Friday, October 02, 2009

Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

Update: Rio won! Lula saved the day for Brazil!

Update: Rick at Brutally Honest has the famous CNN video and this comment from a reader:

“For the first time in my adult life…I’m PROUD of the International Olympic Committee!”

Like, yeah...

Evidently the first round, which eliminated Barack Obama Chicago as the site for the 2016 Olympic Games, was brief, if not merciful.
Obama limos

But the President was already flying home by the time the decision was made. This failure of his messianic charisma will be airbrushed out of his next autobiography, you betcha.

The New York Times put the news in the Sports Section, where it belongs:

Mr. Obama was the first American president to make an in-person appeal for a bid city and first lady Michelle Obama had also come earlier this week to lobby I.O.C. members for votes. Chicago’s bid leaders had worked for nearly four years and spent close to $50 million to bring the Summer Olympics to the United States for the first time in 20 years. Chicago had been considered among Olympic insiders as a favorite to win the Games, along with Rio.

So much for “insider” information. Why would a city with so many murders, such a reputation for graft and corruption carry the day? Chicago muscle doesn’t translate internationally.

Throngs watching the voting in downtown Chicago’s Daley Plaza gasped in disappointment as the announcement was made. It was the second straight time an American city fared poorly in the I.O.C. voting. New York’s bid was eliminated in the second round of voting for the 2012 Olympics.

United States Olympic Committee leaders appeared stunned by the news and had no comment as they left the voting hall. Mr. Obama was flying back to Washington at the time of the vote.

But…but…he’s magic. No one says no to O. Right? Am I right? Notice he flew out immediately, being the busy man he is. Had to get back to ignoring the situation in Afghanistan, where that hopey-change thing is definitely not working. Someone needs to have a serious talk with the Taliban.

Actually, Obama is a sports fan, so the loss must’ve smarted a little. But he wasn’t there on his own dime — it was your dime, my fellow Americans — and he was simply following orders from the guys what brung him to the dance, i.e., the Cook County machine.

Here’s where we get the sense that the I.O.C. got the chance to shove the shiv into America. Who’s going to pass up that opportunity?
- - - - - - - - -
In the official question-and-answer session following the Chicago presentation, Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.”

If the response had been honest, the President would’ve said, “Hey, Jack. Just living in your country can be a harrowing experience. Buncha Muslims gave us 9/11 and now we check you guys coming in. Deal with it. The little old grannies that we search survive the experience. What’s the problem?”

But no. Obama had to answer in political-speak:

Mrs. Obama tapped the bid leader Patrick G. Ryan, so Mr. Obama could field that question.

“One of the legacies I want to see is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world,” he said, before adding that the White House and State Department would make sure that all visitors would feel welcome.

So we “lost”. Thank heavens. And Tokyo lost in the second round.

My guess? Rio over Madrid. It’s South America’s turn to incur all that debt:

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, gave an impassioned speech to the membership, focusing Rio de Janeiro’s hope to host South America’s first Olympics. He said that of the top 10 economic powers in the world, Brazil is the only one not to host an Olympics.

“For the others it would be just one more Games, for us it would be an unparalleled opportunity,” he said. “It would send a message the Olympic Games belong to all people, all continents and all humanity.

He added, “Give us this chance and you will not regret it, be sure.”

The Rio bid also tried to dispel worries about crime.

“We know that some of you have questions about security,” Rio de Janeiro state Governor Sergio Cabral said, as he addressed the committee. “Changes have been made, happily as a result of sport.”

Cabral pointed out that at the 2007 Pan American Games, which were held in Rio de Janeiro, “saw no incidents large or small.”

I’ll have to admit I’ve never watched the Olympics. My idea of sport is a game of croquet. Once, when the future Baron was quite young, we were visiting someone’s home and the television was on, though the sound was turned down. A commerical for that year’s Olympics flashed on the screen, complete with logo. The fB was intrigued by the image. “What’s an Oplymic?” he asked.

