HISTORIC PLACE


Spent the day at Tiananmen Square with what seemed like thousands. No tanks this time. They’re back at the Main Press Center guarding all the scary sportswriters. No hint of what happened in the space back in 1989, not that I expected them to be selling souvenir pictures of Tank Man.

Asked many Chinese about that time. None bit on the question. Just a bunch of smiles and waves. I almost inquired about where they were handing out the Kool-Aid.

Mao Zedong’s tomb was closed. You can’t take pictures anyway, so what’s the point?          

Funny thing: Myself and other journalists from the States continue to be asked by Chinese children to have their pictures taken with us. The moment always includes much giggling on their part, and I’m beginning to get a bit of a complex about it.

Why do I walk away each time thinking someone told them I was Conan O’Brien’s failure of an older brother?

HOOPS, ANYONE?

Pickup basketball, as you might imagine, is huge here. But it’s not like your average run back in the States. The Chinese play 4-on-4 and supposedly call a foul each time someone blinks, which confirms my belief this is where Mountain West Conference officials are trained. Also, there is no checking of the ball. Wherever it goes out, the other team gains possession.

THEY SAID IT, WE DIDN’T

One of the better media releases here daily is a list of compiled quotes from athletes and coaches. Here are a few from Tuesday:

“I am disappointed. It’s hard to swim a race and finish seventh. I’m lost.” – French swimmer Laure Manaudou, although I’m guessing she is more confused about how to handle all those naked pictures her boyfriend put on the Internet and her swimming rival who’s now dating him.

“I had a chat with (U.S. swimmer) Natalie Coughlin. It’s nice to know people aren’t as scary as they look.” — Australia swimmer Alicia Coutts.

All together now: Huh?