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micheal_warren

Athens 2004 - August 13 - Opening Ceremony

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I would just like to add that after going through all my tapes of Athens, I realized I must have recorded over the OC :angry:  :angry: ! I liked the Athens games a lot, but I have fonder memories of Sydney and Salt Lake. I just can't wait to see what Torino and Beijing have in store for their OC's.

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An art performance from Torino, unfortunately dancing lions from Beijing.

As opposed to Bjork and the Macy's Parade of Greek History?

Yea, I know...the parade looked better on television...it looked downright tacky in person

Waiting for angry Greek rant...

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An art performance from Torino, unfortunately dancing lions from Beijing.

As opposed to Bjork and the Macy's Parade of Greek History?

Yea, I know...the parade looked better on television...it looked downright tacky in person

Waiting for angry Greek rant...

JDPinstripes, you have said that over and over again. Im afraid I cannot see how I could change your mind. I mean, these things, they either work first time round, or they NEVER work. Plus there is no need for all of us to agree on everything.

At least for me, and most greeks possibly, the "MAcy's" parade was a very very realistic (surreally ...real) presentation of an amazing collection of art spanning thousands of years, which can now be experienced in the National Archaelogical museum in Athens, in Thira (Santorini), Knossos, and Thessaloniki museum (at least those artifacts I identified). It is interesting that if you visited the National Archaelogical Museum in Athens during your stay in Athens, the way it is set up, chronologically and divided in distinct eras - you would know that the "macy's" parade pretty closely follows that very same order. And being able to identify the DETAILS on the "macy parade" "exhibits" (provided you have studied the original - by studied I mean, to have spent some time looking at it at a museum), it just made me appreciate the parade more and more...The level of detail was really amazing !

Unlike the predominantly "white" colour in  sculptures, ruins, marbles that people associate hellenistic art with, the use of colour was VERY popular in ancient greece (hence the amazing frescoes of Thira - that really came to life during the parade).

Maybe, this sort of "gap" of communication, that you experienced, is probably because there exists this "prerequisite" so to speak, to have actually known and seen those artifacts in the various museums.Seeing a terracota boy, OUt of the blue, holding blue fish, probably says NOTHING to someone who has not seen the frescoe in real life ...But if you have, it honestly IS surreal ....

However, Papaioannou, believed that art can speak for itself, with or without prior knowledge and there is no need for any "translation".

If I were an artist myself, I might have shared his faith. But I am not an artist and I do experience such "limitations" in interpretation ALL THE TIME , myself, so I dont share his faith.

Did it work ? Obviously not for you. But it is understandable, as you come from a different culture, or you may have very different artistic interests / endeavours.

I myself, when visiting exhibitions of Asian art, or Indian in particular , I do sometimes think to myself : Oh dear, this is plain KITSCH.What are these people thinking ? It is usually the same with food, clothes etc.

However, when I let friends (who come from such places, and I usually go to exhibitions with them, so that they can act as a "translator" of what I see and experience) I just let myself absorb the colours and the vibrancy and the celebration of life, that their art trully conveys. And then it all becomes clear to me and really enjoyable.

Now, was there enough "translation" for those "tableaux vivants" for a global audience and for the 20+ mins this whole thing lasted ? I honestly cannot know. That is why, when you first expressed your discomfort and made the "macy's parade' comparisons, I was shocked. Only because I was taking things for granted. That what I found inspiring and made me stand in awe, you found just ...aw-ful. PLUS, I HAVE NEVER SEEN A MACY'S PARADE ! How could I possible know ???!!! You see it works, both ways ! But then, far more relaxed and puting things into perspective, and with my own experiences of Asian art - I think I now know what you mean.

