Borderstan welcomes new contributor Dito Sevilla. You can often find him tending bar at —where else — Dito’s Bar om 17th Street NW where he dispenses witticisms and advice. A DC native, expert mixologist, amateur oenophile, and avid collector, he thrives on human interaction, exposing ironies in the human condition, and enjoying watching history repeat itself. When not found behind the bar, Dito enjoys discovering old neighborhoods that other people call new, and finding the needles in life’s haystacks. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com
Sometime last week, either late into the night or early in the morning, the long held dream of many – or most likely, relatively few — came true. Curiosity, a rather unimpressive looking doohickey, landed on Mars. And apparently, it was a big deal.
For those who may not be aware, Mars is far away — even further away from DC than Manassas or Culpepper. It’s what NASA calls “another planet” — as in a real other planet, not just “Texas.”
I know all of this because I saw it on television, and here is what I witnessed:
A rustic golf cart dropped onto Mars and vainly took pictures of itself and it’s tires. Then, it emailed these pictures back to Earth where a room full of nerds, one memorable for his cute (gay) haircut, all cheered, hugged and rubbed on each other as each grainy image downloaded onto the room’s screens.
This whole charade was aired live, while millions of Americans (myself included) were steered away from what really mattered: the Summer Olympics. You see, this whole alien landing episode interrupted the quadrennial Games — a gathering of the world’s hottest people specifically designed to showcase their rippling bodies and hours spent training, drilling and preparing to showcase their greatness. These men and women swim, dance, jump, box, dive, wrestle, vault, tumble, leap, hurdle, and in some cases, fall for the chance of earning a gold, silver or bronze necklace.
A dusty plopping down onto some far-off planet in the middle of the night holds no candle to the prime time, toe curling landing of gymnast, McKayla Maroney’s, vault. Yes, grainy black and white images of a left wheel sent millions of miles through space are nice, but do not impress me after perusing the uncut, high-resolution, full-color self-pictures of a half-naked Danell Leyva; images he, like the Mars Rover, sexted from his own phone. Unlike Curiosity, Danell lacks a spare tire, but compensates with unparalleled flexibility and grace.
When one thinks of mankind’s greatest achievements, space landings tend to be high on the list. They’re usually filed alongside the discovery of fire and the development of sliced bread. Of course, there are other inventions, too. Who could live without electricity, the telephone or computers? While those are nice (and have certainly stood the test of time) new greatness emerged from London every hour. Legends developed as Big Ben ticked away the minutes.
Legendary swimmer, Michael Phelps swam his way into the history books, and did it in a place where history was made. Not since Mrs. Wallace Simpson stole their king has a Baltimorean left England with more gold and silver. Opening the ceremonies, a Kingdom’s Queen invited the world’s most spectacular to experience their most spectacular. In competing for greatness in a place known for it, every athlete at this year’s games exchanged some of the best they had with a city that gave some of it’s own back.
If one day, mankind’s curiosity leads him to Uranus, I won’t be watching.