Needless to say, the other boy in the room was shocked. Was this kid from Mars? Further questioning proved it. “The Super Bowl”? Must be a big container for chips.

He knows a little more today, but professional sports is to him, as to his parents, an opaque enterprise. So Chicago spent $50,000,000 in an attempt to lure the Oplymics to town. Big deal. You pay to play in Cook County, and sometimes you lose.

Blame that Pakistani.

And now a perfect excuse to use Danny Kaye in a post:

Hat tip to Steen for the photo. He calls it “O-dag i København” (O-Day in Copenhagen).


Eliéte Rocha said...


To say the truth i'm very happy for Rio. As the money would go to the trash can anyway in some scheme at least Rio will get some infraestruture. Even if corruption didn't get it the money it would dissapear in some social program.

Unknown said...

Oh come off your high horse, post-Gordon.

The sad thing isn't that The Chicago Machine missed out on some more graft, the sad thing is that Obama put the prestige of his office at risk over this - and lost his gamble. Now, I agree a leader must sometimes risk something when the stakes are high: Reagan in Reykjavik, even Carter in Camp David. But for Obama to do it for something as unimportant as the Olympics is downright ridiculous.

He's not a street rabble rouser - eh, community organiser - any more these days. He should try to act accordingly.

Afonso Henriques said...

"Why would a city with so many murders, such a reputation for graft and corruption carry the day? Chicago muscle doesn’t translate internationally."

Chicago is so much safer than Rio that the statement is even funny. I like the Rio though.
Rio de Janeiro,
Cidade Maravilhosa...

between the sea and the favela...
What saddens me more is the decrease of the number of the beautifull (white, sorry for the racism, but it is all here) Carioca (from Rio) women (see it from minute 0:32):

Look at the most beautifull thing,
More filled with grace,
She is the Girl
Who comes and passes by
In her sweet balance
Comming from the Sea

Girl of the golden body
Of Ipanema's (Rio's rich neighbourhood) Sun
Her balance is more than a poem
It's the most beautifull thing
I've ever seen passing by

(Now the Portuguese influence:)

Why is it all so sad,
The beauty that exists,

The beauty that's not only mine
That also alone passes by,

If she knew,
That when she passes by,
The whole fricking world is filled with joy
And becomes more beautifull
Because of Love...
Because of Love...

Those fricking Brazilians and Argentines did invented better music and dance in the last one hundred years than we did here in Hispania.

Go Rio!

Now seriously, the Olympic Games are gayish. What I want is to GO THERE to Brazil to see the Football World Cup in 2014!!! Oh man, that would be so great!

P.S. - If you liked the poem, Dymphna, that's specially for you :)

Henrik R Clausen said...

This was nice. I saw Michelle 0 doing her utmost in emotional blackmail (what has schlerosis in the First Lady's family to do with Olympics?), and I'm glad the IOC didn't give in to this. Possibly they even observed the pressure so clearly they took their vote elsewhere.

When Big 0 can't even push through on a trivial issue like this, one thing is clear:

Resistance is not futile.

Oh. Brazilians have a monster party in Copenhagen tonight. They deserve it :)

WAKE UP said...

The implications for America in this should not be treated lightly. But the implications for Obama are even worse.

Ain't it funny: it took an Olympic Committee to tell America what deep down America actually knows. The guy hasn't GOT IT.

Dymphna said...


Thanks for the poem. Lots of people are humming "The Girl from Ipanema" tonight.

My favorite South American music is Oscar Alemán's incredible work. 2009 is the centennial of his birth in, I think, Argentina.

At any rate, by the time he was ten his father had committed suicide and his mother had died of malnutrition. He was left on the streets of Santos, Brazil to survive as best he could.

He must've been one of the "resilient" ones: he not only survived, he triumphed and left us with the lasting beauty of his work. Swing guitar has not yet produced his equal.

