slogan: “We’ll incinerate your loved one without raking you over the coals!”
So who wants to invest in Cremation Nation?
Sorry to sound catty, but I did not get much past the catwalk entrance stage of the First Lady’s speech last night. After all, that’s what she did best professionally, so why not exploit it? If you’re scoring at home, Melania Trump’s entrance took 44 seconds and required two left turns. Which is odd, considering it’s the GOP. You’d think they’d have reconfigured the setting so that she’d have to turn right.
We lasted until Mrs. Trump, with a look of either paralyzed fear or the type of brainwashing last seen in The Manchurian Candidate, said something about “energy and enthusiasm.” It’s incredible that someone can freeze a smile onto their face for that long in support of a POTUS husband (but Hillary will tell you, it is possible).
Lovely woman. Stunningly beautiful. Rhetoric is not her forte. I don’t know why they force it upon her.
Why Isn’t There Even More Jennifer Garner News?
We visited cnn.com yesterday (okay, perhaps our first mistake) and spotted not one but two Jennifer Garner headlines. The first story had something to do with the effortlessly appealing actress doing a dance routine in what seemed to be her backyard with a professional ballerina. The second story informed us, the pandemic public, that Garner and her children were in tears…having just finished watching The Office from start to finish (and they didn’t even watch the far superior British version).
What Garner-ian headlines will tomorrow bring? And why aren’t Reese Witherspoon’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s publicists working more diligently? How many other people recall that Garner and Bradley Cooper got their starts on the same Fox TV show (Alias) in the early 2000s?