Sunday, April 26, 2009

Q&A with Jon Cotterill

My first subject is Jon Cotterill, an Englishman who lives in São Paulo, Brazil. His blog is absolutely fascinating, really friendly reading about football, rumors, etc. from an Anglo-Brazilian perspective. Check his work out at:

These days Brazil produces a never-ending supply of brilliant young players, and more and more of them seem to be headed for the English Premier League. Most of us know very little about Brazil. Into this informational void steps Jon Cotterill who describes himself on his site as a "Marmite eating, brown sauce guzzling, Jonny foreigner and his take on Brazilian football." A football commentator for TV Globo in São Paulo, Brazil, he is currently broadcasting two live Campeonato Brasileiroand Campeonato Paulista games per week plus a magazine show. If you own a satellite dish, you can watch him on Gol TVI. I interviewed him by emai.

Ivor: So what’s the weather like over there right now? I’m still an Englishman abroad with bad Manc sinuses from the rain, and, when I visit my mother-in-law in El Paso and it gets to 105 F and the scorpions come out, I stay inside. What’s that like for you? The weather? The food? The street life? Football-wise I always think of our poor suffering little Ginger Scholes, dying in the heat against Vasco at the Maracana or at the Japan. Do you do siesta-time?

Jon: It was baking just a few weeks ago with temperatures in the top 30s(90s Fahrenheit) but the weather is cooling down now as we’re heading towards winter. Today it was about 20 degrees, which, after almost eight years here in São Paulo, I now consider to be quite nippy.

Food-wise, the options are pretty good, especially if you like Italian, pizza, Chinese etc. Brazil’s also heaven for meat-eaters with some absolutely fabulous ‘carveries’ (churrascarias) where the service is first-rate and you can stuff yourself until you burst. My favourite is Fogo de Chão – they now have a few in the US but I don’t know how they compare.

The beer here is also excellent, cheap and chilled to perfection.

Two problems for me are the dearth of Indian restaurants. There are one or two here in SP but no take-aways. And I can’t buy Marmite anywhere, which is a major blow.

There’s no siesta time here in Brazil.

Ivor: Did you move to Brazil as a journalist or become one? The other Anglo journos there that I know of, Tim Vickery and Andy Mitten, tend to give the impression that they have the best job in the world. And, for me, of course, speaking as an outsider, it seems like the best gig in the world, too. A bit of autobiographical info might be nice here.

Jon: My background is in teaching. I studied media at the university and have a Masters in Film and TV, but i’m not a journalist as such. I’m a football commentator first and foremost. This includes live games and doing voice-overs for our weekly magazine show, FootBrazil. As far as that goes, there couldn’t be a better job. However, even after seven years, crap games, constant diving and ridiculous refereeing decisions continue to annoy me and I think that comes across sometimes.

I suppose I’m slowly moving into journalism with the blog, the occasional bit for Sky Sports and other sites, and I’m quite happy to do this.

Ivor: How is it that a fairly large percentage of Brazilian players who go to Europe fail? Could it be down to naïve youth and homesickness? Is it sometimes a racial issue? Could it be that Brazilian kids are still such a relative bargain for ambitious agents and scouts looking to feed at the trough along with the players and clubs, that sometimes they’re collectively scraping the bottom of the barrel?

Jon: I suppose part of what you said comes in to it. I would also say that a lot of players never have any real intention of sticking it out abroad. The idea for many is to make a quick buck and then get a loan deal back to Brazil. Some simply don’t like the more professional approach required of them in Europe and prefer it here in Brazil, were things can be a little slacker discipline-wise.

Another problem is that the European clubs don’t do their homework on the players. Werder Bremen were stupid to have paid around €8 million for Carlos Alberto (now loaned to Vasco) with his track record. His excuse for his difficulties in Germany was that he couldn’t adjust to the time-difference–-conveniently forgetting his spell with Porto.

Ivor: I’ve had my kid playing with the little ball since he was 3/4 years-old. It has definitely paid off. Do you think Brazilian coaching for kids is actually better; or, do you see it as simply the result of a sheer huge volume of kids who are actually playing the game 24/7/365?

Jon: I can’t really answer the coaching question with any authority, but I doubt they’re that much better than their European counterparts. I’ve played with lots of Brazilians many times and one of the main differences I noticed was the amount of ball-hogging that goes on. People would rather try to dribble past two or three opponents, instead of making the smart pass. The game is certainly more individual, sort of in spite of the collective but somehow it works. Maybe it’s because the idea of futebol arte ( the beautiful game) still lingers. But that style of football has long since been killed off in the Brazilian leagues. And Brazil's national team under Dunga are a million miles away from anything like futebol arte.

