Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lake Placid: You'll Never Know What Hit You--But If It Wasn't Really Pretty and Sparkly, Then It Was Probably Just One of the Arena's Storm Troopers...

Sign outside the entrance to the Olympic Center Museum
advertising Saturday's show.
Well, at least the arena staff got this part right ...

When last we saw our heroine, Binky (that being me, and isn't it irritating when people talk about themselves in the third person?), she and her two fabulous kids had finally arrived in Lake Placid. We now rejoin our story already in progress, in which Binky resorts to present-tense stream-of-consciousness to try to describe the indescribable ...

Check in at hotel, which happens to be the same hotel in which Johnny, Patti, and Tara are staying. Stand forlornly in the lobby where only an hour earlier, sparkliness abounded as fans greeted Johnny with flowers and enjoyed hugs all around (hugs! with Johnny!). Squeeze eyes shut and try to sense a little leftover glitter wafting in the air. Open eyes to curious gaze of hotel desk clerk ... Lumber down the hallway with way too much luggage. Room is gorgeous!

Realize that while five ventis a day and a shred of arugula might work as a lifestyle for Johnny, I need actual food. As do my kids, particularly my son, who can eat two huge hamburgers, three large bags of chips, a sandwich, and a half-gallon of ice cream, sleep 12 hours and wake up to find that he has lost four pounds during the night. We go down the hill, which is roughly at a 90-degree angle to Main Street, and choose Nicola's for dinner because it's there.

Discover that, in honor of its stature as a two-time host of the Winter Olympics, dining service in Lake Placid moves at glacial speed. We Midwesterners take our food seriously, especially our need to eat it pretty much immediately after ordering it. Not so in LP. We eat all the bread and my son starts eyeing the tablecloth as if he is on the verge of developing pica when finally the food arrives. Which is absolutely incredible and worth every moment we waited.

Return to the hotel and meet Facebook fan Maggie Strasser, my BFF from New Jersey! Enjoy shared sighing and squeeing in preparation for tomorrow's big event ...

Awake refreshed and thrilled to realize that not only do we NOT have to DRIVE ANYWHERE today, we couldn't if we wanted to because there is nowhere to park in Lake Placid. Discuss what to do with ourselves for the next six hours until it's time to meet fellow fans back at Nicola's ...

Decide to wander about town a little, and while we're sort of just standing around awkwardly, which is one of my real talents, we bump into Facebook fan Wendy Stevens and her sister, a new convert to the Way of Weirsus. They recognize me because of course I'm wearing shortalls. :) Happiness ensues accompanied by shared sighing and squeeing. Next we come upon Facebook fans Li Mann and Marilou Vetter. More squeeing!

Son is hungry, so we agree to sacrifice the next three hours waiting to be served lunch. But we are lucky enough to choose the Northwoods Inn, whose staff apparently didn't get the memo that food is only to be served after the customers have napped at the table for an hour or two, so lunch is quick and delicious. Which leaves us with more time on our hands ...

Decide to check out the Olympic Center so we can figure out where the Jack Shea Arena is and confirm when to start lining up. We lurk outside the box office for few minutes and overhear the clerk mention that tonight's show is expected be pretty near capacity. Yay because Johnny deserves a sold-out arena; yikes because it's general admission seating ...

View both the 1932 Jack Shea Arena and the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, then head down the stairs to check out the Oly Museum. The sign invites donations, but the over-talkative male receptionist says we actually have to buy tickets to get in. Since we're a little logy from lunch, studying the displays and learning all about Oly history seems ... way too hard. As the receptionist continues enthusiastically about everything in particular, I look up to see Evan's sparkly, stretchy tuxedo from Vancouver hanging flatly on the wall, embodied with the same amount of personality it has when Evan wears it. No thanks.

Gasp our way back up the hill to the hotel so my son can have a snack, and then realize it's actually after five o'clock and time to drop in and meet our fellow fans at Nicola's! It's wonderful to put names with faces, and also to receive one of the beautiful fans made by Facebook fan Mimi Dzyacky, a glittery accessory that soon will be as vital as oxygen to my survival ...