In celebration of Rio, do yourself a favor and get an Alemán CD.

Here's the one I was introduced to some years ago by commenter Wally Ballou:

Swing Guitar Masterpieces 1938-1957


The thing about beauty, Afonso, is its poignant fleetingness. We can never possess it, we can only find the right aesthetic distance from which to appreciate it.

The beautiful, the true, and the good: the only things worth having in life. We can't order them to appear, but when, felicitously, they do show up, we recognize them as moments, nothing more. Any attempt to grasp them or make them last, murders them instantly.

Learning that secret is finally understanding that life is a game of surrender-and-catch, repeated endlessly.

The composer of "Girl from Ipanema" glimpsed the secret and arranged some musical notes in such a way that we can glimpse it, too.

Definitely, Oscar is the music to accompany dinner tonight!

urbanadder22 said...

Unable to contain my schadenfreude:

First time the narcissist who occupies the US presidency at this time in history, who denigrates
America before the World every chance he gets, who orders Israel about as if they were a bunch of
19th Century ghetto Jews in Eastern Europe, who plays a waiting game with Afghanistan--waiting while American troops pay for his indecisiveness with their lives, who uses Air Force One and Two with abandon as if they were about to go out of style--showing how gauche he and his really are, who makes me write run-on sentences to air my ire, first time he got his snout bloodied by the very World he tries so hard to woo by tossing America and us Americans under the bus that's always conveniently there for him.

J Parker said...

I don't understand, it makes no sense! The president got up and said I I I I I I, Michelle got up and said me me me me me me, why werent the judges overcome with emotion? How could anyone resist the charm of the chosen one? They must be a bunch of racists. Yea, that's it, they are racist! No, wait, maybe it is Bush's fault. Yea, lets blame it on Bush!

Cugel said...

Well, I am glad the spirit of Al Capone did not win the day, but I wouldn't be setting laurels on Lula's head as long as he is still meddling in Honduras.

J Parker said...

I'm a little torn, really. I would have liked Chicago to get the Olympics, but I'm also kinda glad that all of the Obama supporters missed out on all of the associated graft.

Cugel said...

Alfonso, perhaps you would like to explain to us benighted folks why the influence of Portugal results in sadness. Personally, I am always happy (or soon shall be) when I open a bottle of port!

When the sweet liquor slowly cascades past my palate and down my now-soothed throat, I think of soleras religiously tended in cool cellars year after year, the new wines added with the devotion of acolytes preparing mass. Am I just a prey to a pleasantly suffused imagination? Or is there something in your country that--although you suggest your land is a sad land--ferments deliciously nonetheless?

Tell us, my friend; sing us a song our your homeland, that we may better understand.

Cugel said...

Alfonso, I hope I have not offended. It occurs to me that although you speak intensely of Brazil, you may be a citizen of Spain, not of Portugal. If this be true, then please accept my humble apologies in my misunderstanding.

Nevertheless, I must return to your speaking of "sadness." This is what I would beg of you to sing to us, be you from Portugal or Spain, for I wonder whether the two countries may not be like brothers or sisters in their tender sentiments.

I am also willing to praise the friendship of sherry, as well as that of port. Both are sacraments, no?

Afonso Henriques said...

Well Cugel, it's AFonso, which is Portuguese. Alfonso is Spanish. I am from Portugal, not from Spain or Brazil.

Cugel, I am already tending to call you friend due to the sound of your written words. And Yes, a taste of Porto is always good in a momment of celeberation. But if you have tasted it, you know it is not the same as the happy champagne or even the mad party vodka.

Port is different because when you taste it, you can feel that akward flavour of a parent who offers port to his son when he's to have his own first son. When a new generation is finally born in the same old family.
It is a happy moment, but the now old man cannot cease to think how grown his son now is and how he has missed some good monents of his son's youth. Or how he will have so little time to be with his grandson, he knows he won't live to see his grandson marry...