The smaller ball thing is partly because of Futsal (indoor football). There are televised games here and some big stars. The ball is smaller and has less bounce. Some former Futsal players such as Robinho, made the switch to the normal game when they were young and went on to be a success. Others such as Falcão, who is a magician on the Futsal court, failed miserably when they tried to play for a regular league club.

Ivor: I think that, golden handshake aside, Scolari was very badly treated by Chelsea. Kenyon and Arnesen spoke of his supposed lack of club experience, but, it seems to me that he had already been the ‘Special One’ at Gremio and Palmeiras before he took over Brazil’s national team. I believe Brazilian club coaches tend to be very underrated. Some critics and so-called experts act as if all Brazilian footballers are spat out from their mother’s wombs, instantaneously endowed with talent.. any opinions on that?

Jon: I’d say fluency in English (or another second language) is one reason why Brazil doesn’t export that many coaches in relation to the 1000s of players who move away. Felipão certainly had a problem with the lingo, but I think his ‘father Phil/Felipão family’ thing didn’t go down well with many players at Chelsea. It worked in Brazil and Portugal, but the two cultures are more family-orientated - or at least pay lip-service to the idea that the family is the centre of everything.

Scolari remains hugely popular in Brazil but I was never a huge fan and always thought he was over-rated. The one thing I do like about him, though, is that he is apparently a Nottingham Forest fan.

Q: You're from Nottingham? A Forest fan, right?

A: I'm from Nottingham and used to stand in the Trent End in my youth.

Q: Have you read David Peace's novel 'The Damned United' about Brian Clough's time at Leeds United before he signed for Forest. It's a fantastic piece of work.

A: I've read the book and know about the movie - but it sounds like it's been turned into one of those lightweight 'Britcom' jobs.
Q: I’m sure you know about  the Iranian hustler, Kia Joorabchian, his Russian mobster friends and the circus involved in the ownership in Tevez and Mascharano at Corinthians, West Ham United and now Manny U. Does this kind of ‘investment’ in young players happen a little or a lot?
A: It’s very common for groups of investors to buy players or own part of a player’s contract. Traffic Sports Management have a piece of all the top players at Palmeiras. Santos’ Neymar is part-owned by Grupo Sonda. As far as I’m aware, São Paulo are one of the few clubs that don’t buy athletes owned by investment groups and they’ve won the league for the past three seasons. Traffic seem legit - the question is whether the idea of companies buying players is good for the game or not. Traffic are very business-like. Their only interest is acquiring players and selling them on for a quick and often very large profit. What I don't get is why a club would sell to Traffic instead of dealing directly with other teams. I think Traffic argue they can raise the profile of the player and then get a better return.

Ivor: Do you do other stuff outside football to make a living? How is it with family over in Brazil? Could you ever live in England again? Me?Never!

Jon: I think I could live in England again. I still have a flat in Brighton. I lived there for about 15 years and loved the place. But the last time I was there, the city had really gone down hill and I’m not sure I’d want to live there again.

I doubt I’d return without a job already lined up though.

I enjoy a better standard of living here than I did in the UK and live in a pretty nice area. But only last week there was a bank robbery near my house. The police chased the robbers and three stray bullets hit my neighbour’s houses. Strangely, this didn’t bother me too much. It’s not a common occurrence where I live, but the news is full of shootings, kidnappings etc so perhaps I’ve become a little blasé about it all (though I don’t want to give the impression I’m living in a war-zone, as it’s not like that). However, I’ve got a baby daughter who’ll turn one this month. So, if I begin to feel it’s getting a bit hairy for her, I’ll hope on a flight back to England.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The 2016 Olympics: Little Richard Wants His Tutti Fruti

Yesterday, as International Olympic Committee officials departed Chicago after their evaluation visit, the city’s leaders breathed a sigh of exhausted relief. Having girded their loins and put on their finest smiley faces for six whole days, the mayor, his aldermen, ward healers and hundreds of other concerned groups attached to the nourishing Democratic party teat, having temporarily put aside their class, race and gender differences, are all puffy-eyed and cranky.

