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June 7, 2005

Go, Paris!
Posted by Patrick at 07:46 AM *

Mayor Bloomberg’s deranged West Side Stadium plan is dead. Thank God, or failing that, thank a crafty little obstructionist Albany legislator named Sheldon Silver. We’ll take what we can get.

Hard to improve on Scott Lemieux’s observation:

The other striking thing about Bloomberg’s strategy was to tie the stadium to the Olympics. So you’re telling me that this ends New York’s chances of getting the Olympics? I believe that it’s this sort of thing for which the phrase “feature, not a bug” was coined.

Comments on Go, Paris!:
#1 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 08:17 AM:

Whew.

Not that the Parisians deserve to have to put up with the hassle and expense of a modern Olympics, but really, does anyone?

#2 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 08:37 AM:

I think Paris is kind of psyched for it, isn't it? Apparently the Olympic Committee's Technical Report was like a love-letter to Gay Paree... which doesn't necessarily mean Paris thinks it's a good idea, I guess, but it does suggest that somebody over there is into the idea.

#3 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 09:32 AM:

Seeing as how the French seem put upon to do most anything these days, I'm sure some people in Paris are ot too thrilled to have the Olympics squating ontheir heads. I woldn't be.

I lived in Savannah, GA durring the '96 Olympics. The city hosted the regatta and watercrafte events (since Atlanta is landlocked) and just having those few events turned the city upside down. The wacko setting off pipe bombs in Atlanta didn't help, either.

#4 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 09:46 AM:

The IOC had opinion polls done. 85% of Parisians wanted the games, 79% of Londoners, 59% of New Yorkers. I assume the high Parisian vote was because the games would be in August and they'd be out of town.

#5 ::: Kip W (expat CO'an) ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 09:51 AM:

I was proud to be a Coloradoan the year we told the Winter Olympics to go crap on somebody else. 76? I don't know whether they'd been told that before.

Of course, I was always proud to be a Coloradoan, though I'd like to tell the theocons squatting there to go back to wherever they evolved from. A few years in the primordial ooze would do them a world of good.

#6 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 10:18 AM:

I live upstate, so to me the proposed West Side Stadium always sounded like something out of the Onion. (Why just a stadium? Why not add, oh, a shopping center to the plan while they're being ridiculous?)

Manhattan is already affected by traffic over at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx: when the Yankees are at home, the Deegan stops, then the Cross-Bronx, then the FDR and the West Side. (And I'm kept waiting in traffic at the GW Bridge, trying to get to the Strand.... )

Obviously - to developers crazed on the vision of public money, anyway - what New York needed most was to draw tens of thousands of SUVs from New Jersey right into Manhattan. At noon on Sundays.

So to drop a stadium into the most congested urban center in North America - and to think that the hypothetical increase in city revenues wouldn't be offset by its discouraging effect on other daytrippers - was just insane.

Add on top of these local effects the larger fact that NYC is already at Permanent Orange Alert, and you would have to be high on crack not to notice that metro New York is arguably the least appropriate place on the planet to try to superimpose the Olympics.

#7 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 10:28 AM:

The small business owners whose shops would be levelled to build stadia if London "won" got up a petition against it to the IOC. But who cares what they think, eh? They're just people who've invested their lives in their projects and accumulated years of local good will. So screw 'em.

#8 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 10:29 AM:

I was fascinated to see the news and sports pages of the Times whining about the tragedy of politics keeping back progress while the editorial page did its Snoopy dance over the decision. Great message control, guys.

#9 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 10:34 AM:

As my daughter said, "Yay!" We are happy to see the stadium go down in flames. I'm not a huge fan of Shelly Silver but he came through this time.

As for the Olympics, I've always thought they were a bad idea for NYC. I just have to imagine trying to get to work--in high summer no less--on the subway with vaster-than-usual hordes of tourists. Oy!

#10 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 10:53 AM:

be interesting to see if the, what, $800 million? in new projects Bloomberg and Pataki have promised Silver for downtown turn out to be vaporware now.

#11 ::: Bill Altreuter ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 10:57 AM:

It is hard for me to imagine that anyone could think that an event like the Olympics would be a good idea for NYC. New York is hard enough without that sort of circus-- on any given day the people who live there have dry cleaning to pick up, offices to get to and from, groceries to shop for-- and each of these tasks are more complicated than a full day in most other cities. Every now and then the President comes to town, or the UN is in session, or a circuit breaker blows and suddenly the level of difficulty assigned to simply getting cross town goes up ten points.

