Bigotry in Motion

Where cheesesteaks and soccer-bashing collide.

By Steven Wells
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 21, 2006

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In defending his "speak English" sign on NPR recently, Joey Vento—Philly cheesesteak peddler and owner of Geno's—said: "This is America. We only have room for one flag—the American flag. And we only have room for one language—the English language."

As an Englishman myself, I'd just like to say: Bravo Mr. Vento! Despite your peculiarly non-English-sounding name, I think you've hit the bloody nail on the bally head. But have you gone far enough? Might I suggest you not only enforce an English-only rule, but also insist on the glorious mother tongue being spoken with a proper English accent?

This could be enforced by roast-beef-fed thugs wielding cricket bats with which they'd spank any customer uttering such hideously un-English barbarisms as "cheese wit," "sody warder" or "ker-waffy." Might I further suggest, sir, you take the first few beatings in person, as I notice you are possessed of a distinctly un-English American "twang" that I'm sure you'd love remedied.

And while we're on the subject of pig-ignorant bigotry. In the suburban Barnes & Nobles that circle this city like book-bloated death stars, you'll currently find "sports" tables packed with tomes about golf, baseball and American football. Plus—in the midst of the World Cup—just one book about soccer. It might be further noted that to get to one of these stores from anywhere remotely civilized on a Saturday morning, one drives past packed soccer field after packed soccer field. But, as the B&N employee told me, "soccer's not very big around here." So that's all right then.

To make things worse, the aforementioned token soccer book is The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup—a scurrilous volume in which contributor Dave Eggers makes the outrageous claim that in a soccer match, "22 kids can be running around, most of them aimlessly, or picking weeds by the sidelines." This is so factually wrong it makes me want to punch a kitten.

I've instead decided to transfer my corporate book-barn loyalties to Borders. But what's this? Groovy hipster scribe Chuck Klosterman will be reading from his book Killing Yourself to Live at Borders on Broad Street at 7 p.m. on June 29? Could this be the same Klosterman who claimed in his previous book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs that "a normal 11-year-old could play an entire [soccer] season without placing toe to sphere and nobody would even notice," and, "I would sooner have my kid deal crystal meth than play soccer." What is this? A sports-klan conspiracy among the major booksellers to keep America isolated, hated and playing with itself?

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