Much like the major TV networks, I’m kicking off the summer with some reruns: Last year’s Olympic Games essays from my prior website.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Lolo and Shawn- a study in contrasts
Much like the experience you will likely receive if you tune into MSNBC expecting actual news this August, Salisbury Snake will be leaving it’s wheelhouse a bit this Summer in order to bring you Olympics coverage, whether you like it or not. And considering the article I’ve done that’s received the most hits of any so far, I can presume that you might not mind the change of pace.
I love the Olympics. There’s nothing like it. It brings together the people who are the greatest athletes alive from across the planet and squeezes out the best and worst in them for our entertainment. It’s a saga with thousands of stories inside of it, personal stories of triumph over long odds, bitter rivalries, breathtaking beauty, and intense brutality. The Unexpected. You might not be a sports fan. You don’t have to be. This isn’t about sports. It’s about the theater of life at it’s absolute most dramatic.
This ain’t my first rodeo. I live someplace that gets real hot and humid by August, I like to lay low and watch the show. And if I’m gonna watch the show, I might as well let you know what I think about it. So let’s twist again, like we did in the Summer of 2008.
First thing’s first: Where now are the heroes and villains of Beijing? Between now and the kickoff of the events in late July, I’ll be exploring that here at Salisbury Snake. Excitable foreigners here looking for obscure comics, hang loose. I’ll never forget you.
We’ll start with the two that are most compelling to me. Lolo Jones and Shawn Johnson. From 8/18/08:
You are Lolo Jones, and your life is devoid of meaning.
You’re 26. You’ve made it through adversity in life by focusing on something. Something you’re good at. Something remarkable. Something you can do that few can, and something that can make you a little bit famous. Rich, by most estimations.
You were right on the way to a Gold Medal, but your knee clipped that last hurdle. You were lucky to finish at all. Hero to zero in a fraction of a second. You’re going home with nothing to show for it. You’ve got bills to pay. In 4 years you’ll be too old and beat up to try this again.
And so you weep.
Let’s try another one.
You are Shawn Johnson’s mom. Your husband works 2 jobs and there’s a second mortgage on your small house, the one you moved into after you sold the bigger one a couple years ago.
Your 16 year old little girl is very bright and very talented. You would’ve been happy with any productive thing she would’ve been interested in. She’s special to you, but it turns out that she might be special to the whole world, too.
Your Shawn Johnson is Shawn Johnson: one of the greatest gymnasts alive.
She needs to practice and hone her skill, she’s driven. She has a goal beyond anything you could have ever conceived of. You work a job and go to bed at night in order to wake up and do the same again tomorrow. You watch TV to pass the time. You are like most of us. But your daughter is not.
You could squash her and make her like you. You could tell her that reality just isn’t what her dreams are.
But you don’t. Instead, you hire a coach, you install training apparatus in the basement, you drive her around to different competitions all over the country. You make sure she gets good grades, that she is eating right and in good health mentally and physically. You want her to be happy, and to her that means success on an epic scale. Beyond anything you, as a mere mortal, would ever conceive of.
And now her dreams are reality. Gold Medal.
And so you weep.
Four years later, Shawn Johnson is retired at age 20. An injury she took while skiing (of all things) continued to acerbate, she was faced with the reality of never being as good as she had been while systematically damaging her quality of life going into adulthood. The Chinese press took their revenge on the girl who beat them out, which sadly took it’s toll. She continued to work hard and apply herself, but she couldn’t reach the heights she could before, her knee just kept hurting and this shit all got in her head. She’s now unsure of what to do with her life, even more so than your average 20 year old. Can you imagine? At least she’s got Dancing With The Stars.
As it turns out, Lolo doesn’t have to consider the end of her career, not just yet. Is she as quick as she was at her peak, when she was on the verge of being the fastest the world had ever seen? Probably not. She almost didn’t make the team. But she might just still be fast enough. Running hurdles is everything she is. She was often homeless growing up, her gift was her ticket out of a bad life as she ran herself into scholarships. Her faith in God is absolute. Just now, she’s probably best known for admitting publicly to being a virgin. In our time in America, this is apparently extremely newsworthy. But she said it best:
“I’m trying to concentrate on the Olympics…let me get this medal for Team U.S.A.”
