El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The 1984 Summer Olympic Games

From an anonymous tourist's photo album of snapshots of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics

There is a scene from the critically acclaimed HBO series, Six Feet Under where the two Fisher Brothers, Nate and David are sunbathing in front of the Fisher and Sons Funeral Home in the West Adams district of Los Angeles wondering when a dead body will arrive for services as it has been several days since they've hosted a funeral. Nate asks David, “What’s the longest we've ever gone without a body?” David replies, “Dad (Nathaniel Fisher Sr) once said we went 16 days without a body, it was during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.” The Fisher Funeral home patriarch, Nathaniel Fisher Sr was killed in a car accident in the pilot episode of the series, but always appeared as the chain-smoking condescending apparition throughout the five seasons of this extraordinary series about a dysfunctional family funeral home in contemporary 2000 Los Angeles.

When the 1984 Summer Olympics were awarded to Los Angeles, critics said we couldn't do it. There will be massive gridlock on our freeways and streets in what will become a city standing still in their gas guzzling metal coffins. Peter Ueberroth and the City of Los Angeles pulled it off in extraordinary form in what was a remarkable display of great planning, great leadership and absolute harmony. Sure, the communist bloc countries tried to throw an “F You” at us by boycotting our Olympics as we did their’s in the 1980 Moscow Games, but our response was “Hey, we’re having a party over here, we have several kegs of Heineken Beer in the backyard, a BBQ with all the fixings, Van Halen will be playing over by the garage and we are going to rock the neighborhood, we would love to have you over”. With the exception of Romania, the Eastern Bloc countries were no-shows, but the games went on as planned proving that no one is bigger than the event itself.

During those glorious 16 days of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games, Los Angeles was in complete harmony. Incidents such as drive by shootings, gang violence, road rage, high school shootings, riots, Bell City scandals, live police pursuits on TV, city hall scandals, MacArthur Park Mêlées, armed bank robberies and circus like courtroom trials simply did not exist or were never headline news.

It was an incredible time to live, work and play in Los Angeles. Just ask Randy Newman.

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