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China's $44 Billion Coming-Out Party In a Nutshell
One of these days I'll make the headlines for plagiarism, except that that usually happens to celebrities because they're VIPs and could make a difference in the bottom line. Today I'm stealing an oft'-used phrase from retired Monrovia City Manager Don Hopper's book. When I was Mayor, he was Director of Community Development and would come before the Council with the current, very-detailed city development report, "in a nutshell", he would say. Twice Hopper came out of retirement to fill the vacant City Manager position for Sierra Madre, between Sierra Madre's permanent city managers. His final report was eye-opening but would never fit into the proverbial nutshell.
Getting back to the spectaculr $44 billion (and counting) coming-out-party that was seven years in the planning and doing. There is nothing left to be said regarding how awesome, and how bold a spectacle it was, witnessed by 91,000 in the stands, 15,000 cast members, 2008 at a time in each dazzling, synchronized production. I would venture to say that the Opening Entertainment could have been cut in half and still have been just as spectacular, leaving a billion or two to bring alive the regularly depressed, poverty-stricken areas plus help for those who survived that earthquake
There were 205 nations represented by 80 world leaders and athletes. It was reported that only 11,000 of the 17,000 would be parading into the arena. It's no surprise that there were 4 billion of us watching it on TV. Then the breathtaking fireworks, all hues and colors setting the sky on fire! In Olympic circle formations yet! And how about those two little girls involved in the song fest during the opening! The one who had the beautiful voice wasn't cute or pretty enough for the likes of the powers that be so a beautiful nine-year-old model did the lip-synching! It would have been a nice homey touch to show that talent and perfection are not necessarily a beauty contest at any age. Out and out cruelty! The little seven-year-old will never forget that humiliation.
Then there was nine-year-old earthquake survivor Lin Hao really tugging at the heart strings as he marched along with seven and a half foot athlete Yao Ming who was carrying China's flag and being very protective of the little guy. Lin explained why he went back to get two more children out of the debris after getting himself out: " I'm the room monitor; it was my job". He's also half-a-pint in size!
China has spent $10 billion on relief and reconstruction after the earthquake, a drop in the bucket when we see the acres of wood piles and debris. According to the L.A. Times, there were 70,000 dead, 375,000 injured and 5 million homeless, in a country of 1.5 billion people, one-fifth of the world population. By staunch, concerted effort, the half-billion workers and families that live on $2/day, were well-hidden, occasionally brought into view by a daring reporter and/or photographer.
One or two more items for the nutshell: The champion gymnast Li Ning who lighted the caldron, after being air-carried and "walking" along the 800 yard circumference. He would have to be a gymnast! The Birds' Nest cost $200 million and was built by 7,000 migrant workers. The Speed-O swimsuits that seem to propel the swimmers to super-human lengths cost $500 each.
One thing baffles me: Where is the holding place for the 11,000 athletes before they materialize in the arena? It would have to be an area as big as the spot where they are finally anchored!
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