The most awesome thing that happened today: a Kung-Fu Cuban took too much recovery time in the middle of a round and got the DQ. He then reacted by kicking the ref square in the face. Tear it up! He’s now been banned for life and will now forever be that guy who kicked the ref in the in the face. Good job, Castro.
The actions of Angel Valodia Matos resulted in the head of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF, draw your own conclusions) issuing a harsh statement. “It was an insult to the Olympic vision, to the spirit of taekwondo and for me, an insult to mankind.” Which, you know, maybe the first two.
Castro, on the other hand, thought it was awesome. “They (Referring to the entire rest of the world) had tried to buy his own coach,” Castro wrote in his essay, published in state media. “He could not contain himself (next time somebody does something I don’t like, I’ll knock their teeth out and then say I was just too excited to cope). I saw when the judges blatantly stole fights from two Cuban boxers in the semi-finals,” Castro wrote. “Our fighters had hopes of winning, despite the judges, but it was useless. They were condemned beforehand.” Yeah, everybody is always out to get you, aren’t they, Castro? It’s always about Castro.
Funky Fidel vowed to build an athletic strikeforce for this year designed to destroy “European chauvinism, judge corruption, buying of brawn and brains…and a strong dose of racism.” Does it bother anyone else that JFK got his brains blown out and Reagan died of old age, but that dickweed is still down there?
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Opening Ceremony
The big question was, how could the UK put on a show that would compare to the demonstration of Chinese Empirical Power 4 years ago?
Turns out, they just had to employ wit, charm, and the considerable talent of their chief celebrities. You’ve got thousands of programmed slaves beating drums in unison? England’s got James Bond and Paul McCartney. Not to mention Patsy and Edina. Front On That.
So here we are again, four years on. America’s got a recent tragedy fresh on our minds and an ugly Presidential race looming in our future. Now’s the time to for some escapism. Let’s get weird.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Team America’s Grand Entrance
They would presumably like to put their best foot forward before the entire planet, but unfortunately they’re way too busy fucking with their cellphones to bother to be engaged in what might be the single greatest moment of their lives. Make sure you get that pic of you and Le-Bron on your facebook as soon as possible, kid. God forbid you would leave it to every media outlet in the free world to record the moment for you.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: The Hidden Contention
Michael Phelps swears he doesn’t, but somewhere inside of him, he has to hate Ryan Lochte. As gracious as both men are, every so often you catch a glimpse of a glare, a stray loaded word in an interview. Lochte’s getting the commercials. AT&T, shaving razors. He hot dogs on motor bikes and skateboards, which worries the coaches, gives him some Rock & Roll cache. Works out by throwing a huge truck tire around like he’s Clubber Lang or something. Phelps is like able enough, but he’s not particularly charismatic. By comparison, Ryan Lochte is a rebellious badass. Or at least, he can be sold as one. He just won the gold in the 400, almost beat Phelps’ record. Phelps didn’t place, for the first time since 2000. Lochte’s response: “I knew I could.” Phelps: “It was a crappy race.”
Phelps faced down the ultimate comedown after Beijing. Has he lost the eye of the tiger? Was he prepared for this? Could anyone be? Adversity is introducing Michael Phelps to himself right about now. We’re all going to see what he’s made of.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Meet Our Beach Volleyball Teams
This is Jen Kessy and April Ross.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Swimming Dudes and Chicks
Today’s FOT Olympic Coverage is brought to you by Old Spice Gel Douche.Old Spice Gel Douche was created in a laboratory for you to use in your lavatory. It keeps all of your extremities fresh and effervescent, with just a hint of a weird chemical smell, which comes as a result of the fact that it is made from weird chemicals.How do they make soap, anyway?
