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THE VIEW FROM THE STANDS

My article about the Beşiktaş JK soccer fan group Çarşı just came out in the March 7 issue of the New Yorker, on newsstands now, with two really beautiful photographs by Kate Brooks.  There’s also a podcast online.

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One of my favorite Beşiktaş banners wasn’t mentioned in the piece, so I will share it with you here.  It was unveiled in 2009 after the untimely passing of the King of Pop:

mj

“YOU WHO LIVED HALF OF YOUR LIFE BLACK AND THE OTHER HALF WHITE, GREAT BEŞIKTAŞLI MICHAEL JACKSON, MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PEACE.”

mj1

mj2

A huge thanks to the many, many people who helped with the story/ fact-checking, including but not limited to Alaattin Çam, Ayhan Güner, Alen Markaryan, Ahmet Özdemir, Bahar Kader, Barış Kahraman, Deniz Demirci, Paul Hallam, Yağmur Nuhrat, Zeki Demirkubuz, and my very dear Fenerbahçeli cousin, Evrim Aksoy. Lastly, a shout-out to valued Beşiktaşlı ornithological consultant Çağan Şekercioğlu for his help with the taxonomy of the Beşiktaş “black eagle.” Sağolun cocuklar!

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22 Responses to “THE VIEW FROM THE STANDS”

  1. Michael Says:

    You forgot to mention the most important fact – Did the King of Pop’s soul shine down on his supporters and bring them a victory in the match that banner was put up or did their opponent’s have an even more powerful celestial fan – if that’s even possible?

    Great article, by the way. Will your LRB lecture ever be published? It sounds fantastic too.

    - Michael

  2. Anthony Says:

    Fantastic picture. And mindblowing article. I read to myself while dining alone in a Russian restaurant in Tallinn, and was laughing out loud to myself while people were looking at me. It was awesome. Thanks for writing!

  3. Elif Says:

    thanks for the super-kind comments! i can just imagine that restaurant in tallinn. embarrassed to say i don’t know the score on the mj match, whether the king was trumped by, like, jesus, etc… thanks for the interest in the lecture!! no publication plans yet, but i will post here if this changes.

  4. Bahadır Damatoğlu Says:

    Elif Hanım merhaba. newyorker’daki sohbetinizi dinledim ve inanılmaz keyif aldım. Arada müstehcen tezahüratlar duyulsa da :)
    7 Mart’taki yazınızı heyecanla bekliyorum. Dolmabahçe’ye tekrar bekleriz…
    Tebrik ve teşekkür…

  5. Bahadır Damatoğlu Says:

    I wish that writing in turkish didn’t make you mad. İ felt that i coul describe my pleasure better by that way.
    whatever. you can find one more thing about çarşi’s relationship with mj.http://www.cnnturk.com/2009/yasam/diger/06/30/michael.jackson.icin.anma.duvari/533086.0/index.html

    and baba hakki’s ,who’s legendary player and president of beşiktaş, looking view to life can describe something that what being a beşiktaş supporter is.

    he says “you can not be a good fan of beşiktaş without being a good human.”

    hakki means fair or truthful

    and şeref bey is the founder of beşiktaş
    şeref means honour as you know.

    fans of beşiktaş says to their players “play with honour and win fair”
    this is the motto “şerefinizle oynayın, hakkınızla kazanın”

    best regards…

  6. cokyasa Says:

    http://img51.imageshack.us/i/carsidan.jpg/

    http://www.cnnturk.com/2009/yasam/diger/06/30/michael.jackson.icin.anma.duvari/533086.0/index.html

  7. Fatih Says:

    Hi Elif,
    Great article. I was cracking up when I heard the “Opera to fenerbahce” on the podcast. Got to mention one thing though. When you said “they hate fenerbahce, because all they want is win” is not entirely right. Every team wants to win of course, but the way they want to win is thru cheating. You just have to follow to understand what I mean. Also if you go to Turkey and ask any team supporters except for there own, they will tell you how much they hate them. You can’t find a single person who will say I don’t hate them.

    Thanks for the article again. Altough I live in the states for few years now, I still follow my “Beloved”. As we always say:
    Black-White
    Life-Death

  8. Efe Cevikogullari Says:

    Elif Hanım,

    New Yorker sohbetinizi dinledim gerçekten çok başarılı olmuş. Umarım sizi tekrar Beşiktaş’ta ağırlayabiliriz… Başarılarınızın devamını dilerim…
    Aslolan hayattır, hayatta Beşiktaş…

  9. Omer Says:

    absolutely great article.. I cannot tell you how I felt so proud while listening to the podcast. thank you!

  10. Eray Says:

    I hope we can find this issue in Turkey.

