Archive for the ‘Remarks’ Category

Winter 2009 Unlympics Closing Remarks by AEM (Presented on February 14, 2009)

February 23, 2009

Welcome to the final day of events in the Winter 2009 Unlympiad!

For four weeks, I have been at varying times excited, disgusted, frightened, happy, but most of all honored to work with you all to raise extremely active discussion about Chicago’s Olympic bid for the 2016 Games.

In particular I would like to thank Abby, Matt, Bryce, and Roman of InCUBATE; Liz and Joe of Shameless Karaoke; Aay, our Intellectual Games champion and No Coast sponsor—although this was a coincidence; and Laurie Jo Reynolds, one of the tireless forces behind Tamms Year Ten.

During that time, we’ve made enormous gains.

  • We’ve distributed over 50 medals, and are about to give out more;
  • We’ve seen that sometimes, the way the rules get set up determine the outcome of the game;
  • We’ve helped our neighbors understand the real impact the Olympic Games may have on our city;
  • We’ve successfully rallied media entities to take new polls not conducted by the bid’s sponsors to more accurately determine support for the bid;
  • We’ve made the lack of an open and democratic process in the blazin’ hot trail for the torch a city-wide concern;
  • We’ve laughed, cried, and gone for the gold—or, if we felt like it—the silver or the bronze;
  • And the thing I’m most excited about—and I might get emotional on you here—we’ve connected with hundreds of amazing people throughout the city determined to level the playing field in the contest for our city’s future.

In short, the Winter 2009 Unlympics have been game-changing. Early polls had forecast 88% of Chicagoans in favor of hosting the Games; our own polls showed that number closer to 2%. Yesterday’s Chicago Tribune poll, in which 162,000 people participated, showed that 78% of Chicagoans do not want the games here. You helped bring that information to light.

But there’s still more to do, and to start things off, we’re going to hear a few words from Julien Ball of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, beloved sponsor of the Winter 2009 Unlympics.

Let the Emotional Games begin!


Class-Conscious Kickball commentary, Kristen Cox and Salem Collo-Julin (and Team CC)

February 4, 2009
by Liz Wuerffel

by Liz Wuerffel

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please!!!


Welcome to the Chicago Working Group on Extreme Inequality-sponsored event—winter kickball!

What you are about to experience will not be your average ordinary kickball game. No ma’am, sir, or zer. Because it is NOT hard work and athleticism that score you a homeroom in life—that’s right, no it is not. In most cases, your place in society is already set by the time you pop out of your mom’s kooch. Not fair you say! Life is not fair, my friend. Even if you catch your ball, the game is stacked, the deal is already done. Many of us are born with more privileges, landing us on second or third base, while others are left behind, even struggling to get to first. And by good faith, luck and or in some cases, stealing, they get to second, third and maybe, fourth. But rarely. Fourth base is reserved for the lottery winners, CEOs, inheritors, and celebrities. Ladies and gents and all those in between: we are living in a cat and mouse game of chase with high hopes of kicking a homerun, to earn that American Dream or first Olympic Medal.

by Liz Wuerffel

by Liz Wuerffel

Let the game—Class-Conscious Kickball—Begin!


[Salem Announces.]

Announcer: First up to kick we have . . . Edwina the Eagle. Edwina was working as a plasterer, a strenuous but high demand blue-collar job especially when contracted for wealthy restoration clients, when she qualified as the sole British applicant for the 1988 Winter Olympic ski jumping team. Her family worked as stage hands for the British production of CATS!. So Edie E. (as she was known) was forced to self-fund her training. She wore seven layers of socks to accommodate her donated pair of skis. They were top-of-the-line but terribly ill-fitting. Another problem was that she was very short-sighted, requiring her to wear her glasses at all times, even though when skiing they fogged to such an extent that she could not see. She finished last in both the 70 m and 90 m events, hardly making it to first base at all, having to succumb to the arduous labor of plastering until she got arthritis so bad that she had to live off of social security for the rest of her life. Starts to FIRST but fades away to reaching NO BASE at all.

by Liz Wuerffel

by Liz Wuerffel

Susie “Ski“ Medal was born on second base, in the beautiful mountains of Colorado to a prominent lumber-company family. Because she could wake up and ski down the mountain any day she pleased, she became a top-notch skier at the ripe age of six. Her father, being successful at exploiting Mexican day laborers in his lumber business, spent his disposable income on entering Susie in ski contests every season, which prepared her for her Olympic medal career. SECOND BASE.


This is Ada, a middle-class, second-generation Mexican American female whose parents did not come from money, as their parents were immigrants and worked multiple jobs. Parents were able to work their way through college and took out loans. Ada goes to college but receives minimal support from parents. They were not able to save or build a college fund for their daughter so she must, like many of us, take out high interest-earning student loans. While Ada is able to get her college degree she finds her debt still outweighs her income and she has to pay $350 per month on $25 K in loans. Ada makes it to frist base. FIRST BASE.

