Archive for the ‘Winter 2009 Unlympiad’ Category

The Winter 2009 Unlympiad

July 23, 2009

In Winter 2009, the City of Chicago and a not-for-profit organization called Chicago 2016—backed by PR firm Hill & Knowlton—submitted an official bid to the International Olympic Committee for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympic Games. Chicago 2016 claimed that over 80% of the citys residents approved of the bid.

They didn’t.

Over four consecutive Saturdays in the middle of a bitterly cold winter, a group of Chicagoans created a series of competitive events to prove it. The Winter 2009 Unlympic Games engaged Chicago residents in active dialogue—extremely active dialogue—about the 2016 Olympic bid.

The Unlympics includes real sports, fake sports, and things that should be sports but arent yet and looks at highly organized, internationally recognized, massively marketed, thoroughly branded, and extremely expensive sporting events to ask residents: shouldn’t we have the right to decide what we do with our public spaces and public funds?

Video edited by Abigail Satinsky at: http://incubate-chicago.org/.

Winter 2009 Treasurer’s Report

March 3, 2009

img_4240

The Treasurer of the Unlympics Organizing Committee—prior to his retirement, pictured above—asked me to type up a few final words on his behalf. As you may recall, we here at the Unlympics have invented a little something you might be interested in called financial transparency in the hopes of creating a new model for sporty mega-events.

The notion seems to confuse a lot of people, especially other sports festival managers, so how it works is: we tell you, honestly, how much money the Unlympics costs, and how much money the Unlympics has raised. Then, if you are filled with the Unlympic Spirit, you give us some money, and we tell people about it.

The cost of hosting the Unlympics’ Winter 2009 mostly free programming has included:

            $175 in rent

            $100 in disco balls, sparklers, medals and trophies

            $50 in promotional and office supplies

            $50 in beer and, of course, Gatorade

 This comes to a total of $375.

By the closing date of the Winter 2009 Games, the UOC had raised, mostly from the $5 competitor’s fee to join the Spelling Bee, exactly $244—a full $131 short of our goal.

Now, we realize that a $131 budget deficit represents a significantly lower-than-average cost overrun ratio for a giant sporty mega-event—in fact, the London 2012 Games are currently estimated to cost more than four times their original budget of 2.37bn pounds, and are now running upwards of 9bn pounds. And those games are still three years off. Strangely, 2.37 bn pounds is the equivalent of about 3.3bn dollars—exactly the amount the Chicago Games are predicted to cost in Chicago 2016’s bid book, released yesterday. The bid book also predicts that no improvements whatsoever will be needed to our public transportation system, claims that only one hotel will be built in the downtown area, and lays out plans for drastic, permanent changes to Washington Park, where we played Class-Conscious Kickball just two weeks ago. The bid book does not describe the new TIF district in Bronzeville, allowing for taxpayer money to go toward the $3.3bn; nor does it acknowledge that a vast majority of Chicagoans do not want their tax money going toward the sporty mega-event.

But what is clear in all this is that tax money does not fund the Unlympic Games.

You do.

And following our Closing Ceremonies on February 14, 2009 at No Coast in Pilsen, we succeeded in eliminating our debt with the support of sports enthusiasts the city over, just like you.

Your contributions to this project have been enormous, and we wish to take this opportunity to thank you for making the 2009 Winter Unlympic Games the most amazing Unlympics ever.

As you are probably aware, all of our time and most of our equipment has been donated. If we were to tally the in-kind contributions of our leetle sports festival, and we had to pay that back, we’d have to charge you the same amount the Chicago 2016 committee has suggested to charge for their closing ceremonies:  $1400. (Still a bargain compared to the $1700 ticket price for the Opening Day Ceremonies! P.S. the Unlympics’ were free.)

Sincere appreciation for making this an engaging and rewarding—and incredibly successful—game-changing event. Thank you.

Finally, if you run a sports mega-event and wish to seek further information about financial transparency, please first Google the term, and then contact our offices.

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!

Images from the Judge Competition

February 16, 2009

Our final competition of the evening was the Judge Competition, in which the competitors turned the tables on our judges and sat in judgment of them. Please note that our Live Action Role-Play Family Potluck Dinner, Spelling Bee, Solitary Isolation, Jump-rope, and Judge Competition have been eliminated from the judging either because winners were determined by group consensus, or because it just seemed too confusing.