What straphanger would want to add to this sort of complexity?

I might add, as a Bills fan and as a parent of children in NYS' public schools, that there are loads of better ways for the City and the State to spend the money.

#12 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 11:22 AM:

Oh, hurrah for the triumph of good sense. It's amazing to me that Bloomberg was able to keep this particular dream alive as long as he did.

And as a former NYC-public school parent, yeah, lots better ways to spend $2.2 billion.

#13 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 11:24 AM:

When the Olympics were in Los Angeles, businesses staggered their shifts to make the freeways appear less congested. It worked. Potemkin freeways!

Below excerpted from:

Timeline 2010-2020

J. K. Rowling, thanks to the "Harry Potter" series of novels and movies,
became the first Billionaire Writer in history.

On-line entertainment programs displaced broadcast television in total
market value and number of viewers in 2015. Hologrammatic motion pictures
reached 10% of box office gross in 2019.

Olympics were held:

2010: Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada
2012: Summer Olympics in Saigon, Vietnam
2014: Winter Olympics in Katmandu, Tibet
2016: Summer Olympics in in Rio De Janiero, Brazil
2018: Winter Olympics in New Zealand
2020: Summer Olympics in in Baghdad, New Iraq

The FIFA World Cups, the biggest event in world sports, featured football/soccer in:

2010: South Africa hosting (after the Egypt and Libya/Tunisia bids lost)
2014: Brazil hosting (after the Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela bids lost)
2018: Australia hosting (after the Nigeria bid lost)

Also on the Fantasy front, Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy of
feature films [The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002),
Return of the King (2003)] further elevated the late J. R. R. Tolkien
in the world's attention, and were widely held to be the greatest Fantasy
films of all time -- and then Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" (2010)
and "Silmarillion" (2014) made one wonder.

Other huge 3DFilm box-office hits included Spider-Man 6; X-Men 5 (2010);
The Matrix 7 (2012); Men in Black 5 (2012); Shrek 5 (2013);
Star Wars: Attack of the Wookies (2014); Super-Fly (2015);
Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (2016), Alien Vs. Predator 3 (2016),
Fantastic Four 4 (2014); Hellboy 3 (2014); Asimov's Robot Empire (2014);
A Sound of Thunder 2 (2014); The Demolished Man 2: The Stars My Destination (2015);
Farenheit 451-2 (2015); Iron Man 3 (2015); Jurassic Park 7 (2015);
Star Wars: Episode III (2005); Spider-Man 3 (2006);
X-Men 8 (2016); and Rendezvous With Rama 2+3 (2016).

The murders of Eminem and Tiger Woods proved that neo-racism in the USA
was present, despite official denials.

There was a Winter Olympics (2010) in Vancouver, Canada;
a Summer Olympics (2012) in Rio de Janiero, Brazil; a Winter Olympics (2014)
in Banff; a Summer Olympics (2016) in New York City; a Winter Olympics
(2018) in Lima, Peru; and a Summer Olympics (2020) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

#14 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 11:25 AM:

Actually I think NYC's Olympic bid was dead as of November 3, 2004. No way was the IOC going to let the Olympics happen in the US on Dubya's watch. While I believe they strive to be impartial (ha!) they aren't insane. Or suicidal.

So the Olympics was really an excuse for the stadium, which was to bring the allegedly-New-York Jets back to the city, and take them from New Jersey, so it's a competitive thing.

The MTA could get much, much more money for that land. The MTA needs all the money they can get (as well as becoming more efficient, more responsive, and more honest, but never mind). The stadium was a horrible idea and I sincerely hope it's dead.

#15 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 11:40 AM:

Imagine my relief to discover that this post wasn't about Paris Hilton. Whew!

---

Xopher: Actually I think NYC's Olympic bid was dead as of November 3, 2004. No way was the IOC going to let the Olympics happen in the US on Dubya's watch.

You just succeeded in making a chill go down my spine.

Two words: Berlin. 1936.

#16 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 11:45 AM:

They got 59% of New Yorkers to say they thought it was a good idea to hold the Olympics here? I'd like to know how they phrased the question. What I've seen are New Yorkers standing out on corners, collecting signatures on anti-stadium and anti-Olympics petitions. No one's arguing with them.

