Most of our happy ESPN crew will be watching the opening ceremonies on TV tonight, along with the rest of the world. Very few journalists get tickets. The apartment complex we took over is about a half-mile from the Olympic stadium, which means that when we aren’t listening to seagulls screeching over the canal outside our windows, we can hear the ceremony rehearsal.
Most nights you can hear indistinguishable choral sounds and you can see fireworks and searchlights. Last night, though, you could hear Paul McCartney singing, which is just cool, even when you’re a half-mile away and he’s competing with those stupid seagulls.
The vision everyone at home seems to have of our Olympic experience is that we’re staying in Westminster Abbey and tweeting from Trafalgar Square, but we’re in Stratford, in East London. As our beloved producer, friend and Olympic overlord Arty Berko points out, it’s like having a New York Olympiad in Flushing, Queens.
East London was the standard for British urban poverty for more than a century and is solid working-class, non-tourist territory. Two days of morning runs have been met with odd looks from locals headed to the buses or the tube, but this morning we passed the Cart and Horses Pub, where Iron Maiden got its start. I’m a lot more familiar with Paul McCartney than I am with Iron Maiden, but, again, that’s kind of cool. And although I admire their place in the rock canon, I have no issue with LOCOG’s decision not to include them in the festivities. I don’t expect to see much from the Sex Pistols, either.