BY JASON CORLISS
I feel like this is a familiar refrain by now, but it’s been some time since last we shared this space. Whether it’s the relative (in)frequency of this column, or the MLS/International schedule, or some combination of both, the second half of this RBNY season has taken on a disjointed rhythm, punctuated by pauses, and has made a meandering mockery of the notion of a sprint to the finish. While RBNY is very much in the thick of the race to the top of the East (and potentially to the Shield), the last few weeks have resembled a hybrid game of freeze tag/tug-of-war more than they have a proper stretch run.
Of course, enduring the push and pull not only of this team’s schizophrenia, but of this season’s scheduling oddities, is part of the compact we’ve made as masochistic optimists.
Go on go on
Just walk away
Come back come back
Don´t walk away
Ironically, though, this incongruity hasn’t had a dampening effect on my enthusiasm as a supporter, nor should it yours. It’s reminded me why so much of the joy in life (and music) lies in recognizing that the moments before the “moment” — often consisting of a bit of tension, or a bit of silence – can make the payoff that much better. This is one of the pillars of Jazz theory, and probably why many people are put off by some of it. But, it’s inarguable that we’re programmed to respond to it in one way or another. These past few weeks have been a study in this dynamic:
The rally from two goals down at home to beat Portland on Pearce’s 83rd minute header…followed by a brutal draw in KC, with both goals coming from Kei Kamara…the tension…the triumphant draw in DC, in which RBNY took the play to United all night long, punctuated by Conde’s laser from distance…the release…the pause…the USMNT’s historic loss in Jamaica…the tension…the well-earned win in the return leg in Columbus on 9/11…the release…the pause…
The clip above, aptly entitled ‘Play Pause Stop,’ by Benevento/Russo Duo is a great example of this. After settling into a groove, the excellently spazzy weirdness from approx 3:30-5:00 almost makes one want to fast forward, but surrendering to it and hanging in there for the groove to come back in is well worth the wait, and adds that much more to the experience.
One of the best representations of the pause as both prelude and an end in itself is the chapter in Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Visit From the Goon Squad entitled “Great Rock and Roll Pauses,” in which a 12 year old girl living in the near future chronicles her autistic 13 year old brother’s obsession with these pauses via a PowerPoint ‘journal’. And, yes, it’s as breathtakingly awesome as it sounds. A couple of the songs that Lincoln, the brother, identifies fit perfectly into the semi-tortured metaphor structure that I often use in these pages to bend lyrics into the shape of my narrative. And, coincidentally, they’re the first two songs that popped into my head when I began thinking about this column.
It’s the time of the season
When the love runs high
In this time, give it to me easy
And let me try
With pleasured hands
To take you and the sun to
To show you every one
It’s the time of the season for loving
Clearly, my love for RBNY runs deep, but the loving, pleasured hands in this bit of Aquarian poetry don’t really apply here. More so, I’m struck by the way that the pauses in the song mirror the breaks we’ve seen in RBNY’s schedule this year, followed by periods of tight, smart play and/or malaise. And, yes, this is the time of the season when emotions run high, on the pitch and in the stands. If we’re committed to taking this ride together, then we must all ride out the pauses and the tensions therein.
I know what it means to be alone,
I sure do wish I was at home.
I don’t care what the neighbors say,
I’m gonna love you each and every day.
You can feel the beat within my heart.
Realize, sweet babe, we ain’t ever gonna part.
The choppy staccato propulsiveness (replete with pauses) of ‘Good Times, Bad Times,’ coupled with a literal reading of the title, paint a pretty accurate sonic picture of the way this season has felt. Even though the team is, empirically, on paper, having one of the best years in franchise history, it’s always felt as though it might go off the rails at any time. And, the weight of expectation, given the win-now mentality and roster, has added an extra layer of tension to the proceedings. Whether the team can deliver on the promise remains to be seen, but if the pattern tells us anything, it’s that there’s likely to be some more push and pull before it’s all over.
With this latest break coming to a close, and RBNY basically controlling their own destiny with the majority of the remaining games at home against Eastern rivals, we can all agree that there’s no place like RBA. Once alone atop the East, RBNY is now looking up at KC and Chicago. Our role in all of this is to continue to make RBA the fortress its been all season long. As we’ve discussed here before, we supporters do have a role to play, and although we may have the sword of historic futility hanging over our heads, that’s no reason not to push through the tension in order to get to the release.
The restlessness that we feel with regard to the ultimate fate of RBNY’s season, and with our own commitment to seeing it through, is, obviously, natural. At some point, a thing must end, and that creates some uneasiness surrounding when, exactly, that might happen, and, of course, how. But, our fretting pervades more than just our thoughts about what the RBNY back four will look like, or how Backe will fit 17 guys into the starting XI…it seeps into our unconscious and plays upon our daily routines. That tension, those pauses interrupting the cadence of our fandom, is all a part of the larger experience. It’s ours to take in and to give back.
Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, addresses that sense of unease in his poem The Night House.
Every day the body works in the fields of the world
mending a stone wall
or swinging a sickle through the tall grass –
the grass of civics, the grass of money –
and every night the body curls around itself
and listens for the soft bells of sleep.
But the heart is restless and rises
from the body in the middle of the night,
and leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
with its thick, pictureless walls
to sit by herself at the kitchen table
and heat some milk in a pan.
And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
and goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
and opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
and roams from room to room in the dark,
darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.
And the soul is up on the roof
in her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
singing a song about the wildness of the sea
until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
the way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,
resuming their daily colloquy,
talking to each other or themselves
even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body — that house of voices –
sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
to stare into the distance,
to listen to all its names being called
before bending again to its labor.
But, whereas Collins paints a picture of a woman’s unrealized dreams expressing themselves while she sleeps, I think that the poem’s backbone is applicable to our experience as well. The opportunity to let our souls go up on the proverbial roof and sing a song “about the wildness of the sea” is one that we know better than to pass up. It’s all in the doing, in the pauses, in the tension, in the release. All things must end, and this season only has so many pauses left in it. What comes next?