When life (and Lance) imitates ‘The Simpsons’ | AspenTimes.com

When life (and Lance) imitates ‘The Simpsons’

I have a confession to make: I was once Lance Armstrong. I’m not proud to say it, but I feel like I have to come clean.

A few years ago, I worked for a week as a production assistant on a Nike commercial that was filmed, in part, at the top of Independence Pass. Some of you may remember the ad, which was called “Human Chain.” It was actually pretty cool.

It was composed of quick cuts wherein various athletes — Maria Sharapova, LaDainian Tomlinson, some soccer guy — were valiantly doing their things, only there were five, six or a dozen of each athlete on the screen at a time, in various stages of doing their things, so that it looked like 15 Tomlinsons were following each other down the field on a run.

Cool as it may have been, the ad was somewhat ill-fated. The season after it aired, Tomlinson wound up on the New York Jets, and the ad opened with Oscar Pistorius, aka the “Blade Runner,” or “South Africa’s Answer to O.J. Simpson.” The ad ended, of course, with Nike’s poster boy of the time, Armstrong, who was still living his lie in 2009.

That’s where I come into things. The 10-second clip featuring Armstrong was to be filmed at the very top of Independence Pass, and the production company, out of Los Angeles, hired me to assist with the shoot.

My first job was to rent a road bike, throw it in the back of my car and meet the producer, director, cinematographer and production manager at the Aspen airport. From there, the five of us — four wearing the shorts and golf shirts they’d donned in L.A. that morning — drove directly up Highway 82 to 12,095 feet.

As you can imagine, there was much gasping for breath and rubbing of exposed skin to ward off hypothermia, but the film folks toughed it out and set about choosing the best venue for the shoot.

The first thing they told me to do was get on the bike and ride various sections of the narrow road — vehicle traffic be damned — so they could see how much ground 10 seconds of biking would cover. Then they added another 200 yards or so to estimate the difference between what I could ride and what Armstrong would ride.

I have to say I was flattered that they would consider me for the part of Armstrong’s double — he was still a popular guy at the time — but it did seem a little odd. I imagined Armstrong wouldn’t be all that pleased when he found out his stand-in was a bald, fat guy. Sadly, I never found out. I never got to meet him when he came to Aspen a few days later to shoot his part.

Anyway, I was always proud of my little association with Armstrong back in the day, and I would eagerly share the story with anyone unlucky enough to mention biking in my presence. That, naturally, hasn’t quite been the case ever since Armstrong was outed as a liar and cheater, but I never cared too much about the cheating part.

The way I see it, every last biker in the Tour de France was doping back then, and I defy you to show me evidence that they weren’t. Armstrong was competing on a level playing field and still kicking those guys’ butts. He’s an astonishing athletic specimen, performance-enhancing drugs or not. He just didn’t need to lie to everyone and be such a prick about everything.

Even then, I still wasn’t that ashamed to associate myself with Armstrong, and it felt to me like he’d actually been regaining some popularity of late as his transgressions recede into the past. But that’s all over now, isn’t it?

Let me get this straight, Lance — you hit a couple of parked cars in Aspen and then let your girlfriend take the rap? Wow. That’s low. That’s scraping the bottom of the barrel, even for someone who we all thought was already scraping it. You know who did something just like that? Homer Simpson. Congratulations — you’ve become a cartoon.

Aspen has always fancied itself a refuge for scoundrels and rogues, and part of the town’s charm is that those sorts of people are generally accepted here without judgment. Armstrong could have spent the rest of his time living that life, an infamous celebrity whom people nevertheless like having around. But even Aspen has its limits. We’ll see if they’ve been crossed.

Todd Hartley doesn’t want Lance trying to improve his image by associating himself with Todd Hartley. To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://zerobudget.net.

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