Friday Mar 23, 2007

Life Resembles Art (Devlin)

I had one of those "plate o shrimp" weeks. It started fairly simply as I was typing up directions for our youth hockey team's annual pilgrimage to Lake Placid, New York. The landmark I give for our arrival in Lake Placid is Art Devlin's Olympic Motor Inn, situated at the intersection of NY State 73 and Main Street. You know you've arrived in the Miracle on Ice village when you look over Art Devlin's welcoming wooden sign and see the Olympic ice rinks, perched on the hill, beckoning to skaters of all ages to look for miracles in a simple game. We've stayed at Art Devlin's exactly once, and the front desk area is a veritable cornucopia of ski jump trophies, medals and plaques. Art Devlin was one of the great (and first) ski jump athletes, practicing his art at the Olympic facilities in Lake Placid. As I've been closing each of my weekly emails to our team with a quote about Lake Placid, I've run into Art Devlin in the literature on a weekly basis.

A few days later, my son received a letter from his maternal grandfather, on the occasion of his upcoming Bar Mitzvah, containing a bit of grandfatherly commentary. It's the kind of thing I hope he holds onto for a century, so he can explain to his grandchildren what the people in all of our family pictures were like. I tried to draw a parallel through one of the few glimpses I have of my own maternal grandfather; as he died in 1946 I never met him. But I know that he put away stamps and coins for my mother, now part of my own collection, and perhaps the genetic predisposition for my eBay habit. As I showed the bits and pieces of his great-grandfather's life to my son, he and I noticed that four of the stamps are near-perfect 1932 Olympic commemorative issues. Featuring a ski jumper -- whom we coincidentally nicknamed "Art Devlin." All I had to do was mention him in an email, and 75 years of philatelic history deposited Art Devlin in a family Kodak moment.

Normally, I wouldn't read too much into this, until I received this YouTube link from my co-author Evan Marcus. It's the story behind ABC TV's Wide World of Sports introductory "agony of defeat" scene, in which a ski jumper misses the ramp and careens down into the gallery. In the video, Jim McKay plays the original sports cast for the assembled crowd, and you can hear the gasp of the color commentator: one Art Devlin.

It's a life imitating Art hat trick.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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