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HAIL! GFOP

I write with fingers that feel resilient and fragile in equal measure. A reminder of the surreal toll this year has taken, and the strange yet wonderful love we have shared in supporting each other through this chaotic, unknowable journey. I was very touched to read this piece as the sun rose over the fields outside my house this morning. “This year will end eventually. Document it while you can.” A New York Times article examining how museum curators and archivists are grappling with one of the most daunting challenges of their careers — telling the story of the pandemic, followed by severe economic collapse and a nationwide social justice movement. As a result, they are imploring individuals across the country to preserve personal materials for posterity, and for possible inclusion in museum archives. I love the notions embedded in this story -- that the “ordinary” has become “extraordinary,” and that “we are all field collectors.” For good or for bad -- mostly both -- all the memories and experiences we are logging will shape the future and our understanding of it.  
 
I say this as a reminder to take action. Document everything. Take photographs of even the most mundane things. Keep hold of your ephemera if you are that kind of person, a hoarder like me. And even if you are a maniacal organizer like my wife, fight that impulse and preserve things. “We don’t know what the puzzle looks like yet,” says one archivist from the National Museum of American History. “Yet we know that each of these pieces might be an important one.” This obviously is not just about musea. The notion of the ordinary becoming extraordinary extends also to your inner life. Most importantly: Keep processing that. Keep talking. Do not let your feelings lie inarticulate. Let them out by talking to partners, friends, kids, loved ones. And if you have no one to talk to, write to us. The ideas, challenges, hopes, fears can only do damage if you keep them in.  
 
 
2. Men In Blazers. More Anticipointment Viewing.
 
i. Our HBO Succession Podcast is out now. The first episode WITH BRIAN COX (Logan Roy) is up now. So proud of this. Thanks to all who have SUBSCRIBED, RATED, REVIEWED. If you have not, please do so. A moment from your day will enable us to create more, more, more because it really helps. If you value this newsletter as part of your daily regimen, please take a second of your day to do this now
 
Apple: https://tinyurl.com/y75s4dtq
Stitcher: https://tinyurl.com/ycq6vxne
Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/yalj7bqz 
 
ii. The MEN IN BLAZERS TV Show keeps crapping its way onto your  screens, returning THIS FRIDAY at 5:30 p.m. ET to break down all of this week’s action. We’re also joined by Canadian Young Gun Alphonso Davies and his interview is genuinely magnificent. And Monday, you will be glad to know, it’s our season finale. 5:30 p.m. ET. NBCSN. 
 
iii. Call (646) 450-9472 and your brilliant questions on football or life could be sloppily answered by Moi on WGFOP: The Bald this Friday.
 
 
3. To the Football
 
A. Chelsea managed not to crap the bed last night, holding on to their top four place after a 1-0 win against the carcass of Norwich City. The goal itself was a moment of true human beauty. Our Lord and Saviour CP creating separation on the right flank and dropping a poetic inswinging cross between defenders where only the magnificently handsome, meaty French forehead of one Olivier Giroud could nut it home. Find thee a partner who stares at you like OG looks at CP
 
After the game Norwich manager Daniel Farke, who coached Christian at Dortmund, marvelled at Hershey Arya Stark’s development: “He’s a brilliant lad. Always humble. Always with both feet on the ground. Always works unbelievably hard on the pitch. A player full of potential…. Christian will have a bright future and will be a world-class player one day and this is the best way to develop in this direction.”
 
B. Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp hit out over Manchester City Financial Fair Play appeal verdict. Jose called the CAS decision “disgraceful.” Klopp voiced fears the ruling could clear the way for a breakaway league. I believe we have discovered the one tiny piece of overlap in the Mourinho-Klopp Venn Diagram. Meanwhile, Guardiola admits he does not know why Manchester City obstructed UEFA.  
 
The Premier League has announced the summer transfer window (AKA Manchester City buy everybody) will run for 10 weeks from the day after this season ends, July 27 until Oct. 5.  
 
ii. In other Premier League news, clubs are in discussions over joining an advertising boycott of companies that fail to promote inclusion and diversity, part of a new front in the battle against online abuse. The pressure group Stop Funding Hate is talking with top-flight and EFL clubs over the possibility of signing up to the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), which seeks to stop advertisers funding companies that “fuel hatred.” It follows the arrest this week of a 12-year-old boy after racist messages were sent to Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha on Instagram. It would be magnificent to see action replace talk on this crucial issue.

