Sunday, January 13, 2013

Art Ranger chews the fat

Okay, Art Ranger has gone off on a tangent, all because of Oprah interviewing
Lance Armstrong this week. 
Lance was always in the top tier of our family’s American hero list, so we have been personally pondering the fall. During the last moments of my dad’s life, he had just watched Lance win the Tour de France in July, 2004. Dad was in the hospital (with cancer) trying to recover from brain surgery. Minutes later, he suffered a pulmonary embolism. He left this world feeling triumphant. Following Lance’s story has been inspiring, stirring. And now disillusioning - like i can't believe i ate the whole thing. 
  What follows is a riff, a rap, a rant in 3 parts.
Part 1: Born this way?
Well his name was Arm Strong, so he goes through life wanting and needing his Arm to be strong.  
And forever looking for the approval of the lost father.
Lance was from Texas, a big boot big hat big talk kind of place.
Growing up, he watched the Bionic Man on TV.
He became a promising young athlete. 
As time went on, he began to inject himself with substances to enhance the Lance and re-use his well-rested blood cells, shooting up left and right to add might to his right and meat to his compete.
Soon, it got to his TESTICLES and to his brain,
the CANCER. But then they FIXED IT. The Doctors did!
We watched a tv show about how he “pissed the cancer” right out of his body and got back on the bike.  We were awed!  Lance was a dance that intertwined man, science and perseverance.
Part 2: Invincible
So Lance trained and trained and trained and he pedaled his narrative, his brand, his success.  He sharpened his Lance.
And he fulfilled our hero journey over and over and over again.
Led us to the top of mountains flanked by his stoic servants; his highness beat the odds, and beat the evens, and said the right things.
Lance embodied the american puritanical values of hard work that we relish about ourselves (when it pays off). He also infused his narrative with entrepreneurial ingenuity. The American ideal of being good at marketing, at making things happen, of seizing the moment. Of birthing yourself up to greatness from common origin raised by a single mom.
And with the beatific beating of cancer, the hero fiction amplified, Livestrong softened his egotism with a sweet flow yellow rubber bracelets and cast a wide net of goodness and gladness over any badness or sadness or shady doubt.
Why not also have the best equipment. The best fighter plane, the best spaceship, the best bike, the best legs, and the best chemical inputs in the business. Have the best doctor to doctor the doctors who doctor it up with some monies.

Like Spiderman, he was injected with the serum and then forged a superhero’s record of accomplishments while having a secret life. The man, the athlete, the cyborg, the philanthropist, Lance, continued in that pumped-up vein and could not stop injecting or bullying his disciples to become lesser.

Meanwhile we, America the beautiful, were booming in our bubble, baby. 

It’s what your grandmother would say: “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”.

Or, there’s something fishy here ….

And one should never count your chickens before they hatch .....

Part 3) Bubbles Bursting
It was a winning formula, the brawn, the brain, and the chemicals all working together. While in America, we whooped it up all hogwild on the internet with the bubble and the mortgage bundling binge with lines and lines of credit and bigger and bigger tvs based on the not real, but betting on the falsely fattened future with a small group of insiders.
Lance just another version of our Hubris, the doping a sort of Ponzi scheme for crafting the most powerful thighs. For unreal endurance. Like unreal cash returns on investment.

That mad mad squeeze to win at all cost, even though he sleazes through it, overspends it, the gift of life.  
He is also the Greek god who cheated at Discus.  And the one who flew too close to the sun.  And like the god Heracles, he used his wits on several occasions when his strength did not suffice. Heck, what would Jesus say?  About all the hard work anyway
Or Mahamoud or Buddha?
Gods fall
Men flail
And people love to have someone to worship…
Lance high on the hog with all those the masquerades of victory.
All those logo lockjaw smiles - swish this swoosh that.
Stuffed animals for all of us left to wonder what would have been
if none of them did?
He inspired so many to rise from their couches and pedal their bikes
He gave us what we wanted.
Until the Bubble burst, our America, our hero
The Deception Center will not hold.
Oh open can of worms --  what will happen to our story?

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