By now everyone has seen “Icarus,” even people like me who have never been to a Netflix theater. So I broke down and walked over to the PV Mall to watch it but when I got there the lady at the movie theater said they weren’t a Netflix theater.
“Do I have to go to Crossroads at Crenshaw?” I asked.
“You can go wherever you want,” she said, crossly. “Next in line, please.”
So I went to Crossroads where it was a different movie theater and they were about as rude. Finally a guy told me that Netflix wasn’t a movie theater, rather, it was an app for your phone.
“I don’t want a new phone,” I told him. “I just want to watch ‘Icarus.’ It’s a new movie only showing at the Netflix theater.”
“There ain’t no Netflix theater, man. It’s on your phone. It’s an app. Like YouTube. You ain’t never gone to no damn YouTube theater have you, man?”
“Well shit, that’s ’cause there ain’t any. Same with Netflix.”
He explained it and then we downloaded the Netflix theater on my phone and I watched the video movie documentary. Everyone had told me that I had to watch it because it revealed global corruption reaching to the highest levels of government in order to dope the Olympics.
I don’t know about any of that stuff, but here is the story:
- Wanker does a grand fondue. Gets ass kicked.
- Wanker gets pissed at the dopers.
- Wanker decides “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
- Wanker does worse on drugs than he did racing clean.
- Wanker stumbles onto Russian doping program that led to the invasion of Crimea and Ukraine.
I can’t really comment on #5, but I can totally comment on numbers 1-4. First, the wanker Bryan Fogel, who is also the film maker, is completely delusional. Which makes him awesome.
He dresses up in off-the-rack Assos clothing, buys an expensive bike, and assumes full Superbikeman Wanker powers, i.e., gets a coach and flies around the world trying to win various grand fondues. So far, pretty normal for a delusional idiot. But his descriptions of the fondues and his competition are truly insightful as to the depths of his illness: “They could be pros!” he says, describing a gaggle of goofballs who look about as pro as the 3rd string baby seals on the NPR.
“It’s as hard as the Tour!” he exclaims as he labors slowly up a climb day after day, alone, unaware that when you are alone on a climb in the Tour for very long you quickly become what is known as “missed the time cut.” Also, they don’t let you in the Tour when your riding style approximates a pig romancing a football.
Most amazing is Bryan’s coaching. One shot shows him hooked up to a breathing tube and nailed to an ergometer while his coach says just the right combination of phrases to humiliate him while simultaneously making him hope there might be improvement, i.e. keep him writing those monthly checks.
The whole crockumentary was pretty sad, for me. I mean here was perhaps the world’s finest baby seal, with a freshly glistening coat no less, and he’d never made it to the NPR, or Flog, or Donut, or Nichols. What’s worse, the guy lives in L.A., on the west side, so the whole time he was drowning in visions of sugarplums he was just a few pedal strokes away from a weekly beating that would have saved him all that airfare. He wouldn’t have had to go to France to get clubbed; we’d gladly have done it here in his own back yard, bought him coffee, made him wear a Team Lizard Collectors kit, and taught him how to go to the front.
And of course it was sad to think that he had fallen into the bubbling vat of profama-soup and didn’t even know that you can’t really do the delusion thing right without a fake team kit and tramp-stamp butt sponsors. Off the rack Assos? Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
But anyway, on to the real moral of the story, which is NOT that doping is bad. At least that’s not what I got out of it, even though in the film one guy was murdered, another given a new identity and spirited off to Utah or Manitoba, and a small country was invaded all in the name of better Olympiads through state-sponsored drugs.
No, for me the motto was that doping is horrible, awful, unmentionable in the extreme because unless you actually have talent and a team and bike racing skills and know how to train, doping will make you worse. It’s not the old saw of “You can’t make a donkey into a racehorse,” no, it’s more terrible: Unless done right it will make a donkey into a newt.
Which is what Brian became, at least in the world of profamateur grand fondue doping, a newt. A glistening, small, crawling, mostly brainless salamander in the subfamily Pleurodelinae. A fate worse than Kayle’s … by far. Sad.
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