#17 ::: MaryRoot ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 11:49 AM:

We need, in every state, a ballot initiative banning public funding of facilities for professional sports teams.

#18 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 11:56 AM:

In states that have a ballot initiative process, yes.

Or maybe a Constitutional amendment defining sports as a contract between one team and one owner, with no multi-owner teams, no multi-team owners, and no public funding of sports facilities allowed! Wow, the model was there all along, just waiting for us to exploit it!

I guarantee there is nothing in the Bible that justifies football.

#19 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 12:11 PM:

He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die and there your splendid chariots will remain— you disgrace to your master's house!

Isaiah 22.18

#20 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 12:18 PM:

Xopher, it's the 2012 Olympics that NYC was pushing for. Are you predicting a third term for Dubya?

#21 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 12:21 PM:

Teresa --

"Given the choice between hosting the Olympics and abolishing Major League Baseball, which would you chose?"

#22 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 12:24 PM:

They got 59% of New Yorkers to say they thought it was a good idea to hold the Olympics here?

I've heard at least two figures, actually. One was the 59% number, but the other was substantially lower -- close to, maybe even below, 50%. The questions were asked differently but, of course, I can't remember how they went at the moment.

#23 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 01:59 PM:

Avram, they're ALLOWING it under Dubya (i.e. GIVING it to him), even if it doesn't take place under him, which I certainly HOPE it won't.

I did get a little confused there, at least in the way I phrased it. But my point is valid nonetheless; the political environment is not such as to allow the Olympics to be awarded to the US right now.

OTOH, if the 2012 Olympics do take place in New York with Dubya as President, at least the traffic won't bother me: if he's still prez, enough will have changed in this country to have caused me to flee long before 2012!

#24 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 01:59 PM:

the problem with the 59% number is that Bloomberg's plans for the Olympics are all tied up with the stadium - he says there's no plan B, and he's refused to come up with one - and more than 2/3 of New Yorkers are firmly against the stadium.

They may think the Olympics is a spiffy idea in the abstract, but they're not willing to do what Mayor Mike says we have to do to get it, so effectively they're voting no.

#25 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 02:01 PM:

The West Side stadium was a Giuliani idea that Bloomberg latched on to for some reason, probably having to do with lining the pockets of various cronies. Sports stadiums in general are usually a sophisticated form of welfare for the rich. And often shoved down the public's throat--look at Seattle, where multiple defeats of a stadium at the polls were overridden by the state legislature.

Congratulations to Silver for showing some backbone against considerable pressure.

#26 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 02:06 PM:

I can't imagine that there are as many as 50% of New Yorkers who want the Games held in NYC.

My vote is "Please God Not New York"

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 02:10 PM:

Now if we can only defeat that insane proposal for a basketball stadium up near Flushing and Atlantic ...

#28 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 02:18 PM:

The question was "To what extent do you support or oppose [City] hosting the Olympic Summer Games"

Five possible responses: Strongly Oppose, Tend to Oppose, Neutral/Don't Know, Tend to Support, Strongly Support

The responses for New York: 15%, 9%, 17%, 20%, 39%
The responses for the US: 8%, 5%, 32%, 22%, 32%.

MORI conducted the poll. New York means the five boroughs, not the suburbs.

The 15% Strongly Oppose was higher than for any other city. London had 11% Strongly Oppose (which reflects the comment made earlier, I think)

This is all taken from Appendix D of the IOC Report

#29 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 02:45 PM:

"I guarantee there is nothing in the Bible that justifies football."

Maybe not, but when we lived in small-town southeast Georgia, a local commentater gave an op-ed called "Bible Football," where he put together the ultimate all-star team from biblical figures. I was so impressed with it that I called or wrote the station and got a copy of his text.

I can't remember any of it now, but it was like "David would be the passer, because of his great arm. Solomon would quarterback, and with his great wisdom he'd call some amazing plays..." I stumble over the piece of paper every now and then. Not gonna throw that one out, no sir.

#30 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 03:40 PM:

My sister works on an animated show whose only purpose was to get good PR for the Jets so they could have a new stadium. She only has a job as long as it's undecided.

I do think the stadium would be a horrible idea, but I can't quite celebrate...

#31 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 04:02 PM:

Posting here from Paris, where last Sunday saw over a million folks descend on the Champs Elysees for an Olympic-fest - swimming pools and kayak tanks set up; dressage at the Rond Point; a mini-track up by the Arc.... It was quite a scene - they have done a superb job of promoting it here on many fronts. "Gagnons les Jeux!" is the tag line, and they have the Olympic colors (mercifully NOT the rings!) everywhere they can shine a light.

