• Join me August 15th for "Put a Razorblade in Your Chick-fil-A Sandwich and Threaten to Sue" Day. Void where prohibited.
• I've tried to ignore the Olympics, and especially NBC's "coverage" of the Olympics; I've tried to write about them three times now without ever finishing anything. Maybe I can do it by bullet point:
• Usain Bolt is the greatest Olympian since Aleksandr Karelin, and the greatest Track and Field champion since Al Oerter. And he gets no respect from the American media, for being insufficiently American. And for "showboating". This from a country so besotted with itself that every one of its winning athletes is required to parade around using Old Glory as a bath towel.
"He's up to his antics again," I heard someone voice over some video, and even if I remembered who or where I'd be too embarrassed to admit what I was watching, because there's an outside chance it was Today. The man left daylight between himself and the first 100 meter field in history where everybody broke ten seconds. And that's the second time he's done it. If you don't understand how astonishing that is then quit watching sports. Compare what Chad Ochocinco Johnson does every time he manages to catch a ball. Brandi-with-an-i Chastain rips off her uniform and it's a Hallmark moment. Fuck you people.
• Plus he's not 16 years old. For fuck's sake, it wasn't so many Quadrennial Games ago that Gymnastics started bleeding over into the second week. Now the damned thing goes on for a month.
• Goodbye, Lolo Jones, and please do not return as a lesbian, recovering drug addict, or Dancin' with the Stars crowd favorite.
The New York Times published this indictment of Jones' PR hype, which sent Deadspin and many of its commenters into Bud Light-redolent paroxysms. Because, you know, if we didn't manufacture bigger than Life sports "personalities", why have sports?
My favorite comments were the Leave Lolo Alone guy who opined that she had a right to earn a living and support her family, and the I'm A Christian guy, who said he didn't see anything wrong with her (tastefully) nude photo spread. The Mitt Romney Defense, and the Scriptures? I Don't Need No Scriptures! I Believe in the Bible! Gambit.
• And all of this traces to Roone Arledge, the Gene Roddenberry of Entertainment. (Where are these two buried, anyway? My prostate's not gettin' any younger.) I've been amused by all the complaints about NBC's coverage, since it's precisely what is deserved in a country where the question of Just How Sacred entrepreneurial resource gobbling is is a fucking Presidential campaign issue. Arledge was President of ABC Sports in '68, when satellite transmission first made live coverage feasible, and where Tommie Smith and John Carlos did their Black Power salute on the medals stand (and George Foreman waved a tiny flag).
People forget, now; it wasn't the case that Smith and Carlos were ostracized by people who didn't care for their style, or their politics. They were thrown out of the Olympic Village, and they and their families hounded in the US.
'72 was the Munich Massacre. Which has overshadowed everything about those Games, including that they were the first to feature an Official large stuffed mascot and tiny adorable gymnast beloved of an American audience. Which led directly to Montreal '76, the contrived perfection of adorable little Nadia Comaneci, the flag-waving of Bruce Jenner, and an opportunity for the wealthiest, best-placed, and most telegenic-by-the-standards-of-the-coveted-non-sports-viewer-demographic International Committees to make hundreds of millions from teevee rights at the expense of everything the Olympics is supposed to be about.
So of course NBC time-shifts everything to make a buck ("earn back its investment", which was basically designed to lose millions in order to keep the franchise). Of course they're only interested in crap storylines, and the promotion machine, and moving bran flakes. Of course if you're watching the Beeb you can chose from 100 simultaneous live feeds. Their people still have brains enough to spot shameless self-promotion (even if they don't always object).
And might I just point out: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, like Lee Evans, spent their lives helping young people. George Foreman perfected the waffle iron. Bruce Jenner was hit by one.
• And "Beach" "Volleyball" is neither, and it's not a sport. Catching a ball and throwing it over a net is not volleyball. And if you're too lazy to find the Maxim website to jerk off to, just go away. There, I said it, and I'm not taking it back.
• Closer to home, the Republican Tundra (the trees are all the right height, or recently bulldozed) that is Carmel, Indiana, finds itself $250 mil in the hole, somehow, from building a $40 million Arts palace. Don't ask me, I don't understand it any better than you do, or they, apparently. They had learned from Indianapolis how to create an un-elected, unaccountable, unsupervised body with tax powers in order to build shit on land owned by people who wanted to make a lot of money off it. Then, poof! they're in debt. Or "experiencing a temporary revenue shortfall" as their mayor put it. Apparently there is still hope that the hotel they've planned to go along with this will generate enough property taxes to pay for the infrastructure they have to build in order to build a hotel. I'm not making this up. This is Hamilton county, Indiana's most Republican political subdivision.
All this is right on the Monon Trail, which I ride every day, and which people in Carmel screamed bloody murder about, originally, because it would bring undesirables into their neighborhoods. Which it has. At least one.
And just a few blocks away sits the rubble of the old Grain elevator the city knocked down about as fast as Bob Irsay moved the Colts out of Baltimore, because 1) they had a buyer and 2) and maybe most importantly, there was public opposition building to the move. At first this was just an historical preservation deal; later people started asking questions about histoplasmosis. In the event those proved to be relatively minor, since the place was storing large quantities of a couple of pesticides, and no one bothered to check until the wrecking ball released it all into the atmosphere.
In fairness, they were in a hurry.
So now there's a particularly historic and toxic pile of broken concrete next to my daily ride, and the entrepreneurial (and anti-regulation) geniuses in the White North are reopening bids to have someone competent do the job.
Which just brings up one question: is there ever going to be enough evidence for the American voter to recognize the obvious?