A CTA worker carrying "Slow Zone" signs would surely be part of Chicago's Olympic opening ceremonies. (Photo illustration by Thomas Conner)
Two thousand drummers drumming! Nymphs, muses and sprinters flying through the air! A thousand Tai Chi practitioners in perfect formation! Fireworks, fireworks, and more fireworks!
Friday night's opening ceremonies to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were a television spectacle like none we've seen in ... well, ever. A cinematic smorgasbord of intense visuals -- and no CGI! -- telling an interesting cultural story, and actually entertaining.
But we couldn't help ask, as we watched each spectacle top the previous one: Could Chicago pull off anything remotely like that if we're chosen as host of the games eight years from now?
We all seem to have show envy today. Even Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote yesterday about the cermeonies, wondering what Mayor Daley's reaction was to China's expensive entertainment orgy: "What was Daley thinking? How to compete with this? He can forget about it. The ceremony was one of a kind, possibly never to be equaled. How can a city compete with the world's most populous nation? What other Olympics will have a $300 million budget for the ceremony?"
Also yesterday, Pat Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman, told WLS-Channel 7's news: "I think you look at it not as how can you do this better in Chicago, but how can you do it in a way that's right for Chicago."
But, heck, if the Chinese can put on that kind of show -- introducing themselves to the modern world with elaborate visual tales of their history, their culture, their pride -- then, by gum, Chicago could, too.
Here are just some of the admittedly snarky thoughts about a Chicago opening ceremonies that came up among friends and colleagues today. Tell us your ideas below.
Woo-woo!: As each country enters the Chicago stadium for the Parade of Nations, they are announced thusly by the Cubs' most notorious fan: "France! Woo woo!" "Ceylon! Woo woo!" "Jamaica! Woo woo!" etc.
O yeah!: A sixth O will be added the five Olympic rings. For Oprah.
Round and round: The Chinese featured a man "running" through mid-air around a scrim encircling the massive stadium. Chicago could recreate the Loop tracks around the top of our new stadium, complete with a CTA train running along ... then stopping, with a delay-of-service announcement ... then running a few more feet, stopping ("Thank you for your patience") ... running, stopping. Commuting already is an Olympic sport here ...
That's entertainment: A star-studded spectacular, featuring Rachel Barton on violin, the Jesse White Tumblers and the Trinity Irish Dance company.
Inner workings: Instead of a kinetic depiction of the history of printing, as created Friday night by hundreds of Chinese performers hidden underneath printing-press blocks, the entire Chicago City Council could perform an interpretive dance illustrating the Daley Machine.
The river is where I am: A similar, unrolled LED screen on the floor, this one weaving through the stadium and representing the Chicago River. Throughout the show, its hues would shift between various shades of green, from St. Patty's Day green to the current mid-August sickly green.
Psychedelic: Let's finally put The Bean to good use. We'll be in a huge stadium, so let's hoist the thing center-court and ... laser-light show, dude!
Who lights the torch? Oprah does it without being handed a torch, she just wills it aflame. Or Michael Jordan slam dunks it. Or, our favorite suggestion so far: Ditka. He takes the torch, lights a cigar with it, enjoys a long puff, then tosses the stogie into the cauldron.
But we draw the line: Please, God, no Blues Brothers.
What would you have featured at a uniquely Chicago opening ceremonies? Comment below!