Archive for the 'sports' Category

The Week

The week in review

The outrageous sentence of two years in labour camp for the members of the punk/art collective Pussy Riot in Moscow the day before yesterday is the most high-profile recent example of the fragility and corruption of the Russian judicial system. Without knowing much of anything about the subject, I think that suggestions that the Church, rather than the government, may have played the greatest role in the conviction rings true, despite Putin getting most of the bad press. In any case, it reflects terribly on both.

It is also a reminder of the power of art and activism based on creative work to call attention to injustice. Not only is their really very innocuous manifestation (see above) is just plain fun — a perfect youtube phenomenon — the support of a Madonna or a Paul McCartney seems also to have come more naturally because of the nature of their dissent. It certainly carries a different and potentially broader kind of visibility than the usual statements of support for activists of more straightforward political stripe. Fair or not.

Beyond the news stories, a good introduction to the group and their thinking is Nadia Tolokonnikova’s closing statement from the trial. Smart, informed, and naive, it carries the blazing righteousness of youth.

More links:

  • Richard Thompson. It is sad news that Richard Thompson is ending his brilliant daily strip Cul de Sac, and his reasons for doing so infinitely sadder. But at least he pretty much goes out on top. Tom Spurgeon has just published two extensive, older interviews with the cartoonist.
  • Jay-Z and the New Jersey Nets. I liked this article on Shawn Carter’s investment and stake in the New Jersey Nets and their imminent move to Brooklyn. Another example of Hova’s contribution as an hip hop entrepreneur.
  • The Week

    The week in review

    The Olympics ended today. Besides offering plenty of amazing performances, the event for me was interesting in that it something as rare as an (almost) uniformly positive display of national pride by the customarily self-loathing Britons. Lame and messy as it was in parts, it was great to see an opening ceremony that was essentially intellectual and — as most good things British — self-aware, with a political edge (tying into the upcoming US presidential elections!) to boot. No stooping to reach the lowest common denominator, just the inevitable unselfconscious popular lameness.

    And it was gratifying to see the Britons perform so well athletically, home field advantage or not, demonstrating that the healthy mind so effortlessly celebrated in the opening ceremony ties into a healthy body. It remains to be see whether the goal of inspiring a surge of interest in sports in Britain will come about, just as it remains to be seen whether all the big words about rejuvenating some of the most disadvantaged areas of East London through the building of the Olympic Village and attendant infrastructural lift will come to fruition. Right now, it’s just predictably ugly (the Olympic Stadium looks like so much scaffolding, lacking in harmony, and Anish Kapoor’s lumpy twirl in front is just an embarrassment, inelegant and pointless).

    So far, however, it has been a bravura achievement, uniting Britons with the world in a way that reminds us of the the bedrock confidence that underlies the usual self-loathing and doubt. Not bad in this recessed economy, and not bad for something so fundamentally tied up in the negative empowerment of money and political prestige.


  • Paul Ryan. Mitt Romney’s announcement of his running mate yesterday has sharpened the presidential race, making it clearer what kind of laternative Romney will be representing to the electorate. This profile on Ryan by Ryan Lizza from last week’s New Yorker provides some helpful background on the tea-party ideologue now gunning for the White House.
  • Ng Suat Tong’s recent reviews of notable comics. The long-time comics critic has really been bringing it lately over at Hooded Utilitarian, weighing in on several of the year’s most notable releases. Here are his reviews of Joe Sacco’s Journalism, Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?, and Guy Delisle’s Jerusalem — Chronicles from the Holy City. Also, check out his essay on Lovecraft in comics.
  • The Games Are Afoot

    Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

    Tour de France: Beautiful Carlito!

    Today’s stage sure delivered, even though one had to wait patiently for the action: “Too much sense, and too little madness“, as Jørgen Leth remarked when the peloton reached the top of Col de Galibier. But when the leading pack reached the foot of Alpe d’Huez, Carlos Sastre attacked — Denis Menchov reacted quickly, but then Sastre attacked again, and rode all the way to the top of his career. Again, his team played their role in full, impressive force, and again, young Andy Schleck proved to be the strongest and most exciting rider of the day. Watch that kid.

    But today surely belongs to the most sympathetic rider in Tour de France, Carlos Sastre. Last year, we also cheered for beautiful Carlito, but this time he actually won. Cadel Evans will most likely win Tour de France, in the unadmirable, defensive style of Miguel Indurain, but Carlos Sastre is undeniably the spiritual winner of this year’s Tour. As Jørgen Leth would put it:

    Tour de France: “Kill ‘Em All”

    Everyone’s got major expectations for today’s stage in the majestic Tour de France. So far the race has been pretty darn good, but at this very moment, the riders are on their way over three (yes three!) mountain tops — Col du Galibier (2645m), Col de la Croix de Fer (2067m) and finally the legendary Alpe d’Huez (2105m).

