Fresno. An average some might say bland middle-class town approximately halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Not a place one usually associates with the hot and the happening. But, for once, Fresno, it seems, was in the right place at the right time. Because it was here that an unlikely yet fortuitous cross-pollination took place. Here that Southern California's fervor for Extreme Sports became fused with the Bay Area's warm embrace of all things New Age. Here that, in 1995, the HolistOlympics were born.
For anyone who's never heard of the HolistOlympics, strictly speaking, they're an annual four-day competition consisting of 37 separate events, with each event created by taking a New Age belief hierarchy, therapeutic procedure or healing technique and combining it with a highly-specialized possibly dangerous cutting-edge athletic discipline.
More hyperbolically speaking, the HolistOlympics are the dengue fever of sports, their popularity with athletes and spectators alike spreading almost unchecked. This weekend, the HO movement rises to the next level, as they're carried live from Fresno on national TV for the first time (joint coverage on ESPN2 and The SciFi Channel). Here's a look at the major events scheduled to be televised:
AcuJavelin: With pinpoint accuracy, Far East-trained/Nautilus-toned acupuncturists hurl hair-thin, 1.5-meter long needles at people suffering from a variety of health complaints.
Rock Channeling: Psychics and channelers with no previous rock climbing experience or training must contact and become possessed by the spirit of a dead rock climber. Then, by tapping into the knowledge, skill and strength of the deceased, successfully race up a 1,500-foot sheer cliff face.
Transcendental Orienteering: In TO, each athlete must feel s/he has strayed from her/his true life path. The field gathers and sits in a circle, until, at a signal from the Maharishi Referee Yogi, everyone makes a dash to attain a deep meditative state. Once there, "lost" athletes get in touch with and follow their inner compass and in this way "find" themselves again. First person re-oriented and back to the physical world wins.
Feng Shui High Hurdles: Each competitor places from one to 10 hurdles throughout the stadium in the most harmonious arrangement for his or her individual race. Whoever has most masterfully realized the proper order and placement of the jumps will undoubtedly win.
Ultimate Fate/Ultimate Fighting: Using potentially lethal martial arts, bare-knuckle boxing and plain old dirty street-fighting techniques, caged combatants try to inflict as much physical pain and injury as they can to the other guy while inflicting as little long-term karmic damage as possible on themselves. An internal/external battle royal.
Vegetarian Hot Dog Skiing: A lot like regular hot dog skiing but when you're done you're not nearly as satisfied.
Tantric Sex Skyboarding: Mixed pairs, wearing nothing but parachutes, perform sex acts in traditional yoga positions on a small board as they plunge toward the earth from 10,000 feet. (Special pay-per-view event.)
Colon Hydrotherapy Ultra Marathon: 100-km run with a real incentive to win: First person across the finish line receives a therapeutic enema. Second place gets two therapeutic enemas. Third place gets three therapeutic enemas. Etc.