Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

An Olympic Opening to Remember: Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony

This appears in the Monday, August 8, 2016 edition of the Business Mirror.

An Olympic Opening to Remember
by rick olivares pics from sports illustrated

I thought that the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics as conceptualized by Zhang Yimou was the best one ever. How could anyone top that? It was majestic floor exercise in synchronicity and ingenuity. And that fireworks display was alone worth the price of admission. 

I felt that London four years later put together something totally different and had all the trappings of a large play of full scale film production by Danny Boyle. It had drama, great sets, and rock and roll. And how can anyone forget James Bong and the Queen of England jumping out of a helicopter? And there was a Mr. Bean cameo!

As for Rio? Poor and problematic Rio with so much controversy before the games that the opening alone was a relief. How would they do?

For much much less than what was spent in Beijing and London, I felt that the Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics had a lot of soul. The ceremony had the creative vision of Fernando Meirelles, Daniela Thomas, and Andrucha Waddington; all film directors themselves. And in an interesting side note, the last three Olympic Opening Ceremonies were directed by men and women from the world of film. The 2004 Athens Olympic Opening Ceremony was directed by visual artist Dimitris Papaioannou. During the 2000 Sydney Olympics, each segment of the opening had a different director. At that time, then International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch lauded that opening ceremony as the best of all time.

I am going to struggle choosing. Beijing had that “wow factor” while London was a rock spectacle that I enjoyed. Rio?If we were expecting a Carnavale what we got was a cool and green aesthetic and a gentle reminder of rebirth and regeneration that hits you in the heart and the mind. Not to mention the hips considering the music that emanates from this beautiful country.

Here are my favorite moments from that opening:

Gisele Bunchen’s sashaying in for one final catwalk to the music of “Garote De Ipanema” as sung by the grandson of the late Antonio Carlos Jobim, Daniel Jobim.

The artistic performance of the formation of Brazil from the indigenous people to the arrival of the Portuguese and other nationalities.

The Parkour group that hurdled the landscapes and favelas of modern Brazil.

The Bi-plane that gave the impression that it had left the MaracaƱa Stadium and was flying in and around the city.

The introduction of the Refugee Team.

That all the athletes were given a seed that they inserted inside a metal container. Each of these seeds represented 207 different varieties of fauna and the 207 different nations competing in this Olympics that will be planted in the Athletes Forest in Radical Park, Deodoro.

The Climate Change segment left a profound message that this global concern is something we should all be worried about. With the entire world watching, this was the best time to remind everyone of Climate Change’s harmful effects and what we could do about it.

The interesting moments were when the Russian delegation was introduced as well as the speech of the host country’s acting president Michel Temer who took over the nation only last May 12 following the successful impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. There was some noticeable booing for both; something that couldn’t be drowned out by the atmosphere inside the MaracaƱa Stadium.

The years, months, weeks, and days preceding the opening have been pockmarked by a lot of problems and discord. Opening night in Rio was hardly problem-free or prefect given the protests outside. The Games may be expensive or divisive, but this Olympic Opening Ceremony will be remembered for its stark simplicity and subtle ingenuity. And of course, for its message of hope.

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