    This year, the race has been very open, and thus very, very entertaining. Right now, five riders in the GC (General Classification) are battling for final victory, but since a time trial remains (Saturday), the climbers are forced to attack favorites Cadel Evans and Denis Menchov today, because the latter are “complete riders”, accordingly expected to take several minutes from the climbers in the time trial. Danish Team CSC/Saxo Bank’s Fränk Schleck (of Luxembourg) has got the maillot jaune, but is no time trial specialist (and neither is his captain Carlos Sastre). Led by former Tour winner Bjarne Riis, they are probably planning something big today — something, that no matter how clever and strategic, can be reduced to team mate Jens Voight’s laconic remark from yesterday: “Kill ‘ em all“.

    As a special service to our Danish readers, pay attention to, where legendary legend Jørgen Leth (see portrait above) comments on the entire stage LIVE on the web. It’s right now!

    Suffering, glory, tragedy, victory. This one’s got it all. If you don’t want to see it all, just go for the final hour on Alpe d’Huez. Drama guarenteed.

    Man er vel fra Aalborg …

    Det’ GULD! Så’er’ed’UIJ!! Hææj, ÅÅÅÅÅÅÅÅÅÅB!!

    Foto:Mick Anderson/Polfoto

    Tour de France 2007: The Collected Metabunker Coverage

    As this year’s Tour de France rolled around, the Metabunker’s own T. Thorhauge was as usual parked in front of the TV, but contrary to previous years, he this time around went in the footsteps of his avowed mentor Jørgen Leth (pictured) and provided commentary! For your convenience, here’s the collected linkage:

    July 10: Fausto Coppi and ‘La Bomba’
    July 13: The Thin Air Is Coming
    July 15: Rasmussen’s Reign
    July 24: We Few, We Happy Few
    July 25: ‘Cycling is War’
    July 26: Exit Chicken!
    July 29: When the Second Best Man Becomes the Best (Or: Showdown in Angoulême)


    Tour de France: When the Second Best Man Becomes the Best (Or: Showdown in Angoulême)

    Yesterday, Spanish Boy Wonder Alberto Contador won the Tour de France. The time trail from Cognac to comics capital of the world, Angoulême, was in reality the last chance to change the top in the general classification (GC). Indeed, this was an exciting time trail, in which the three leading riders rode as though they were fleeing from the Devil himself (or perhaps just from the scandals of the Tour?). Discovery Channel’s Levi Leipheimer beat everyone, but his competitors Cadel Evans and fellow Discovery rider Contador rode spectacularly as well, leaving the top of the GC unchanged.

    So, later today, Contador will be celebrated on Champs-Élysées, standing on top of the podium, next to Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer. Did the best man win? As a commentator on Danish network TV-2 noted: “Yes. If you’re prepared to accept the fact that the man on top of the podium is the second best“. Rasmussen-gate will probably haunt Contador’s victory in the years to come. Continue reading ‘Tour de France: When the Second Best Man Becomes the Best (Or: Showdown in Angoulême)’

    Tour de France: Exit Chicken!

    The maillot jaune is out of the Tour de France! As mentioned in the blog entry below, Rasmussen seems to have lied about his whereabouts in June, and his employer Rabobank has kicked him out! Read the whole story on!

    As I also wrote somewhere below: “Good Lord, when you think there can be no more surprises, there’s always another one around the corner…

    Vive le Tour! I still think Rasmussen was the right winner!

    Tour de France: ‘Cycling is War’

    Just moments after finishing my last post on le Tour, Alexandre Vinokourov was tested positive for blood doping. Though Vinokourov claims he and his teammates are the innocent victims of a conspiracy, Team Astana has left the Tour (Vinokourov also stated that he has no intentions of wasting time proving he’s innocent…!).

    Now, some 24 hours later, Christian Moreni of Team Cofidis was tested positive for using artificial testosterone. Moreni confessed immediately after, and has been arrested by French police. Team Cofidis has now followed the trail of Team Astana, out of the Tour.

