Friday, October 2, 2009

Olympic Fever

I was getting an oil change last night.* There was a TV showing the Lou Dobbs show. Wow, do I ever dislike that man. For one thing, every commercial break showed this anti-immigrant propaganda that was all, "America has lost 15 million jobs, but the government imports 1.5 million workers a year. Tell Washington to cut it out." Because, y'know, those damn Washington politicians are importing workers to clean our toilets and pick our fruit and taking away all the toilet cleaning jobs from former Lehman Bros. execs. Or something. Also, I thought it was illegal immigration that's the "problem." I don't think there's a 1.5 million person quota on illegal immigration, so I think that the ad was calling for the government to stop handing out visas. Of course if you actually think that the government is going down Mexico way and importing 1.5 million illegal immigrants, you're beyond help. Now, it's not technically Lou Dobbs's fault that someone purchased a lot of ad space on his program for anti-immigrant rhetoric. However, the fact is that Lou Dobbs is an anti-immigrant demagogue. Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas. The thing that annoyed me, though, was a discussion about Chicago's bid for the Olympics. They had an analyst on who announced at the end of his segment that Chicagoans really don't seem to want the Olympics. This took me by surprise. And it kind of made me angry. Because there are Chicagoans who don't want the Olympics. There are those who don't like the expenses. There are those who think that the city's public transportation structure won't be able to handle the weight of the world. There are probably those who think that a negative impact on their morning commute for two weeks seven years in the future is enough to say, "Hell, no." But that doesn't mean that Chicagoans don't really want the Olympics. Hell, I wrote yesterday that I'm ambivalent about the idea, but that doesn't mean that I'm completely opposed to the idea. It doesn't even mean that I don't want the Olympics to come here. I mean, holy shit, it's the Olympics. In Chicago. I mean, that's fundamentally awesome. Then again, this is from the guy who got excited when he could identify Chicago landmarks in shots of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. No, seriously, about a month and a half ago I was riding shotgun in my bro-in-law's car on Lower Wacker and I looked across the river and said, "Hey, that's the building they were using for the press conference in The Dark Knight." They also used it in the pilot episode of Leverage, by the by... But I digress. The point is, there would be something undeniably awesome about the idea of Olympic Village taking shape on the shores of Lake Michigan. It would be amazing to see an overhead shot of the opening ceremonies zooming out, out, out from the face of the flag bearer of the Australian team to Soldier Field, to Lake Shore Drive, and look, there's the Museum Campus, Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile, the Hancock, the Sears Tower. There it is, Chicago. The center of the world for two weeks. Chicago burned down in 1 and rebuilt itself of marble and stone. Twenty-two years later it hosted the World's Columbian Exposition and declared itself a world-class city. The city still honors that memory, as three of its greatest cultural landmarks -- the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute of Chicago -- are housed in buildings built for the 1893 expo. That is what Chicago has always been, though. It is a city that looks to the future while remembering the past. It is a city that has always tried to build the future while anchored to its traditions. Millennium Park's riotous, modern Jay Pritzker Pavilion is connected, almost literally, to the Art Institute. There's an actual bridge between the past and the present. Of course it's not all art and culture. In 1938 Chicago ushered in the nuclear age when the atom was first split at the University of Chicago. It's a city that has made its mark on the world. In 1933 the World's Fair again came to Chicago. In the years since the city has played host to the world in ways big and small. It's hosted NBA Championships and the World Series. It has acted as the backdrop to some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. It is an airline hub and a tourist destination for people from all over the world. Nothing has ever come to Chicago on the scale of the Olympics since the 1933 World's Fair. But this is a city that can handle the scrutiny of the world. The naysayers need to pull their heads out of their own asses. There are those who seem to think that Chicago is just some podunk little cow town that has no business on the world stage. They know nothing of what Chicago can do. They know nothing of what Chicago has done. They can only see the issues of 2009 and don't realize that those big numbers that get thrown around will stretched over seven years. There are some things that are bigger than possible budget shortfalls. There are some things that are bigger than transportation issues. There are somethings that carry with them the weight of the world. The Olympics is one of those things. In 2016 the Olympics might call Chicago its home. That is absolutely awesome. There is no other way to describe it. EDIT: Aaaaaaaand...we're out. Wow. That was fast. Did not see that coming. I was just getting all excited to fire up the coverage, too. EDIT 2: And now I've got Duran Duran stuck in my head. Wunnerful. Her name is Rio and she's hungry like the wolf... Seriously, try singing that. It totally works. ------------------------- *I used to do all my own basic maintenance. Oil changes are simple. Then I went and bought a 2004 Chevy Cavalier that has one of those stupid European oil filters where you can't just pull the can off but you have to pull the insert out of the fixed tub. First, I'm not 100% sure I know where the oil filter even is (although I'm 99% sure). Second, for reasons I don't fully understand those things are expensive. So it's actually cheaper for me to have Firestone change my oil for me. Although since I don't have a convenient driveway these days, that's not entirely too bad...

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