8 AM. Aaron Bady. BAMPFA, outdoor screen. Berkeley, California, USA.
It’s misty and grey and California cool-ish at 8 in the morning, but it still strains to be anything like cold. More people are there than we expected. As we arrive, we try to determine–by asking each other–whether the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive also shows films on this screen facing a street that’s been carefully blocked off and filled with lawn chairs and people. They must, is the general consensus, but none of us have seen them.
The museum/theater is in a new location since I was a student here, a building that was under construction for many years but is now complete; I’ve been inside, but only once, and the 1960’s movie spaceship exterior always strikes me as “new” any time I happen to drive past it. I don’t think it is. Most of downtown Berkeley strikes me as surprising these days; it’s full of new restaurants and cafes that are familiar from having seen them once or twice, but never been inside.
On the way to the game, I’ve become slightly more vigorously pro-Croatia because all the France flags I see on houses and cars—slightly more than zero–and, at the event itself, the many face-painted France fans only confirm my (otherwise quite shallow) underdog sentiment. But I smile at the woman chanting Allez! behind me. Who wouldn’t? Everyone here is having a good time. There’s a long line for coffee at a place that appears to be giving out coffee. I see a kid with a handmade Croatia poster-sign, and suddenly, like that, all the other red-checked shirts in the crowd pop into focus. There they are.
The stream is skittery and glitchy intermittently; they have some problems at the start and we miss the kickoff. It smooths out for a while, just long enough for you to put up with it. A France goal, while I was looking away; Putin’s face comes onscreen, and there’s a slight, muted boooo…. Some more lag, now quite seriously, and the screen freezes for a long minute.
When it starts again, we’re three minutes behind, though we don’t realize it initially; a guy almost directly behind us yells something, with what seems like earnest joy, and I gather he is saying that Croatia has scored. Oh, is the stream behind? Or is he making a joke, pretending that he knows something we don’t?
I’m trying to find the time on my phone when Croatia suddenly scores. This becomes the pattern; when they’re checking the VAR for what will become a penalty kick, and then a goal, my friend checks his phone and observes that, there, France is now up, 2-1. A minute later, a penalty is awarded and when France takes the shot, it of course goes on. The crowd explodes in joy as we watch, unmoved.
At halftime, we move to a nearby restaurant where no one seems to be watching the game, and the TV is much smaller. I miss most of the goals, as we drink coffee and eat eggs; I am reminded, again, what a sad excuse for a football fan I am by my companion, who finds ways to connect a variety of onscreen events to Liverpool, a team he has followed for forty years. I only watch the world cup, really; every four years, I briefly become a football fan, though I’ve learned the limits of my expertise. I watch the movement, the drama, and share in the energy of the crowd. “Sometimes I don’t realize who I wanted to win until the match is over,” my friend says. “I guess I wanted Croatia to win.”
8 AM. PST. Sarah Miller. Heather and Molly’s house. Los Angeles, California, USA.
I stayed at my friends Heather and Molly’s house and I woke up so hungover I wanted to die. I took a cold shower just before the game started. It didn’t help at all. “Why are you wearing a towel?” Heather barked at me, right after France scored for the first time. “Because my clothes are downstairs and I can’t walk,” I said. I wanted her to say she’d go get them but she didn’t. I went and got them, while Croatia scored, of course. I put on a dress and underwear. I couldn’t put a bra on because my arms hurt. I splayed out on the futon and then realized Molly had no space to join us. It took me like fifteen minutes, but I moved over. We said “Wow that guy is so good looking” and “Wow that guy is so ugly,” several times. We said “Is he faking it?” and “Moscow looks hot.” Every few minutes, I groaned.