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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Johnny being Manny

I'm troubled by Jim Caple's column on about Johnny Weir's Olympic collapse. Weir was in second place in the men's figure skating event after the short program, but he skated badly in the long program and took fifth overall. Weir flaked out and missed the bus to the practice arena on the day of the event and blamed his poor performance on feeling unsettled by his lateness: "I never felt comfortable in this building ... I didn't feel my inner peace. I didn't feel my aura. I was black inside."

That Weir gives hilarious, sometimes baffling interviews is no surprise to anyone watching the Games. That Weir is gay is also no surprise. I'm troubled, though, by Caple's condescending comments about Weir's flamboyant behavior:

"Yes, Johnny's a real beauty. He makes Dick Button seem like Tony Soprano.

"His favorite male singer is Justin Timberlake and his Web site also lists his favorite fashion designers (Balenciaga), boutiques (Barneys), models (Kate Moss) and teams (Gordeeva and Grinkov, Berezhnaia and Sikharulidze, and -- surprisingly -- the Boston Red Sox). He wears costumes that Elton John might wear for Mardi Gras, including a red glove in Tuesday's short program that he named Camille. He used the phrase "I did a little hoppy-hop like a bunny" while describing Thursday's performance, which is something you rarely hear from say, Brett Favre.

"And he owns not one, but two Chihuahuas."

What's wrong with Justin Timberlake and Balenciaga? What does it have to do with his poor performance?

The comparison to Brett Favre makes no sense and is made in poor faith. Figure skaters aren't like football players; unlike football players, they actually get points for doing bunny hops. Later in the article, he invokes another (surprising!) sports figure Weir would appparently do well to emulate: "Curt Schilling would have shaken off the bus problem and skated out there with bloody sequins. Johnny, however, missed jumps, skipped a combination and performed several elements awkwardly." They don't play the same sport. The judges wouldn't have let Schilling out on the ice with bloody sequins, anyway.

Is Caple really asking, Why can't Johnny Weir be more like Brett Favre or Curt Schilling? Why does he have to be? Weir has a lot of fans--gay and straight--because he's a great skater and a sometimes delightful interview (actually, he's a lot like Schilling in his lack of verbal censor). So he screwed up: plenty of other skaters fell or tripped that night, too. And if you want to compare him to anyone on the Red Sox, it's obviously Manny Ramirez, who's missed the bus more than once, I believe.


Anonymous Anonymous on Sat Feb 18, 03:41:00 PM:
Alice, I truly do hope that someday soon I am able to read you in one of the main periodicals of this country. We need to read more people who think like you and who write like you.
Your friend Copo.
Blogger Ben on Tue Feb 21, 08:32:00 AM:
Manny has said plenty of things along the lines of "I did a little hoppy-hop like a bunny" when describing his own grand slam baserunning. Weir may name his red glove, but he never had a midget totem.

By the way, I'll root for any athlete who loves both the Georgian national dance troupe (Sikharulidze) and the Sox.