Friday, October 2, 2009

Here's hoping Rio is less corrupt than Chicago.

If you'd like to just read about the outdoor concert/party that the IOC bid prompted outside of City Hall here in Copenhagen (and how I went), skip to the bottom!**

I admit it openly now: I was not supportive of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.  Why?  Some folks at the Chicago Reader articulated it pretty well, and to further blow your mind, consider this plea from the hip hop artist Nas.  The long and short of it is, my hometown is as troubled as it is fantastic, and I don't trust Mayor Daley with the fate of low-income housing (he would have used the Olympics to raze areas of the South Side, evicting and exploiting those that live there) OR my parent's taxes (Daley infamously promised the IOC that the people of Chicago could pick up the tab when the project invariably went over-budget).

Globally, people are questioning Obama's heretofore unchallenged star-power, wondering at the embarrassment he and the first lady may be feeling today.  I think they were caught between a rock and a hard place on this one, and am fairly certain were informed of Chicago's low chances (it came in fourth out of four today)-- meaning that Barack had to come to Copenhagen for a token appearance today, or else some in America would have blamed the loss on his absence.

If you've made it this far, you were probably more invested in this issue than I was, because a couple of days ago I just wanted to pretend it wasn't happening and try to keep my Chicago background quiet when the campaign invariably (and FREQUENTLY) came up at DIS.  But as of yesterday and today, I couldn't keep my mouth shut.  Lots of the Americans studying with me supported the bid unquestioningly, which I can't entirely fault them for.  The nuances of Chicago politics seem insignificant to these other Americans, who are away from home and were so relieved to see any major American city on the ballot that they showed up in droves, flashing their "Chicago 2016" tee-shirts and yelling "USA!"

It was uncomfortable, and I wasn't the only one who thought so.  I heard another Chicago resident yelling loudly at a group of kids outside of school this morning about how Daley just wanted to "[kick] all the brown people out" (this student is African American and from the South Side).  I immediately went up to him to commiserate, but he was so furious that he barely noticed my presence.  A group of (white) American students were standing in front of him, some nervously laughing and some struck dumb with the vehemence of his opposition.  But that opposition was informed, which is more than I can say of the support.

**The fun part of the story is that I was next to a group of Brazilians when it was announced that Rio won.  That was awesome.  I was definitely on camera behind them and in a few news photos, so be on the lookout for a pale, arhythmic redhead trying to keep the beat beside boisterous Latin men.  Mostly, though, I was behind a large green and black flag, so we may never be able to prove I was in fact there today.  There was a concert-- the biggest act of which was Aqua, the Norwegian/Danish group that had an international hit with "Barbie Girl" in 1997.  SO MUCH FUN to sing along with live!  And the lead singer was so charismatic I forgot to feel indignant.

Still, though, I couldn't help slipping occasionally into the lyrics of the Weird Al version my hilarious grade school friends were obsessed with at the time.


  1. 1. WHOA, AQUA!??!?!?! Mad... jealous...
    2. My roommates were definitely not pulling for Chicago. The one from Jersey was all, "Pfft, umm, Chicago will so not get it. Wah wah I'm East Coast." and any time I brought up the 2016 olympics with the one from Minnesota, she would just say, "Yeah, like I think a lot of people want Minneapolis to get it for the winter olympics someday..." as if that was relevant. at all.

    Anyway, I am pretty glad with the result as well, mostly for the reasons you mentioned. Plus, a large part of me sort of hopes to be in Chicago in 2016, and I hate tourists enough as it is.

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  3. P.S. Your blog is way cooler and better written than mine. I love it! See you soon!

  4. I always slip into the Weird Al version.
    I love that article by Ben Joravsky. He's a parent of a friend of mine.