Landon Donovan - The Queefcore of American Sports.
There's this Felt song called "I Will Die With My Head in Flames" that I sometimes think of when I think of Landon Donovan. Not because he'd like it — it's existential mid-'80s jangle-pop, and his taste trends more toward SUV-Bluetooth music, or whatever you want to call the Venn diagram intersection that includes both T.I. and the Fray.1 A certain type of SoCal white-dude uncoolness has become as central to his image as his rank as the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. men's national soccer team; if you doubt this, please examine the covers of the first two 9-and-up children's biographies to answer an Amazon search for his name. There's Landon Donovan: World-Class Soccer Star, part of Robbie Readers' "No Hands Allowed" series, which shows a sweaty and dumbstruck-looking Donovan peering out of a blue letterbox with an expression that says "I never thought my best friend would total my Jeep." And then there's World's Greatest Athletes: Landon Donovan, on which a Photoshop cutout of Donovan with the contrast jacked way up is unconvincingly triumph-roaring in front of a psychedelic prism-spray that Phish once borrowed from Widespread Panic on the way to Burning Man. Apart from maybe this infamous piece of drinking-fountain erotica that ran in 2002 in the New York Times Magazine, are there any more perfect representations of how Donovan is generally perceived?
The reason I think of "I Will Die With My Head in Flames" when I watch Landon Donovan is simply that he often seems like he is — inwardly, while you look at him — dying with his head in flames. There's a reserve about him, a kind of massive carefulness, that seems to conceal a desperation. In postmatch interviews, you'll occasionally catch him looking so self-conscious that he's almost paralyzed. Whenever that happens, I can't help picturing tiny soccer players running around on a tiny pitch inside his head, waving tiny arms, torches from the neck up.
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