The Bode Show

America stopped believing in Bode.  But not skiers.

So I’m toweling off in Portillo with the Canadian National Team.  After a soak in the outdoor pool, we’re talking equipment, we’re talking conditions, but really, all they want to talk about is Bode.  How he’s better than everybody else on the circuit, how on any given day he can win, the ski tech believed he was the best EVER!

Didn’t they know that Bode was a LOSER!!!

You play by the rules in our country.  Just ask the Dixie Chicks.  You fuck up, you apologize.  Actually, the Chicks DID apologize.  Didn’t seem to make any difference.

Justin Timberlake apologized.

Mark McGwire took the Fifth.

Nobody says fuck you, nobody continues to play by his own rules, we live in too small a society, there’s too much scrutiny, the hate is too intense, you’ve got to sell your soul, come down to our level, after all, we OWN you.

Yes, own.

If I hear one more time that endorsement money, playing with the corporate big boys, has no effect on a musician’s career, I’m going to SCREAM!  If you take someone’s money, you’re beholden to them.  Even a LABEL!  But that used to be different, back in the sixties and seventies, when these longhairs with the weird sound were suddenly outselling the popsters and Pat Boones of this world.  In the late sixties and early seventies the label signed you, and you delivered a record.  That was it.  No cowriting sessions, no endless producer auditions, certainly no imaging and sell-out marketing campaigns featuring appearances on the "Today Show".

Bode Miller had endorsements.  That’s the nature of professional sports, you need EQUIPMENT!  But after the Torino fiasco, his sponsors DUMPED HIM!  Because it’s bad enough if you don’t win, but if you’re not humble, if you don’t play by the rules, WE DON’T WANT YOU!

A different sponsor on his helmet.  Even worse, a completely different ski company, one without a monolithic track record.  One that provided skis and bindings that just POPPED OFF in a race last weekend, one Bode probably would have won if he’d managed to stay upright.

And the U.S. Ski Team.  They tried to break Bode’s back.  Saying he could no longer sleep in his motorhome.  NO ONE could sleep in their motorhome, even though Julia Mancuso did so in  Torino and won a gold medal.  You see we’ve got to tame these unruly athletes.  Just like we’ve got to tame the musicians.  Sign to Clive Davis and make YOUR OWN record?  HOGWASH!

The system isn’t ready for you to make your own record.  If you haven’t heard a major label talk about how much money they’ve got invested in you, you’re not signed to one.  They want HITS!  TOP FORTY HITS in most cases.  And by god, you’d better deliver them.  They know the game, and you’re just a pawn in it, what do YOU know, do what they SAY!

Or go indie.  But the indies don’t win.  Not on the scale of the majors.  They’ve got integrity, just a low profile.

And the oldsters?  They’re a joke.  Although they can work live, they can’t sell a record.  They just don’t have it, their careers cannot be rehabilitated.

So what about Bode?  Finished, RIGHT?

He had the temerity the GALL, to say he partied at the Olympics when he didn’t win.  That’s not why you go to the Olympics, not for YOU, but for US!  You’re representing your country, goddamn it, BEHAVE!  And certainly win, America is a COUNTRY of winners.  Just ask George Bush, who wants to give it one last try in Iraq, to avoid being labeled a LOSER!  Practicality is secondary to image.  Triumph AT ALL COSTS!

The press has been merciless.  Beating Bode up.  He got a chance to play on the national stage, he got the PRIVILEGE of being front and center in the media.  He BURNED them.  They built him, they’ll SHOW HIM!  God, every year-end news review talked about the overweight, out of shape, losing Bode Miller.

They didn’t mention his problem knee, which he had operated on in the off season.  In a nation of crybabies, Bode uttered not a word.  But nobody would have listened anyway.

And then this season, Bode started to win.  AGAIN!

Today for the fourth time.

But the reason I’m writing this is the style he employed in Wengen this morning.  He CRASHED at the finish.  INTENTIONALLY!  That’s what Bode’s saying.  It was the only way to win.  If he took the S-turns at full volume and then hit that bump right before the finish there was no way he could stand up.  And he didn’t.  The Net is FULL of pictures of Bode sprawled out on the slope.

Bode Miller wins Wengen downhill despite crash

But he won.  By a SIGNIFICANT MARGIN!  It wasn’t even CLOSE!  Didier Cuche, who came in second, said if that’s what it took to win, he wanted no part of it.

You see Bode’s playing by his own rules, and SUCCEEDING!

Oh, not in your game.  Your game is about how many dollars are in the bank.  Fuck image, give me the cash!

Bode’s like a rock star of yore.  Thumbing his nose at the establishment.  Getting away with it because the music is just that fucking good.  Can you say LED ZEPPELIN?  Led Zeppelin might be quaint today, but in their heyday they got panned in every magazine and were seen as barnstorming Neanderthals who abused young women at the Edgewater Inn.  But the fans, those who truly cared, they believed in Led Zeppelin, more than any other band.

But there were a lot of other bands, seemingly outside the system, able to sell out not only arenas, but STADIUMS!

We don’t have bands like that anymore.  The acts are just like us.  Victims of the machine.  To rise to the top your own way?  And continue to make your own decisions, play by your own rules?  CAN’T BE DONE!

You have no idea how hard it is to win.  Actually, just as hard as writing a classic track.  No, not that beat-infused stuff on Top Forty, but "Satisfaction" and "Eleanor Rigby".  The Stones can still tour because they wrote MANY classics.  That’s how it’s determined whether the oldsters can tour, and in what size venues, how many classic hits they’ve got!

A hit is still a hit.  Something infectious that you can’t get out of your brain.  A classic is one that still sounds good years later.

Years from now, they’ll still be talking about Bode Miller.  Oh, maybe not in your circle, but did your parents talk about Jethro Tull?  But those who care, those who follow the sport, believe in Bode.  Just like we USED TO believe in our rock stars.

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