Judges were awarded a range of 0 to 7 points based on their display of: FAIRNESS, ACCURACY, and AWESOMENESS.

And the competitors were:

  • Roman Petruniak, for The Game Where You Win                       
  • Matthew Joynt, for the Fashion Competition
  • Bryce Dwyer, for Run Around the Block and We’ll Time You               
  • Kristen Cox, for Class-Conscious Kickball                       
  • AEM, for Spectator Sport                       
  • Heidi Weigant, for the Synchronized Game                       
  • Liz & Joe Mason of Shameless Karaoke, for the Karaoke Competition

A special write-in category was created to judge the Chicago 2016 Committee on FAIRNESS, ACCURACY, and AWESOMENESS. Of a potential point range well exceeding 50,000, the Chicago 2016 Committee was awarded 2 total points, none in the category of FAIRNESS.

judge-competition

* Roman Petruniak received one exclamation point in the category of Awesomeness, valued by for the purposes of this game at 30,000 points.

** Please note that Bryce Dwyer received 4 expressions of unquantifiable love, valued for the purposes of this game at 7,500 points each.

*** Anne Elizabeth Moore received three different awards of one million poetry bucks in each category, but we’re all aware that poetry doesn’t count for much, so while it’s appreciated deeply, this did not change her final score.

Images from the Karaoke Competition

February 16, 2009

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

In a moment already deemed among the “Top Ten of 2009”, Matthew Joynt and Heidi Wiegandt blew the minds of all in singing distance with a roller-skating / light-up glasses / karaoke combo that took first place and won them the coveted “Golden Microphone,” which Matt had constructed himself earlier in the day.

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Among other memorable moments were no less than eight full-room singalongs (You Oughta Know, Man in Motion, and several Neil Diamond hits were among crowd favorites), on-the-fly choreographed dance moves, and the amazing stylings of Liz and Joe Mason of Shameless Karaoke.

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Laura Pearson, our Spelling Bee Pronouncer, correctly pinned the crowd’s emotional milieu—they were filled with the Unlympic Spirit—with a rousing rendition of an Eminem song.

by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

Joe Mason of Shameless Karaoke. “He becomes a different man when he does this song,” claimed Liz Mason, also of Shameless Karaoke.

 

by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

Daniel Durden does a truly swoony rendition of Sweet Transvestite which, in addition to his labor in photocopying the karaoke ballots, rightly earned him the Silver in the Karaoke Competition.

Images from Duration Jump-roping

February 16, 2009

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

The crowd was wowed by the supreme jump-roping abilities on display by one Roman Petruniak, who bested Jonathan Eyler-Werve in a contest that lasted no more than two minutes, total.

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Despite that all games were open to all-gendered contestants, women demanded a separate competition in the Duration Jump-roping category, we have no idea why, but Kristin Cox and Kathryn Lucatelli happily congratulated each other upon completion of the game. This marked our only gendered competition in the history of the Unlympic Games.

Images from Telekenetic Synchronicity

February 16, 2009

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

 

by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

 

 

 

 

Heidi Wiegandts’ amazing Valentine’s Day-themed synchronized game invention, Telekenetic Synchronicity, had contestants reading each others’ minds to draw the same concept of “love” without looking at each other’s papers. It is possible that several future couples were formed during this amazing game.

Images from the Solitary Isolation Game

February 16, 2009

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Stanley Howard—tortured by Jon Burge and Chicago Police Officers under his command, then sentenced to death row based on confessions extracted under torture but later commuted by Governor Ryan—called from prison to kick off the Emotional Games with a plea to bring problems in Chicago, and in Illinois, under control before embarking on a project like the Olympics. Julien Ball of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty kindly provided the context and the cell phone.

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Stephen F. Eisenberg and Laurie Jo Reynolds of Tamms Year Ten introduce the Solitary Isolation Game and give a brief history of isolation as a prisoner reform tactic, before its condemnation by several international human rights tribunals.

