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I love New York City, and I love the Olympics, but we need the Games like we need a hole in the ground. The organizing committee, a group called NYC2012, is talking about a new stadium on the West Side (near where Donald Trump is flinging up another tower), an Olympic Village along the East River (where it's hard to find even a studio apartment) and a triathlon course in Central Park (which is supposed to be an oasis from the hubbub). Only 60% of the facilities that the Games demand are already built. This means years of construction on streets where a few pothole repairs snag traffic for miles.
And that means despair, anger and New Yorkers fuming in the fumes. During a 45-minute standstill on the West Side Highway two weeks ago, I watched a cab driver lean out his window and yell at a fellow cabbie, "Eff you, you effin' effin' eff eff!" In response the second driver winged a bagel at him.
The organizers know that in New York it takes an hour to travel 10 blocks when the dog show's in town. That's why they boast that all Olympic events will be accessible by public transport. Olympians won't have to rely on the roadways, NYC2012ers say; they can use ferries and trains. Huh? Try picturing Rulon Gardner squeezed in among the straphangers on a rush hour F train.
Sure, the Olympics are a celebration of cultural diversity, but so is every day in New York City. And many in the world's most famous melting pot are already sports crazed. This area supports nine major pro teams. We host tennis's U.S. Open, the New York Marathon, the Millrose Games. The Olympics in New York? It's like scheduling a sand dump for the Sahara.
So, a decade of logistical nightmares in exchange for 17 days of even more sports in 2012?
Not in a New York minute.
At the risk of being hunted down by BASOC, the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, and crushed under an avalanche of its press releases, I hereby declare the formation of ABHOC, the Anywhere But Here Organizing Committee. It's not that San Francisco's unworthy of the 2012 Olympics; it's mat as a Bay Area resident, I don't want it subjected to the Games' excesses. San Francisco is too classy to host the opening ceremonies, which inevitably feature a cheesy tribute to the Olympic city. Imagine hundreds of kids prancing around Stanford Stadium, dressed as sourdough baguettes. And please, spare us the mascots. Would it boost our civic pride to have something like Shakes, a fuzzy little earthquake survivor, high-fiving people all over town?
According to a BASOC poll, 88% of Bay Area residents would like the Games in their backyard. That's probably because they plan to rent their backyard to the Turkish wrestling delegation and spend the fortnight in Hawaii. Either that or they don't realize that the added traffic on the already snarled Bay Area freeways will make the famously crooked Lombard Street look like the autobahn.