It was a VERY bold step from Papaioannou. He is an artist and he believes in the power of "art". It proved an extremely EXPENSIVE belief though, and I guess with the same money he could have produced truly spectacular "Hollywood" style super shows instead (and I dont use the term Hollywood-like with a negative conotation. I love hollywood movies ! I use it so to emphasise the sense of SPECTACULAR). I bet in that case however, the day after, the Greek artists and critics would have EATEN HIM ALIVE. We could never have pulled an Atlanta or Sydney because it is not us. No other reason.Plus to be honest, dont you think it would have satisfied our nationalistic "EGos" so much more, If we had seen a "SUPER SHOW" instead (with sea battles, and thunders and greek mythology stories come to life ...so many options !).However it did not happen (though they had the money).

I myself have no - major - doubts or regrets (for the lack of a super show). But I do get mixed signals from people from other countries - like you - which I can neither dismiss as downright wrong, nor ignore.

Also I now tend to agree with another comment you have made in the past. The sea-concept being under-used but MAINLY, the WELCOME HOME concept being SHOCKINGLY played down. That WAS a suicide. NO OTHER CITY IN THE WORLD EVER, given this unique chance, would have played down this "trademark" MESSAGE. Because it trully should have been THE MESSAGE of the OC...unfortunately it was lost in translation (literally ...Only the Greek speaking woman , said OLYMPIC GAMES WELCOME HOME, in Greek, at the very beginning of the OC, after the countdown. And that was it for the next 16 days. Except the banners at OAKA). And just ONE snapshot of the Parthenon throughout both ceremonies ????? (when lets say Sydney bridge was shown again and again and again and played a vital "for the sake of the show" part in the closing ceremony).

We can exhaustively analyse the should haves and would haves ...

I personally was made VERY proud and I expected nothing less from Papaioannou. I sort of trusted him and his vision. But as I said, I am greek and Ive grown up in this country and I have seen those artifacts since I were a child, many many times. Hence they have registered in my mind as part of my identity. Not in a nationalistic way. But as a "definition" of my roots. So it was a trip in my consience, my memories and the artistic 'components' that make up my national identity.

Could it have worked globally ? Is art TRULLY a global language ? Should art be the almost exclusive element of an OC ?

Well, Greece's "heavy industry" is that. This is ALL we have. So I guess they concentrated on this asset.No, the "tableaux vivants" is NOT a grounbreaking concept. So yes, for you, it is normal to find it reminiscent of the Macy parades (which I pressume they too take place on floats).

The spaceship sequence, and Bjork ...I guess those were just attempts to speak to a wider audience (americans could VERY easily associate with the space culture - it's not as if Greeks launch spaceships everyday, or that we have even seen one !).

In all honestly. My personal bests were the words of Seferis (the poet excerpt at the beginning (gave me the goosebumps), the figures projected on the marble pieces (loved them all !), and the DNA helix. The latter because of my interests and because decoding the human genome is a remarkable achievement and a GLOBAL effort (led by Americans and the Brits - if I were American I would be awfully proud that moment - after all it is not everyday routine for an American president to make an announcement on a scientific discovery). Plus I loved the metaphor.

This is what unites us all, this is what we are ALL made of, of all eras, and this is the only language we ALL share (with 4 simple letters !). And having actually followed this whole story of decoding the genome, I am simply humbled by the INTELECT of humans : Americans, Brits, Germans ...ALL humans. If sports celebrate the physicality of human nature, the Decoding of the genome celebrates the INTELECT of humans, and paradoxically takes it back to the very basics !

So as you can see, "My own country's art" did not speak to me as LOUD as a scientific achievement that has to be credited (mostly) to your country. If I had no "DNA" knowledge, or I did not know what the double helix is, I would probably have felt indifferent for that section of the OC (like you felt for other segments of the OC).

In that sense, I found ingenious moments that made me awfully proud and that do not necessarily coincide with my nationality.

The macy parade ? I now think I understand where you are coming from. I hope you too can see my point. But then again, why should there be a consensus ? We can agree to disagree.