They want it - let 'em have it! This city can take pretty much anything you throw at it in stride....

#32 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 04:24 PM:

There may have been mockups along the Champs Elysees, but the real thing in 2012 will mostly be outside the Peripherique. Most of the events will be in either the Stade de France, north of Paris proper (but served by two RER lines from Paris and a jumble of freeways) or Longchamps. The Olympic Village will be on the Peripherique between the two main venue clusters.

This is enormously different from the NYC plan which put the Olympic Village in Queens and the main stadium on the West Side of Manhattan and assured the IOC the NYPD would make sure that Olympic buses would get from one place to the other without difficulty :)

#33 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 04:45 PM:

thought you might enjoy this

In a matter of hours, New York City slipped from being a worthy contender for hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics to a long shot, contemplating a forfeit.

A state committee denied an essential chunk of funding for a proposed $2 billion stadium on Manhattan's West Side - the centerpiece of the city's bid to host the Olympics. Rules dictate the city cannot change its proposal, which the International Olympic Committee is considering along with bids from Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow. The IOC will choose a host city on July 6.

"We have let America down," Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a stadium proponent, said Tuesday.

We suck. And after all America has done for us.

#34 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 05:04 PM:

Teresa, nitpick: Flatbush and Atlantic.

With the Williamsburg Bank building going condo, why wouldn't the brokers and realtors filling up the space want their skyboxes within walking distance? That's certainly how I've always envisioned Brooklyn! Sheesh.

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 05:08 PM:

Flatbush. I meant to say Flatbush. Child wants to say "flax," says "chili dog." Possible brain damage.

#36 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 05:45 PM:

Brooklyn Olympic events on Atlantic Avenue include Hurling the Halvah, Pita Discus, Shishkabob Fencing, Babaganouj Bicyling, and Synchronized Hummus. I really REALLY miss the restaurants of Brooklyn. I could just die for an eggcream right now...

#37 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 05:47 PM:

I ordinarily kinda like Bloomberg, actually. But he's a total lunatic on this issue. I don't know who spiked his Evian with LSD, but there must be a brain in a flowerpot somewhere, because there sure is a geranium in his cranium.

#38 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 07:33 PM:

Surely LSD in the water supply would produce something more interesting and more colorful than another stupid stadium.

#39 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 09:14 PM:

Vicki:

Yes, the novel "Barefoot in the Head."

#40 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2005, 11:30 PM:

A tad afield, but here's Zippy the Pinhead waxing poetic about Brooklyn, presumably sans Nets and with a Williamsburg Bank Building still full of dentists.

#41 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:02 AM:

I have no idea why Xopher likes Bloomberg, actually. Indeed, normally, Michael Bloomberg would be exactly the kind of corrupt, self-dealing crony-capitalist human shit that Xopher could be relied upon to disdain.

The fact that he (1) takes the "Republican" label and yet (2) doesn't actually appear to think gay people should be rounded up and crucified along the sides of public highways, Spartacus-style, is perhaps notable. For me, it isn't really enough to elevate him from "human shit" status.

I mean, gosh, you're not an insane hater. Wow, here's your medal, we'll all line up to vote for you over those awful awful greasy ethnic New York Democrats, oh my gosh bring me my smelling salts, I detect "union goons" and persons of melanin. Can't have that.

#42 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:05 AM:

Meanwhile, kudos to Teresa for her covert chili-dog reference to the great James Herndon and his utterly essential education memoir How to Survive in Your Native Land.

#43 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:11 AM:

And Zippy the Pinhead can bite me. Brooklyn could use a lot less lyrical nostalgia and a lot more attention to the details of life on its ground, right here right now.

Our current Borough President is a master of the dark arts of Brooklyn nostalgia. He's also first in line to sell us out to Bruce Ratner and every other shyster developer with a pocket full of empty skyscrapers. It's chortly fun that Marty Markowitz has replaced the "Entering Brooklyn" and "Leaving Brooklyn" signs with ones that read "How Sweet It Is" and "Fuggetaboutit". It's also true that this sort of thing is the Muzak on the road to hell.

