Municipal de Fútbol, where Angelenos do not fear to tread

Lafayette Park prompts Doyle’s ode to a panoply of personalities, including “the short-tempered fuckups who send the ball high—really high—up and over the fence into the backyard of the LA Superior Court building,” the field’s iconic backdrop. (Photograph © 2008 Michael Wells from Municipal de Fútbol, © 2008 Christoph Keller Editions, Textfield. Used by permission.)

The Anschutz Entertainment Group’s aspirations of rolling out David Beckham and soccer as mass-market American consumables have lost momentum in recent weeks. The fantasy of sole proprietorship over the world’s most marketed sportsman has devolved into a “time-sharing” agreement with AC Milan, as if LA Galaxy had scaled back its desires to occasional access to an ocean-view condo in Malibu.

On Beckham’s signing in 2007, AEG president Timothy Leiweke described him as “the only individual that can build the bridge between soccer in America and the rest of the world” (22 Jan and 27 May 07). Tens of thousands of Angelenos and Angelenas who make the city one of the country’s most vibrant settings for grassroots fútbol must have asked themselves, “Huh?”

Jennifer Doyle

Doyle

The multimedia project Municipal de Fútbol, published in 2008, further places Leiweke’s comment in the realm of bizarro. Jennifer Doyle, author of two essays in the collection and creator of From a Left Wing, calls pickup and amateur soccer the city’s most developed subculture.

A novice player who took to the patchwork of freeway-abutting, hardscrabble and artificial surfaces five years ago, Doyle pushed through the barrier that the male-dominated environment presents and discovered a creative realm that can break down walls between tenured university professors such as herself and, for example, fashioners of cardboard boxes. Professor of American literature and gender studies in the University of California system, Doyle in a podcast Jan 29 speaks of the subtleties in defending two 55-gallon drums that mark goals on the bedrock of Lafayette Park, shadowed by a landmark magnolia and the glass of Los Angeles Superior Court (see photo above). The experience of Lafayette, which at night becomes a soccer dreamscape with games stretching to 2 or 3 a.m., has helped her craft opponents and teammates into literary figures:

You look at your opponent’s goal and your heart sinks: standing there is Chilavert, a burly man with baseball mitts for hands. You might be left dumbfounded by Tenge—a teenage lothario dancing up the field with the ball at his feet and a phone to his ear—he tells his girlfriend that he’s on his way home as he dummies right only to lift the ball into the air and knee it around your left. (Lafayette Park, 83)

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