You Think you're so bad. Upfront spent some time last week lamenting the false pageantry around the Beijing Games including the decision to have a child lip sync a song during the opening ceremonies. But apparently China wasn't the first to decide that it needed to fake it to make it on the world stage. Australian papers reported this week that the 2000 opening ceremonies in Sidney weren't exactly the real McCoy. The then host country used a canned recording as the backdrop for its opening ceremony while the Sidney Symphony essentially air-guitared along with the pre-recorded soundtrack. Australian officials also conceded that the music wasn't even recorded by the Sidney Symphony, most of it was laid down by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
If we didn't know better, Upfront would think the Olympics were just one big made for TV spectacle, rather than the purest form of international athletic competition that they surely are.
Still there were some great moments in the recently concluded games: Michael Phelps' unprecedented run to eight gold medals, the men's basketball team finding redemption, Gold for women's beach volleyball. Ah, bikini ball...
There were also some great flameouts: the United States track team in general, U.S. gymnasts falling off the balance beam. But our favorite meltdown had to be the Cuban tae kwon do fighter who intentionally kicked a Swedish referee in the face after being disqualified from the bronze medal match. That was some serious Lone Wolf McQuade shit. DNC
Is anyone actually going to sit down and watch the Democratic National Convention?
Yes, it was an epic primary fight between Obama and Clinton. And yeah, this election is basically a referendum on the future of this country (will it have one?) But Christ, that's some boring television. But if you want to get in on the action (sort of) you can join the Obama campaign to watch their candidate's acceptance speech Thursday night at the local campaign headquarters, 117 NW Oregon, at 5p.m. The event is free. No word as of press time as to whether food or drinks will be provided.
Meantime back in Denver, the best action is happening outside the convention where protesters started clashing with police on Monday as the first speeches were delivered. According to the Denver Post, cops in riot gear rounded up roughly a hundred protestors outside the convention after dousing the crowds with tear gas. The protestors were taken to a makeshift holding area in a former warehouse to be processed whereupon those who could make bail were released and others were shipped to the county jail.
The protesters are part of an umbrella group calling itself Recreate '68, a reference to the riot-stained 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. But judging from early reports the Recreate '68 crowd has a long way to go if it hopes to rival the anarchy of Chicago.
Somehow it seems fitting, or at least reflective of what we've seen to date. And that is this: a half-ass war only merits a half-ass protest.
In other convention related news, Denver police say they may have disrupted a white supremacist plot to assassinate Barack Obama. According to the Denver Post, police arrested Tharin Gartrell on suspicion of drunken driving and found two rifles, a bulletproof vest, ammunition, a two way radio and some meth... (Hold on a second, are we talking about La Pine or Denver?)
Police linked Gartrell to two other men in the area who were later arrested, Shawn Robert Adolf (yes, that is his real name), and Nathan Johnson, who bears a striking resemblance to the Simpson's "Cletus." According to the Post, police apprehended Johnson/Cletus without incident at his hotel in Glendale. Adolph, however, fled by jumping out his sixth story window whereupon he hit an awning four floors below and bounced to the ground, breaking his ankle.
Denver Police said the ATF and Secret Service had determined there was a "credible" threat to Obama, but did not elaborate on the connection between the men or other evidence, other than to say they might be linked to a motorcycle gang. That would, of course, explain the meth, but not the assassination plot. Then again, they may have just read the Recreate '68 call to action memo a little differently than the tree huggers.
Even if Sen. Gordon Smith hasn't voiced support of a bill to protect some 30,000 acres of the Oregon Badlands, that doesn't mean that others are turning a blind eye to the issue. So who's paying attention? Well, how about the more than 100 local businesses that have signed on to show their support of protecting the wilderness area east of Bend.
Last week, three local business people gathered to announce their support of the bill and unveil a print advertisement that lists the other 100-plus businesses that share their sentiment.
The faces at the press conference were varied - representing what appears to be a wide-ranging group of businesses supporting the bill. Speaking at the event was Brooks Resource President Kirk Shueler, Rod Biel, owner of Pandora's Backpack and Fleet Feet, as well as Silver Moon Brewing Co. owner and founder Tyler Riechert.
"We really hope that he gets behind it. It's really not that big of a request," Reichert said of Smith.
Reichert went on to describe how different in scope the businesses supporting the protection of the Badlands are, thus showing the far reaching economic benefits that a nearby wilderness area can bring to a region. Businesses listed in the ad range from established Bend stalwarts like Deschutes Brewery and Mt. Bachelor, but also several restaurants, services and stores.
Upfront wanted to ask Smith when he would get behind the wilderness bill when Smith was in town earlier this week, but when we contacted his press people to find out when and where Smith's itinerary would take him, we got the cold shoulder. I guess that's what a few friendly Boots get you with these thin-skinned politicos. Oh well, I think I feel another one coming on soon.