Archive for July, 2012

Biggest Trailblazer at Bikini Beach Is In Referee’s Stand — Wearing A Hijab

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With Dancers

LONDON — In March, when the International Volleyball Federation relaxed its rules on women’s beach uniforms “to respect the custom and/or religious beliefs” of all countries it hoped to include in its Olympic qualifying events, the change caused quite a stir. Would London’s Games be deprived of the once-required bikinis or swimsuits, now that shorts, sleeves and full body suits were allowed? The answer, as we’ve seen in the first four days of competition, is no. As long as the weather is reasonable, every female duo still prefers to wear bikinis. Although the sport’s governing body opened the door for Muslim women to at least consider playing beach volleyball, none of them are at the Olympics — nor have they made appearances in international competition.

With that reality in mind — as well as the way the Brits have viewed the goings-on at Horse Guards Parade through a hyper-sexualized lens, with even London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, writing about women beach volleyballers “glistening like wet otters” — one scene on the sand Tuesday was particularly striking. By late afternoon the beer-swilling crowd was partying in full force, bass-heavy anthems were booming through the speakers, and 13 dance-troupe members in retro swimsuits lined one side of the court for the emcee’s introduction of the Netherlands’ Madelein Meppelink and Sophie Van Gestel, wearing orange bikinis, and Australia’s Becchara Palmer and Louise Bawden, wearing green bikinis. In the head referee’s stand at center court, presiding over this global exhibition of skin, was a woman wearing her FIVB ref’s hat over a hijab.

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  • Published On Jul 31, 2012
  • #CODEFC’s Street Art Olympics

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    CODEFC

    LONDON — Banksy, the one street artist that everyone knows, made a stir in the week leading up to the Olympics when he posted a stencil of a pole vaulter trying to clear a barbed-wire fence and a javelin thrower holding a missile. Images of those pieces appeared on blogs everywhere, but Banksy was hardly the first member of London’s booming street-art scene to weigh in on the Games.

    Rome-bred, London-based artist #CODEFC (named after the hexadecimal codes used to identify RGB colors) has been the host city’s most prolific planter of Olympic-based work. He started in 2010 with a stencil of a crouched sprinter and the message, “F*ck 2012, I’m ready now” — and proceeded to post scores of pieces around East London over the next two years. He earned enough notoriety to put on an Olympics-themed studio show earlier this summer, and was kind enough to provide SI.com with a gallery of his outdoor pieces as well as answer a few questions.

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  • Published On Jul 31, 2012
  • Your Tuesday British Newsstand

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    In the Mirror, Kate Middleton’s mere presence trumps Zara Phillips’ equestrian results. Meanwhile, Great Britain’s men’s gymnasts won their first team medal since 1912, but The Sun is NOT SATISFIED.

    Tabloids

    I’m partial to the Times’ minimalist souvenir editions, but “U.S. ATTACKS CHINA OVER DRUGS ROW” is understandably going to sell more papers. (As will a call for Paul McCartney to stop performing.)

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  • Published On Jul 31, 2012
  • Men’s gymnastics: Sadness for U.S.; controversy for Japan and Ukraine

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    Orozco Disaster

    LONDON — The men’s gymnastics team final was about Team Great Britain winning its first team medal since 1912. It was about China taking gold, and about Japan successfully appealing Kohei Uchimura’s final pommel-horse performance to jump from fourth to second, pushing the Brits from silver to bronze and sending the crowd into a booing frenzy. It was about Ukraine celebrating its improbable bronze … and then having it taken away by the judges a few minutes later. (Asked how his athletes took the news, Ukraine coach Yuliy Kuksenkov deadpanned, “Probably, they are not happy.”)

    What the men’s final was not about was the United States. The Americans, who finished first in qualification, stumbled early on the pommel horse and vault, and were never in real contention for a medal. They finished fifth. “I don’t know if you saw,” John Orozco, the U.S.’ 19-year-old, Bronx-born sensation, said of his vault, “but I fell straight on my butt.”

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  • Published On Jul 30, 2012
  • Your Monday British Newsstand

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    In lowbrow-to-highbrow order, off the newsstand at Tottenham Court tube station:

    The Sun couldn’t resist a “Baby Killer” headline, while the Mail was fixated on a lost set of keys for Wembley Stadium, which they claim could cost 40,000 pounds to replace:

    tabloids

    The Telegraph went hard-hitting with “The show is on the road” and “Here we go”:

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  • Published On Jul 30, 2012
  • A Trip To Horse Guards Beach

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    Panorama

    LONDON — It was around half-past four at Horse Guards Parade when the emcee passed along what he claimed was a ministerial request:

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve just been told that the Prime Minister is trying to have his afternoon nap, and can we keep the noise down?”

    The Olympics’ most rowdy crowd — with a few sections full of British soldiers — roared. They were here as part of the beach volleyball invasion on what’s normally a horse-marching ground between David Cameron’s residence at 10 Downing Street and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Architects dumped in 4,115 tons of quarry sand, put up four sides of scaffolding and created the Games’ greatest venue, with London’s classic architecture as the backdrop.

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  • Published On Jul 29, 2012
  • Your Sunday British Newsstand

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    We have an exclusive on the Queen’s verdict on her Bond Girl debut! ‘It was a bit of a laugh.’

    Sunday Newsstand


  • Published On Jul 29, 2012
  • A Branded (And Then Unbranded) Wall

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    Olympic Logo

    LONDON — The 2012 Olympics logo was inspired by graffiti art, but that doesn’t mean the 2012 Olympics is friendly to graffiti artists. In an arrest sweep the week before the opening ceremony, British Transport Police arrested at least four known graffiti artists — including one who had done professional work for adidas and was approached for projects by Team Great Britain — not for actually painting anything, but merely on “suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.” Somehow it was legal to do this and bail the artists out until November with a ban, until that time, against going within a mile of any Olympic venue, using any public transportation or owning any spray paint or marker pens.

    That should give you a sense of how scared organizers are of having Olympic venues — or merely the surrounding areas — defaced by members of London’s vibrant street art scene. In addition, plenty of existing graffiti in the vicinity of Olympic Park was painted over by city crews in the lead-up to the Games, as a sort of white-washing before the areas were overtaken by official-sponsor signage.

    My hope is to document as much Olympic-related outdoor art, both legal and illegal, as I can around London — but the subject here is an Olympic mural that no longer exists. The story of its appearance, vandalization and disappearance in February should give you a sense of the sometimes-contentious relationship between the corporate-sponsored Olympics and the localities it inevitably transforms.

    Once-rundown Hackney Wick is an emerging artists’ neighborhood — a Bushwick of London, if you will — in the shadows of Olympic Stadium. Hackney Wick is a haven for graffiti, and from its above-ground train platform, this piece by the revered street artist Sweet Toof was visible if one turned in the direction of the stadium in early 2012:

    Hackney Wick Wall
    (by Patrick Wilken via radiant-flux.net)

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  • Published On Jul 29, 2012


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