Saturday, July 28, 2012

Off Road: Touch Of Gold

Well done, London!  The Olympics opening ceremony was fantastic!  It was...I mean the Mr. Bean and the...and the other thing...okay, look, I was subjected to a Wizards of Waverly Place marathon by my eight year old so I only got to see bits and pieces of it.  I did get to see the Queen and Bond and I'm so glad that wasn't an April Fool's joke after all (Yahoo! first published the info on April don't get your news from Yahoo!?).

Anyway, I did manage to catch a little bit of the Parade of Nations which is always thrilling, all those shining, hopeful faces and inspiring stories of the young athletes overcoming obstacles, the embodiment of the Olympic spirit.  Then I naturally started thinking about the Grateful Dead. 

What's that you say?  The Grateful Dead didn't embody the Olympic spirit?  Of course they did.  Read on.

Still from The Other Dream Team

The Lithuanian basketball team wasn't certain they'd make it to Barcelona in 1992.  They had heart and skill but Lithuania had just broken free from the old Soviet Union and so what they didn't have was money.  Somehow the Grateful Dead heard about it and sponsored them, making up the difference and sending their first free basketball team to the show.  The team was heavily  handicapped and mainly covered in the US as a human interest story but then they kicked ass and won the bronze.  During the medal ceremony they wore head-to-toe tie dye as a thanks to their sponsors.  If you'd like to learn more check out The Other Dream Team, a documentary by Marius Markevicius that was shown at Sundance this year.  Oh, and that wasn't the only time the Grateful Dead was involved with the Olympics:  percussionist Mickey Hart collaborated with Phillip Glass and Zakir Hussain to compose the music for the Opening Ceremony in Atlanta in 1996.

All right, cycling is on right now.  I've caught some of the highlights on YouTube and I have to say the lighting of the cauldron was one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  I love the emphasis on "we" rather than "me."  Very hippie.  Well done, Mr. Boyle.  I don't know if you're a Grateful Dead fan but have a "Touch of Grey" anyway.

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