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Original Issue


A Frenchman's view

Football was new to Artist André Fran√ßois when he went to an Ohio State-Michigan State game. But he was delighted to paint the colorful carnival crowds and blazing effigies so reminiscent of Old World fiestas

A skeleton hangman with his helpless victim suggested 'something macabre and medieval' to François, who named his painting of the half-time ceremony 'La Mort' (Death). Very much more alive are the strutting drum majors and their high-stepping bands. 'An incredible waste of energy,' François wrote admiringly, 'two gamecocks in a pompous dance.'

François was fascinated by the players' size and their uniforms. 'They are a mixture of supermen and Teutonic Knights,' he wrote in describing the men in the paintings at right. 'Their capes will unfold and the giant vampire bats will take to the air.' But, like many foreign observers, he found football confusing. 'It is a wrestling competition,' he said. 'The thing which still mystifies me: What do they use the ball for?'

Fran√ßois' favorite discovery at East Lansing was the souvenir hawker. 'Like Columbus' Santa Maria,' he wrote ecstatically, 'the button man sails. Ropes and masts and flags—and two legs. What a ship!'