Port also tastes like the reconciliation of great friends who lost contact for 20 years for some stupid reason.

Port is ideal to offer to your son-in-law after he had take your sweet daughter from your home. It's a happy moment, but she's not your stay at home little angel anymore, she's a women with a husband now.

Port has this flavour in it. Taste it at the dinner table one night, with your loved ones after dinner, and tell me if it does not taste like tragic-happiness! It's this flavour that makes port so special. It is the wine made close to the mouth of the most beautifull river of the land of the knights and suffered people of such tragically happy events like the Reconquista and the Navegadores, Descobridores e Conquistadores

... or even the simple and humble but simulaneously ridiculously proud and loyal Catholicism. The tragic-hapiness here is not that of Catholicism but the way people here have always looked to the Transcendent. Even a majority of the today agnostic/atheists!

"Am I just a prey to a pleasantly suffused imagination?"

No you're not. It is me perhaps, but, I don't think of cool cellars and the old men who make port as something necessarily "happy". For instance, Porto is in North Portugal and although the best we have comes from there, we usually don't appreciate it and treat it so bad that the best Portuguese movie since the 60s was about the tough life of a poor boy from Porto. Yes, he was poorer than the middle class, but he wasn't that much poor. That's why the movie was such a success. Cases like his abound, sepcially in Northwestern Portugal.

The trailer was: "It's late night in a bakery house in Oporto. Between the adults, some kids make bread. One of them works with a machine. A scream of pain generates confusion. Cursing the luck, the boss takes the hurt child to the hospital. Jaime comes along. He brings the fingers of his injuried friend. The violence of the scene does not heat the cold blood of the boss who fires Jaime to avoid problems with the Work Inspection.
This is the starting point of the adventure of Jaime, a 13 years old boy that works at night, hiding it from their parents, convinced that the money will able him to buy the lost happiness.
Jaime does not accept that his parents are seperate and will do everything to join them again."

Anonymous said...


Sadness it's a major factor in Portuguese music even the name of the typical portuguese music is sad "Fado" means destiny with enfasis doom destiny.

I'm sure Afonso can find much better examples of Portuguese music but take this one from Amalia Rodrigues.

(A quick tranlslation of mine)


Loneliness of who trembled
The temptation of the sky
e from the gifts,
I will be truly myself
inside this veil of tears.

Not knowing if i cry some sin
Trembling, i beg the dark sky
Sad love, the love of someone
When another love (he,she) haves
Abandoned, and not by myself
For me, noone
would even stop in the road.

Brazilian music is not about sadness, it is about life and happyness but once in a while a little of the portuguese soul surfaces in brazilian music.
Specially in european-brazilian music.

Afonso Henriques said...

Cugel, my freind, this is not a sad land. It is a delicious land where sadness ferments nonetheless!

But to be fair, it's not the land. It is the people's fault. The Great Fernando Pessoa wrote to explain the Portuguese Spirit in a poem dedicated to the Infant D. João:

Porque é do Português, pai de amplos mares,
Querer, poder só isto:
O inteiro mar, ou a orla vã desfeita -
O todo ou o seu nada.

Because it is proper of the Portuguese, father of wide seas,
To want, can only this:
The entire sea, or the broken vain coast -
All of it or it's nothing.

I agree. The Infant D.João was part of the "Ínclita Geração". After the dinasty of the warrior kings of the Reconquista we had an episode in the XIV century in which we couldn't decide who to be king. A civil war started and the Spaniadrs invaded us because their King wanted to annex us and marry our princess. Although we were in civil war and the Castillan army was way bigger than ours, we eventually repelled the Spaniards because we had so many First class heros among us, and then we elected D. João I de Avis as King. D. João was a warrior priest of the order of Avis who was half brother of the late king, son of the previous king and a plebeian women. He then married with the English princess Filipa of Lencastre, forging the oldest still existing alliance, who gave born to many children, thus starting "the most perfect of all dynasties" and many of her children were known as part of the "Ínclita" (most noble) generation, because they transformed in 100 years the weakest country of Europe into a world's superpower and were very reverentiated in XIV century Europe.

