It seems you can't walk down the street in this town without being accosted.
"The time has come," Chung Chang said as he shoved a piece of paper in my face. "Look for the mark of The Beast"
"It is all right here," he said. "Do you have the mark of The Beast?"
I don't know. Maybe. I had been feeling a little under the weather, but I thought it was just that hot dog I ate at the baseball game.
"What's it look like, this sign of The Beast?" I asked.
It is no bigger than a grain of rice, Chang explained, but size can be deceptive. Inside there was an antenna coil, capacitor and microchip with a bar code, the kind you might see on a box of a frozen pizza at the supermarket.
"It might be installed in your forehead or in the back of your right hand," Chang said. "That is how Satan controls you."
I took off my baseball cap and showed Chang my forehead, then held up my hand. "I'm clean," I said.
But Chang wasn't listening. He already had spotted another victim. "Do you have the sign of The Beast?"
It doesn't matter where you go at the Olympics, people will try to sell you everything from Coke to Christ. You expect brash commercialism from a soft-drink manufacturer, but isn't religion supposed to be a personal thing?
Not here. The street evangelists are out in force, and they're masking their message behind the Olympic rings. "Free record book," is their favorite sales pitch. Open it up, and you'll find Bible passages mixed in with the Olympic trivia.
Yes. Street evangelists top my list of things I won't miss about the 1996 Olympic Games. What else? Well, since you asked 2. The Dream Team. Don't you wish it would lose so we don't have to hear any more about it?
While most Olympic athletes live a Spartan existence and abide by strict curfews, these millionaires are pampered in plush hotels, staying out all night and going from private party to private party. Get rid of the pros. Bring back the college kids. Build a team with a dream.
3. YMCA. You can't go to any event here without hearing YMCA by the Village People at least 10 times. "It's fun to stay at the YMCA " No, it's not. It stinks.
Nobody stays at the Y unless they have to. Why don't they play I Feel Good by James Brown? It's uplifting and filled with Olympic spirit. Besides, The Godfather of Soul grew up in Augusta, Ga. Good God!
4. Cat in the Hat hats. One is cute, two still are cute, but anything more is just plain annoying. These silly hats are selling for $10 a pop all over the city and whoever started the craze obviously wasn't giving much thought to the person sitting behind them at the volleyball game.
5. Pinheads. This whole pin craze has gotten totally out of hand.
They cost $4 or $5 a pop. That's a lot of money to be spending on a worthless piece of metal, especially when each of your four kids wants a dozen to cover an official Olympic baseball hat. When does it stop, when it finally tears the family apart? And what about when the Games are over? Who will provide emotional support for the thousands of addicts?
6. Price gouging. Go to a baseball game and it costs $4.50 for a can of beer, which is more than four times the price you'd pay in a convenience store .
And Anheuser-Busch has the nerve to call itself an Olympic sponsor. Sure, I'd give $1-million to the Olympic Committee if I knew I'd make $4-million selling beer at the Games by jacking up the prices. It's criminal. We, the beer-swilling sports fans of America, are the true Olympic sponsors. We demand recognition, or at least a few shares of company stock. That's the least they could do for all the money we've invested.
7. Celebrities. Enough already. People here are willing to stand in line for hours in the hot sun waiting to get a table in a restaurant called Planet Hollywood.
Why? Because, as one man put it, "Ahhh-nold is one of the owners." And well, that's it. Go to the Busy Bee Soul Food Restaurant on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The food is much better and there seldom is a wait. Who knows. You might even run into Don King.
Well, I'm running out of time and space. The Games are almost over and it is time to come home.
Before I do, however, I should mention the one thing I will miss: the people of Atlanta. If you want to experience Southern hospitality, come for a visit.
Did I say that? They made me. Must be this microchip in my head.