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Pre-hooding, the audience was treated to a talk by the 29-year-old Mustafa Afrika (above—his speech was so captivating our photographer was rendered useless) in which he described his early imprisonment and subsequent isolation at Tamms Supermax in great detail, as well as the lingering physical and emotional effects of spending several years with no human contact. Afrika, who has since returned to life on the South Side of Chicago, described the daily, ongoing police activity in his neighborhood, acknowledging that any increase to this hostility, such as that brought about by the Olympic Games’ presence in the area, would be extremely damaging to residents.

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Johnny Walton, incarcerated at Tamms, described to the hooded audience the chilling long-term effects of solitary isolation. Describing prisoners whose only human contact was shouting over walls to fellow inmates for several years and men who became so desperate for human contact they would create a ruckus, causing guards to come in and physically quiet them, Walton was brilliantly impassioned. Several hooded audience members explained later that they were only relieved for the hoods because it kept others from being able to see them cry.

 

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

The Unlympic Movement: a short film

February 15, 2009
A quick recap of Chicago’s Winter 2009 Unlympic Games. Watch for the final film in Summer, 2009.

Emotional Games: February 14, 7 p.m. (from the Official Program Guide)

February 10, 2009

PROGRAM
7 p.m., No Coast, 1500 W. 17th Street

Please note this exciting update: The Unlympics Organizing Committee is honored to announce that in addition to our already stella cast of presenters, joining tonight’s games will be Stephen F. Eisenman, Julien Ball, Mustafa Afrika, and Laurie Jo Reynolds. At 7:15 p.m., barring a prison problem, we will speak live to Stanley Howard, Jon Burge-tortured former death-row inmate commuted by George Ryan. Plus: Other special guests may appear throughout the evening!

SOLITARY ISOLATION GAME
DURATION JUMP-ROPING/HULA-HOOPING
SYNCHRONIZED SOMETHING 
STOP DROP + ROLL COMPETION
KARAOKE 
JUDGE COMPETITION 
AWARDS CEREMONY
CLOSING CEREMONY
 

RULES

Please note that all Awards Ceremonies are BYOB.

 

Solitary Isolation Game (Individual)

Picture living in a cage the size of your bathroom, with tiers of single cages above, below, and to either side. You remain in this cage nearly 24 hours a day, day in and day out, year in and year out. The use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons began in 1829, based on the Quaker philosophy that introspection would lead to reform. It soon became clear that people in isolation often suffer mental breakdown, so isolation was largely abandoned—except as a means of administrative control. More recently, isolation is combined with behavioral modification programs, including physical beatings, use of devices of torture, and psychological abuse. Sound like fun to you?

 

Duration Jump-Roping or Hula-Hooping (Individual or double-dutch)

1. The mode of contest shall be determined by the judge’s ability to locate either hula hoops or jump ropes in advance of the competition.

2. Duration shall be defined as “length of time contestant is able to maintain continuous jumping motion while mono-directionally crossing the rope barrier created by the object called the jump-rope,”or  “length of time contestant is able to maintain continuous hula motion in the hips while supporting the hoop via centrifugal force,” depending on the object provided by the judges for play.

3. Contestant may choose a preferred direction of rope or hoop motion (forward or backward; left or right), depending on said contestant’s coordination limitations and desire to look awesome and/or “hot dog.” Said jumping rope or hoop must make one full 360-degree vertical rotation around the human form and never become entangled by, twined with, knotted around, or in any way harassed by the human form, foot, shoe or shoe lace, nor falter in its continuous encircling of the body.

4. Contestants inclined to whip other contestants with rope or conk them on the heads with the hoop will be immediately disqualified from the Duration Jump-Roping or Hula-Hooping Competition and asked to leave quietly and respectfully with inside voices. No hissy fits.

5. Contestants will be timed as a group. Last one jumping rope or hula hooping wins. 

 

Synchronized Competition (Team)

What is a multinational sporting event without some kind of synchronized competition, primarily performed by adorable, winsome, and lithe young women in unending fantastical rows, endlessly repeating after each other the exact movements of the first, for our personal sporting edification and clear aesthetic appreciation? Probably kind of a bad one, so be sure to pay close attention to the rules of this event when the judges describe them.

 

Stop, Drop & Roll (Individual)

This competition will only occur in case of a fitting disaster, natural or otherwise.

 

Karaoke (Individual, duet)

1. Persons who entertain are allowed to compete as long as it is part-time income and that person does not belong to any professional organization connected with the entertainment industry that would cause the Unlympics Organizing Committee to pay such contestant a fee or any other benefit for taking part in any Unlympics event.

