Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Short Attention-Span Tuesday

If they really do move the poor Montreal Expos to Virginia next year, or whenever, I'd like to see them named "NoVA Mob". Y'know, like the guys in the William Burroughs novel, or Grant Hart's post-Husker Du band. I have to think the merchandising guys would be beside themselves...

I've done something the last couple days that I hadn't had the chance to do since 1992: watch the Summer Olympics without any financial stake or personal involvement. I spent the '96 Games in Atlanta, working 18 hour days for three weeks amidst "terror bombings" (how little we knew, back then), rude foreign journalists and ruthlessly mercantile pseudo-southerners, as part of my employment with nbc.com; four years later, I took a month off from my then-new job at the Center to work freelance for a now-dissolved internet firm, Quokka, that had the contract for NBC's online Olympics coverage from Sydney. More 18-hour days (but this time, from 3pm til 9am the next morning), a hotel room straight out of "Barton Fink," my hopeless crush on the (engaged) woman who headed our remote production unit, a truly horrible diet. I did make something like $10,000 for the month.

The point is that I never got to watch any of it on TV. I'm doing so this year, and I'm oddly enjoying it--especially the swimming, which is the only one of the Olympic sports I really know anything about. This poor Michael Phelps kid is looking more and more like a victim of his own great ambition: he went looking for eight gold medals, which would have been a record, and would have entailed his beating some of the world's best swimmers in races they'd competed in for years but Phelps had not trained for until rather recently. He gave it a heroic shot in the 200 meter freestyle, but Ian Thorpe--the hometown hero and all-around major star of the Sydney games, what with his freakishly large feet and nose--took the gold, and Phelps couldn't quite catch 2000 gold medalist Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands, who touched the wall nine hundredths of a second ahead of the American. So despite the fact that Phelps took a close bronze in that event, and took gold while setting a freakin' world record in the brutally tough 400 meter individual medley swim, all the chuckleheads in the media can talk about is that "he failed to beat Mark Spitz." (That's true of the article linked here, by the way--which was written by the same guy who led the on-site aquatics coverage in Sydney four years ago, for which my "team" back in San Francisco was the "remote mirror".) Frankly, who gives a Spitz? The kid is turning in one of the greatest swim performances of all time.


Probably like most folks, I was riveted by the Jim McGreevey resignation story last week--we heard about it from passers-by on the beach and were sure it was a joke, at first. I saw McGreevey at a workforce development meeting in early 2003 and thought he was an impressive guy--great command of details, lots of energy. I'm sorry to see him go... but cheating is cheating, and the public payroll isn't a trough for friends and lovers to feed at whether you're McGreevey, George Pataki--who's apparently made a career of this, with only Tom Robbins of the Village Voice seeming to get particularly upset about it--Gov. Bill Clinton (who reputedly stashed an unqualified Gennifer Flowers on the Arkansas payroll during their affair), or former DC Mayor Marion Barry, who might have been the all-time worst offender. So McGreevey probably deserves the bum's rush, totally irrelevant to the revelation of his homosexuality.

But the revelation does throw light on some other interesting issues, and trust Dan Savage to explore them with his usual neo-Swiftian bravado. The man who redefined "Santorum" has a great piece concerning what l'affaire McGreevey tells us about the larger question of gay marriage in today's Salon.com:

Gay Americans -- the out variety -- no doubt expect the newly out McGreevey to follow the standard high-profile/celebrity coming out story arc: Write a book, get a boy/girlfriend, go on "Oprah," make ass of self. (See: Greg Louganis, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, et al.) Not me. I'm hoping for a different outcome this time. In my perverse heart of hearts, I hope Mr. and Mrs. McGreevey remain married. It might help Americans realize that people marry for lots of different reasons, and that romantic love need not be the only reason -- or even a reason -- that two people decide to spend their lives together.

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