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I guess one clear difference is the Athens 2004 Opening Ceremonies' "Klypsedra/River of Time/Segment C" was trying to teach people something, whereas the Macy's Parade is to mainly to sell people something...

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An art performance from Torino, unfortunately dancing lions from Beijing.

Art performance? You mean those from the likes of da Vinci?  :;):

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The premiere of 'DaVinci Code'?

Special guest star Tom Hanks!

They already had a 'trailer/teaser' in the theatres for that.  Went to a movie this past weekend -- and there was the "DaVinci Code" trailer like it was the Second Coming!  And it won't be out until May 2006.

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Poli your points are valid.....We don't have the same tastes..I enjoyed the Closing and didn't find the Opening too appealing. Though I think the board agrees with me on Bjork..she blew..royally.

And, I also wasn't a big fan of the whole Space Station either....It didn't seem to fit in anywhere.

That doesn't mean it was all bad....The torch lighting to the King Lear finale was well done, even despite the story of what was behind the lighting, and the man who lit the cauldron. The rings of fire, the child in the paper boat, and the joke of finishing the stadium seconds before the start of the Opening Ceremony were all fantastic.

I think you know where I stand on Athens 2004....Great location, Great People, Personally a great experience (I'd love to go back), But the Athens Games will leave an eventual legacy of ATHOC and the Greek Government with their delays and idiocy hampering what should have been a landmark moment in the history of the Olympic Movement.

And as long as we continue to trash the Freedom Fry cauldron.....Can we trash the gigantic joint in Athens!!

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I thought the water effect was wasted.  It made for an unusual and spectacular backdrop, but it wasn't pivotal to the story.  As far as the parade, it was colourful, but they could have filled the field with the athletes and let them watch the parade go by rather than just let that big pool of water sit empty in the centre of the stadium.

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I thought the water effect was wasted.  It made for an unusual and spectacular backdrop, but it wasn't pivotal to the story.  As far as the parade, it was colourful, but they could have filled the field with the athletes and let them watch the parade go by rather than just let that big pool of water sit empty in the centre of the stadium.

Especially after last December, a tsunami moment was wasted.  I mean like a sea storm and an actual battle would've been nice, besting that puny impressionistic thing of Barcelona.  :sniffle:  With a whipped-up storm and at least the $1000 seats getting doused, that would've given a whole new definition to the concept of 'audience participation.'  None of those hokey take-home souvenir kits.  This time you would get an actual taste of the holy water from Marathon or Marmara or wherever that was, and atheletes' -- as gloriously discussed here before -- piss who have been "Welcomed Home."  

And all that would've validated Gianna appearing on global television wide-screens in a wet T-shirt!!  ("Oh, holy Zeus, I got wet; and this is my only outift!!")     :wwww:

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..., But the Athens Games will leave an eventual legacy of ATHOC and the Greek Government with their delays and idiocy hampering what should have been a landmark moment in the history of the Olympic Movement.
JD: Unfortunately I have to agree with your comment  :ooh:
...,

And as long as we continue to trash the Freedom Fry cauldron.....Can we trash the gigantic joint in Athens!!

:laughlong:

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..., But the Athens Games will leave an eventual legacy of ATHOC and the Greek Government with their delays and idiocy hampering what should have been a landmark moment in the history of the Olympic Movement.
JD: Unfortunately I have to agree with your comment  :ooh:

They can't solve the everyday problems and we expect from them to exploit the legacy of the Games? They are just a joke, we have another 2,5 years till next elections!

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..., But the Athens Games will leave an eventual legacy of ATHOC and the Greek Government with their delays and idiocy hampering what should have been a landmark moment in the history of the Olympic Movement.
JD: Unfortunately I have to agree with your comment  :ooh:

They can't solve the everyday problems and we expect from them to exploit the legacy of the Games? They are just a joke, we have another 2,5 years till next elections!