Head back across the street to the Oly Center and start lining up outside the rink even though it's not quite six o'clock. And here we have our first encounter with the Oly Center security staff, who take themselves and their careers guarding the Jack Shea Death Star quite seriously.

We go ahead and form a line in the hallway, in which the temperature is maintained at a comfortable 150 degrees Fahrenheit--thank Weirsus for Mimi's fans!--because doors are supposed to open at 6:30 p.m. Then suddenly one of the Storm Troopers announces gruffly that doors will inexplicably be opening at 7 p.m. instead. Okaaaaaaaaaay ...

Soon another Storm Trooper barks that we have formed our line incorrectly and we need to move back-back-back-back so he can set up a military checkpoint stocked with AR-15s a table to sell and collect tickets. I am feeling a bit panicked because through a long and complicated set of circumstances, Tara is holding our three tickets for me but I don't know where she is ...

And then suddenly, she appears, a stunning vision in black pants and shirt with a white jacket and ever-gorgeous shoes--and with Patti!

Tara motions me and my kids over, and I can't restrain myself from hugging Patti. I am just so thrilled to finally meet her! Then Tara starts to introduce us to each other, but realizes we already figured it out. Patti laughs, "I think Binky might have recognized me." We pick up our tickets and get back in line as Tara and Patti head toward the door to enter the rink, only to be stopped unceremoniously by a Storm Trooper, who growls that no one can enter right now and demands to know why Tara needs to go in there anyway. "Because my client is skating tonight and I need to go check on him," she explains briskly but with far more warmth than I could have managed. I want to scream, "SHE'S TARA MODLIN JOHNNY WEIR'S AGENT DON'T YOU KNOW THAT ARE YOU STUPID?" and taser this guy until he pees. He waves her on but then stops Patti, who says firmly, but also with warmth and dignity, "And I'm her client's mother." OMFG. Do you people not get the Sundance Channel up here? Do you not read newspapers? Did you not at least receive a telegram about Johnny Weir's Oly performances? Pony Express? Anything? HELLO? Anyway: Tara and Patti are "allowed" to join Johnny backstage, while we all continue to sweat profusely in line and quietly ponder whether the security people could possibly be more appalling. This question is answered with a big "YES!" later.

Finally: They open the doors, and we flood in. Li Mann has thoughtfully saved seats for everyone, but of course we're clueless, so a bunch of us sit in the next section over. But it's OK--we've all got our fans to wave at Johnny, the Zamboni is smoothing the ice, the anticipation is building, and then: The show begins!

Each of the two acts features young skaters and concludes with Johnny. Four things stand out:

(1) In the program, there's a blurb about each young skater, in which many list their favorite skaters. Johnny ranks first with thirteen mentions; Evan is a distant second with five.

(2) From the very first skater--whose favorite skater is Johnny Weir! and who skates to Lady Gaga's "Just Dance"--it is crystal-clear that many of the young skaters absolutely worship Johnny, and that their styles reflect his strong and unique influence. Elegant arm movements, head tosses, arched to the very tips of their fingers--it's all an amazing tribute to Johnny. This realization gives me an exceptionally happy FU-USFSA moment. I especially love the young girl in the second act who offers her own gender-bending nod to Johnny by eschewing the traditional skimpy-skirted ladies' figure-skating costume in favor of a skin-tight man's pinstriped suit and a bowler hat. Fabulous.

(3) The figure-skating pair at the end of the second act, Siobhan Heekin-Canedy and Alexander Shakalov, are brilliant. Must see more of them.

(4) Though the young skaters are all good, we find ourselves holding our breath repeatedly and willing them not to fall. It's nerve-wracking, but the crowd is wonderfully supportive and unsparing with the applause, even when the skaters do fall--which they do early and often. Because figure skating is really, really difficult.

And then comes Johnny.

Who makes everything those earnest young skaters had such a hard time doing look smooth and easy and completely effortless.