[Note: Obstacle in baseline.]

(Oops what that’s in her way. It’s a high-interest bearing loan which will slow and weigh her down so that she barrrreeeelllllyy reaches first base. [Picks up object. Lugs her body and can barely get there.]

by Liz Wuerffel

by Liz Wuerffel

Meanwhile Susie ‘Ski’ Medal signs onto a sponsorship with Cambell’s Soup which propels her toward third base but, under the strict rules of competition, she’s tested and caught drinking performance-enhancing drugs in her soup which strikes her OUT on a mandatory two-year suspension with ridicule and shame.


Kiki, born into poverty in upstate, Buffalo, NY. Zhey was a good kid, walked to school uphill both ways and fell in love with zer after-school thespian drama club. Kiki spent afternoons glamourizing Madonna, Bette Midler, and Sophie Tucker, impersonating them and singing loud in zer bedroom. Kiki won a scholarship to Julliard in New York City which landed zer on first base, as Julliard ain’t easy to get into. A stint in Lever commercials landed zer a primetime TV series, for which zhey earned a Golden Globe for Kiki’s depiction of a musical rendition of telenovela based on the life of homicidal maniac, John Wayne Gacey. Now zhe’s sittin pretty at second base. Despite zer prestige and fame, zhey decided to return to zer roots of the live stage, backtracking to first base to take an equity actor gig in a regional theater in order to play the lead in the stage revival of Victor/Victoria. SECOND to FIRST BASE.

Greta Cummings married into the Phillip-Morris USA family and comfortably situated herself on third base as she enjoyed moist, smokeless tobacco (“MST”). She earned her Bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from a middle-of-the-road-school, the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Note: not your prestigious ivy league school. Though she married Gregory Cummings Sr., she had to fuck members of the Senior Management team in order to secure her position as Senior Vice President of Quality & Compliance for Philip-Morris USA. Greta’s organizational role is to manufacture superior branded cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products that meet our quality, safety, and demand specifications at the best possible cost. She makes $1.2 million annually. THIRD BASE.

Sylvestor grew up on no base, next to a garbage incinerator plant in Indiana. He developed asthma from a very early age and it doesn’t help matters that he inhales toxic pollutants daily because he now lives near a bus depot. His health constraints are pretty serious and he weezes if too physically active. He can’t get anywhere without his inhaler, and everyone in his family has health problems, asthma being the most common. He could even potentially die from an asthma attack. He can’t afford health care, so when it’s bad he goes to the Federally Qualified Health Center (AKA the clinic) but it’s a pain in the ass. The emergency room takes too long and he swears it doesn’t do any good to go there anyway. The funny thing is he had health care as a child through medicare, but now that’s he an adult, Uncle Sam could give two shits. NO BASE.

by Liz Wuerffel

by Liz Wuerffel

There was no record of Christy Walton before she became a millionaire. She was a nobody. Propelled by Sam Walton’s homerun kick, via the purchasing power of the working poor, she was magically transported to home base when she inherited a $16 billion fortune from her dead hubby John Walton. As the wealthiest woman in the United States, thanks to Wal*Mart, Christy is a fervent supporter of the Republican Party and school-choice programs for under-privileged children. She enjoys busting union shops in her free time and she’s an avid hunter jumper but also hunts ducks, quail, and raven for whom she employs a personal—on staff, at minimum wage, non-union—taxodermist for her prize dead birdlings. In addition to her love of birds, she is a Republican for choice. HOME RUN.


Meanwhile, Greta, in testing the MST products such as Virginia Slims, fell ill, was hospitalized, and died from complications but WE know she really died from lung cancer, puffing on those MST her whole life long. She left her only son Gregory with a sizable estate of $14 million plus insurance and a settlement package, to be determined.

[Gregory takes Greta’s place at THIRD.]

Gregory A. Cummings, Jr. stolls into a settlement package onto home base with a life full of plentiful luxuries at his beck and call. He has so much money he doesn’t really know what to do, or how to use much of it and so he becomes a recluse in his inherited rural ranch estate and becomes the foremost tobacco enthusiast blogger and antique pipe collector. RUN IN.

by Liz Wuerffel

by Liz Wuerffel

[Kristin now announces.]


Max Power is now up to bat—but in a way, he has always been up to bat as Max was born into wealth and owns the bases. He was born into that, as the Power family, as we all know, is the Official Corporate Sponsor of this and many other Kickball Fields! Max’s family of origin divides their time between Sonoma and Singapore, but Max’s childhood was mostly spent shuffling from military school to military school. While Max’s lack of personal attention from hir parents made hir a highly independent and quite rebellious individual, it also made hir distrustful of intimacy and a bit unable to process emotional interaction. Fortunately, Mr. & Mrs. Power’s financial state was always there to bail Max out of hir “shenanigans”.