Do you guys even use that new stunning subway you've got over there? Or are you afraid to give up your cars, and the title of "World's Most Insane Drivers" lol

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If anything, the underground has been an all round success - it is extremely popular, it keeps expanding like mad (set to now reach HELLINIKON), ALWAYS comes first in public surveys and has a steady growth of passengers.

However a reminder : Athens, although an EU country capital, and a city of 4 million people, DID NOT have an underground system until 2001 (!). And instead of the spotless and efficient airport you saw for yourself (which also opened in 2001), had the 3rd world slums at Helliniko.

BUT , what I have tried to say in the past. Athens took a giant leap forward with the Olympics (that is why, even 2 weeks ago, in the most respected Greek newspaper, 80% of the people surveyed, said IT WAS ALL WORTH IT). But there was NO transitional period for its citizens to come to terms with the "new reality" and the "new possibilities" their city has to offer, to "digest" the new face of Athens, which FRIGHTENED some (the fear of the unknown - never before had the capital changed so much, so quickly). Even if it had not been for the delays of the government and ATHOC, the Athenians would still be going through this "transitional period" of ..."how do I use this ?", "should I use this ?", "Oh, I cant be bothered, I'll go to the island instead". It does take time. Until 2001 the words "underground" were not part of the everyday "urban culture"...the young people fully and QUICKLY embraced them (it was after all the same young people who broke all the records in volunteering applications, in a country that volunteerism is pretty much unherad of !). However, older people just only start adjusting to the new "lifestyle" and the new "options" (so you have the Athenian Paradox of the same people volunteering like mad, and their very same neighbours, friends, families fleeing en masse to the islands).

It is psychological and sociological. Athenians had to reinvent their city. In a matter of days and being scared off by a brutally negative press. Had they had an extra year, to do that in advance ...would things be dramatically different to the way they turned out ? Sth tells me NOT. Mentalities dont change quickly BUT they do change eventually ! For the better.

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If anything, the underground has been an all round success - it is extremely popular, it keeps expanding like mad (set to now reach HELLINIKON), ALWAYS comes first in public surveys and has a steady growth of passengers.

However a reminder : Athens, although an EU country capital, and a city of 4 million people, DID NOT have an underground system until 2001 (!). And instead of the spotless and efficient airport you saw for yourself (which also opened in 2001), had the 3rd world slums at Helliniko.

BUT , what I have tried to say in the past. Athens took a giant leap forward with the Olympics (that is why, even 2 weeks ago, in the most respected Greek newspaper, 80% of the people surveyed, said IT WAS ALL WORTH IT). But there was NO transitional period for its citizens to come to terms with the "new reality" and the "new possibilities" their city has to offer, to "digest" the new face of Athens, which FRIGHTENED some (the fear of the unknown - never before had the capital changed so much, so quickly). Even if it had not been for the delays of the government and ATHOC, the Athenians would still be going through this "transitional period" of ..."how do I use this ?", "should I use this ?", "Oh, I cant be bothered, I'll go to the island instead". It does take time. Until 2001 the words "underground" were not part of the everyday "urban culture"...the young people fully and QUICKLY embraced them (it was after all the same young people who broke all the records in volunteering applications, in a country that volunteerism is pretty much unherad of !). However, older people just only start adjusting to the new "lifestyle" and the new "options" (so you have the Athenian Paradox of the same people volunteering like mad, and their very same neighbours, friends, families fleeing en masse to the islands).

It is psychological and sociological. Athenians had to reinvent their city. In a matter of days and being scared off by a brutally negative press. Had they had an extra year, to do that in advance ...would things be dramatically different to the way they turned out ? Sth tells me NOT. Mentalities dont change quickly BUT they do change eventually ! For the better.

I don't think that anyone was doubting the infastructure upgrades around Athens and the benefits they generated.

Let's face it....

The Airport: Beautiful, Modern, Etc.

