Friday, August 8, 2008

Let the Games Begin

Today, according to the Chinese at least, is the luckiest day of the year. It is 8-8-08, the official opening of the Olympics in Beijing. My parents and I decided to celebrate with an impromptu drive to Philadelphia's Chinatown where they were throwing their own party to honor the Olympians. It was fun-- they had performers, and mini-booths of Olympic events as well as lots of family fare. It had the feeling of a street fair, with food and tents lining the streets. Afterward, we ate the best Chinese food (seriously, YUM!) at a restaurant on Race Street while a TV in the background showed the Opening Ceremonies. Here are some my pictures from our trip (including my pic with a mascot-- I love the Chinese's aesthetic of cute):

I wonder if there is anyone out there doing a comparison of Opening Ceremony fashions. The entry of the different countries into the stadium seems to be a bit slow for many viewers, but I took pleasure in discovering how each country chose to be represented in their dress.

The Americans in Ralph Lauren

Team USA was outfitted by the all-American designer Ralph Lauren. For the ceremony, they donned navy blazers, white newsboy caps, white trousers, and ascots for the ladies while the men completed their look with matching striped tie. All in all, they were a smart looking bunch, even if they were super preppy. And, yes, in the spirit of commercialism, you too can buy matching outfits or other Olympic themed clothes at Ralph Lauren's website.

Those savvy Germans with flags that double as fans. I also just noticed that the guy three in from bottom right has the Olympic symbol shaved into his head.

I would have the say that the cleverest thing I saw in the way of ensembles was those sensible German flag-fans. Someone was thinking here: in the 90 degree heat of Beijing, instead of waving a small black, red, and gold flag, each Olympian waved a flag-colored fan. Pretty smart, eh?

Easy-going Aussies

It is an honor that usually goes to the Americans, but this time it was our cousins down under, the Australians, who, IMHO, took the award for being the most dressed down. Their outfits were very sporty, wearing what looked to be a blue track suit and matching ball cap. They were a fun, happy bunch though.

The human interest story of the evening was about the little boy with the bird's eye view accompanying the 7 FT 6 in (2.29 meters) Chinese basketball player, Yao Ming. As Yao walked hand-in-hand with the Sichuan boy (and later hoisted him in his arms), the commentators told the story of how this 9 year-old boy had been a victim of last May's earthquakes in China (which killed over 70,000 people). After pulling himself from the rubble of his school, he had gone back in to rescue other students. When asked why he had risked his life in such a manner, he replied something along the lines of, "It was my duty. In school I was a hall monitor, and it was my job to watch out for the other students." You can read an article about the little boy (and how he almost didn't make it into the stadium) here.

As to my final thoughts on the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics 2008? Holy fireworks over China, Batman.

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