Searching for the Redeem Team at Block 8
For those of you who have never been, this is what the Olympics are like, in exactly 500 words.
I'm writing this from the fourth floor patio of a Beijing club called Block 8. The beach volleyball venue is somewhere off in the distance, on the Eastern half of Chaoyang Park. We're on the park's Western edge.
The floor on level four is made of sand. The décor is blue neon and vodka in clear plastic iced cubes. The beat is bassy. The Olympics are being shown on flat screen TVs. Archery, just now. No one is watching.
Above me, the Australians TV folks are drinking green apple martinis. "I don't know what the [expletive] this is," one of their Swedish friends is saying.
The club's owner, 33-year old Sacramento native Alan Wong, is holding court in the middle of the fourth-floor beach party. "I opened the restaurant in 2006, and now it's just filled with beautiful women, everywhere," he is saying.
On the other side of the club are a collection of George Washington grad students. They
include Enrico Campitelli, Philadelphia's favorite sports blogger, and Chris Hedquist, who has a pair of canoeing tickets for Wednesday's session that he can't use. Someone else in our party quickly agrees to buy them. The cost is one beer. The Americans explain how easily they've gotten tickets to whatever events they wanted this week, including today's supposedly high-demand China-Spain basketball game.
"It's a joke how many empty seats there were," Hedquist says.
"It's like going to a stadium in D.C.," Campitelli adds, with typical Philly charm.
Hedquist, it turns out, was a traveling alternate on the U.S. 2006 skeleton team who's since retired from the sport but still has the itch. Like me, he spent some nights during the Turin Games at the Irish Igloo, a crazy bar high in the Italian Alps.
"Put it this way: I've lived the life of a millionaire on someone else's dime," he says, of his Olympic past.
In America, you might be surprised to meet a traveling skeleton alternate who's considering coming out of retirement. At the Olympics, you just clink glasses and move on with your life.
The rumor all night has been that the Redeem Team will show up eventually. In fact, I was brought here by a young American blog reader who had heard through a friend of a friend that this was their post-Angola destination. A friend of a friend told him the same thing about a Shanghai club called Racks before the Olympics began, and sure enough, he ended the night watching Carmelo and LeBron and Kobe play pool in the VIP section.
At this hour--a few minutes past midnight, Beijing time--there are no basketball players on the premises. But Evander Holyfield is reportedly on the way. Chris Tucker was here on Saturday. The Prince of Monaco ate dinner here last week. And oh yeah, over in the second cabana from the balcony is Microsoft co-founder and Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen.
"What about Garfunkel?" Swede Klas Hesselman asks, a quote that pretty much summarizes the Olympics.
Posted by: Nate in the PDX | August 12, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bobbie | August 12, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chris Mottram | August 12, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: NewSkinsSeasonTicketHolder | August 12, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JDP | August 12, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Arlington Pimp | August 12, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bobbie | August 12, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Steve | August 13, 2008 2:09 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.