Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book Recommendation of the Week...

Cycle of Lies-The Fall of Lance Armstrong
Author-Juliet Macur

There have been two books of note written in the immediate aftermath of the Lance Armstrong debacle-"Wheelmen" by Reed Albergotti  and Vanessa O'Connor and "Seven Deadly Sins-My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong" by David Walsh, but neither are quite like this one. Juliet Macur interviewed over 100 people and covered Armstrong's life from the very beginning right until the recent present. After 394 mind-numbing pages, the reader is left gasping for breathe until the epilogue, where we find Armstrong inexplicably as defiant and arrogant as ever, despite the fact that his whole world is crumbling on top of his head. Much has been made of his psychopathic tendencies, the infamous killer instinct that he used to combat cancer and his rivals on the bike, an instinct he never could turn completely off, even when he was enjoying his greatest success. Evidence of his state of mind is disturbingly on full display on almost every page, but the most stunning tales involve his easily disposable gang of doochebag mafioso-style enablers. How ironic that the only figure in Armstrong's life to escape all this with some semblance of dignity is Dr. Michele Ferrari, the man most responsible for his drug-fueled success. The rest of the pathetic cast of characters? Ah, fughettaboutit....

This book is an exhibition of dysfunction, mental illness, and entitlement run amok, starting with Armstrong's mother, the serial-marrying, can't-keep-a-husband, white trash loser who painted herself as the struggling single mother sacrificing all to raise a precocious, super-athlete son all by her little lonesome. The reality is nothing of the sort, yet it didn't stop her from concocting this fabricated past to sell on the professional speaking circuit for thousands of dollars a pop. Fortunately, these engagements have all but dried up, and we can be spared any more of her revisionist drivel. I guess no one wants to listen to a washed-up wanker talking shit about a past that is as full of lies as her son's own spiral up (and eventually down) the ladder of success.

Then there is Terry Armstrong, who adopted Lord Gunderson and gave him his last name. Terry turns out, unsurprisingly, to be a toolbag as big as his adopted progeny, the type of dad who ceaselessly regaled little Lance with stories of how losers never win. They are no longer on speaking terms, and Lance once had him removed from one of his fund-raising athletic events by security.

The moral of this amoral story is Armstrong did not exist and thrive in a vacuum. The list of reprobates who satisfied his monstrous ego and kowtowed to his every whim for a whiff of his jock and the ability to make money off him was enormous. They ranged from companies like Nike and Trek to ass clowns like Chris Carmichael, who swiftly took Armstrong off his promotional ads for his coaching website once he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. They too are no longer on speaking terms.

The myriad of characters are seemingly endless, and they come in all shapes and sizes. From Floyd Landis and Allen Lim to his biological father's side of the family, who have been shunned through no fault of their own, Armstrong left a legacy of broken relationships and an attitude about human beings befitting a Pol Pot re-educator. I found myself having to put it down every now and then from sheer exhaustion. It was tiresome reading about it, I could not imagine anyone taking any sort of glee living such a life devoid of any human emotion towards others other than "what can this person do for me". The worst part was his relationship with John Thomas Neal, who nurtured this graceless punk as a youth only to have him show up at his funeral disrespectfully wearing flip flops and then going over to his sister and saying, "I don't do funerals".

I leave you with the photo of the back of the book, which should tell you all you need to know about Armstrong's feelings of contrition-

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