June 22, 2014
By Michael Lewis
DON'T BLAME IT ON RIO (DAY 11) --
No, blame it on the Hotel Millenium and no or little internet
MANAUS, Brazil -- In the classic Airplane! 2 movie, there is a precious scene in which Julie Hagerty has to tell the passengers on the space shuttle that they are off course in their journey to the moon and that asteroids are hitting the space ship. The passengers are quite calm.
Then she announces that they have run out of coffee and all hell breaks loose.
That's what happens when journalists can't get on the internet, especially at the World Cup.
OK, I exaggerate just a bit, but when you are on deadline, every minute counts, especially when you have finished your story and want to send it in.
I knocked off a pair of stories for Newsday and the U.S. Soccer media bus was heading back to the Hotel Millenium to check in for our short stay in this city in the middle of the Amazon.
As I entered the elevator I said that I heard that the wireless at the hotel was a bit dodgy. One of the other guest replied, "Dodgy? I think you are being too kind."
Got to my room and couldn't get on. There was a spot for an Ethernet cable in the wall to plug in the computer, but that didn't work.
I tried not one, but two hotspots, but couldn't pull it off as I uttered a few colorful adjectives and nouns in frustration.
I had finished my other stories, but there was no way to get them into cyberspace and back to the states.
Finally, I went downstairs, found a writer who had a hotspot the Washington Post's Steve Goff -- and also David Applegate, the U.S. Soccer media coordinator, and I was able to get on and send my stories, including a couple of BigAppleSoccer.com well before deadline.
And on yes, and here is that clip from clip Airplane! 2.
A couple of other things:
* Travel time from Sao Paulo, which included two bus rides, a plane trip and some waiting, took a little more than eight hours Saturday.
* I was reunited with my notebook on Saturday as U.S. Soccer director of communications Neil Buethe brought it to this city. There were no doodles from U.S. Soccer and I don't think I had any state secrets in my book for anyone to "steal."
* After filing my stories, myself, Goff and Applegate stayed in and had dinner in the hotel restaurant. Everything was going fine until we got our bills, each of which were on several sheets of paper (not like going green, huh?). The waiter compounded that by putting the wrong orders and amounts for each rumor. It took no one other than our MacGyver, Applegate, to sort out the confusion. He took the waiter's notepad and wrote out the correct bills for everyone, including the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter, who joined us later on. Incredible, huh?
* Applegate took some much-needed time off in the morning and went on a three-hour tour on the Amazon River (I warned him about an infamous three-hour hour from a sixties' television show, but he went anyway). He gave me the responsibility of giving the game day bus pass (for the windshield) to give to the bus driver for the noon trip to the stadium. It took us about a half hour for a 2 1/2 mile trip because the security personnel at the stadium refused to allow us to enter a certain gate. So, we took a long tour around the stadium. The bus driver handled it well.
* We're supposed to leave the stadium and return to the hotel at 11 p.m. ET to shower and then leave for the airport at 3:15 a.m. for a 4:50 a.m. flight to Sao Paulo. Yes, that's a.m., not p.m.