He's not flawless--although my untrained eye doesn't care--because he doubles a triple jump here and there, and he later mentions ruefully to fans that he hasn't had as much time on the ice as he might have liked because his schedule is so jam-packed right now.

But as always, he's magic.

He floats.

He dazzles.

He is powerful. And heartbreaking. And completely entrancing.

He is beauty and poetry and love in motion.

And he is super-sassy in his Poker Face performance (love the new costume, BTW. Yes, the shoulder thingies making jumping more challenging. But still. Love the bright pink "V" at the waist and the strips up the backs of his legs. And suddenly everyone's fanning themselves quite briskly ... )

And I will leave you with Poker Face, thanks to Wendy Stevens, whose recordings of Johnny's Lake Placid performances are rightly described by Facebook fan Nancy Knisley as the best amateur videos of Johnny's skating EVER. Please savor whilst you wait for the final installment of Lake Placid: The Myth. The Madness. The Meet-n-Greet...

Coming up!
More Lake Placid: The meet-n-greet
as managed by Darth Vader,
whose customer-service skills could use a bit of polish ...
Don't miss it!

Hey! You can enter to win a virtual styling session
with Johnny and a $500 shopping spree
Just submit a photo of the most
outrageous item in your closet!
Johnny will be choosing the winner in 16 days!
More info here!

Coming soon: The series
of translated interviews from the Mook Book
courtesy of the fabulous Akiko Nakata!

copyright 2010 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


WheresMyKoppy said...

YOu're right, that video is most definitely of excellent quality! Great blog, I love your sense of humor! And once again, I WISH I HAD BEEN THERE! I'm so glad you were able to meet up with everyone, and LOL to your description of your son's eating ability. He sounds like my brother and my nephew both at that age! Can't wait to read the rest!

noviarium said...

Your description of the plight of your pilgrimage: the perpendicular climb to the hotel, glacial service and your son threatening to develop pica and devour the tablecloth made me laugh so hard. The things kittens put up with to watch Johnny on ice!

And your description of Patti is exactly as I imagined her to be, especially her firm, dry wit.

And I've watched Wendy's videos too, and am mesmerized each and every time. I might have issues with the new Poker Face costume, and I still want the old one back, but this lace bodysuit with the stocking-rips and violet Vs did work on ice.

Thank you! And...moar!

Bsontwit said...

MM- omg thank you! this brings it all back-i feel like i am there again! the kids skating were great, especially the ones you mentioned.

He is beauty and poetry and love in motion.

I love that way to describe Johnny- it is perfect!!!♥ And it was so great to meet you!!


Debora Walsh said...

I am so happy that you were able to get to Lake Placid, Binky! Thank you for the play by play of what had to be a stellar experience, despite the Death Star storm troopers! I had so wanted to meet everyone there, but my own plans were thwarted by family illness and work, so I had to live vicariously through you and so many other generous fans who kept us updated on Twitter and Facebook.

I have been sooo looking forward to your blogs about Lake Placid, and you have been delivering beyond expectation! My favorite example…your observation>>(Since I can't muster the motivation to type "the name" I converted it to Latin, a language as relevant as him)...'Taedium's sparkly, stretchy tuxedo from Vancouver hanging flatly on the wall, embodied with the same amount of personality it has when Taedium wears it.'... OMG, I DIE! So right on!

I completely agree with your description of Johnny's skating...and I don't want to imagine a world without his artistry in it. There is such a level of appreciation for grace and fluidity in his style, that, I'm sorry to say, exists nowhere else in the sport, IMO (by men or women). Other skaters, I think, try to bring these elements into their programs, as requirements and afterthoughts, but I really believe that Johnny has an intellect that inherently appreciates and exudes beauty and refinement. I have said it before and I stick by it; he is such a unique treasure, and I'm so happy that I and so many others have been able to experience him in person. I wish that everyone would get that opportunity.

Thank you, Binky, for making the trip and carrying all of us with you in spirit. You and the family look so happy in your photo with Johnny, and I look forward to your next installment! Love you!

