Live From the Heineken House
Here's the thing about being at the Olympics in Bejing: at some point or other, you can pretty much count on running into the male spouses of the Aussie women's basketball team, dressed like Australian Rules Football players, at a Dutch bar, where most everyone is eating french fries with mayo. And, after just a few minutes of friendly negotiation, you can get them to agree to sell you a giant inflatable kangaroo for $50. Life is easy at the Olympics.
The Holland Heineken House is a massive maze of orange stuff located, like every other place I visit, in the vague vicinity of the beach volleyball venue. (Chaoyang Park, vaguely.) It's just around the corner from Club Bud; in fact, I was trying to head to the (formerly) domestic temple of conspicuous hops-fueled Western merrymaking but my cabbie dropped me off instead at the imported temple of conspicuous hops-fueled Western merrymaking.
The crowd at the Holland House is significantly different than the crowd at Club Bud. For one thing, at least 35 percent of the people are wearing orange. For another, there are many more revelers who are older than 40 and younger than 20; young kids and grandmothers wandering the grounds, singing Dutch rock anthems together. I wasn't there for more than 15 minutes and I saw people whose accessorized clothing clearly labeled them as French, Brazilian, Canadian, American, German, Australian and New Zealander. You're virtually required to wear some article of clothing that does the trick; dressing like you're heading to The Park is not allowed.
That, obviously, was the case for the three chaps pictured below: Neil Mottram, Ben Hodges, and Tim Hodges. Tim Hodges is married to Aussie forward Laura Summerton. Neil Mottram is married to Aussie guard Jenni Screen and brothers with Aussie 5,000-meter runner Craig Mottram.
Yeah, there are a pair of Mottram brothers running around this town, too.
Anyhow, these three Aussie guys have decided that for every pool play session of the women's basketball tournament, they need to appear in a different ridiculous group ensemble. So one day they went as lifeguards, complete with life preservers. The photos were pretty tremendous. Today, clearly, was Aussie Rules Football Day. Friday is going to be Steve Irwin Day, complete with a massive blow-up crocodile. Which is perhaps why they were willing to part with one of their two massive blow-up kangaroos.
As you leave the Heineken House and the mayo fries, by the way, you come out onto a busy street jammed with cabs entering and exiting at outlandish angles and Dutch people wearing orange shirts and shakily riding bikes.
(One final note: our bureau is currently empty besides me. Due to the time difference, the only things you can feasibly live blog for much of the U.S. work day are parties. That's why I keep doing this.
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