Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Summer Olympics
Stiv Bators and Kent Smythe in a friendly game of basketball
People who know me in real life know that I have no time for sports, except tennis, which I can play (I even have the Lateral Epicondylitis to prove it; that's "tennis elbow" in lay terms, by the way) and it is a game I understand, and mostly, it is all about your individual performance (just like golf, but I don't have the patience to play golf, even though I know how. I'm equally bad at both tennis and golf; little kids have bettered me at both of these sissy country club sporting activities) because I am totally not about the team sport and the gang mind-set that goes with it... but here we are in the middle of the Summer Olympics.
George Cabaniss gets ready to shoot
This Summer, the Olympics are hosted by China. Hmmm and there's already controversy brewing (not to mention that there's political unrest in nearby Russia at the same time). In 1976, the first Summer of Punk Rock, the Summer Olympics were hosted by Montreal. Due to pressure from the People's Republic of China, Canada told the team from the Republic of China (Taiwan) that it could not compete at the Montreal Summer Olympics under the name "Republic of China" despite a compromise that would have allowed Taiwan to use the ROC flag and ROC anthem. The Republic of China refused and as a result did not participate again until 1984, when it returned under the name "Chinese Taipei" and used a special flag.
In 1989, Beijing was the site of the Tiananmen Square protests, which resulted in the deaths of many people, the exact toll of which has never been realistically calculated or revealed, but has been reported as anywhere between 200 to 3,000 killed.
You certainly recognize this famous AP Wire photo by Jeff Widener of an unknown man attempting to stop the tanks simply by standing in front of them. Nearly 20 years have passed since the June 4th Incident (which is what it is known as in China), and the media reports that the Olympic Torch was cheered as it passed through Tianamen Square. Does anyone remember what the protests were about? Let me refresh your memory: Led by labor activists, students and intellectuals (those categories of persons would be likely candidates to populate the punk rock movement), the leader-less and somewhat anarchic but unified in its voicing of discontent with the status quo, the movement and protesters were against the then-current economic policies of the Chinese communist party, corruption within the sitting government and it called for widespread democratic reforms.
For that, the Chinese government believed the protestors should be stopped. dead. in their tracks. Even to this day, it is not uncommon for those born after 1989 to know absolutely nothing about the incident and the 60 days of political unrest that preceded it. Within Mainland China, all sources of information have been censored so that NO REFERENCE to Tianamen Square exists... I guess anyone reading this blog from China will be unable to read this post. Sorry.
Basketball has been a Summer Olympic sport since 1936... even though he did score this free-throw, Stiv kept George on the punk rock track
That's one reason why I find it curious that the 2008 Summer Olympics could be hosted by China. With its long standing poor record regarding human rights, they certainly are being handed a wonderful opportunity to wash their reputation and start all over with great big profitable clean slate and as an old and old skool punk rocker living in the USA, I get to say that... and I get to invoke the words "Tianamen Square" over and over again without censorship.
Rob duPrey, Mumps
I recall vividly in 1989, as the Tianamen Square protest was going down, sitting around reading the NY Times with Mumps guitar player Rob duPrey. In the middle of a philosophical conversation, he remarked upon seeing that Jeff Widener photo something like "imagine your fate being one of those students at Tianamen Square, arrested, and even killed for just stating your opinion." Its just one of those things that has stuck in my mind over the years.... because it has become a sort of thing I now postulate about daily: imagine if your fate was.... whatever bad thing is happening.
More than any other set of friends or people I know, my musician friends are the ones who are really on top of the current events and news... more often than not, they're skeptical and suspicious of the powers that be... but then again, this is a class of people who get scrutinized more than anyone, simply for saying what they mean and probably because they have a platform and downright bully pulpit from which to do so.
Stiv Bators was one of the premier conspiracy theorists among my friends... check out the record he made with The Wanderers called Only Lovers Left Alive. It is a journey down the conspiracy theory path. And it rocks.
Stiv, Dave Tregunna and Dave Parsons - The Wanderers