I have been doing very little else aside from following the Beijing Olympic games for the past week. I love the Olympics in general and was very interested to see how China was gonna pull this whole thing off. And I have to say… they got me with all the smoke and mirrors. Watching that opening ceremony I completely and TOTALLY forgot about internet censorship and restrictions to the foreign press, Tibet, human rights affronts, environmental degradation, general oppression and suppression. You know, little things like that.
It was THAT good.
Now, please don’t think I have gone all Sino- on you… I still see the China I saw before, but I have to give it up for what many (including an old pal in LA) considered to be a ridiculously over-hyped situation actually panning out. And the hype was ridiculous. Bear in mind I was in Beijing in March and even though they were singing about how “they are ready” – they were anything but. No airport train, the Bird’s Nest access road was incomplete and there had been an interior fire and this is not to even consider the problem of the pollution and the traffic. [Okay, so they never did get those last two worked out, but hey… pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain people.]
But I have to say I am impressed with what a cool hundred million US dollars can get you in China. In case you were unsure of what you could get with it here’s what:
- 2,008 synchronized drummers to open the show. That was bad-ass no matter how much of a cynic you might be.
- 33,866 pyrotechnical devices
- 91,000 seats, at least 80 of which held [the asses of] heads of states
- 900 traditional opera performers
- 80,000 channels on your lighting system
- 15,153 sets of costumes in 47 styles
- 10,000 meters of optical fiber and cable (that would be 32,808 feet)
- 1,000 performers creating a simulated bird’s nest stadium
- 897 performers in the synchronized movable type display (and that was AMAZING)
- 810 bamboo scrolls in the Confucian disciples segment
- 56 generally suppressed but here celebrated ethnic minorities
- 29 giant footprints in the sky
- 1 480×70 foot LED screen
- 15,000+ performers (of course these were all volunteers who chose to practice daily for 13 months. I am not sure you can find that kind of commitment outside of China, so in truth, this is a freebie that I only put on the list because you should consider how much an annual salary for 15,000 performance artists would cost…)
Man, that suddenly looks like a bargain….
And the pollution still sucks, an American tourist was randomly stabbed to death at the Drum Tower, and at the moment the Chinese are kicking are butts in the Gold Medal department (the paper here predicted that China would out-medal the US at these Olympics for the first time ever 88 to 87… I guess we will see) though keep in mind they are getting their premiere events early on… shooting, diving, badminton, etc. Let’s wait until track and field… oh, and there was the basketball debacle… USA 101- China 70 on the men’s side and USA 108- China 63 on the women’s. Ouch. But overall, it is a total scream and great fun to watch… barring the awful local commentary.
What the results for China be I’ve no idea, they are not optimistic about big economic gains in the markets as a result, but it’s been a nice day in the sun for the a cool billion of my neighbors.
Oh, and I would like one of these suits, please: