With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for it may never come again.
As with all things, there were negatives to worry the positives, tragedies to haunt the triumphs.
But what an impressive achievement the Chinese managed to demonstrate to the world, hosting what is surely to be the most memorable Olympic Games ever. Despite all the challenges, the political strife and controversy, the skeptics, the man-made environmental obstacles, it was the spectacle of the ceremony, the pageantry, and the heroic sport that outshined all else.
It was riveting, enlightening, and hypnotic. The Opening Ceremony showcased an awe inspiring glimpse of a country's cultural artistry and discipline that shamed anything this increasingly-decadent superpower has yet offered. By comparison, the glitzy 1984 Opening Ceremonies in Los Angeles were the ultimate in embarrassing Hollywood tackiness. Remember the laser lights, and the alien spaceship? Is America becoming a McNation? Whatever the case may be, Beijing has upstaged the world.
The games themselves were a dizzying parade of world records, surprising upsets, and coronations for true champions. Michael Phelps IS Aquaman. And where in previous Olympics, Michael Johnson showed he was Superman, Jamaica's Usain Bolt now showed that HE is The Flash.
Gymnastics seemed to expose the flaws of a national regime so desperate to win that they would indeed resort to breaking the rules using under-aged female gymnasts. Nationalistic pride is an Olympic ingredient impossible to extract, but is especially unfortunate when it so weightily imposes itself on competitive sport, even endangering children. Nevertheless, the brilliance and beauty of Nastia Liukin, and mighty mite Shawn Johnson was undeniable.
The Redeem Team romped through the competition as expected, but the final battle presented by Spain provided another humbling reminder that Basketball is now a global sport unlike any other exported American pasttime. In the end, it fell to Kobe Bryant to once again rise above all his peers, in a country where he discovered that he the biggest star in a constellation.
And then there were my darlings of Beach Volleyball, Kerri Walsh, and Misty May-Treanor. My girls! They combine a champion's heart, a competitive killer instinct, graceful sportsmanship, childlike spirit, team unity, and a nymphal sexiness that I find irresistible. Their unbeaten streak that has culminated in a repeat as Olympic champions solidifies their historic position at the top of their sport, as well as in the hallowed halls of all athletics. The Golden Goddesses.
Ironically, I believe there are a vast number of sporting events that should not BE in the Olympics, purist that I am. Beach Volleyball is one of them, as is Ping Pong, Baseball, Synchronized Swimming, Rhythmic Gymnastics, and the various Extreme Sports. The Olympics should be all about the fittest, strongest, and fleetest of foot, as it was originally. But I realize there are logical reasons for all the inclusions over the decades. Lately, commercialism has exerted its impact, appealing to younger markets and television ratings and sponsors. Money. And what better way, outside of instituting another system of global games, to assemble the nations of the world on a competitive and celebratory level?
Well, along with the winners that automatically lure the camera's unblinking eye, seducing our own attention, I still marvel at those competitors representing their people that fall short of medals. Through all the herculean effort and pain, their very presence alone is a laudable feat, even when they cross the finish line last, or stumble, unable to finish at all, seemingly unnoticed.
But I also noticed peripheral wonders. I found myself distracted by the lovely Chinese girls who stood so poised during the events, guiding the athletes, helping to award them... I noticed the Chinese officials and volunteers so quick to offer assistance when needed, maintaining a controlled dignity that was also present in the sentries stationed along the racing routes that snaked through the city streets. My thoughts became more random as I spied a self-control reminiscent of the Tower Guards of London. It's obvious that the different political structure contributes heavily to the crisp and efficient focus I was admiring. Nevertheless, I couldn't help comparing it to the sometimes sloppy nonchalance and uncouth informality so prevalent here in a nation spoiled by freedoms and excess. I couldn't help feeling embarrassed by the arrogance of a handful of American athletes before they received their slices of Humble Pie (Track & Field), or even by the loosy-goosy antics of the Redeem Team as they awaited their gold medals. I wanted so much for these millionaires to display a greater measure of modesty and class at that moment, to avoid tainting what was truly a special Beijing visit. They were ambassadors of a sort, and should comport themselves with more decorum. But there they were acting a bit too "ghetto" for my taste. Oh, well. It's probably just me. They were gracious in all but that last moment. No big deal. But anyway, as far as the average "Joe," it does seem that in this "take it easy," "life should be a party" country, Americans have grown grossly obese physically, mentally, and spiritually, and the rest of the world perceives it this way. Indeed, perhaps capitalism and greed is the poison whose most toxic fallout is that which threatens our very planet. It has reached Beijing, too, as the Chinese eagerly seek to assert themselves more competitively also on the commercial world stage. Progress as Peril? Food for thought.
However, glimpses of the Asian Old World were mesmerizing. A by-product of the Olympic Games is always an educational peek at the host-nation's culture, and I was absolutely enchanted by China, the countryside, as well as the architecture, art, and historic landmarks. The newly constructed Olympic venues were breathtaking, including the "Bird's Nest" stadium, and the magnificent "Water Cube," aglow with interlinked blue bubbles. But then there was "The Forbidden City," the Temple of Heaven, the Peking University, and, of course, The Great Wall. Utterly spectacular place on the other side of the world. Truly humbling.
As I write this, the Closing Ceremony is yet to be aired on West Coast television. I can't wait to behold the conclusion to what has been an eye-opening and triumphant feat accomplished by China.
Kudos to them. It has been magical.
On to London?
My mood icon says "neutral," but that's the only emoticon I felt was appropriate for the Olympics. HaHa!