  11. Jim Says:

    ELif: Loved the article on Carsi. Especially intrigued by the broad nature of what fans projected on their team. Almost a Balkan-ization of the fan base within Istanbul. More interesting was how their love of Besiktas exceeded purely nationalistic fervor, applauding the teams “most human traits” and professing abiding love. Lovers and Fighters. I compare your article favorably to Tim Park’s book “My life with Verona.” Keep up the good work. Jim

  12. senol tatar Says:

    Merhabalar,öncelikle çabanızdan dolayı tebrik etmek isterim sizi elif en azından denediniz çarşı ile beşiktaş ile ilgili haber yapabilmeyi başarabildinizmi?sanırım hayır,şu ana kadar dergiye bakamadım sadece internetden makalenizle ilgili bir kaç yazı ve bir kaç resim gördüm gördüklerimin hepsi daha önceden yazılmış daha önceden fotoğraflanmış artık bana göre klişe olmuş bayağılaşmış sıradanlaşmış yazılardı,kendinizden bir şeyler verdiğinizi düşünmüyorum,bu beni öylesine üzdüki bununla ilgili özeleştiri yapma gereği duyuyorum,diyoruzki çarşı bir ruhdur bedene indirgenemez,ruh kalıcıdır beden ise gelip geçici peki ya o bedenleri kaldırıp bir kenara atabilirmiyiz ?hayır bunu yapabilmek için bunun için bir emek verilmesi icab eder,anlamadıysanız söyle açıklıycam örnek bir okul düşünün ve o okulun öğrencilerini okul yeni kurulmuş inşasında çalışan oluşumuna yardım eden temelinde emeği olan öğrenciler yarınlarda okulla ilgili araştırma yapıldığında o taşları koyan öğrencileri ve hatta öğretmenleri unutursa o araştırma ne kadar başarılı olur bir düşünün.

    Şimdi sormak istiyorum siz yazınızı yazmadan önce çArşı grubu hakkında düşünceniz neydi,dunyanın sayılı taraftar gruplarından olan çarşı grubunun kuruluşunu oluşumda verilen emekleri bu uğurda yaralanan ölen insanları yazdınızmı yazmayı bırakın araştırdınızmı sadece ve sadece birilerinin söylediklerinden yola çıkarakmı yaptınız bu 16 sayfalık haberi insanlara verebileceğiniz sadece bumu?

    Bizim daha dogrusu kendi başıma benim populer olmak daha fazla meshur olmak sizin yada başkalarının sayesinde daha fazla tanınmak gibi bir ihtiyacım yok grubumunda çünkü bu bize yarardan fazla zarar vermeye başladı eğer sorsaydınız söylerdim sormadınız sormadılar,hayat toz pemde göründü herkes gulduklerını sevinclerini söyledi yazdınız acılarımızı kederlerimizi hüzünlerimizi merak etmediniz objektif olmadınız,sanırım yazdıgınız kitaptada rus ebedıyatından yazarların dunyasından alıntılar yapıyorsunuz ben gogol u bilirim olu canlar kitabını okudum nedendir bilmem en sevdigim kitaplar rus yazarların oluyor sanırım acılar kederler tum gercekcılıgıyle anlatılıyor rus halkının sıkıntıları yoksulluklar filan,hayat hep dügün bayram değildir hayatta cenazede var hastanede ambulansda,sizden özel ricam bu konularıda araştırmanız tam anlamıyla gerçekleri yazabilmeniz

    Eleştirim için kusura bakmayın hayat bana her zaman bunu ögretti artı ve eksinin oldugunu unutmamayı,beni hatırlarsınız inönüde bir maçta size ve yanınızdaki hanıma çarşı stickerlerı vermıstım tesekkur etmıstınız diğer hanım arkadasınıza vererek stickerları o zaman kim oldugunuzu bilmiyordum tanıstırılmadık ama saglık olsun siz yeterince insanla tanısmıssınız ve yeteri kadar bilgi almışsınız onlardan :(

    Gelecek vadeden bir yazar oldugunuzu bende dusunuyorum bunu gülüsünüzün samimiyetinden anladım içten ve sıcaktı yapmacık değildi nede olsa büyük sehirde yasıyoruz insanları tanıyabiliyoruz rol yapanları ayırt edebiliyoruz nede olsa kahpe bizans da yaşıyoruz.

    Tekrar çabalarınız için sonsuz teşekkürler umarım bana yazımdan dolayı kızmaz bununda insana özgü bir duygu oldugunu bununda bir hak oldugunu unutmazsınız sevgilerimle.

    TATAR ŞENOL çArşı semt

  13. Greg Says:

    Hey, can you (or anyone) explain the logic the the New Yorker uses when it decides to print ş, ç & ü, but not ı, ğ, or İ?I find this perplexing… (And: it was a really wonderful article!)