Speaking of Olympic Douches, remember Alain Bernard? He was the Frenchman who claimed that he and his team would crush America in the swim relay at Beijing and then lost in a scene that would’ve been considered too unrealistic to be included in a fictional movie about swimming when America’s Jason Lezak won the race for us by a tiny fraction of a second.
Well, Bernard didn’t make it on the team this year, but the French are still menacing us in the pool. Don’t think that sentence wasn’t painful to type. That’s right, the French beat America in the relay this time out. Screw you, France. It’s not over yet.
Bring on the chicks!
That’s 17 year old swimmer Missy Franklin showing off her (in)famous dance skills. Although no video seems to exist (I scoured youtube like any journalist of my stature would), she’s become well known for her groove.
So well known, in fact, that you might not have even heard that the somewhat less photogenic Dana Vollmer not only just won gold, but beat a world record.
I’m not even going to post a picture of her.
But on second thought…
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Ryan Lochte Beat By A Little Girl
She just beat Ryan Lochte’s time and nailed a world record to win gold in a race NBC aired at about 2 PM on Monday. She’s 16, Chinese, has a poor turnaround (which I know because the commentator said so), and has perhaps been chemically altered in some way. If she hasn’t already peed in a cup, I predict she shall be required to soon. “I used up all my pee in the pool, you’ll have to wait” a source told me she said. I cannot reveal my source. He goes by the alias “The Wee Yellow Whizzer.” My personal belief is that ingesting chemicals is bad and you shouldn’t do it.
This FOT Olympics Coverage update has been brought to you by Dow Chemical.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Synchronized Diving
I wonder what it’s like to hang out with Synchronized Divers? Do they talk about things besides Synchronized Diving? I bet it gets boring as hell. When the cameras show us Greg Louganis in a yellow Ed Hardy shirt up in the stands during the diving, he’s talking to the dude with him. He could only be talking about diving. I bet he talks about his workout regiment, whether he likes lifts or stretches, his special diet of protein and foliage, his special speedos, the color of them, the way they fit, the best place to go to the tanning bed, the best kind of tanning bed, if he likes twisting or spinning better. I bet Greg Louganis never shuts the fuck up about goddamn motherfucking diving off a board. It’s been 20 fucking years, and still, it’s all about the diving board.
And there’s only one of him. I bet you get a team of two of them, they just talk to each other about Synchronized Diving, so that makes them think everybody cares about Synchronized Diving as much as they do. Guess what? They don’t. That’s why they show it first. Everybody wants to see if Missy Franklin won or if we should stop caring about her before we even see her dance moves on Leno in 2 weeks. We want to see Lochte continue to steal that Phelps Phunder, and say something gangsta about that mutant girl who outswam his ass. but you can’t cut straight to that. You’ve got to pad the show. I bet if you’re at a party and Brad the Synchronized Swimmer is there, you’re like “Oh, thank God, at least Tony isn’t here, because you get them together, they won’t shut up about Synchronized Fucking Diving.” Then someone says “Oh yeah, Tony’s coming, he was just getting a pedicure so his toes look pretty for the big dive tomorrow” and you say “Oh, fuck, I already got high. I can’t drive yet.” Then, you spend the rest of the night hearing about Synchronized Diving.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: NBC Spoiled Missy Frankin’s Race Seconds Before It Aired
I avoided spoilers all day so that they could tell me in a commercial right before they show the race that she won the Gold?
C’mon. C’mon, guys.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Avoiding Spoilers
Unfortunately, none of these questions are nearly as pressing as whether or not NBC can manage to avoid spoiling it before they air it. Let’s see what happens.
6:39 PM UPDATE:
Turned the sound off the NBC nightly news and looking away from the screen until they’re done talking about the Olympics. Brian Williams gave me a very short warning by saying “We don’t want to spoil the show, but after the huge headlines around the world…” by which time I had thrown all the junk mail aside that my remote was buried under quickly enough to hit MUTE.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Phelps Phailure
He went out to get 3 in a row in the 100 Meter, and all he got was a lousy Silver Medal! Booo! Stay in London, Lurch! You’re not welcome back here.