C. Newcastle fans’ sense of morality becomes more challenged day by day. Saudi Arabia bans beIN Sports to further complicate £300m Newcastle takeover as the families of human rights campaigners held in Saudi jails have written to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters with a personal plea to prevent the takeover from going ahead while their loved ones remain imprisoned. The letter, organised by human rights charity Grant Liberty, “begs” the competition to “do the right thing” and use its “unique opportunity to demand change.”
 
D. Why is Gareth Bale behaving like he is at Real Madrid? The Welsh icon has been marooned on the bench and has spent time pretending to be asleep during his team-mates' game against Alaves and looking to the distance through a rolled-up piece of paper against Granada. This battle of wills is genuinely baffling. All of it. 
 
E. Lovely kicker to yesterday’s closing story about Adebayo Akinfenwa. Jurgen Klopp has now invited the Liverpool-supporting Wycombe Wanderer’s cult hero to Liverpool’s title parade. Proof football can be pure and good. Fleetingly.
 
F. The NWSL Challenge Cup gears up for the knockout stages on Friday. Full schedule HERE. The excellent Meg Linehan has a round-up of the opening weeks of the tournament focusing on the physical and mental toll of the preliminary round (Subscription Only).  
 
ii. In England, the Majority of Women's Super League clubs have spoken out against the idea of a Premier League takeover of their competition. The issue is fascinating in its own right, but also because of the refraction it has on the ongoing USWNT legal fight in the USA. “The belief is the focus would be total commercialisation without the wider investment and work, such as coach and player development and dual career pathways, that the FA champions alongside the league’s development. That has led them to favour independent leadership that can take a more holistic approach towards the growth of the game and its sustainability.”


4. That Pesky Real World

i. “Humans need it.” Will a lack of sex force players to break the NBA's bubble? When the league resumes at the end of the month, players will be without their partners for weeks. Coping without intimacy could be tough to deal with.

ii. In a World of Playlists Driven by Algorithms, What Role Do Humans Play? AKA The Lost Art of the MixTape. 

iii. These aerial images from Vermont will take your breath away for reals. Too much real life. Need to look at nice pictures. On another note, I normally go up to Maine every year right around now. I ache for that place deeply in my bones. 
 
iv. We are living in an era of chaos. Why solutions might not solve the problem. The ability to live without certainty is our new muscle.
 
v. Can't Stop Switching From One Quarantine Hobby to the Next? You are Not Alone in flickering intensely between obscure pastimes. I love this article. I wrote in my memoir how when I grew up, my Dad, who believed in working hard and playing hard, relied on an eclectic set of classically English hobbies -- bird watching, stamp collecting, model train setting, and winemaking -- to fill the crevasses of downtime in his weekend. I now understand why.
 
vi. How to Plan a Space Mission. And to think, I was so proud just learning to cut an onion properly during lockdown. 
 
vii. I am not reading. I am not writing. This is not normal. A novelist reflects on how what sounded like a perfect occasion for creative writing has filled instead with vacancy. I suffered from this for the first month of lockdown. I wrote. A lot. But could not read at all. I have solved that and devoured some remarkable books I will never forget: 
 
The Last Taxi Driver by Lee Durkee
Twilight of Democracy by Anne Applebaum 
And their Children After Them by Nicolas Mathieu (which is akin to a French version of the magnificently haunting “Ohio” by Stephen Markley)  
 
Let me know what you are reading!
 
 
One last note. If you need a lift today, watch this beautiful video. Former Arsenal teammates Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla reunited in the tunnel before Real Sociedad played Villarreal and their emotions will give you life. It is honestly like Witnessing the rebel forces after destroying the Death Star. Just happiness, ewoks, and tapas all around. Even Spurs fans will have to admit it gives them the feels. This is friendship. One forged on and off the field. Who can forget this genuinely spectacular casual game of medium-range keepie-uppie the two posted. I have watched this 100 times. The most wholesome relationship at Arsenal since Wenger and Gunnersaurus. Cazorla scored for Villareal, but Monreal's Real Sociedad ran out 2-1 winners. Santi Cazorla. What a human being. He will forever be a Premier League player in the Men In Blazers Theme Song…“Here comes the magic spray.”
 
Celebrate Nacho and Santi by savoring Joe Cocker’s Cazorla-like performance at Woodstock.
 
“Would you believe in a love at first sight?
Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time
What do you see when you turn out the light?
I can't tell you, but I know it's mine.”
 
I’m Couraging,
Rog: @rogbennett 

On behalf of
MiB: @meninblazers
Davo: @embassydavies
Producer JW: @JonoWilly

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“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”

Philip Larkin
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