Endings, Beginnings

24 Aug

In the New York Times to-day, reading about the closing ceremonies in Beijing (since I will not watch them later on this evening), David Barbosa, author of “Olympics Close With a Bang and a Double Decker Bus” writes in the opening paragraph:

“With another dramatic fireworks display Sunday evening at the National Stadium here, the Beijing Olympics came to a dazzling close, ending two weeks of spectacular athletic performances during an Olympic competition that was surprising free of protests or the disruptions that some, including Beijing, had anticipated.”

Surprisingly free of protests? Really. Surprising? In my opinion this is about as irresponsible a sentence as you can write as a journalist on staff of the Times. Do we not understand that the Chinese government is a Communist, repressive, totalitarian government? Are we really surprised that protests and disruptions never materialized? That the Communist Party itself is pleasantly amazed? If we are, we deserve to get run over by Soviet/Russian tanks, Georgia-style. We have got to be the most naive, egocentric, internationally-inexperienced citizens on this globe, save those obscure tribes in the Amazon (which, I’m quite sure are being slaughtered or pushed out by deforestation). This is what the Central Committee of a Communist party does: makes issues go away. Erases problems. People disappear for merely whispering. Or gathering. Even octogenarians get sent to be re-educated. No one’s safe. We better wake up and stop using froo-froo, laudatory language and kid gloves on this country. Call it for what it is: repressive, reprehensive, a relentless abuser of human rights, totalitarian. I fully realize that, politically, we have a different game on our hands, but the media ought to go full steam ahead and cut into China. We have a free press and so it must do its job. Let the politicians pussyfoot around and draft accords and protocols (which will be violated anyway, given the Chinese track record). The few articles I have read on abuses and crackdown by the Chinese government are relegated to page 7 or 8, and they often take a bit of a condescending tone, portraying those who protest as disturbers of the peace or militants or liberal “bleeding hearts.”

Despite my disgust, I watched enough Olympic Games to be revolted at the way this Awakened Giant comported itself on the world stage, and at the way we let it get away with it in the press. From the age controversy of its female gymnasts, the ridiculous apology of Liu Xiang, China’s gold medal hope in hurdles, who was injured and unable to defend his title in the 110-meter hurdles, to its obsession with the medal count and its #1 standing in gold medals won. Imagine having to apologize to an entire country for a chance, unforeseen injury. Imagine having let down your motherland because you’ve twisted your ankle training, and being held responsible for somewhat shaming your country by not even competing. But that’s what the Chinese government demands. Expects.

The focus now moves to London, in 2012. During the closing, Jimmy Page made a special appearance cranking out “Whole Lotta Love,” and Beckham took a football from a little girl’s arms in a presumed “handing over of the games” metaphor. Even a red, double-decker bus made an appearance in the infield, escorted by a bizarre trio of cyclists. Can we trot out any more stereotypes, please? How about a mob of hooligans armed with two-by-fours who proceed to beat the living daylights out of the spectators? How about a Yeoman Warder (a Beefeater) with his furry hat marching down, exchanging keys with the mayor of Beijing. A British judge donning his oh-so-recognizable wig and holding tightly to his leather docket. Hell, bring out the Queen. But wait. The Queen Is Dead. Unfortunately, the Olympic flame lives on. And so it goes. The world sporting attention now moves to New York City and the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. I’m rooting for Federer, but something tells me Nadal will swipe it all. It’s all right by me. I love the Spaniards. I love this passionate (and compassionate) kid. And so for Nadal here it goes: Vamos, cabron!

Summer is un-officially over around these parts and frankly I’m happy. Although the unrelenting heat will not dissipate until late October, this at least signals a change coming. I’m happy daylight hours are shorter. I’m happy my daughter is going back to school, back to a more structured environment of learning than summer camp. I’m happy at one point the leaves will turn and the temps. will drop (last year trees went completely bald by late November!!). Momentofchoice and I swung a quick little trip to the beach this past weekend and re-charged the batteries. You can go over to her joint and see what we did. We worked really hard, believe us. This autumn, I promise to come back with more fiction and less personal stuff. I’m also working on putting together the book of shorts. There will be some familiar stories, but they’ll be re-tooled and more material will be added to round them out better. We will publish it ourselves and you’ll be able to either buy an extremely affordable finished product, or simply download the manuscript for free in a .pdf file. I’m excited at the prospect. There is another project after that in the works.

Like most people enduring summer in southern United States, I suffered through an intellectual malaise infused and fed by triple-digit temperatures and overall indolence (maybe genetic, but we’ll swiftly dispel that notion and blame it on the heat).

I’ll see you on the other side of summer.

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One Response to “Endings, Beginnings”

  1. Slyboots 26/08/2008 at 10:26 AM #

    There’s just so much I want to discuss with you- this post, and the last one. Just no time on my agenda for that kind of thing….life is getting in the way this week. Well stated, though. As always.

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