The Weekender: Returns for Maradona, Landon and The Roots
Landon Donovan’s whirlwind return trip to the United States was a long time coming for MLS. But now the league’s poster boy is back, sparking a theme of revival from Los Angeles to South Africa.
Hip-hop returns. So too does the quintessential No. 10, and Detroit’s favorite male prostitute. Welcome back.
Argentina vs. Germany (Saturday, 10 am ET, ABC)
Diego Maradona is the rare breed of superstar that Americans should adore, if only more of them knew who he was. By US standards, he has it all: drugs, alcohol, debt, trophies and stomach staples. And he’s come back from the brink as the coach of Argentina, who need to get past a young German side who have already exceeded potential in South Africa with a decisive romp over England.
This World Cup has lacked for real, individual star power, thanks to the early exits of Rooney, Ronaldo, Henry, Drogba and Kaká. And that hurts ESPN in their effort to make soccer appeal to a mass American audience who crave individual star power, and always find a way to forgive their stars for any off-the-field discretions. Maradona, then, is the perfect luminary to galvanize continued American interest in this World Cup. The longer he’s around in South Africa, the better.
D.C. United at San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 10 pm ET, MLS DirectKick)
The first real goalkeeping controversy of the year was inevitable. The Quakes’ signing of veteran Jon Busch in the preseason only begged for trouble come summertime, and now Busch has predictably supplanted San Jose fan favorite Joe Cannon in net. It’s an outrage for Cannon, but a welcome return to form for Busch, who’s carved out his identity as one of the league’s most resilient netminders. Saturday’s match is the second of the former Fire goalkeeper’s comeback tour after he posted a clean sheet last week to earn the job.
Seattle Sounders at LA Galaxy (Sunday, 10:30 pm ET, ESPN2)
Donovan is going back into the fray, whether he likes it or not. The US star breezed through New York earlier this week and mentioned he’d like just a few days off for himself and teammate Edson Buddle after an emotionally exhausting run in South Africa. The rest was short-lived for soccer’s man of the moment. He’ll once again carry the MLS torch against a struggling Sounders team, and the folks at the Home Depot Center won’t skimp on the pomp and circumstance. After all, the stars are back in Los Angeles.
Listen Up: The Roots, How I Got Over
New releases from two seminal hip-hop acts have hit the stores in the last two weeks, with vastly different results. Eminem’s Recovery is a retread of tired themes from Slim Shady, but the Roots’ ninth studio album is a welcome return to form for a band famously anchoring the stage on The Jimmy Fallon Show. Keep an ear peeled for appearances from indie-crooners Monsters of Folk, harpist Joanna Newsom and the Dirty Projectors, proving all those nights on a late-night talk show have opened the group up to some new acts, and a great new album follows.
We’re Watching: Hung (Sunday, 10 pm ET, HBO)
If only Vinny Chase had a pimp, instead of Ari Gold. Then maybe another sapped season of Entourage would be as good as Hung, which HBO trotted out for a surprise second season last weekend. Male prostitute/high school history teacher Ray Drecker is still doing the Roxanne thing, but also trying to reconcile with his estranged wife, rebuild his gutted house and somehow guide the underfunded baseball team to the state title. This show ran out of gas in its first season, but the fact the network brought it back in order to flesh out these characters bodes well for a second coming.
Bookmark: Bret Easton Ellis, Imperial Bedrooms
Unfortunately for Ellis, we’re a wholly desensitized group of readers in 2010. Rampant drugs and violence just don’t do it for us like they did in 1985, when Ellis debuted at the age of 21 with Less Than Zero. He’s penned American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction since, but his latest novel revisits the characters of Zero with only mixed success. Skip it and read the original if you haven’t already, but don’t be surprised if 1980s shock value feels like a gentle breeze two and a half decades later.