"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 17 February 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Heavy Medal


[how to survive this winters cold-]

Every four years, a tremendous

amount of energy and effort is

focused on proving that gravity

still works. It's the winter



Then again, consider the

political ramifications of these

global get-togethers. When else

is so much red-faced,

chest-pounding nationalism

tolerated by educated men and

women? And the winter Olympics

often turn the stage of history

over to less kick-ass countries

than the USA, for their own

fleeting moment in the limelight

of some arcane cold-weather

competence. In non-Olympic

years, our Scandinavian friends

normally have to settle for the

dry-humping honor of having the

world's highest standard of

living. At Nagano, the stoic

Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, and

Finns revel in the brute joy of

heavy medal plunder.


[wal-flu(tm), wlagreens generic thera-flu.  very very stony and sedative]

After last week's marijuana

fiasco, it's still not entirely

clear whether Ross Rebagliati

and his snowboarding buds prefer

Acapulco or Nagano Gold. They've

been understandably conflicted

about the Olympics. On the one

hand, snowboarders are natural

show-offs, and crave the

attention. On the other hand,

they wouldn't want any part of

such a dweebish circle-jerk. But

with a hog-tied International

Olympic Committee and a

brow-beaten International Ski

Federation, snowboarders can

have their bong and smoke it

too, at least this time around.

When the smoke finally cleared

on the Ross "Second Hand Toke"

Rebagliati affair, and the IOC

was in a position to "send a

message to the world's

children," here's what they seem

to have come up with: As long as

you're not doing steroids or

compromising your gender, go

ahead and knock yourself out. Is

it too late to move the 2002

Olympics to Amsterdam?


[Kamille Hautpflege creme on the nose]

By virtue of its dirt-bag

skateboarding origins,

snowboarding has long been

associated with other scofflaw

backcountry shenanigans like

rodeo and polygamy. But with the

morbidity of alpine skiers

climbing as high as the

treeline, and projections that 9

out of 10 lift tickets will be

sold to snowboarders within a

decade, it's no wonder the IOC

dodged this bullet just to get

kicked in the ass. Factoring out

stupidity and dumb luck, there's

no doubt about it - Sonny Bono

and Michael Kennedy got

blindsided by the '90s.

Snowboarding has arrived.


And if you were wondering how

snowboarding made it into the

Olympics without ever suffering

the indignity of being an

"exhibition sport," look it at this

way: Ice fishing, broomball, and

sidewalk shoveling just don't

sell wallet chains,

wrap-arounds, and baggies the

way 'boarding does. (Conversely,

times have certainly changed.

How on earth did Biathlon -

skiing with guns, for chrissake

- ever make it onto the agenda?)


[try not to close your eyes at work thus avoiding the spins]

Indeed, the arrival of

snowboarding and women's hockey

proves nothing so much as it

proves the power of marketing.

Ten years ago, the skiing and

hockey establishments were

guessing how many times hell

would have to freeze over before

snowboarders would be allowed on

ski slopes, and women would be

allowed in shin pads. Moribund

equipment sales through the late

'80s, coupled with a half-dozen

Title IX lawsuits, changed their

minds faster than you can say

"Scott Hamilton's a dork."


Speaking of Hamilton (a man with

a perfect face for radio), the

presence in Nagano of this


underscores an Olympic truism:

When it comes to the modern

games, it's important to

distinguish the Olympiad from

what passes for media coverage

of same. If there was any doubt

about CBS' incompetence in

sharing its moment with the

world, the Assumption of MTV's

Kennedy to straight journalist

in a blue CBS parka is surely a

harsh toke of reality. The

un-credible Ms. Montgomery has

been used sparingly; after all,

hipster chits are one thing, but

Nielsens are quite another.

Ultimately, CBS doesn't want to

mess with American soccer moms.

This persistent and powerful

demographic is still less

interested in sport, demanding

to know which competitors labor

under a heavy yoke of personal

tragedy, romantic incontinence,

or bloated expectations. Does it

surprise anyone that the ad

companies have covered the

events more credibly than the



[moms homemade chocolate fudge]

Call it the soap quotient. Ever

since Kerrigan versus Harding,

skating has figured as one of

the most popular events in all

of sports broadcasting. And if

not for the extended and

mind-numbing personal profiles

of Russian, Ukranian, and

Belarussian ice queens, American

moms would switch to Seinfeld

reruns faster than you can say

"Scott Hamilton is a cancer

survivor. But he's still a

dork." The wide-open crotch

shots - always de rigueur with

judges and spectators alike -

are a bonus for the rest of us.


No, if there's anything to be

learned from the global

spectacle of the 1998 winter

Olympics (besides the fact that

you can get high just hanging

with the right mix of friends),

it's this one potentially

revolutionary insight: Canada

may be a lot mellower than we

thought. At this point, we can

only hope for their sake that

the next winter Olympics will

bring not only the half-pipe

competition, but the one-hitter,

the monster bowl, and the super

bong. Talk about performance

enhancement. Who would have

guessed that snowboards cut such

a fine figure on snow and grass?

courtesy of E. L. Skinner