These Games have a ways to go in providing stories
Time to shift in to full-on Olympic mode, I believe (which guarantees Raptors news sometime today in my Life Of Jinxing), because the big airplane leaves tonight and the next missive will be from Jolly Old England, Air Canada-willing.
Not sure how we’ll do for time here but that plan is to have something for you to wake up to each day; pardon me if I miss one early morning, I have a feeling there might be some late nights.
I have no idea what awaits us in London but I am sure some good stories will pop up because they always do. Like these:
(Pardon me if some have been repeated by they’re what I’ve got)
First day, I’m sent to cover shooting with is about a three-hour bus ride towards France and three of my boys – Brunt, Farber and Cole, as I recall but I could be wrong – decide to do the boxing draw right by our village.
I drag my sorry butt to the shooting range to cover a guy who finishes 36th or something and it ends up being a line of agate in What Canada Did.
The other three?
They get a private scrum at the boxing venue with Nelson Mandela.
Yeah, that Nelson Mandela.
First time South Africa had been in the Olympics in decades, Mandela was a boxer and, of course, he’s there; I’m on a bus to France.
Perk and P. Hunter and I grab a cab after the final Saturday night at the track because the volunteer bus drivers had pretty much quit. We’re off to a bar, of course, but the cabbie seems to be going a different route. We’re in a rather dicey part of town, groups on one corner, yutes on the other and now the cabbie decides he needs some gas.
Pull up at the station, guy standing near the pumps and we figure he’s going to: “Good evening, gentlemen; fill ‘er up with regular?”
But, no. He slides open the side of jacket to reveal what looks suspiciously like a gun and says:
“We ain’t selling you no effing gas.”
Yep. Gotta love Atlanta. And that was after the bombing.
A shocking attempt
We’re housed on the grounds of what used to former mental hospital, stark barracks that weren’t too bad and the nice Aussies decided to spice the place up with a pen of kangaroos that were on our walk to the bus spot.
Well, we felt for the ‘roos, they looked all sad in their little enclosure and an intrepid colleague who shall go nameless decided one night – with some help – to let the little cuties out.
An attempt to open the gates led to the discovery that those sneaking Aussies had gently electrified the fence, perhaps knowing that some one would want to “free the ‘roos.”
Greatest. Line. Ever.
Main press centre had a nice open-air rooftop bar we discovered early in the journey; a somewhat quiet oasis from the hustle and bustle.
After a particularly late night, I’m standing there sipping and chatting with the comely bar wench because that’s what I do.
Her English could be better – like I cared – and when I asked how late the joint was open, she looked confused and trotted off to speak to a boss or someone.
She comes back, all smiles and says:
“Sir? We are open all the hours.”
Aliens among them
The women’s soccer team played a lot of its games in Tianjin, a huge city about a three-hour bullet train ride from Beijing, forcing more than a few of us into long road trips.
We go one day for a night game with our tickets in hand and land at the main Tianjin train station, a rather opulent, obviously refurbished building with marble floors and all the amenities.
Well, our trip back late, late at night, was from Tianjin East station.
Let’s just say it’s not quite as nice.
We walk in about 11 p.m., a group of bedraggled Canadians wearing credentials and looks of exhaustion to find families – scores and scores of families – sitting in total silence on the cement front stoops, reclined on bags of rice, waiting for the overnight train to Shanghai.
Can’t imagine many of them had ever seen a Canadian, or an American, or any Caucasian and the stares we got – again, in total silence – was amazing.
Nothing, really. I presume there’ll be some minor NBA news in the next little while but the feeling I’m getting from talking to just a few people is that things are going to shut down, or calm down considerably, for the next little while.
All the Raptors have to do is get James Johnson to Sacramento do his physical so they can finish the John Lucas III deal; they need to finalize Aaron Gray -- nothing’s signed yet and we know nothing is done until it’s done, don’t we? – and then it’s going to be coasting mode, I would imagine.
Which would be very nice, wouldn’t it?
Am sure you saw or heard the news about the Joe Paterno statue being taken down at Penn State yesterday.
Aside from it being an obvious move to remove some of the horrible memories it must evoke for most right-thinking men and women around that campus I truly think there is a cautionary tale here that should serve all kinds of people well in the future.
I don’t know that anyone should ever erect a statue to a living person, we don’t ever know the secrets they hold, the danger is omnipresent about lionizing someone who isn’t precisely what they purport to be.
Now, yes, I am sure there are some living people who deserve such honours like that; I’m sure there are people among us who are what they are, free of terrible secrets or complicity in unspeakable acts of depravity.
But that’s too bad.
We as a society have a tendency to lionize people for what we think they are and how they present themselves and don’t even want to ask if what we’re doing is right.
It was a mistake to put the thing up in the first place, I think. Such honours need to be reserved to celebrate life lived, not one that’s in the process of unfolding.
We rush to glorify. We shouldn’t.