"be you from Portugal or Spain, for I wonder whether the two countries may not be like brothers or sisters in their tender sentiments."

Yes we're similar. And we're different from the rest of Europe.
But still, that sadness or tragic-hapiness is particular to the Hispanic West, that is, Portugal. Hey! Galiza in Northwest Spain is actually the part of Portugal that was never conquered, it is not Spain. They even speak Portuguese there and that's where our nobility came from...

For instance, take this word and tell me if your port wine doesn't have a little taste of it. If it has not, it's bad port wine.

From all the situational links I provided you, this one is the one you must read. This one is not a complement, this one is the deal, for you to understand that sadness, that tragic hapiness...

The word is uniquely Portuguese and fits the spirit of the people of Portugal and Galiza while it expresses a univrsally humane sentiment that we take more seriously than anybody else. It defines us.
In Brazil, it is part of it as well.

That word, my friend, is SAUDADE. Read the link to understand it. It is very deep, and particularly Portuguese.

You asked me to sing you a song?
We not only have SAUDADE, we have fado. Fado comes from the latin fatum and it is the same root for the english "faith". Afterall fado is not only a musical style, it also means faith and destiny.
Check a relatively pure Portuguese spirit envolving saudade and fado, by today's biggest fado singer, Mariza (you silently see that video loud and interiorize it, it was in Lisbon):

Here's my translation from 2:30 onwards:

And it would look tenderness
If I would let me... cradle
It would be bigger the bitterness
And my singing, less sad

Oh people... of my land!

Oh people of my land,
Now I understood
This... this sadness I bring
This sadness I bring
Was from you...
That I received.

Afonso Henriques said...

Cugel, now compare that last video with this Brazilian Bossa Nova Hit created by Tom Jobim.

You see it and compare it with the last one from Mariza.
Keep in mind that Brazil and especially Rio are heavily Portuguese influenced. I adore this song because it is paradoxically deep and light. Very tropical and good-vibed but also have a lot of Europe in it. And boy, the sound of the instruments is so great... like only those Brazilians know! It is so contagious and it does sheer you up when you're blue with saudades.

Here's my translation:

Go away my sadness
And tell her that
Without her it cannot be
Tell her in a pray
For her to return
Because I can't suffer any more

It's enough of saudade
The reality is that
Without her there's no peace
There's no beauty,
It's only sadness
And the melancholy that
Doesn't get off me, doesn't get off me,
Does not get off.

If she comes back
If she comes back what a beuatifull thing
What a crazy thing
So there are less fishies
Swimming in the sea,
Than the kisses I'l give
To her mouth

Inside my arms
The hugs
It will be millions of hugs
Thight like this, glewd like this,
Silent like this
Hugs and kisses and carings without end
In order to stop with that thing
Of living away from me.



"The thing about beauty, Afonso, is its poignant fleetingness. We can never possess it, we can only find the right aesthetic distance from which to appreciate it.

The beautiful, the true, and the good: the only things worth having in life. We can't order them to appear, but when, felicitously, they do show up, we recognize them as moments, nothing more. Any attempt to grasp them or make them last, murders them instantly."

Actually, I am the one to thank you for such poetry.
And let me tell you that it makes perfect sense. I am just probabily to young to accept it and will have to crush with reality first. :)

I like Oscar Alemán. I had heard some of his works but I never knew who had made it, really. And now that you mentioned Argentina, I am doomed to spent the night searching for tango on Youtube.


