Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Twin Towers

Yesterday on my way home from work my girlfriend called to say that there was a big surprise waiting for me when I got home. Naturally my imagination veered in the elicit direction. Needless-to-say, I was truly surprised when I arrived home not only to NOT find my girlfriend awaiting me in scantily clad attire but to also discover that the two Deodar Ceder trees that had been keeping a watchful eye over our neighborhood for the past 75 years were being cut down.

Upon moving into the house, I had coined the two trees the “Twin Towers”, thus it is with sad irony that I now watch them crumble to the ground at the hands of men with company names proudly displayed on hats, shirts and the side of trucks. Of course there are much greater tragedies in life than the loss of two tall trees but I am naturally upset to see them go, especially considering the circumstances with which it's all come about and the inevitable affect it will have on the neighborhood and our house.

Last summer a company called Metro bought the house and lot from our two elderly neighbors for a ridiculously low price of $186K. To make matters worse, had our neighbors known we were looking for a house they would have gladly sold it to us instead. Second, Metro subdivided the lot and sold them off separately. The new owners are now going to build an additional house where the trees once stood.

The other morning I asked the guys who were removing the tree's who was responsible for the construction. They were coy and reluctant to tell me. I tried to assure them that I wasn't going to cause a fuss and that I just wanted to know who was responsible for taking the trees down, to which one of the guys replied, "Progress sucks sometimes." While he wasn't intending to be confrontational, something in his nonchalaunt dismissal of the situation made me want to run him through the wood chipper like the guy in Fargo.

While I’m far from a tree hugger, the sight of all this and the circumstances that have surrounded it has disgusted me and spurred thoughts of monkey wrenching, or at least an irate call to the people responsible. Unfortunately, I'm about as confrontational as a plunger and neither my girlfriend nor I are of the eco terrorist ilk, thus our lone pathetic act of defiance was to sneak over late last night and steal a few pieces of the twin towers in order to create a small memorial in our backyard.

Ronnie and me

It is safe to say that no other player personifies the spirit of Joga Bonito more than Ronaldinho. Thus it was fitting that after four months spent in Europe desperately trying to capture the essence of Joga Bonito for, our final stop was Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona for one last shoot with El Maestro himself.

Two days after FC Barcelona’s monumental Champion’s League semi final triumph, we met R10 on the very pitch that saw them through to the finals. Our mission: to shoot him for the soon-to-be-released Joga Chain.

I have shot with Ronaldinho before but for some reason this shoot held extra meaning. Perhaps it was because our shoot was delayed for over a week thus delaying my own return to the US. Perhaps it was simply because of the God-like stature that Ronaldinho has ascended to these days. Nevertheless, it was safe to say that I was excited, nervous and totally stoked about this opportunity.

Unfortunately Ronalindho didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm. Understandably he seemed tired; after all, he had, only two days prior, fended off a desperate and extremely talented AC Milan team. On top of that, he spent the previous day shooting a Japanese advertisement, which he would have to continue shooting as soon as we were done with him. Nevertheless, despite his obvious exhaustion, he greeted my crew and I as if we were long lost friend - with his signature smile and a warm embrace.

For all his remarkable talents on the pitch, it is his infectious ability to evoke joy that I find most astounding.

Our shoot was short, 25 minutes to be precise, but as one would expect, despite his apparent exhaustion, Ronaldinho delivered the goods. I’d like to say that it was the result of our direction but I think it simply comes down to the fact that the essence of the Joga Chain concept is to inspire footballers to play beautiful. and there simply isn’t anyone in the world better at that than Ronaldinho.