Saturday, November 03, 2012

Some kind of madness.

Last Spring I was contacted by an organization which claimed to be producing a series of videos for the 2012 ING NYC Marathon. Here was the pitch:
We're putting together a short web series about preparing for
the Marathon, featuring a group of runners representing a 
range of backgrounds, styles, and levels of intensity.

We're currently casting the series, and wanted to see if you 
were interested in being one of our personalities. I loved 
your running site, and it would be great to have a man of 
letters involved.
Very flattering. I am a man of letters! And here was the hook:
3 day shoot in NYC with all expenses paid

Accommodations for the race itself

If you aren't already running in the Marathon itself, we'd
also get you in!
I told my wife I'd really like to do this. Not to be in the videos, that would be fun. Maybe a little weird. Was this all pre-event stuff, or would they also follow me during the race itself? Whatever, always a new experience. But what I was really interested was getting to run the New York again. And for free! Too good to pass up.

I hadn't even run the 2012 CLE yet, I didn't know if I could run another marathon, how I would do. I would be committing to two marathons in a single year ... could I really do that?

Expressing my interest, I was asked to make an introductory video, talking about what running means to me, etc. etc. So I did, and they said they would get back to me. But I never did hear back from them, not even after contacting them to once to ask about the project. Now, I know in theater, for auditions, sometimes you do not get a call either way. But as it was they who first contacted me, a response would have been courteous.

I haven't really thought about this potential offer since summer, but I was reminded of it during the past several day as controversy rose as whether to hold the 2012 NYC Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. What would Pengo do? I harbored illusions that the citizens would rally behind this annual event, one for which they show such pride and enthusiasm. I knew things were difficult in Lower Manhattan, but I didn't realize the lasting extent of the damage in Staten Island, and Brooklyn, and elsewhere, and the dire circumstances for those left without power, food, and water. This was Thursday.

I remembered October 2001. I had made plans to see a friend in a play festival, and got tickets to a new Broadway show, prior to the events of September 11th. I had plane tickets. After 9/11 my friend cancelled her production, and I thought I would scrub the whole trip. But Mayor Giuliani said, "Come to New York. See a show. Spend money." That was my original plan. So I went ahead with it, and I was rewarded with the gratitude of my New York friends, and was happy to visit this city that I was just learning to love, that had been so hurt, but that was keeping calm and carrying on.

But my visit was three weeks after the fact, and a functional normalcy was in place. Not so yesterday, which began with some seriously angry voices on facebook, discussing the mayor's announcement that the race would go on. Even when these cries rose to a fever pitch, and the announcement was made to cancel the event, numerous snippy huffings of "at last -- sanity" conveyed such resentment. Most of these comments weren't even coming from New Yorkers.

One thing I have noticed through all this is the outrage expressed towards the runners themselves (sometimes referred to as "joggers" which I do not have to tell you is really irritating) as though what we do is some goofy lark and not an actual athletic pursuit. Would this situation have been spoken of differently if a vast natural disaster have struck the site of, say, the Super Bowl? And wouldn't drastic action be taken -- for the sake of American dignity -- to make sure that game went ahead, somehow?

The first New Orleans Saints game following Hurricane Katrina was extremely emotional, a time of great celebration. This year's marathon, taking place as it does in, around, over these scenes of devastation, and so close (a mere six days) from the actual disaster, make this situation very different than the one I hypothesized. But I am willing to suggest that it was that desire to fulfill the human attachment to our games, and what we get from participating in them as actors or spectators, that Mayor Bloomberg and marathon organizers had in mind when the suggested going ahead with the race.

 Closing arguments.

End of the World Playlist (2012)
Starships - Nicki Minaj
All Your Gold - Bat for Lashes
Five Seconds - Twin Shadow
Skyfall - Adele
Madness - Muse
Gangnam Style - PSY
Somebody That I Used to Know (DJ Mike D Remix) - Gotye ft. Kimbra 

Temperature: 41°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Running with a headache sucks. There are worse things that could happen.

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