Isn’t it funny how we do that? Just like Bad was a letdown because it wasn’t bigger than Thriller, just like we know the exact box office results of every movie that comes out, so we can use that to decide not only that Dark Knight, Twilight, Avatar and Titanic weren’t extremely overrated movies, but as a reason to decide which one actually deserves to be considered the GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME!
So I’m starting something. From now on, when someone does something that’s completely amazing but doesn’t measure up to unbelievably lofty odds, I’m calling that PHELPS PHAILURE. Try to make it catch on, Excitable Foreigners.
Rhetorical question placed by the commentator after the Russian girls faltered: “Could you go for a knock-out punch if your opponent was sobbing?” And with that, Gabby The Flying Squirrel pranced out there and pop/locked her way into the hearts of people the world over, followed by Jordyn Wieber, who quit screwing up for long enough to flawlessly perform a series of somersaults and gypsy dance moves, leaving to coup de gras to Aly Raisman, who followed through to destroy the dreams of the Russians forever. Aly’s the best, because her parents always freak out.
Notice too in that clip that the tune they’re playing is Paint It Black, by the Rolling Stones. “I see the girls walk by, dressed in their Summer clothes/I have to turn my head until my darkness goes.” OK. I guess that’s appropriate enough.
Hey, Gold Medals for everybody! Except the Russians. They get Silver, and buckets upon buckets of tears and anguish.
US WINS THE RELAY!
I ALWAYS SUPPORTED HIM AND KNEW HE COULD DO IT!!!
But that wasn’t really just him, though. Lochte is also on that team, and they gave him a pretty big lead, so…
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Missy Franklin-America’s Little Sister
Like most everyone else paying attention, Missy Franklin has really stolen my heart. Here’s a well adjusted High School kid who still has the same swim coach she had when she was 7, still going to her high school, where she’s going to be a Senior in the Fall. Has her friends in her hometown, which happens to be Aurora, Colorado, a place that really needs good news right about now. She’s even turned down thousands, if not millions, of bucks by not turning pro yet and opening herself up to do commercials and stuff, because she’s happy with her life the way it is now. She’s wholesome and good natured. Her story is not all salacious, there’s not an ounce of cynicism or detached irony. And she’s a Gold Medalist.
America, meet your new sweetheart.
McDonald’s Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich Supports FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE and Homosexuals
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FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Things Dannell Leyva Loves
FOT Olympics Coverage is brought to you by Mexican Coca-Cola, which you might find at your local Mexican grocery or restaurant. Mexican Coke makes you feel like a real hip bigshot because it comes in a glass bottle like they used back in the old days, and it’s really tasty because they use sugar cane instead of weird chemicals. Don’t ingest weird chemicals.
Dannell Leyva loves three things.
He loves his security towell.
He loves his stepdad coach.
He loves his Bronze Medal.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Chad and Tyler- Unsung Heroes
Check out his dad’s reaction:
Now check out Phelps’ mom’s reaction:
Seems fair, right? She’s had a good enough run, I figure. She got to straight up do this 16 times out of 20 Medal wins:
Hey, Rezzy! What happened, brah?
Tyler Clary beat Lochte for the Gold! Seen here is a headshot of Tyler from his dinner theater performance of Gary Busey: The Buddy Holly Story (He had the leading role).
He doesn’t even have any endorsements! If he were to endorse something, what could it be?
Maybe Tyler would like to tell you more about Dow Chemical’s new Agent Orange Corn! It’s been sprayed from overhead with chemical warfare grade pesticides, and boy, does that corn grow big and golden when you kill every single living thing in a square mile radius around it. Keep off our corn, pests!
If You Want It To go POW, You Gotta Have DOW!
Way to go, Flying Squirrel. Gabby Douglas, Best All Around Gymnast. That medal is almost as big as her head.
And finally, ultimately…..
PHELPS BEAT LOCHTE FOR THE GOLD IN THE 200.
Chicks still dig Silver, though. Happy birthday, homey! THUG LIFE 4-EVER