#44 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:41 AM:

My, aren't we snippy this evening and morning. I said I sorta liked him, not that I approve of him or would vote for him. But he's actually not that Republican on a lot of issues. Giuliani didn't want to kill us all, either, but I didn't like him. He was creepy. And Bloomberg is a much better ordinary-business mayor; Rudy always needed a crisis. If there wasn't one, he'd invent one.

That gets annoying after not very long.

I told everyone to vote for the Democrat last time - Mark Green, I think it was. I don't live in the city (we have our own corrupt shit of a mayor here in Hoboken), so I can't vote myself, but I'll tell all my friends to vote for the Dem this time too.

But there's a difference between who'd be interesting dinner company, and who you want in office. I'd rather have dinner with Rudy Giuliani than Joe Lieberman. I don't approve of either one, but Rudy would be interesting and Joe would be boring as shit. Put them in an election and I vote for Joe (wow, I hope it never comes to THAT).

I reserve my deep hatred for the Dubyas, the Santorums (Santori?), the Helmses, the bin Ladens of the world. Mayor Mike is "a little evil in a small mean way." Against the Lovecraftian landscape of American politics, he looks pretty good. Shoot me.

#45 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:11 AM:

the problem with Mayor MIke is that he may have flighty populist impulses, but he doesn't think they should get in the way of Business As She Is Done.

I don't see how anyone could support him after that civil liberties rout/business disaster that was the Republican Convention.

#46 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:13 AM:

Is anyone here supporting him? I haven't seen anyone.

#47 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:51 AM:

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here Dept.

"Marty Markowitz has replaced the 'Entering Brooklyn' and 'Leaving Brooklyn' signs with ones that read 'How Sweet It Is' and 'Fuggetaboutit.'"

Amazing! One might as well take down the "Welcome to Rhode Island" and replace it with "Howahyah?"

Or take down the "Now Leaving New Jersey" and replace it with "I Did it My Way."

Or take down the "Welcome to Connecticut" and replace it with "Stop making snarky comments about 'Nutmeggers.'"

Or...

#48 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 03:06 AM:

the Santorums (Santori?)

Santora.

#49 ::: Roger BW ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 05:01 AM:

Speaking as a Londoner who lives near the proposed game site and could probably make a year's salary by renting his place out to tourists if London does win the games, I strongly encourage everyone to support the Paris bid.

http://www.parisjo2012.fr/en/soutien/index.jsp

I don't know anyone who lives in London who actually wants the games, though plenty of celebrities who never use public transport have been vocally endorsing them. A bunch of information is at http://www.nolondon2012.org/ .

The running odds at http://yahoo.oddschecker.com/yahoo/mode/o/card/specials-sports/odds/10721x/sid/10444 have made it quite clear that it's only been London and Paris in the running for the last several months, even without the latest developments in New York.

#50 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 06:41 AM:

Well shoot me for a rube, but I thought the Olympics in Atlanta were pretty neat. Cities that do them right tend to get a good bit out of them. My present home town of Munich's gotten 30 years of good use out of the stadium, the park's always full of people, the pool's now open to the public, and the village became much-needed student housing. Black September ensured never-ending negative publicity, but then that'd been a problem since at least 1938.

Anyway, show me a big project in New York that a buncha people didn't bitch about all the way through.

#51 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 08:14 AM:

Kip W: I can't remember any of it now, but it was like "David would be the passer, because of his great arm. Solomon would quarterback, and with his great wisdom he'd call some amazing plays"

...and at the end of the season they'd all be put to death for touching pigskin.

#52 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 09:58 AM:

Atlanta was OK, except for the racist bomb scare. And the traffic.

Atlanta traffic is notorious. I had friends who lived there durring the Olympics. They had to basiclly aandon the car and walk everywhere, which is not that easy to do in a city as awkwardly laid out as Atlanta (Locals joke that they should burn the city down a again and start over).

#53 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 10:11 AM:

My favorite piece of stadium coverage from this morning's Newsday, from the sports pages, from Johnette Howard's column:

Once again, New York's parochialism stood out. We've long had this conceit that we're already the best city in the world. We'll cheer ourselves silly for the Yankees or Giants or Jets. But when it comes to the Olympics and the lofty idea of the world coming together to visit us, we go "Eh." Sometimes we act like the biggest smalltown in the world.

#54 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:08 PM:

"Show me a big project in New York that a buncha people didn't bitch about all the way through"

Again with the not a bug but a feature.

