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This week, I decided to become interested in the football World Cup. I know, I know: there’s only one game left. But it’s, like, the best one, right?

I typically stay away from sports for the same reason I stay away from religion and nationalism: I have just never really felt any of these things. That’s despite (and perhaps because of) the fact that I’ve always been surrounded by people who have felt strongly about a team, a god, or a country over another. I get that it’s one way for people to express their identification with a place—That’s my city’s team; those are my people—but to me, a lot of sports-related fervor seems arbitrary and overly tribalistic. That’s why I’ve only been following the FIFA World Cup so far on Twitter, which seemed like a safe distance.

France’s ascent in the tournament has, however, caught my attention. I don’t have any real ties to the country as a whole—in fact, I tend to disfavor former colonizers in global sporting events on principle—but I have realized that I care about its players. I’ve reported in some of the banlieues of Paris, suburbs that aren’t far from where many of them—including the formidable Kylian Mbappé—come from. These are areas that have, in many ways, been stigmatized by French policy, and its residents of immigrant background—especially Muslim ones from former colonies—continue to be treated as the other. It’s as if they cannot be French enough.

It’s ironic then, as Clint Smith notes in The New Yorker, that it’s these black and brown young men who dominate the field in their blue kits, taking the nation to victory. These are the Frenchest of the French, the true faces of the country—and yet, many in the French establishment have not accepted that. So while I don’t subscribe to the “us vs. them” aspect of sports, let’s just say I will feel something if the banlieusards win this one.

The young members of Bondy Football Club watching Mbappé in the France vs. Belgium match. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)

What we’ve been writing:

The country club is dead; long live the (millennial-oriented) country club. ¤ Inadvertent lessons on segregation from HGTV’s “House Hunters.”¤ A cultural history of the family road trip. ¤ We need to talk about farting on public transit. ¤ In London, a “carnival of resistance” brews in response to the American president. ¤ A Soviet-era synthpop ode to cars. ¤

(@marcrodriguez)

What we’ve been taking in:

“Regardless of the number value, barbershop signs from Ghanaian painters, like the movie posters, left a lasting legacy in the art world.” (Atlas Obscura) ¤ The original map of the fictional home of Winnie-the-Pooh just sold for some big bucks. (Reuters) ¤ “To eat out alone is to partake of a city.” (Longreads) ¤ Are outsiders … gentrifying Cairo’s belly dancing scene? (New York Times) ¤ The skyscraper in Skyscraper is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s real nemesis. (The Ringer) ¤ The “dancing plague of Strasbourg” started in 1518, “when a lone woman stepped outside her house and jigged for several days on end.” (The Guardian) ¤

An audio recommendation from me: This episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour follows writer Carmen Maria Machado—a favorite of mine—in a stroll through her hometown farmers’ market. It also features jazz musician Kamasi Washington and a report on extreme downhill bike racing in the heart of the Navajo Nation. “That’s my horse, it takes me places,” Vincent Salabye, one of the bikers says in the episode.”That's how my mind-set is, just trying to explore the lands I always grew up on.”

View from the ground:

@brmarin23 captured the energy of Bourbon Street, New Orleans; @nikolai_em gave us a glimpse inside La Vega in Caracas, Venezuela; @mallory_wanders photographed the bustle of Manhattan’s Lower East Side; and @yanaazova froze a peaceful moment from an early morning excursion in Hong Kong.

Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground!

Over and out,

Tanvi

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