Archives for posts with tag: Mark Spitz


NO MARK SPITZ, HE

The name of that new guy who won all the swimming gold at the Rio Olympics eludes me at the moment so I’ll compare myself to the great Mark Spitz of Munich fame.  Let’s just say I’ve got a way to go.   There is a decent sized swimming pool at the Crossroads RV Park in Tucson where we’re staying and with the 90-degree weather Mary and I have been swimming every day for a week.  We’re up to 40 laps now but I’m spaghetti-armed for the last few laps.  The weather is forecasted to stay hot for a few more days before it cools down.  We may make it to 50 laps before it all ends.

Even with the warm weather, the water takes some getting used to.  It generally takes us five minutes to slowly and painfully adjust to the cold water.  I know it’s better to just jump in and get it all over with but I somehow just can’t.

Keen student of human behavior that I am, I have become aware of a primitive instinct erupting to the surface of my psyche of late.  The annual NCAA basketball tournament, the so-called March Madness, is underway as I write.  I generally pay about as much attention to basketball as I do to the latest trends in wedding gowns (none), but the University of Arizona is in the competition this year and I find myself giving a damn about their prospects.  Why?  Good question.  My affiliation with UofA amounts to no more than that I meet with my German tutors on the campus several times a week.  But sitting as we do at an outdoor table in the shadow of the enormous Wildcat football stadium, I have absorbed a modicum of school spirit.  Such a strange thing allegiance is.  After all, if the Wildcats do well, it is no reflection on me.  I have contributed nothing to their success or failure.  And yet, how easily we humans attach ourselves to groups, teams, nations of all kinds.  Even a rationalist like myself is susceptible.  Instincts – don’t understimate them.

P1030014-1.JPGMary in front of BMW Headquarters

We took a cross-town train yesterday to the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics. It is now a well-maintained park that features several sport facilities plus a giant arena where concerts and special events are regularly held. Cheek-by-jowl with the Olympic site is a curvaceously modern building known as BMW Welt (World.) Connected to BMW Welt is a BMW Museum. The museum was closed yesterday but the Welt was bustling.

Once inside, it quickly became clear to us that BMW Welt is basically a giant showroom for BMW products; a glorified dealership if you will. I had expected something a little different – perhaps more on the line of a museum. It reminded me a lot of the pavilions that once graced the world’s fairs of old. There were a few educational exhibits and interactive attractions but 90% percent of it was dedicated to showing off BMW cars and motorcycles.

I am, of course, vaguely aware of BMW’s reputation as a sporty, well-made car. After visiting BMW Welt, I now know that BMW is more than just another car – it has a cult following. I can’t imagine hundreds of people taking the trouble to visit, say, a large Ford showroom but BMW doesn’t seem to have any trouble pulling them in. Among our fellow visitors were more than a few Japanese men in dark blue suits (Toyota spies?) BMW is clearly a car company on the rise.

For the BMW enthusiast who can’t yet afford an actual car, BMW Welt sold a large variety of less expensive paraphernalia: BMW sunglasses, BMW gloves, BMW socks, etc. As you might expect, BMW sunglasses are well-made but expensive. I came away with no souvenirs; Mary settled for peeing in a BMW toilet.

P1030016.JPGBMW Babe?

Mary’s visit to the toilet reminds me of our visit to the Olympics site a week ago. The pool where Mark Spitz won his seven gold medals is still open for business. For 4 Euros ($5) anyone can swim there. We considered coming back another day with our swim suits and giving it a go – you know, so we could say we had swum where Mark Spitz did his thing. Coming back down to earth, we realized it’s a long way to go for a swim so it’s probably not going to happen. But on that same day, we also strolled through the training facility where the gymnasts practiced and kept themselves limber before the actual competition. Mary used the restroom there and said to me upon exiting “Well, maybe I’ll never swim in the same pool as Mark Spitz but there’s a good chance I peed in the same toilet as Olga Korbut!”