beer, soccer….decolonization?

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I’ve not always tried to hide my hostility towards alcohol and sports being the main association with the Cascadian bioregion in the popular media as of late (remember the good old days of road blockades and ecological sabotage?)  Well, I might be changing my mind.

With the recent news of a Cascadian “national” team being recognized by the “Non-FIFA Board” and eligible for the VIVA World Cup, the Seattle Weekly gave a giggling write up that I normally would also be laughing at.  But this time it all strikes me differently.  What if every People who are denied Nationhood started their own sports leagues and competed on a global scale?  What a beautiful political statement, right?  Well, it’s already happened and I didn’t really have a clue, and now I can’t wipe the smile off my face!

Seriously:  Tibet.  Kurdistan.  Québec.  Sápmi.  Tamil Eelam.  Padania.  Zanzibar.  Greenland.  Cascadia.  Chechnya.  Provence.

This is starting to sound like a world I want to live in.  Not to mention a sports tournament that would have every pan-successionist giggling in a euphoric stupor.  And at the 2016 VIVA World Cup, I just might be one of them.

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Now, the associations between politics and fútbol are not lost on me, and from an Irish perspective, this kind of thing runs deep.  The world knows of Glasgow’s “Old Firm” rivalry, and the idea of replicating bloody political rivalries in the form of sports teams seems to be a thing that should be avoided like the plague.

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But….this feels different.  And it is.  The league mentions that they organize teams “regardless of political and religious factors.”  Great for us Cascadians, because Cascadia is a place, not a political construction.  In this case, you have an entire league that, quite literally, are a rebel team together.  Thumbing your noise to politics is a political act whether you’re trying to act that way or not, and such behavior is eminently Cascadian!  I mean, how may revolutions started out as illegitimate and laughable?  Umm…. ALL OF THEM!  So come ’16, count me in.  {Éirí Amach na Cásca….Dia?)

And the potential feels so thrilling.  Where is Catalonia!? Been there since 1904, but not recognized by FIFA!  So let’s go!   And how ’bout fielding a 32 county Irish team (Ireland United!!!!)  Seriously, what the hell  is stopping us?

Any Indigenous Nations from Turtle Island or Australia care to join?  The Maori and Sámi have teams, and the latter already has a 21-1 victory over Monaco under their belt.  Do the Republic of Lakotah or Republic of Murrawarri want to field teams?  See how much fun this could be.  Just innocent fun with no political implications, right?

So fútbol has me as a new convert, but what about the relationship between alcohol and colonialism?  I’ve had friends in jail recently from the efforts to shut down the colonial outpost of White Clay, so when the good folks of this fine bioregion champion the dark, bitter double-strenght inebriant we’re draining our rivers for as somehow revolutionary, I balk.

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Oh, and did I mention I’m Irish?  Think I haven’t watched relatives lose their livers rather than face generations of trauma breathing down their necks?  I live in a small watershed with 20 breweries, and despite the claims of capitalist boosters: ALCOHOL ≠ CULTURE.  And do you tourists think that the ongoing colonialism in Ireland isn’t related to our infamous national reputation?  Well, it’s not just a reputation.  Not back on our Island or on the reserves and reservations here on Turtle Island.  It’s a sick reality, a spiritual disease, quite frankly.  And calling out booze culture for always being mysteriously hand in hand with colonialism is something that I will not shy away from (don’t think I just don’t like the stuff….I do, I do).  But if we are going to WARRIOR UP and fight for the land and our communities, we’d best keep in mind what the poison has done to so many resistance movements in the past.  (a high-enzyme, low-gravity, unpasteurized, hop-free home brew in the evening is one thing; half a bottle of Knappogue Castle is another.  I’m not a Puritan, just speaking from experience here.)

Seriously, I love how unique and independent we are out here.  And I love to watch tourists gag on our black bile.  But this stuff has taken my friends and family, in the past and in my lifetime.  Those homeless people you see on the streets, from East Hastings to small-town Oregon; those are our relatives.  We knew them before the spirits had taken them.  No, I can’t just blame fermentation, because that would ignore the history of colonization.  But don’t think your drink  isn’t part and parcel of that history.  Would that Cascadian culture meant sacred and herbal ferments and not over-hopped barley wine, there may be a healthy relationship to evolve into with the spirits.  But this is a war, and the poison is their weapon.  Don’t forget that too soon.

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So up the CAFF!  Down with their alcoholic regime.  And at the very least, let’s make decolonization an unpasteurized phenomenon!?  I’ll be the guy at the pub drinking the NA piss yelling “Tiocfaidh ár lá” when the band plays ‘Back Home in Derry’

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