Listening carefully to the commentary about a certain young platform diver representing China, I pick up some language odd to my Western ear. Pausing the DVR, I ask my bride if she heard. I rewind, and listen again.

“initially, she was selected for gymnastics progam. Then, a few years later, she was switched to diving.”

It was the use of the passive voice that struck me. After hearing interviews with other athletes, who speak of their personal choice, I had scoffed at the odds that people made such life-changing decisions at such young ages. Did Tiger Woods really choose his life, after all, when he appeared on television at age 3? Did the Williams sisters have a real choice?

But in this circumstances, I faulted or scoffed at over-eager parents. I hadn’t fully considered the children whose State selected their life direction. My bride and I chatted briefly, lamenting the loss of individual freedoms for so many millions. A nagging voice, however, still whispered to me regarding the relative freedoms for children of stage parents here as well.

When I re-started the DVR, the hints of moral equivalence vanished.

“She was switched to diving when the program heads learned she didn’t like to eat. She is 4’10 and approx 65lbs. She says she prefers being thin, and the coaches realized she was therefore better suited to diving.”

So faced with possible anorexia nervosa, a stage parent would likely seek medical attention for their charge. The Chinese State, however, re-assigned Xin to a sport more suited for an underweight if troubled Chinese Girl.

These Olympics are getting harder to watch with each passing day.



Crosby Stills & Nash in the DC Suburbs

Crosby Stills & Nash in the DC Suburbs

So the Crosby Stills & Nash tour rolled into Wolf Trap last night.  Perfect weather, white wine kiosks, seats under the canopy – a perfect night.  Gentle times, listening to legends (this is their 40th year playing together) and grooving to nostalgia.

Until Graham Nash decided to play Joel Rafael’s “This is My Country.”  Seems talk of jackasses in public office and lyrics that include “And I know when I say these words that I am not alone/It’s time to stop them in their tracks/it’s time to take our country back” were not expected by this boomer crowd who seems to have forgotten the muddy field in New York where the boys got their big break.  

Cries of “music not politics” and “nobody cares” came from some (a minority) in the audience, prompting Nash to point an accusing finger and yell “we care!”  Crosby came over to rest a hand on his shoulder, and Nash sat at the keyboard, with some energy lost.

Crosby walked to the microphone to begin telling a story, obviously trying to regain the audience, but a few jeers continued.  “Well, ok.  I was going to tell a joke, but you wouldn’t get it anyway.  We’ll just sing, that’s all you want.”

Most of the audience was either thrilled with their political statements, or just respectful of them.  If you go to hear CSN, you may hear anti-war politics.  During a war, count on it.  I am curious about the people who were offended, but more sad that the legends realized some considered them curios.  Pleasant aging museum pieces, who shouldn’t upset anyone anymore.  Their audience has jobs, 401ks (many appeared to be drawing rather than depositing into these retirement accounts), and in the case of this audience – government positions and security clearances.  

Amidst the pinot grigio, the single defiant whiff of herb outside the men’s room, and the shuffling of former revolutionaries – Crosby Stills & Nash have not changed.  Everyone should be ok with that.

Years from now, I hope to play their songs for my grandchildren and tell them of the one night I was finally able to see them live.  I won’t leave anything out.