This morning, over breakfast, my old friend, the stalwart state congressman Davey Z, was repeatedly rubbing his jaw. “I’m sow-ah from smilin’,” he says in his Bridgeport bray. “But it’ll be wort’ it, if we get it.”

The obsessive it so many of our movers and shakers shimmy to. The dream they all dream of. The pinnacle of the thin-aired precipice they aspire to gaze down on the rest of us powerless proles from.... ? Well, it’s called respect and our leaders insist that We want it. Yes: We!: All of us: The collective We. We, you see, want it! Why do We want it? Well, because We’ve not got it. Nobody respects Chicago, you see. People everywhere respect great cities like Munich, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, London, Milan and New York. But... Chicago? We’re most famous for corruption and gangsters. Actually, I’m okay with that, I come from a city-Manchester-whose name carries an even more ignominious reputation for Victorian oppression of its Catholic masses, cotton mills and street thuggery. Such reputations are meaningless to me. At any rate, I’ve lived here now for 32 years, although my friend, Congressman Davey Z believes that even in me, somewhere, buried deep down in my subconscious, there really is a need for civic pride. We hope our beautiful lakefront parks, the historic architecture of our downtown buildings and a joyous, ethnically diverse population has impressed them enough to win the 2016 Summer Games for our fair city.
For our Mayor, Richard M. Daley, after nineteen years in office, and never quite being seen or taken quite as seriously as his father, Richard J. Dailey, twenty-one years in the office, known in his time as the American Pharoah, or to be slightly less hyperbolic, the Warwick-the-Kingmaker of the Democratic Party, this visit has been the single most important week of his career. As the Justice Department diligently uses its federal Rico and Shakman Decree laws to slowly erode the power of the city’s Democratic machine, the little gentleman stutters more and more at his press conferences. No longer able to guarantee jobs and opportunities for graft to the relatives and cronies of his once ruthlessly efficient army of aldermen, city employees, park district workers, policemen, firefighters and ward healers, the mayor finds himself slowly becoming marginalized. Getting the Olympics for our city represents a last throw of the dice for a testy little fellow who is bound and determined to leave behind a legacy that transcends late show t.v. standup comedian jokes about the windy city’s relentless graft. Richie--for that’s what we all call him--like some miniaturized, personality-deficient, reverse-negative photograph of his dad, definitely Richard--thinks bringing an Olympiad here will place him on a leadership pantheon, separate and equal to his father.

All the city’s big guns went off before the IOC reps departure. Oprah Winfrey hosted a magnificent ball at the Art Institute. Michael Jordan, having been persuaded and cajoled by Barack, Michelle, Juanita and Oprah, to take up the unofficial position of Chitown ambassador, has been, I’m told, training for this as if it was his third go-around for the Bulls. The Obamas interrupted their European goodwill tour to broadcast some shmoozing for the city live on satellite from Ankara at what is about 4 a.m. Turkey time; and, of course, a veritable crew of major and minor celebrities with Chicago roots, strutted their best shillin’ stuff at Oprah’s Ball. I’m not much into cebrities, per sé, but Davey Z reeled them off. Vince Vaughan, Amy Madigan Lili Taylor, David Schwimmer, Mary Elizabeth Mastroantonio, Jeremy Piven, Jenny McCarthy, Bonnie Hunt, Dennis Farina, Denis Frantz, John Mahoney, George Wendt, Scott Turow, Gary Sinise, William Peterson, John Malkovich, Glenn Headly, David Mamet, Joan Allen: Oprah’s army of unpaid interns must have spent months on the phone.

The state and the city may be broke, but the city has, nevertheless, been repaving roads, cleaning up parks and getting support from its most famous resident, President Obama. Yet, the Pres is kind of embarrassed that so many of those locals he paid his dues with as a 'grassroots organizer,’ are very much against the Olympics. Protests are planned by many troubled residents who fear the Games could leave Chicago deeper in debt, displace poor people, destroy historic buildings, tear up parks, disturb migratory birds and even ruin summer yachting plans. I, personally, am not really very interested in how yachters really feel. Still, ironically, just as the interested parties with tenuous connective ties to the Democratic party have made common cause to lobby for the Olympics, so too will the groups who benefit from preventing it from ever taking place. Only five months after winning the election, the party’s loyalist machine finds itself up against a lakeshore and north shore green elite it was only recently making love to..

