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All These Half-Nudes Are Fit to Print

WINTER OLYMPICS 1998 | MIKE DOWNEY

February 07, 1998|MIKE DOWNEY

In 1935, three years after Masaji, Paavo and our other tanned tourists left L.A., it seems that Mister Olympics himself, Baron Pierre de Coubertin--another guy who woke up one morning and found himself famous--made a speech in Germany, in which he happened to mention that "Ode to Joy" should be sung at the Games year after year after year. (I have petitioned the IOC many times to switch to "Roll Over, Beethoven" instead, but you know these stuffed shirts.)

The lyrics, in German, by the way, go like this:

Freude, Schoner Gotterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium.

Wir betreten feuer-trunken,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

I decided to sing it this way during Nagano's ceremony, partly in honor of the baron, and partly because I do so enjoy singing Schoner Gotterfunken. It brings me uncontrollable joy. It makes me want to run naked on the lawn. It makes me think of my favorite singer-composers, Paul Schoner and Art Gotterfunken.

In 2000, an opening ceremony will be held in Sydney, Australia. I expect to see no extremely large half-nude wrestlers, but several festivals featuring extremely large cans of beer.

Then comes 2002, when a Winter Olympics will be held in Utah. I know Utah. There is no nudity in Utah. There is not even half-nudity in Utah. If you walk into a stadium half-nude in Utah, you better be there to play basketball.

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