Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cymbal #30:: A New Decade

Think of David Beckham. Think of him on the surgeon’s table as they try under the white beam to piece together the most laughably vulnerable part of the man.

Think of him lying in bed at night and wondering why he cannot have the thing that would give him the greatest pleasure. He gives up the attempt to sleep and turns on the bedside lamp. He sits up like a shackled Prometheus, elbows on his knees, eyes in his palms. The he turns off the light and limps to the door in the dark. He shuts it behind him and goes to the den. He does not the turn on the lights because that would be conceding that he’s fully awake. The giant wallscreen wakes softly and paints the room with luminous gelatinous shapes, blues, red, the mocking green of grass.

In the corner is his trophy cabinet, the wall of team pictures. His three World Cups, a decade and a half of trophies and shirts and caps in three languages. When David was young, he stood for the ascendancy of Britain, for eternal youth, for the magic of screens. Little boys in Africa wear his name on their backs. Women in South Korea go to sleep with pictures of him watching over them.

They have songs about love, and songs about death and songs about long, long distances. But I did not know that they had songs about that moment when you realize that you’re old enough that everything is no longer possible.

The Shins - Pink Bullets – 2003

 "Since then it's been a book you read in reverse/ So you understand less as the pages turn/ A movie so crass and awkwardly cast/that even I could be the star."

Look at this change in camera angle. The guy says even he, not Ewan McGregor, not Marlon Brando could be the star of this shit movie. But the movie is his life. It never occurs to most of us that we are any less than the stars of the production in the first place.

David’s not a musician or a sculptor or a machinist; he does not create the intricate innards of watches, nor does he collect rare butterflies and pin them to silk boards and pen their names in Latin underneath. He does only one thing very well, but that he still does better than anyone old. From a given range of distances, he can, more consistently than anyone else, put his exquisite and pedicured foot through a ball so as to have it land where he wants and to whom.

In a way, we’re all Beckhams, and what we do is defined over time to a greater or lesser extent. We trace seemingly random paths till we have cemented our very own channels and tracks and we cannot break free. But we all will have a story somewhere, with ups and downs, and dark wet alleys and high mountain peaks, and valleys where the clouds have overwhelmed you. You may have some of it now; the rest may follow in the rest of your years.

Tangled up in Blue – KT Tunstall - 2005

Nobody will ever pay you millions to kick a football. Nobody wants pictures of you for billboards. You will never model for Armani or Dolce and Gabana. You will never cause stampedes in Tokyo or prompt political debate in Milan.

Every one of you would like to be David Beckham. But tonight, David Beckham would rather have your sweet and bitter life, with its grand narratives, even the ones no one knows about.
Cymbal is thirty today, like Nick in the Great Gatsby, who says. “I was thirty. Beside that realization their importunities were dim and far away. Before me stretched the portentous menacing road of a new decade.”

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