An organization called No Games Chicago, which has drawn sizable crowds to public meetings and other events, protested daily outside the bid committee's office and held a “Bike Ride Against the Games." Still, outside the Muffy and Buffy set, a separate group of community and labor organizations protested also. They are not at all opposed to the Olympics, per sé, they say, but, are, they insist, going to keep making common cause with the Greenies unless leaders of the city and Chicago 2016, the group of civic and business leaders developing the bid, provide “more community benefits.” The City Council's finance committee and Olympic supporters passed legislation meant to satisfy some of those concerns two weeks ago, when a ‘memorandum of understanding’ promised affordable housing, the lion’s share of construction jobs for locals and many more contracts for female and minority-owned firms. Though the legislation didn't go as far as some had hoped, Councilwoman Toni Preckwinkle called it a victory. "I'm grateful we came a long way down this road," she said. "It behooves advocates to savor their victories and focus on the benefits rather than the things they didn't get."

Many of us, however, remain skeptical about such 'behoove your" behavior. Will such agreements actually be honored? Why is it, I wonder, that the full City Council won't vote on the ordinance until late April?

The equally cynical executive director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, ,Jay Travis, puts it this way. "As community groups, it's hard for us to trust the outcome. We played by the rules and we were promised we'd have something signed before the IOC visit. Now ne're being told-- just have faith! Just to wait until they leave. You know, but our faith has been strained."

Promises! Promises! Right? Yesterday, having had been introduced to me by Congressman Z, Patrick Sandusky, a Chicago 2016 spokesman, Richie Daley laid on the charm thickly. “Lookit, the Olympics will have both an immediate and long-term benefit for neighborhood residents. It creates investment and jobs and furthers the city's image as an international destination. Investors estimate the Games will create $22.5 billion in economic activity from 2011 through 2021. It will bring Chicago to the global stage and let the world see the city in a way they haven't before," he said. "It will impact the way youth participate in sports in the city. It will create jobs, and it will have lasting benefits for communities that will stay on long after the actual Olympics are gone."

Now, really, folks, can this be taken on faith?. Normally, I really can't help but be dubious about such hyperbole. Admittedly, the beloved one, Obama, has been a big booster for the Games, cutely musing about wanting to walk the family to the opening ceremonies near the end of his second term at a new stadium that would be built in Washington Park, blocks from his Hyde Park home. Obama even taped a catchy message for IOC officials that was played at a November meeting in Istanbul. City officials hope he will make a personal appearance in Copenhagen in October. Indeed, the city's bid book features a full-page photo of Obama's election-night rally in Grant Park, and city leaders hope their successful handling of that event will impress the IOC.

Chicago has projected that the Games would cost $3.3 billion in operating expenses and $1 billion more in infrastructure. These are far lower estimates than those of Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, the other finalists. Estimated security costs, which would be absolutely staggering for Madrid and even more staggering for crime and disease-ridden Rio, would be relatively far lower for Tokyo and Chicago. Still, officials say all funding would be through private investment, though the city has promised $500 million in guarantees for operating cost overruns and about $45 million worth of services. Consequently, many opponents are convinced the city would ultimately be forced to throw more money into the pot.

At this moment, Vancouver and London, hosts of the 2010 Winter and 2012 Summer Olympics, are spending hundreds of millions on Olympic Village construction after private developers were unable to get funds as a result of the credit crisis. Vancouver officials had initially promised only $30 million in government funding, now they will have to look for new loans at higher interest rates..

"Despite the mayor's claims that the taxpayer will not pay a dime, we don't believe him," the actor and No Games spokesman Tom Tresser told me while gesturing a lot, like a sort of political King Lear. "Chicago is notorious for mammoth construction project overrun. No doubt, this will turn into the biggest boondoggle in city history."

A DePaul University study of past Olympics, led by sociologist Dr. Stephen Alexander, found mixed long-term benefits for host cities. Barcelona successfuly used the 1992 Olympics to revitalize many decayed parts of its city, while the 1996 Games meant more debt for Atlanta, although technology and transportation problems were actually less of a problem than the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park which encouraged cancellation by thousands and the ultimate loss of millions. "It's very difficult to study what happened in previous Games to predict what would happen in Chicago," Alexander said.

The IOC considers local support in its decision. Chicago's rivals have also faced strong opposition lately. In Tokyo, many residents fear the Games will cost too much,,displace the city's largest fish market and cause severe traffic gridlock. Still, a study recently commissioned by Chicago 2016 finds public support running at 77 percent. This may run a little high, but even independent polls also find that a majority of residents are definitely in favor of Chicago being the host city. Still, as even my politician friends will admit, the city's planning concepts were widely criticized by residents and councilmen for being secretive and not attempting to incorporate public input. By February, Chicago 2006, as the negative voices grew shrill, Daley responded by tripling the size of the outreach committee to more than 60 members, included critics.

