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  • Ednold

More Notes From the Quarantine Area 8/4/21

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

As I have continued my quarantine this week I’ve come across some new information that just may change my plans for the coming years. As you may recall, those plans could possibly involve losing part of my legs, if it gets to that point. That’s not something I’m excited about but, like I said before, all athletes have to sacrifice to be successful. But I got that idea before I knew that breakdancing will be an Olympic sport in 2024. I hadn’t even considered that option because I didn’t know about it. Now that I do, I have some big choices to make in the near future.

As with rowing, I’ve never tried breakdancing. But from what I’ve seen all you need is a big piece of cardboard - check, and a boom box -check, some baggy pants - check, and lots of bandanas to tie to lots of different parts of your body - check. I’m hoping the piercings and tattoos and jewelry are optional. If so, I’m ready to go. Like I said, I’ve never done it before but this is one of those things that you can pick up by just watching. What you do is kind of hop around for a minute and then get down on the cardboard and sort of roll around and spin one way and then the other so that you end up on your head and then hop back up and strike a cool pose. Not too demanding, it doesn’t seem like. And in just three years they will be giving away Olympic medals for doing that!

I haven’t decided yet to ditch my rowing dreams in favor of the breakdancing. If I end up keeping my legs I might decide to do both. But it’s a choice I really should never have had to make. If the founder of the modern games had had his way, I wouldn’t be in a position where lopping off limbs or spinning on my head were my only avenues to Olympic immortality. That guy, Pierre de Fredy, had envisioned a games where medals were awarded for artistic as well as physical excellence. In fact, until 1954 Olympic medals were awarded for architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture, all of it having to be sports-related.

If the Olympics still included an art competition I would probably choose to get my gold medal in one of those categories, but that’s just not an option anymore. Interestingly, Olympic art fell victim to something that the sports competitions themselves finally found a way to live with: Professionalism.

Back in the day, all of the athletes and artists were required to be amateurs. Eventually people realized it was more entertaining to watch the best athletes in the world compete than to watch the best amateur athletes in the world compete. These days almost all of them are professionals, even the ones in sports you’d never think had professionals.

The arts competitions didn’t have a chance to evolve in the same way. After 1948 the contests were ended because it was too hard to tell who was truly an amateur and who wasn’t. If you were any good chances are you had sold one of your creations to someone at some point. And who really wants to see anything by someone who hadn’t been able to sell anything to anyone?

Still, at the Paris Olympics of 1924 193 artists submitted works, and in Amsterdam in 1928 over 1100 works were on exhibit during the games. They were a big deal in Los Angeles in 1932 and Berlin in 1936, and If you’re wondering, like I was, if anyone ever won a medal for athletics and art, the answer is yes. Two people did it. An American, Walter Winans was a gold medal winning shooter in 1908. Then in 1912, he won a silver medal for his shooting and a gold medal for a sculpture he entered in the art competition. Hungarian Alfred Hajos won two golds as a swimmer in 1896 and 28 years later won a silver medal in the architecture competition. The oldest Olympic medalist in history is Great Britain’s John Copley, who won a silver in 1948 in the engravings and etching competition. He was 73! Hey! Anybody know who won Ireland’s first Olympic medal? I’ll give you a hint - it wasn’t William Butler Yeats, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923. It was his little brother Jack who won an Olympic silver in 1924 for one of his paintings: Ireland’s first Olympic medal.

Now, I know this silly blog wouldn’t be gold medal material, but I’m pretty sure I could win the painting competition if it was still around. I myself was unaware of my artistic talent until, during a recent game of online pictionary, I surprised everyone with my abilities. I have included one of my creations here as an example. This one is called “Catfishing”. As anyone with even one functioning eyeball can clearly see, it is a cat who’s fishing, but the other participants that night had many different ideas as to what it might be. The picture was drawn so brilliantly that each viewer could interpret it in his or her own way. While most viewers will see what is obviously a cat who’s fishing, others, especially people who are apparently blind or otherwise visually impaired, can see things like wizards in the exact same drawing. Few of even the greatest artists possess that ability. Pablo Picasso could do it. I've included one of his paintings here so you can appreciate that he had that very same quality to his pictures. I can’t even think of any others who could do that besides he and I. Pretty good company to be in, I'd say.

Alas, without the sure thing of a gold medal in painting I’ll have to decide whether the rowing or the breakdancing will be a better route to take in my pursuit of Olympic greatness. I’ll keep you all posted.

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