Posts Tagged ‘Olympics


The Toke of Hope

  Michael Phelps
His abs still go on for days. Clearly he’s not a pothead. Who cares?

Michael Phelps has smoked pot.


His swimming career will be unaffected, but he will probably lose endorsement money on this, which is a bummer, but only a temporary setback.

We’ve hung the hopes of a nation around his neck, weighing him down with each gold medal (as if his success has anything at all to do with me or you). How dare he betray us? How dare he be capable of error?

Whatever. Speaking of him strictly as a public figure, I’m glad. He may be a genetic freak marvel, born to torpedo through chlorinated waters and mug for the Wheaties box. He may have more focus and drive in one day of training than you or I could muster over a lifetime. But in a backward sort of way, his one-time-only (as far as we know) toke should give us all hope. It is proof positive that he is human — and that maybe we all have a shot. Any other attitude suggests staggering hypocrisy to me.

Barack Obama is another one we have built up to impossible heights. And he’s a smoker. Dirty, dirty smoker! A producer for This American Life recently begged the American public: Please do not, by public outcry and hypocritical posturing, drive those American Spirits from his lips! Barack Obama is a hero, a savior, an untouchable. We adore him because we are not like him. He is better than us.

Bullshit. He is us. And his clandestine tobacco habit proves it.

As our friend Judy Bernly once said, “I smoked a marijuana cigarette at a party once. I could never figure out what the big deal was.” One thing’s for sure: Phelps is a man, not a mouse. Well, he’s definitely not a wouse.


Golden Boy

This is old news, but I’m just getting to it now. Cute-as-a-bug’s-ear Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold on Saturday. I don’t think he was favored to win, and any one of the top scorers might have gotten it. On his own merits as a diver, this is impressive. According to, Mitcham earned the highest-scoring dive in the history of the Olympics — big news for diving and for Australia. And a break in China’s winning streak. But one of the main reasons this is so important is that he was the only out gay male athlete in Beijing.

I was in a bubble all weekend, at a rugby tournament in New Jersey on Saturday, and on the Jersey Shore with some rugby buddies all day Sunday. When rugby is happening, the world stops, doesn’t it? And if I had access to TV at the time, you know I’d have been all over those yummy divers. So I think I can forgive myself for missing the historic moment.

Someone went to the trouble of capturing all of his dives, the medal ceremony, and the following celebrations in one long clip. His final medal-winning dive comes in at around 6:16, but don’t miss the other amazing work that comes before.

Following the dive, you can see him raise his arms and looks across the crowd and sees the scores coming in. I think you can see the moment when he realizes he’s won a medal, when he brings his hands to his face and begins to cry.

At the medal ceremony, it’s fun to see him so excited next to the stoic Russian. And it’s sort of thrilling to see him leap up into the stands and climb up to kiss his mom and his partner and greet his other supporters after, like a good boy, asking permission from his doll-like usher.

the untallied hours