Still, although gentrification and city overspending are the major concerns, there is also opposition on other fronts. One green group, Preservation Chicago fears the demolition of the historic Meigs Field lakefront airport terminal and parts of the shuttered Michael Reese Hospital, the planned site of the Olympic Village. Others fear their parks will be taken over for years. Washington Park, for example, is known for African American family reunions and long-standing cricket matches among West Indian immigrant families.. "They call it a temporary stadium, but when you're housing 80,000 people, just how temporary can that actually be?" Jonathan Fine, the president of Preservation Chicago asked me.

Anyway, let me close with a vision from Monday, April 7, 2009. It's Oprah's Farewell IOC' ball! Very slinky and carefully wrapped in a thick vanilla-ice cream shawl to fight off the night chill, Oprah Winfrey is walking the red carpet in some heels so high that surely her health guru Mehmet Oz, would have a heart attack. Although she's 30 minutes fashionably late, she stops to talk to a wall of underdressed reporters, Hollywood-style, before heading into a gala for visiting international Olympic officials at the Art Institute.

"Oprah,"I say. "You've got that look like it's a done deal. A sure thing."

She winks at me. Lifts up two thumbs. Nodding to about 40 protesters chanting on the other side of Columbus Drive, Our Lady of Eternal Talk and Rectitude says. "It's going to be big. It's huge. It's enormous. I don't understand what they're complaining about. It's only going to be good for everyone."


Bloody Awful!

Guy Ritchie's 'Revolver' is truly awful. “Sucka!” It says to anyone dim enough to ignore this review, buy tickets, rent or, worse, purchase this load of absolute rubbish. It claims to be a "thriller." As such, it is a thriller without thrills. An 'action' movie that offers shards of violence and a ‘comedy’ ham-fistedly constructed to allow laughter as a reaction to glib double-entendres and actors who turn to face the camera and give the audience the old nudge-nudge! Wink- wink! There really is no there there, just a bla, inexpressive meaningless jumble of flashbacks and flash-forwards, glib subtitles, epigraphs, epitaphs, messages and mottos. Scenes play out which are a deconstructed, soporific trick-bag of clichés. Having enjoyed Ritchie's first two Tarantino Homage a la anglais films, 'Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrel' and 'Snatch,' I watched this abortion in a state of befuddled amazement. How, one wonders, can a filmmaker show so much wit and potential and then fail so badly? It's like Kosuke Fukodome for last year's Cubs'. A great .392 start and then somebody discovered he couldn't hit an outer plate curve ball during the All-Star game. Served a never-ending diet of the aforesaid curve thereafter, Fukodome didn't adjust, he simply quit.

My wife blames Madonna. Humiliated by the worldwide sniggering which accompanied his remake of the proto-'feminist' masterpiece 'Swept Away,' starring the beloved Madge, Ritchie made his mind up to rediscover his 'roots.' Why not, the Scottish landed aristocrat decided, make a new kind of streetwise gangster film? Only this time with a convincing, psychologically authentic story line. Sounds good: Right? Unfortunately, it doesn't work. Instead of doing his homework--a great idea would have been a weekend spent watching 'Rififi' and 'Kill Bill'--Ritchie got pseud. Anyway, now that the couple are divorced, perhaps Ritchie can leave all the kabbalist and Lina Wertmuller influences behind and get back to entertainment, or else, on the evidence of 'Revolver,' claim his seat in the House of Lords and be content to keep his slumming slumming confined to the Russian millionaires in the good seats at Stamford Bridge cheering for Chelsea.

The plot. Well, sort of a plot? Jake Green(Jason Statham) has spent seven years in jail wearing a silly wig, working on a bizarre Transatlantic accent, sitting in solitary between a con man in the cell on one side and a chess master on the other. Back in the world, wearing a late 70s white pimp wardrobe, after seven years of passing messages back and forth between the bent genius brainiacs, Jake dreams up a quasi-mystical Kabbalistic formula for the con to end all cons, with which he intends to avenge himself. Jake plays in a casino run by his old boss and now enemy, Mr. Macha (Ray Liotta), and wins big at the table. Obviously, he cheated, right? A vindictive Liotta then sends hit men to get him. Luckily, two mysterious strangers (Vincent Pastore and Andre Benjamin) arrive to save Mr. Green. Who could these two men be?