And we have a kick, looks like it’s going to be an out. Caught successfully by the outfielders, but wait—Max is arguing with the umpire. Now it’s getting physical! Now Max is being escorted out of the game. Looks like there’s a limo waiting for hir in the parking lot . . . OUT.

Opening Remarks, AEM for the UOC

January 25, 2009

Welcome to the Winter 2009 Unlympic Games Opening Day Ceremonies!

The vision of the Unlympic Games first came to me in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996, while I was working on another—a different—sports festival called the Olympics. To give you a little background, the Olympics were originally thought to be a non-political global meeting-ground for people who liked their fun good and clean. More recently, they’ve been thought of as a massively organized, extremely well-funded sports-themed party primarily attended by the wealthy that acts as an alliance-builder between corporations and athletes to market products to American television-viewing audiences.


Because of this, a massive resistance movement has sprung up, the Nolympic Movement. In recent years, the Nolympics has effectively stopped the Olympics from coming to cities such as Amsterdam, caused Tokyo to reconsider their own bid for the 2016 Games, and created a vast infrastructure for documenting the damage done to communities in Vancouver in the lead up to the 2010 Games next Winter.


Anyway, one day in Atlanta, wandering the city deserted of residents and only populated by tourists, walking along the sidewalks of the Olympic Village already crumbling just a few days into the Games, I thought to myself, Did anyone think about this?

And from this question, the Unlympic Movement was born. Not the Olympics, and not the Nolympics, the Unlympics simply poses a series of questions: What rules govern the competition for the 2016 Olympic bid? Do we Chicagoans agree to them? If not, how do we change them? The Unlympics poses these questions through a series of public games, some of which have set and standard rules, some of which we’re going to have to make up as we go along, and some of which have been predetermined, because it’s funny, and sometimes life is like that anyway. The fun-loving spirit of healthy sport guides the Unlympic Spirit.


But the Unlympics is not all about sports. The Unlympics is built on three mighty pillars: Sports, Culture, and the Environment. The Environment, we completely ignore. That’s just what we do. And Culture, well, we do have some art over here by Michael Hunter, Lord of the Rings. And the rest of this lovely Opening Day in which we celebrate Sports through Art. So mostly, I guess, we really are about Sports. I’ll just—sorry I said that earlier. The pillar thing, I don’t know what that’s about.

The Unlympic Movement, however, is all about you. You are some of the most talented, creative, and intelligent people in this city, and you have come together to celebrate our voice in our city’s future. No matter how you feel about the 2016 bid, you will be impacted by it, as soon as February 12, when the bid book is due the International Olympic Committee, or as late as October 2, when the IOC will make their final decision on who will host the 2016 Games, and Chicago will already have spent $100mn on the blazin’ hot trail for the torch.

That being said, there are some of you who lent your voices to the earliest planning stages of the Unlympic Games, and made in-kind donations amounting to the tens of dollars, and I must thank you: Anne Glickman, of the Anne Glickman Dancers; Liz Mason of Shameless Karaoke; Kristin Cox of the Chicago Working Group on Extreme Inequality; Joe Zarrow, of Joe Zarrow Incorporated, Aay Preston-Mint of No Coast; Abigail Satinsky, Bryce Dwyer, and Roman Petruniak of InCUBATE; and Matthew Joynt, my co-secretary on the Unlympics Organizing Committee. Without your generous gifts of time and attention, none of the glory we’re all feeling right now would have been possible.

Except for the Spelling Bee on February 7, which costs $5 to compete in, the Unlympics is a free sporting event series. However, in the interest of creating a model of transparency, just in case any other sports festivals out there want to, you know, consider some other options, I must inform you that the Unlympics Organizing Committee has invested close to $75 in supplies, and owes approximately $125 in rent on this space. So far. Should you be interested in making a donation, the Treasury of the Unlympic Games—this coffee can—would be thrilled to meet with you.


Despite the seemingly unanimous support for the Chicago 2016 bid, support that is not evidenced by our own polls—we Chicagoans must consider our options as we approach February 12: Will we sit back and watch an eventual $1bn—some from our own taxes—be spent during an unprecedented economic recession on a massive sports festival seven years away? Shall we monitor the bid, demand representation, and introduce legislation that enforces the construction of a socially just Olympic Village? Or do we refuse to host—or pay for—the 2016 Olympic Games, and work toward making our voices heard and our bodies seen and our votes count, in our own homes?


These are the questions you will grapple with throughout the Winter 2009 Unlympic Games. Other questions—How do I play this? Why are you wearing that ridiculous outfit? How can I find out more?—can be answered by our handy Official Program and Rulebook.