  14. Colin Says:

    I thought it might have been house style—UK newspapers will put the diacritics in French or German words but normally not bother with those in Czech—but ş seems a bit recondite to be let through.

    Boringly/technically, ş isn’t in Windows-1252 or ISO-8859-1 whereas ç and ü are, which might account for those two.

  15. Nick Says:

    *loved* both the story and the podcast. Did you – have you? – visited the other Istanbul clubs?

  16. Joshua Korn Says:

    Elif,

    Congrats on your terry southern prize for humor. You deserve it, you are funny!
    I loved “The Possessed.” Keep up the good work.

  17. Dave Lull Says:

    Paris Review – The Revel
    April Ayers Lawson Wins Plimpton Prize; Elif Batuman Wins Inaugural Terry Southern Prize for Humor

    March 23, 2011 | by Lorin Stein

    http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/03/23/april-ayers-lawson-wins-plimpton-prize-elif-batuman-wins-inaugural-terry-southern-prize-for-humor/

  18. maxim mackay-james Says:

    Elif Hanim,
    But no, I can’t go on… your native tongue is quite beyond me… however, last Tuesday you did materialise within “my” (our) dialogic blog… so for another “view from the stands” see here: – http://walkingtalkingwriting.typepad.com/walkingtalkingwriting/2011/03/undertow-kick-backs-and-backwash-mmj.html
    - and as a result I DID read ‘chapter 1′ of your dissertation online. Would you PLEASE send me the rest of the doc.
    Many thanks

  19. Tom Rigby Says:

    Really enjoyed the article on Besiktas (excuse the orthography: I’m writing from an iPhone). Was surprised that you didn’t mention the Nika riot – probably the most bloody sport related conflagration in history – which occurred in Constantinople in the 6th century. Would it be drawing a long bow to say there is still an undercurrent in Istanbul society of the clannish spirit which fuelled those riots 1500 years ago?

    Congratulations for winning that PR prize!

    TR

  20. Toni Scott Says:

    Your article in the March 7, 2011 “the view from the stands” (NYer) mag was brilliant. I wanted to send a copy to my son and i tore it out of the issue but now can’t find it! being a suscriber to the ny’er i went to the site and although i can see it in the archives when i go to print it says ‘closed’ not quite understanding that. I’ve written them but that’s a story for Gogol. is it on the web anywhere so i can print it? much obliged. i like to gather up articles written about people in their twenties and that give a picture of their cultural environment “right now” and send him. i have ones from syria, china, england and libya. i got the idea from reading your article which i so enjoyed, so you can see why i want to find a copy. thank you so much! t scott

  21. Dave Lull Says:

    Sport overcomes politics as Turkey hosts Israelis amid rising tensions
    By Ben Hartman, for CNN
    updated 7:18 AM EST, Thu September 22, 2011

    [. . .]

    Elif Batuman, a regular contributor to The New Yorker and a writer-in-residence at Koc University, described the Besiktas squad as “the more working-class team.”

    “Of the three main Istanbul teams, Besiktas is kind of the underdog. They have the least money, the most run-down stadium,” she said.

    “With the other two big Istanbul teams (Galatasaray and Fenerbahce), the stadiums don’t have any particular ties to their neighborhoods, and the fan bases are more spread out. They call themselves the neighborhood team, the people’s team.”

    Ahead of a talk on Turkish soccer at an art gallery in central Istanbul the day before the match, Batuman described Besiktas supporters as being tied not only to the neighborhood but also, to some extent, to a political way of life.

    “They’re the most political of the soccer teams: they support Greenpeace, they do blood drives, they’re environmentalists. They’re definitely not pro-American, the ones I’ve talked to, but they say they don’t dislike Americans, only American policy. They are also definitely not pro-Israel and they support the Palestinians.”

    He said the match against Maccabi, the most successful club in Israel, was “clearly seen as a rallying event.”

    [. . .]

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/22/sport/football/football-turkey-israel-besiktas-maccabi/

  22. Dave Lull Says:

    Mail & Guardian Online
    In The Paper | Sport | Sport | Soccer
    Top teams mop up the market
    PERCY ZVOMUYA Sep 23 2011 14:06

    [. . .]

    In some ways Arsenal reminds me of Turkish team Besiktas, a club with fortunes that do not compare at all with those of Turkey’s top two sides, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. The chant of their fans, captured by the New Yorker’s Elif Batuman, is: “Besiktas is the most surreal team in the world. Fenerbahce and Galatasaray care only about winning, but Besiktas is essentially irrational and therefore essentially human.”

    This is, to be sure, not a celebration of mediocrity but a recognition of the essentially irrational nature of football, which is what endeared it to fans in the first place. It was unpredictable, it was competitive; a mirror of life’s troughs and highs.

    [. . .]

    http://mg.co.za/article/2011-09-23-top-teams-mop-up-the-market/

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