The Subways: Spectacular

Roadways: Improved

It's image as a City: Changed...Will generate more tourism, More students traveling there, Not a stop over for the Islands.

And Beijing will get many of those benefits as well..

But that's not to say that the projects themselves were handled successfully. Or that the delays and bickering cost citizens billions.

I grew up in Boston, so I know all about the benefits of modern infastructure at an absurd, and unneccessary price tag. The "Big Dig" project which is essentially a tunnel project designed to take the City's outdated highways and place them underground...cost taxpayers $16 Billion (US) when the project was first proposed twenty years ago, that number was just over $3 Billion (US), with most of it being Federally, and not Locally funded.

Now that's it's basically done...Yes, it's very nice to have...It does the job, and the project is worth the hassles. But that still doesn't mean that the various cost overruns and mismanagement should get away with anything. Aren't you, as someone who's stuck with this gigantic bill...(And I'll imagine if you aren't one of the 4 Million Athenians, your rather ticked off about this even further) upset that it had to come down to the last minute, and a pricetag which should have been billions of Euro less then what it should have been?

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Im very angry at many things (e.g. what happened to the FIRST president of ATHOC ? Well, as in many other cases in Greece, in order to get rid of him, he got a very generous pension for life !). What were ALL those ministers fighting between 1997-2002 (even after Gianna came to the rescue), trying to mark their territories and ensuring they get the largest piece of the cake (translated as larger exposure to the local media, in hope of reelection - how pathetic !), thinking for the day after ? Did any of them EVER apologise or give a valid reason for the delays ?

However, this bill, huge as it looks (and being inflated by the current government for obvious reasons), has not brought any obvious, immediate "financial suffering" on the average household. Things were bad and still are. Probably will get worse. But it is not as if there is a well defined impact of this bill on our everyday life. (I pressume that rests with the creativity of the government's accountants).And people just dont think about it. As I said in another post, Athens again emptied in August, people took to the islands, the lifestyle is exactly the same. So now disaster has occured, at least not immediately spotted for the untrained eye.

And having lived extensively abroad, I am happy that Athens has caught up and offers services of the highest standards to its citizens (that for other cities it was a given for years and years).

Just a trivial: When Athens was bidding for 96 (what a joke), I rushed home from school to find out that there was NO ELECTRICITY because the workers' syndicates had called a general strike. Heard the announcement from a battery-fed portable radio. There was no transportation either, these days, because of the strike, and we had to commute on ...ARMY vehicles (!). Sounds like a Banana republic ?

No matter how hard I try, one really HAD TO BE THERE, to actually be able to appreciate the long way Athens has come ....ALL thanks to the Olympics - (without dismissing the wrong doings that almost exclusively are the fault of the government).

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I thought the water effect was wasted.  It made for an unusual and spectacular backdrop, but it wasn't pivotal to the story.  As far as the parade, it was colourful, but they could have filled the field with the athletes and let them watch the parade go by rather than just let that big pool of water sit empty in the centre of the stadium.

It was quite a change to see the Greek alphabet being used then. I bet, when it was shown, it caught a few people off-guard. Too bad that they could have left the water there for the athletes to walk on barefoot after they marched into the stadium. Would have made quite a splash.   :laugh:

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Someone just sent me the transcript of a lecture the Director of Jack Morton Worldwide recently gave to would-be Beijing Ceremonies-bidders.   David Zolkwer shared quite a few production secrets and trivia of the Athens Ceremonies that many of you would turn your mother in for.  

Normally, I'm quite generous to share all these.  But lately there have been malevolent spirits here (i.e., a trollette surnamed Tradeau, a kiss-up pansy named arwebb) -- that I ask myself: why should I share with such ill-willed spirits.  So unless someone else finds it and posts it, you can PM me if interested.  May comply if I feel like it.

Taa Daa

There you are people.

That was unfair... I'm on to you "Hunter Fox"....

It was from an old friend as well would have happily given such information out to anyone.

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