Meanwhile, feeling a wee bit poorly, Jake goes to see a doctor and undergoes bloodtests. Told he has a rare blood disease and only three days to live, Jake wonders, is someone conning him? Who are Avi and Zach. (Some wisenheimer behind me in the theater, whenever Jake pondered Pastore's identity, kept saying "It's Pussy!" recalling the character Pastore played for years in 'The Sopranos')? Why does Jake give them every cent he has, ask for a job and squirm when they send him out to collect bad loans? Meanwhile, Macha does a huge drug deal with crime lord Sam Gold but gets ripped off by Zeke and Avi. His efforts to replace the dope before Gold or his psychopathic partner Lily Walker (Francesca Annis) get wise puts him on a collision course with a mad dog Asian gangster, Lord John (Tom Wu), and his psychotic crew. Avi and Zach manipulate this gang war, all the while tormenting Jake with gnomic pronouncements about patience and "the life force." Gangsters get shot from film school angles. Blood spatters, bones crunch, teeth break, and bullets, bits of teeth and gum and spittle fly in super-slo-mo, as, all the boring while, Statham delivers a steady parroted stream of hard-boiled James M. Cain wannabe 'philosophy' in voiceover. Now that his career in more traditional action movies has made him bulletproof to the occasional barking dog like this one, I can assure Statham that he has repaid whatever debt he owed Ritchie for casting him as a neophyte ten-thousand-fold.

A quick compliment to Mr. Ritchie. Nice of him to hire Francesca Annis. All credit to him for this. It's an attempt to resuscitate her career in the same way Tarantino revived the fortunes of Sonny Chiba, John Travolta, Robert Forster and Michael Parkes. Annis, best known in the U.S. for her work in the Masterpiece Theater production of 'Lily' and the dreadful 'Tommy and Tuppence' PBS Mystery show, was a true teenage hottie when I was a spotty twelve-year-old on 'Lift-Off'. Nice to see her working again!

That's about as complimentary as I can get. Ritchie may gift-wrap this crap by daring to list such 'experts' as psychoanalyst Dr. Peter Fonagy and Oprah's New Age sycophant, Deepak Chopra, in the closing credits, but it's still crap. A few nice bits of animation, reverse motion, youth market trompe l'oeil production design and nice bits of clever lighting, to be sure, but, really, it's still crap crap CRAP!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Let Us Eat Cake

Funny, innit?
I wanted America
You wanted money, but,
the cake was too small,
so we gobbled one another and ran.

—Ivor Irwin

6 a.m. – 9 a.m.

The snow may be 9 1/2" deep, but
I'm a resourceful He-Manly man, man.
Up at 5 a.m.
Layering layers upon layers.
I stagger around, puffy, prepared.
Stagger and sass, sass some more,
dawn dreaming in the inky dark.
As the sun slowly rises, grunting
like some 47-year-old ex-NFL quarterback,
I am the magnificent soloist maestro,
wielding my shovel heroically,
I dig a moat around my mansion,
clear the way for my wife and her wee dark-green Honda.

Staggering back inside, I take off some of my layers,
wake the kid, kiss the wife goodbye,
bulk up our bellies with oatmeal,
dress him in layers, vaseline his tiny gob and cheeks.
I relayer myself, and then we go for the bus.
Two grand staggerers on an epic intrepid Dr. Zhivago walk,
bobbing and weaving through dirty gray snowbanks,
which have fresh crunchy snow layering their tops, and,
really, I wouldn't mention the frozen dog shit,
except it's fucking everywhere,
so that 31st is a toxic knickerbocker glory.
When the bus arrives, its engine stuttering as it vibrates against snow banks
I climb up the dirty mountain, lift the boy up and over
and nod at my fellow warrior, the bus driver.

Once home, I peel off my layers. Blow
my nose so hard it hurts my ears,
savor a cup of tea, listen
as my knee cartilage creaks. Listen
as my neighbors struggle to start their engines. Listen
to the ranting on Sports Radio. Wonder
at the warm wire I feel through the muscle in my heart.
Struggling up the stairs, turning up the heat, I
run a bath, spit out snot and get naked.
I bathe, ponder my aging balls.
Look at the clock: 9 a.m.
Now it's under the covers and

—Ivor Irwin