Blah, I didn't know that fado. I only knew the more recent "Canção do Mar" with the same music. My favourite to ilustrate that would be this one by the legendary Amália as well:

If you want to be my lord,
And have me always by your side,
Don't speak only of love,
Tell me also about fado (destiny)
Fado is everything I say
More what I can't say

Beaten Souls,
Lost nights,
Bizarre shadows.
In the muslim ghuetto a bully sings
Guitars cry.
Love, Jealousy,
Ashes and Fire,
Pain and Sin,
All this exists,
All this is sad,
All this is Fado (destiny)


Hyphenated American said...

I've written an ironic account of the Olympic saga on my blog.

My blog

Cugel said...

Dear Afonso and blah:

You both put me to shame! I am like a beggar who asked for a little alms and then am lavished with more than I can possibly carry away.

I hear your sadness, but life has been too easy for me in America. Intellectually I know my country is in for sad times, since too many of its people have betrayed its heritage; but the time of payment has not yet come. There is still much gaity (I mean this in the traditional sense) and energy here.

You have shown that I do not understand port. Oh, I enjoy consuming it. I even get a sense of its venerable antiquity. But, alas, I do not taste its sadness, bitterness, or awkwardness; in fact, it seems extremely elegant to me.

Gentlemen, I had come to fret for Europe. My father's father, although a Jew from a shetl in Lithuania, was a gentleman. He taught me to appreciate Beethoven and to turn away in disdain from "popular" music. He dressed well, for he was a tailor. He did not "rush about" as we Americans tend to do. He sang sad songs too, for his beloved wife died when my own father was only one year old. His soul was never quite settled here, but he loved me.

So, when I hear about things that are happening in Europe now, I am tempted to feel a loss irretreavable, but you have shown me that something of the old nobility (nobility of soul, that is) remains.

My humble thanks.

Cugel said...

"Port is different because when you taste it, you can feel that akward flavour of a parent who offers port to his son when he's to have his own first son. When a new generation is finally born in the same old family.
It is a happy moment, but the now old man cannot cease to think how grown his son now is and how he has missed some good monents of his son's youth. Or how he will have so little time to be with his grandson, he knows he won't live to see his grandson marry..."

You, my friend, are a wizard. My son married two years ago, and I am hoping that, in their American rush to advance their careers, he and his wife will give the old man a grandson (oh, a granddaughter would do) before I fade away altogether. If port should be like that, then I might begin to understand it.

Cugel said...

blah, you shared this:

Loneliness of who trembled
The temptation of the sky
e from the gifts,
I will be truly myself
inside this veil of tears.


It sounds very Promethean, and I see myself in the verses, for I have become rather acutely aware of how stubbornly I cling to my own "temptations," that is my self-assertions, against a more "pious" ethical commitment of focusing my energies on preserving the heritage of my county, which endeavor would require a very strenuous commitment these days.

But as one who has crossed over the borderlands of old age, I must accept my limitations. The eagle strikes, but that old liver renews.

Cugel said...

Dear Afonso and blah:

We of the English tongue have an altogther different poetic intent. Our arrogance has not succumbed to sadness. Here are the "imperial" strains of Milton. Your can hear Virgil's Arma Virumque singing through them.

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then hee
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th' associates and copartners of our loss
Lye thus astonisht on th' oblivious Pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy Mansion, or once more
With rallied Arms to try what may be yet
Regaind in Heav'n, or what more lost in Hell?

This, my friends, is a very long way from fado.

Cugel said...

I KNOW the Baron is going have me packed off to Interchange for hogging the thread, but Afonso, why do you anguish over some bouncy rhythms and saucy lyrics from Brazil when your songs from the home country express such exquisite difficulties?

Remember my little story about my grandfather from the shetl. It may add some perspective here.

Cugel said...

Afonso, I know a little of saudade. The Baron has been gracious and forbearing, but I do not wish further to clutter his serious world-wide engagements with personal affairs, as deeply as I feel my own. With his kind aid, you and I shall find a way to speak to each other personally; he will perhaps help us privately to exchange our email addresses.