Saturday, August 11, 2012

Portland Boys

August Eve

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Some people spend weeks preparing elaborate rituals to celebrate the sabbats, complete with memorized scripts, special clothes and props. I am not one of those people. As with my summer solstice "ritual", I didn't really know I was celebrating August first until I was up to my eyeballs in it. It turned out exactly perfect, though. It always does.

The first day of August is the date often given for Lughhnasadh or Lammas, the cross quarter day marking the end of summer and the first harvest. On that morning I posted a John Payne poem on Facebook, one of his series of month poems that I love so much because they seem to just perfectly reflect the way I feel about a given season. "And the sun blazing in the blue o'erhead, "Would God that it were night!" is apt to say And "Would the summer-heats were oversped!""

As I've told you, summer is a strung out, crazy time for me, and posting that poem was about all I could put together in terms of "celebrating" the festival. I can hardly get it together to clean the bathroom after a day of work and play, let alone plan or execute an extra celebration. And anyway, I was getting ready to go to a Timbers's game that weekend.
Portland boys, we are here – Whoa, Whoa
Portland boys, we are here – Whoa, Whoa
Portland boys, we are here
Steal your women, drink your beer!
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa
Timbers Joey! I'm leaning over the railing just out of frame to the right.
The Portland Timbers are the city's Major League Soccer team and are kind of a big deal around here. Years ago, when the Timbers were a little known, minor league team, a group of fans formed themselves into a supporters group that came to be known as the Timbers Army. Wikipedia claims it all started with 8 guys in 2001, but today the Army claims eight SECTIONS of the soccer stadium. Timbers tshirts, jerseys, hats, bumper stickers and other swag are de rigur for a certain type of Portlander and the waiting list for Timbers Army season tickets makes them coveted status markers in this town. The games themselves include loud and constant chanting, scarf waving, drums and trumpets, and other hooligan-esque characteristics of soccer supporters around the world.  
Burn, destroy, wreck and kill – Whoa, Whoa
Burn, destroy, wreck and kill – Whoa, Whoa
Burn, destroy, wreck and kill
Portland Timbers bloody will!
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa
I personally am not much of a sports fan so have not really followed this aspect of my city's culture over the last few years, but lately I've been more and more aware of the Timbers situation. My dad got a job working at the stadium a couple years ago, and lately I have made a number of friends who are Timbers Army fanatics. I have been thinking of trying to go to a game but without connections you have to pay through the nose for a seat not in the Army. What's the point of that? Finally, though, one of my friends got me a ticket for a game.

August Eve is the time in the wheel of the year when we celebrate All that is Manly and Good in the World. It is a time for competition and feats of physicality that show off strength, daring and skill. It is a time for celebrating the "bright, positive, masculine principle". I have been surrounded by young boys this summer at my work and see first hand how deeply ingrained being loud and physical, shooting and clashing is in them. In our feminist influenced culture of child rearing, we tend to want boys to be quieter, gentler and more in control of their bodies but without letting them experience their physicality, they will never be in control of it. And male physical power and testosterone driven competition are necessary elements in this world. Fatherlove and warrior power do not solve all problems, but we have enough problems in this world that we need all the tools in our toolbox. Including those brought by little boys who build forts, pretend sticks are guns and punch each other when they are frustrated.

Timbers Army! I'm visible on the lower left.
An afternoon in the Timbers Army is a full sensory immersion in the world of All That is Manly and Good in the World. Yes, there are many women in the Timbers Army, but the whole thing is so testosterone driven as to be essentially male in essence. The day was one of the hottest days of the summer so far, and the Army section is on the north, very sunny, part of the stadium. After a trek to get to the field, we proceeded to chant and cheer for two hours straight. It was a good game in a terrible season and the Portland Boys came back from behind to a draw. A highlight was the goal that tied the game up in the second half, complete with dark green smoke bombs and a crowd gone completely batty. I'm a tourist in the Army, here for the atmosphere and the fun, not the game or the players, but I couldn't help but being on the edge of my seat (er, leaning over the railing.. no one sits in the Army) when the play moved closer to the goal and the ball went zipping back and forth. Those men are strong and fast and skilled, Manly and Good. 
We are green, we are white – Whoa, Whoa
We are green, we are white – Whoa, Whoa
We are green, we are white
We are bloody dynamite!
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa
The evening ended, as all good evenings do, with a party and a trek. After playing some bar basketball and drinking some more cheap beer my friend and I set off back across town. The day had topped out at 95 degrees, the first day to get so hot all summer, and evening was coming on. It was still warm, but lovely as we wove our way through downtown towards the river. We splashed through Salmon Street Springs, lingered on the Hawthorne Bridge and stopped at a food cart for late night poutine and people watching. By the time we got home, we were sweaty, beat up and physically and emotionally exhausted. Just as you should be at the end of a good festival, right? 

In the week since my Timbers Army Experience I have been enjoying noticing the subtle turning of the season into autumn. The days are getting shorter, the sun is lower in the sky and more leaves are tinged gold or russet. The harvest is in full swing with markets full of berries and tomatoes. And the Timbers fight on, maybe they'll win a game or two before the end of the season. Even if they don't, though, they will have fought the good fight and that's what All that is Manly and Good in the World is really all about. 
We’ll sing for you Timbers
‘Til you finish the fight
There’s a party in Portland
No one’s sleeping tonight
How did you celebrate the August festival? How are you celebrating the masculine principle in your life and the world around you? Have you ever been a rabid supporter of a sports team or known people who were? How are you celebrating the first harvest in your life? 

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August Eve 2011: An August Journey

August Eve 2010: August Eve, The Subtle Turning

August Eve 2009: August Eve In the Woods!

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