    The allegations against Rasmussen continue: a former Italian rider claims he met Rasmussen in Italy in June, when he is supposed to have been training in Mexico. We also understand that the French really don’t like Rasmussen, though his riding style has proven spectacular and deeply entertaining. Too bad for Tour-boss Prudhomme and ASO chief Patrice Clerc that the doping sinner of the day is, unfortunately, from a French team. Our condolences go to the Goody Two Shoes of French cycling organizers… Continue reading ‘Tour de France: ‘Cycling is War’’

    Tour de France: We Few, We Happy Few

    At least in the Danish coverage of le Tour, everyone’s reporting that viewing figures are dropping massively throughout Europe, due to – yes, you guessed it! – cycling’s doping-infested image. Danish paper Berlingske Tidende also ran an article claiming that the drop in popularity is exacerbated by the fact that a certain Dane is very close to winning the race. Audiences wants a winner from Germany, France, Spain, USA, heck, even Borat-land Kazakhstan! In the Metabunker, things are different. Firstly, we don’t care about the nationality of the winner, though it’s somehow funny and surprising that the leader of the pack, Mr. Rasmussen, is from around here. Secondly, we like the fact that this year’s Tour is dominated by tiny climbers (such as Rasmussen and Boy Wonder Alberto Contador), rather than heavy muscle guys such as Lance Armstrong or Jan Ullrich (though those guys certainly haven’t been replaced properly yet, riders such as Klöden, Vinokourov, Leipheimer, and Evans do their best). And thirdly, we enjoy being humble spectators with no obligations or responsibilities. Tour director Christian Prudhomme and UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) chief Pat McQuaid are surely not allowed that luxury, as they are probably deeply concerned with the future of cycling. Continue reading ‘Tour de France: We Few, We Happy Few’

    Tour de France: Rasmussen’s Reign

    As the first mountain stage in Tour de France turned out slightly disappointing, this one was, well, as promised, an ab-so-lu-te blast. Great Dane Michael Rasmussen (of Dutch Team Rabobank) tore the peloton apart, won the stage riding halfway the route virtually without help (as his only ally, T-Mobile captain Michael Rogers unfortunately hit a roadside barrier and pulled out of the race shortly after). Good Lord, what a stunning ride, a phenomenal achievement! Rasmussen not only won the stage, but the maillot jaune and the polka-dot mountain jersey as well. Continue reading ‘Tour de France: Rasmussen’s Reign’

    Tour de France: The Thin Air is Coming

    Enter the Alps! It has been a crazy week for the riders in the world’s greatest cycling race. Although the maillot jaune has been in Fabian Cancellara’s possession since the Prolouge, the Tour has been surprisingly eventful so far, which is both good and bad. Good, obviously, due to the entertainment value of the race – bad, because some of these events included the brutal crashes of Team Astana-chiefs Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden, which just might put an end to the podium dreams for these two riders, who otherwise happened to be among the top favourites for the GC (general classification). Sure, it’s somehow exciting in a strange, sadistic manner to watch a rider giving it all that he’s got, with deep contusions on both knees, a bleeding elbow and abrasions on hip and buttocks. But then again: if that sight means the exit of Vinokourov, well… not good at all. Continue reading ‘Tour de France: The Thin Air is Coming’

    Tour de France: Fausto Coppi and ‘La Bomba’ – Updated

    Jorgen Leth Tour
    If you haven’t got any real plans for the summer, here’s your deal: Le Tour is the thing! Even though the first two stages were more exciting than expected, Tour de France is of course at its best when it reaches the Alps (14th to the 17th of July, Sunday being a resting day) and the Pyrenees (23th to 25th of July). So, should you be reluctant to spending endless hours watching the Tour on TV, do check for the mountain stages where legends are born…

    I hope to follow the Tour, and hopefully to blog about it now and then. In my first Metabunker post on cycling, I discussed Bjarne Riis’ doping confession. At the moment, Bjarne Riis’ Team CSC holds the maillot jaune, but Riis himself is not with his team, due to the pressure from the media caused by his doping confession, as well as former CSC-rider Jörg Jaksche’s allegations (see here and here). But it’s also worth noting that Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme has condemned Bjarne Riis harshly, and made it clear that he would prefer Riis to stay away, because the presence of the former Tour de France winner would soil the grandeur of the race. In fact, Monsieur Prudhomme wants to reclaim Bjarne Riis’ maillot jaune, and erase him as winner of the 1996 Tour de France. Continue reading ‘Tour de France: Fausto Coppi and ‘La Bomba’ – Updated’

    Happy 70th Birthday, Jørgen Leth!

    Well, I absolutely adore legendary poet, filmmaker and sports commentator Jørgen Leth, so today is a great occasion to celebrate the man and his works. Mr. Leth himself will talk to his audience in Cinemateket in Copenhagen later today, go meet him! At the same time, the first part of a brand new dvd compilation of Leth’s entire film production will be launched – oh joy! …Happy Birthday, mr. Leth!

    If you read Danish, do click here to read Berlingske Tidende‘s Ebbe Iversen’s accurate and thorough piece on Leth’s career.

    Illustration by myself.