“That “entertainment factor” is what led NBC to promote Weir and Lipinski to the top broadcasting slot for figure skating in the run up to PyeongChang 2018, and propelled them to be the delightfully different voices at such venerable sporting institutions as the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby and, now, the Summer Olympics. It is what keeps their social media feeds humming with roughly half a million followers, and also what caused my non-sports-fan friends to gush pronouncements of love for the pair when I told them about my assignment, and that is what makes them so important. In a sports-media landscape choked with old white guys offering hot takes, where antiquated notions of toughness and “honor” are conflated with masculinity and used to obfuscate or excuse violence and misogyny, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski bring something beyond entertainment and knowledge. They bring inclusiveness.”
“The dash is shot through with controversy, with whispers and questions about aids, be it the strong wind at the track that day or the rumors of doping that plagued Flo-Jo’s career. What is irrefutable is how she looked: not just victorious but incredible, equal parts Amazon and amazing as she screamed away from her peers in a flash, her right leg completely covered in an asymmetric purple, her other one bare, her wrists encircled in chains and fingertips bathed in fire. With one of the greatest feats ever performed by a human body in an outfit that would not look out of place on Nicki Minaj, Flo-Jo proved that one could be serious about both performance and personal style. Triumph!”
“The sweaters and ball caps and helmets all come from one place, as it happens: a rather nondescript but massive workshop-cum-wonderland on Chicago’s Goose Island. A highly built up sliver of land—which smells, depending on which way the wind blows, of exhaust and slow river urban stink or spearmint from the nearby Wrigley plant—Goose Island is the home of Chicago Scenic Studios, which is one of those places that churns out art, commerce, and spectacle in equal measure.
Chicago Scenic is impressive in scope. It lives in a former factory—supposedly for tanks during World War II—of massive, high ceilinged chambers, god boxes which seem to stretch indefinitely. The abyssal spaces are divided into workable sections via archipelagos of work desks and ad hoc walls of stacked-high piping, lumber, and angle metal. It is a place of endless material and paint and plastic and sparks. A massive crane, seaport-grade, crowns the main chamber.”
“The look is, without a doubt, virile when flaunted by athletes like Elliott or UCLA wrecking ball Myles Jack; particularly in comparison to the men perched, haunched, flopped, and standing before their televisions each Saturday who can only imagine such physiques in the same dream state they reserve for the personal fantasies of touchdown passes and draft day suits and the egotistical, financial, and corporeal rewards such pinnacles of masculinity reap.”