Tuesday, December 8

World Cup 2010 Final Draw

Some people (oh you know, a few hundred million) watched the Final Draw for next year's World Cup, which is being held here, in South Africa. I watched it to... sort of. I wasn't one of the lucky few international celebrities and figureheads who sat in the Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC) where the proper draw took place. However, I was on Long Street, which is where all the real people went for the draw.
It was a Friday, and Fridays can be tiring, but eventually one just learns to buck up and stay up 36 hours if necessary in order to make sure one doesn't miss any of the fun. The Draw had two primary appeals: 1. big party lots of people and mad excitement, 2. some bands (Freshlyground most notably) were going to play for free. I didn't really care about the brackets, though watching other people watch the brackets can be rather enlightening.

So, I grabbed Rainer and we drove into the city center to search for parking. That was fun. We ended up landing a spot in the well-known Bo-Kaap Moslem neighborhood. Pictures the vividly painted Bo-Kaap houses are very often used in tourist paraphernalia promoting Cape Town. I was very much surprised to find the neighborhood four streets away from Long. I was under the impression is was a suburb unto itself, reasonably far out into the reaches.

I was mildly sketched out by parking there, but everyone was parking everywhere and we saw people walking down from much higher up the slope ascending to Table Mountain. This was a special night, and the police were everywhere. If you see police in Cape Town, then I would say you are in a safe place.
they seriously just kept going and going it was intense
The crowds at the entrances and the extremely poor loudspeaker kept us out of the party until we found a back way inside. We arrive about a half hour before the draw business was set to start, so we grabbed some beers from the handy vendors and began to weave closer to the stage at the end of Long Street.
you see that guy on the left with the Brazilian flag? Fuck that loud motherfucker. I don't care how nice of a job they're said to do when you need your roof replaced.
This place was packed, and there were only more people entering the zone. We were later told that more than 120,000 people were in there with us.

Once we had reached a satisfactory position, we settled to enjoy K'Naan's performance. Then the jumbotrons kicked into top gear and we were assaulted with an over dramatic montage of the cup trophy's travels through Africa to reach Cape Town. And then they did some history segments and some introductions and personal stories segments.

Finally, they cut to the CTICC where Johnny Clegg performed a slightly awkward rendition of Scatterlings of Africa. Maybe it was awkward because Mchunu (you know, the black half of Juluka) wasn't there playing alongside Johnny.

Oh well, I was confident Zuma and the FIFA President could somehow improve the show. They chose the smart move and played a recorded video from Nelson Mandela.
Now you see, Mandela is a pretty big deal. Probably the biggest cheers of that entire evening came during Mandela's speech when everyone, white, colored, and black screamed in excitement. "Madiba madiba madiba!" This was one of those times where I dazedly looked around and the full impact of my situation bludgeoned me in the face. I live in Africa. Holy shit.

I have no clue as to how the rest of the continent feels about this, but South Africa very much wants to show off this world cup as being the whole of Africa's world cup. This is, after all, the first cup to be held on this continent, and in South Africa, football is much more the sport of the blacks than the whites (What is? Rugby.)

Then the message ended, and the orange Dutch upstairs went back to tooting their horns and we all went back to yelling expletives at them.
The show continued, featuring more annoying history features and eventually Charlize Theron. For Arrested Development fans: Rita has a pretty strong accent. I'm betting Theron normally has a pretty noticeable accent. At the draw, she sounded as American as I've ever heard her be. Other guests included Ethiopian marathon pimp Haile Gebrselassie and David "Fauxhawk" Beckham. Finally the draw could begin.

I'm not knowledgeable enough to really gain much from the painfully drawn out process of selecting teams and then selecting slots for the aforementioned team. However, the allegiances in the audience were highly variable, and I'll admit that I care for the success of the US team. It still seemed most fitting to alternate between yelling obscenities at Beckham's ridiculously haired head and at the Dutch punks who seemed to gain no end of pleasure from being as loud as possible.

Finally the torment was ended and everyone cheered some more. Freshlyground would be playing soon, at long last. However, both Rainer and I were very hungry, and decided to seek sustenance before the music began.

Unsurprisingly, all the food places were swamped, even my favorite dingy falafel joint. We agreed that the wait was not worth our time, so we wouldn't stick around too long. Plus, more beer would assuredly ease our hunger pangs. We returned to the stage area, yet something felt amiss. No one had started playing during out brief absence, and no one was coming on stage. Freshlyground appeared to be taking their dear sweet time. In the meantime, we got down with it among the natives.
there was an epic tootfest/war but the action was too... active to be caught on film
Then some crazy old woman singer came on and started belting antiquarian South African pop jingles at us. The natives certainly seemed to know every last lyric, but they were lost on a German and an American. As far as I could gather, Freshlyground just didn't play, and I missed the announcement. The few fireworks were small consolation.
There were two rounds of fireworks. I think. A third might have gone off while I had my eyes closed.
"Yeah, let's just go."

So we did. We obtained delicious food elsewhere, which was a bit of a task in of itself, but turned out alright in the end. It was quite late by the time we departed, which makes me comfortable in saying that we made the most of such a raucous free event.

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