2. Any person may enter the contest that belongs to an Organized Labor Union connected with the entertainment industry, as long as that person is not disqualified by rule number 1.

3. Persons may compete alone or as a member of a duet. No persons may enter a duet that are, in effect, one single person wearing at one point a mustache and appearing at another point bare-lipped. Nor will duet status be granted one single person suffering from multiple personalities. These persons must enter the competition as individuals.

4. Contestants MAY NOT utilize live props. This will include back-up singers, dancers, or animals. Non-human props such as costumes and other accessories are permitted. Musical instruments may be used as props, but are not allowed to be performed upon as an accompaniment to the contestants’ performance. Such musical instruments must be hand carried. Larger instruments that utilize the aid of others to bring them on stage, or are difficult to handle will NOT be permitted. An example of this type of instrument is a piano, harp, etc. Any prop used by a contestant must be carried on stage or into the stage area by the contestant, and must be completed in one trip onto or into the stage area. The non-use of live props will include the passing of flowers or other items to anyone, touching hands of an audience member or any other similar act.

5. Contestants may sing the same song as other contestants.

6. Contestants, their family or associates are not allowed to have contact with a contest judge before or during any contest connected with the Unlympics. Contact includes verbal conversations, handshakes, and making out. It is suggested that judges don themselves with badges to prevent contestants from approaching judges, and that, if approached by a contestant, they run away, very fast. This rule applies only before and during the time contestants are performing. It is not reasonable to expect contestants, their family or associates from having contact with a judge directly after all contestants have performed. 

 

Judge Competition (Individual)

Following the completion of the events in the Winter 2009 Unlympics, all parties will offer criticism, praise, and feedback to those who have remained in power throught the duration of the games. A most exemplary judge will be awarded the gold medal a slightly less good judge will be awarded the silver, and so on for one more medal. In combination with The Spectator Sport, this game is intended ensure an even balance of power between athletes, judges, and spectators, all of whom weigh equally in the success of the Unlympic Movement. 

The Unlympic Organizing Committee asks you with this game to pause for a moment and consider what it might be like if the Chicago 2016 bid weighed all comers—low-income residents, government officials, migratory birds, developers, local cultural producers, athletes, and victims of police torture—as equals. Would we still proceed with the bid?

 

NARRATIVE

Tamms Year Ten and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty are the official sponsors of the Emotional Games. Tamms Year Ten was founded on the tenth anniversary of the transfer of prisoners to Tamms “supermax” prison in Southern Illinois. Designed to keep men in constant solitary confinement, Tamms was intended for short-term incarceration, but over one-third of the original prisoners have been held with no human contact or communal activity since 1998. Tamms Year Ten is a coalition of prisoners, ex-prisoners, families, artists and concerned citizens who protest these misguided and inhumane policies and call for an end to psychological torture. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty works hand in hand with those who have experienced the horrors of death row in person—death row prisoners and family members—and works to ensure that their voices are at the forefront of our movement.

The Emotional Games will be held at Pilsen’s No Coast, a collective space dedicated to keeping the products and processes of creative practice accessible to whomever is interested in them in the spirit of fostering collaborative community.

Between 1972 to 1991, over 100 African American men were tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and detectives under his command. Called acts of torture by independent investigations and numerous courts, the detectives under Burge’s command electrically shocked men’s genitals, ears and lips with a cattle prod or an electric shock box, suffocated individuals with plastic bags, performed mock executions, and committed beatings with telephone books and rubber hoses to extract confessions. Not a single officer has ever been prosecuted for these acts, which violate criminal laws, the victims’ Constitutional rights, and international treaties banning the use of torture. At least 24 people continue to languish behind bars based on these unreliable confessions. On May 19, 2006, the United Nations Committee Against Torture concluded that the United States Government and the City of Chicago were in violation of the Convention Against Torture.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared that concern for human rights abuses in Russia disallowed the US from participating in the Moscow Games, and enacted a boycott against them. The Unlympics Organizing Committee requests a boycott of the Chicago 2016 Games on these same grounds.

 

Competitors and spectators will also be offered the opportunity to send “Torture Breaks My Heart” Valentines to prisoners and legislators.