Mimi said...

I am speechless...your narrative is beyond beyond Binky! Thank you for the "fans" shout out, I so enjoyed making them for you all!! I knew that if he was as hot as he was in Bensenville...and he was H-O-T...they would come in handy!

aaaack said...

You captured many wonderful details and exercise such skilled, sly humor. LOL, a friend's son used to pull up a chair to the refrigerator when a teen and would proceed to inhale/vacuum the contents. Ingredients for entire dinners would suddenly vanish.

Fascinating description about the young skaters. I can foresee a decade or more from now some fluff interview with a youngster poised to medal at nationals and being asked how he/she got their start...."I was watching the Olympics and saw Johnny Weir skate in the most inspiring way and fell in love with skating...." And, LOL, possibly dealing with the same yucky judges in an even more advanced state of fossilization.

JEKitten said...

I believe I ran into you standing at the intersection of Main St and the vertical ascent to the Crowne Plaza as well, Binky. ;-)

A lot of the young skaters were just amazing and obviously influenced by Johnny. One young man had the most beautiful, expressive arm movements; so unlike the current Olympic Champion.

I told Johnny people would remember him long after the 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist is forgotten. I meant it in reference to his message of acceptance, and how he's working to make things easier for kids who don't fit the 'norm'. But it's true in his influence on developing skaters too. aaaack, love your scenario.

Wendy S said...

This was such a wonderful trip. Really, not a bad minute.

I received a compliment AND a laugh from JWe, and probably just should have stopped there, cuz there's no improving on that. I had a lot of nervous energy, which I think made JWe all o_O ~blink~ o_O but I'm sure he's used to that sort of thing by now. All I remember is eyelashes and nodding. LOL, o well.

Patti was so genuinely friendly, I might have known her for years. I love that quality, because it's harder for me. And Tara's friend Kari was sooo nice while I was waiting to go up, offering to hold my armload of crap for me. It was a very kind gesture, which I didn't take but appreciated greatly.

Hearts *still* in eyes.

Up until the end, I was thankfully oblivious to the worst of the Storm Trooperness (aside from being told to put my camera away, while I was still about 200 people back). They could try to cloud my night, but it's not gonna happen!!

And I hope I'm a fan of *every* community that appreciates Johnny, not just FB. I feel like I am, anyway! No discrimination here! It was so great getting to meet a lot of people I've seen on FB, _skating, and twitter (Twingles!, lol). A wonderful turn out, and I wish even *more* fans had been able to go -- better start planning now for next year! I HOPE Johnny is there again next year, to give me another reason to go to LP, though I'll somehow see both him and LP again regardless.

Love to David and Alice, and your awesome husband who held down the fort so you could all go. Tell him I'm grateful too, please, and he made a lot of us very happy!


Misfit Mimes said...

@Jenn: Oh dear, yes, you did, and I meant to include that too! I loved meeting you! So much fun!

@Wendy: Yes, no fan discrimination intended! I put "Facebook fan" because that's where I first "met" you. :) All of Johnny's fans are amazing and make up a very diverse, wide-ranging, and very fabulous community, of which we are all proud to be a part. Whether we first encountered JWe fandom via the Angels, Facebook, Twitter, BGJW, whatever--it's all fanTAStic! :)

akiko said...

Binky, you made everything glitter--even the hotel lobby where you imagine the meet & greet you may have had, the restaurant for sleeping beauties, the episode with the cranky and ignorant snow troopers. Your meeting with Tara and Patti, Johnny and the show are FABULOUS!! Thank you, Binky and Wendy!! Thanks to you, I can feel Johnny and LP as if I was there with you and the FB fans.

(Will David kindly exchange his fast metabolism for mine? Then he wouldn't suffer from starvation. Moreover, I'm willing to give him my extra pounds as a bonus . . .)

julie98 said...

Hysterical!!! I love the "Don't you watch Sundance...."
Triple love it! Julie H.