To: Chuck Klosterman
Subject: RE: Face Off
Time: 11:15 a.m.
I'm with you on the decline of American civilization. Last Tuesday, I was standing in line at Starbucks. The person in front of me was talking on a cellphone, as was the person behind me, and they were both shooting each other nasty looks because they thought the other person was talking too loud. Meanwhile, I was getting angry because the person at the front of the line was paying for a $3.75 venti soy latte with a credit card and holding everyone up, and it made me even angrier that I knew what a "venti soy latte" even was, or why it cost the extra 40 cents. I'm not sure what's happening. Our society is turning into a Charlie Kaufman script.
The contrast between the USA hoop players (trying to pretend they weren't sullen and put out, trying to look cool -- exemplified by Iverson with the crooked cap) and every other athlete walking around Friday night made me unhappy. We've reached a point where I'm not just rooting against my own country in the Olympics -- partially out of principle, partly because I can't stand watching them -- but I'm actually wagering on other countries. How did we get here? How did we reach a point where I stand to win two grand if Argentina wins the gold? I have no prior history with Argentina whatsoever, other than I've always enjoyed Manu Ginobili's work, as well as the Argentinean hit man on "Miami Vice" who systematically blew away every coke dealer in Miami, then went after Crockett in the classic two-parter "Return of Calderon," leading to this exchange (I'm paraphrasing):
Tubbs (gunning for an Emmy): "The Argentinean has a hit list. ... Sonny, you're on it."
Crockett (shirtless and laughing him off): "So what? Come on, Tubbs, I've been on those things before."
Tubbs (after one of those dramatic, Philip Michael Thomas pauses that made him so special): "The first seven guys are dead ... you're No. 8."
Crockett (glances around the room in slow-motion, unable to speak).
Anyway, that's the country I wagered on -- a country that tried to kill Sonny Crockett, one of the greatest Americans of the past 25 years.
This entire Olympics has been creeping me out. First of all, there's nobody there. Bob Costas tried to explain that last weekend was a holy weekend in Greece or something, as if that was an adequate explanation why we're holding the Olympics in a place that only had 40 fans for every event. It's like watching an Atlanta Hawks home game for two consecutive weeks. For 2008, they should just move the Summer Olympics to Egypt during Ramadan.
Meanwhile, the swimmers seem more androgynous and uncomfortable than ever. They look like they're out of a Bronski Beat video. One of them has even been nicknamed "The Thorpedo," which definitely sounds like a running series from Vivid Video. And the rules are downright crazy. For instance, one swimmer won an event by using an illegal dolphin kick, followed by the announcer saying, "It looks like he used an illegal dolphin kick," then simply letting it go, as if this wasn't a big deal. In Saturday's men's gymnastics, the judges told Blaine Wilson (definitely a stage name) before the high bars that they wouldn't give him a good score for his routine, so he should probably try something else. The poor guy is 30 years old and probably has $500 in his bank account -- now he has to "try something else" two minutes before the event? Couldn't that info have come a little sooner? Of course, he ended up falling right on his back. Two months from now, he'll probably be managing a hardware store and wondering what happened.
As for the "women's" (and I use that word loosely) gymnastics on Sunday night ... I mean, what would possess someone to direct his or her daughter toward the seedy world of competitive gymnastics? Would you ever send your kid to the Karolyi Ranch? After the ongoing Michael Jackson fiasco, isn't it every parent's duty to avoid sending their kids to a place that features someone's last name with the word "Ranch"? Besides, what's the thought process behind pushing your child to such a sport?
My daughter's a little on the small side ... maybe we should push her toward gymnastics. This way, she'll look like a hobbit for the rest of her life; she won't menstruate until she's 25 years-old; she won't be able to eat ... EVER; she'll never meet anyone other than tiny, non-menstruating gymnasts who look just like her; she'll have a decent chance of being socially dysfunctional because she spent 15 hours a day in her formative years with a pommel horse and high bars prominently involved; and as an added bonus, a frightening Romanian will become the dominant father figure in her life. Also, she'll suffer from chronic knee problems for the rest of her life. And we'll make this gamble just in case she defies million-to-one odds and wins a medal some day, which she can hawk off some day to pay her bulimia/anorexia bills as an adult. This sounds fantastic! Sign me up!
Does anyone else feel terrible for these girls? They look so damned tortured, don't they? Like they might start uncontrollably crying at any moment? It's almost like Karolyi tells them before the tournament, "If you don't finish in the top five, I'm making you eat a double cheesburger, and you can't throw it up!" These girls would have a better chance in life if someone had steered them toward porn. Anyway, I vote for the Janet Jones Corollary for all future women's gymnastics events -- unless you're at least 5-foot-3, you have at least a 10 percent body fat, and you're at least a B-cup, you can't be on the team. That would solve everything.
|"Hey, Sonny, don't you think it's about time that we start worrying about that hit man?"|