New Yorkers, like people everywhere, have lives to live. The politicians and developers with their "big projects" drawn up in secret don't care about that. Why should we care about them?

Rolling over for the big shots with their grandiose plans got us the Cross Bronx Expressway and the collapse of the South Bronx. Being cranky and parochial, on the other hand, enabled Jane Jacobs and her coalition to stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have done the same thing to Manhattan south of Canal Street.

"Parochial" is the epithet that gets thrown at people when they've started waking up to where their interests actually lie.

#55 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:24 PM:

Johnette Howard ?!? Is there realio trulio a person called that? Presumably no relationship to our current Prime Minister, the Honourable John Winston Howard MP, Though s/he sounds like some sort of cloned merger of him and his wife, Janette. (The actual children are apparently Richard, Melanie, and Tim.)

#56 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:26 PM:

New Yorkers, like people everywhere, have lives to live. The politicians and developers with their "big projects" drawn up in secret don't care about that. Why should we care about them?

Replace "New Yorkers" with "Parisians" and it pretty well sums up the situation here, as far as I can see. Most people don't seem to really care. Those who do seem to lean against.

Actually, just start at "People Everywhere". :)

Though I had the preconception that holding the olympics would be better for cities in need of new infrastuctures, I just realised the diversion in public budget might just make it not that worthwhile for some.
Which makes me wonder: does the city holding the event really make that much money from it ? Or is it still much a status affair ? (Wikipedia's a bit unclear on that matter.)

#57 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:14 PM:

Just to say that I don't believe, given the tenor of the rest of Howard's column, that she was thinking NYC being small-townish was a bad thing.

Epacris: Johnette Howard has been a general sports columnist at Newsday since 1999. Her 2000 work was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary. Previously she worked as a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated and as a weekly columnist and feature writer for the Washington Post. Her work has been collected in five anthologies, including Best American Sports Writing of the 20th Century. (official bio from Newsday website)

And she's got a new book out on Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova that looks really good. It's called The Rivals: Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova Their Epic Quels and Extraordinary Friendship. I read an excerpt this weekend, about the time when Nancy Lieberman started training Navratilova, and it was pretty compelling.

#58 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:33 PM:

As a long-time LA resident, I think the 1984 Summer Olympics was one of the best things that ever happened to LA.

It was the first privately-financed modern Olympics. Facilities and venues were built and/or refurbed with private investment. Local taxpayers weren't asked to foot the bill. Even the additional police and public-service staffing was paid for by the Olympic Committee.

In the end, the Games made a $215 million profit.

Prior to the Games, there were dire predictions of hopelessly gridlocked traffic jams. Many measures were taken to to try to mitigate congestion - a Caltrans report notes that...

The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was the first major coordinated use of virtually all of the tools and planning approaches now called "Transportation Management Planning (TMP)." There was a media blitz that encouraged commuters to alter their work schedures; major firms were asked to provide transportation and telecommuting options. Coordinated local, regional, and state planning led to several traffic management strategies, including a reduction of truck traffic during peak times, rescheduled highway maintenance, creation of bus lanes, restricted parking, 24-hour ramp metering, and increased usage of message signs.
And it worked.

In fact, rather than the predicted gridlock, traffic was (aside from the immediate areas of some of the Olympic venues) actually smoother and faster than normal. The mitigation measures managed to shave enough traffic off the rush-hour peaks that rush-hour traffic suddenly became free-flowing high-speed travel - a startling change from the usual 15-25 mph creeping grinds.

(Many locals went on vacation for the duration of the Games, in order to avoid the predicted traffic jams. When they came back, anxious to hear horror of the gridlock they'd cleverly avoided, I decided to oblige them. I assured each and every one of them that, yes indeed, the traffic was horrible, and you were very, very smart to leave town, and if the Olympics ever return, you should probably do the same thing again.)

It also sparked one of the first waves of grassroots urban renewal here. Many businesses decided to spiff up their premises for the Games, and they looked so good, and experienced such an uptick in business (which persisted long after the games) that it sort of became contagious.

A number of the local civic beautification efforts that had their genesis in preparations for the Olympics are still returning dividends today.

It was, in fact, something of a watershed in grassroots civic involvement. It showed a lot of people that local volunteerism really could make meaningful, important changes. A lot of folks quit bitching about civic decay, and actually got off their butts and did something about it.

It was a turning point. People quit despairing that everything was constantly getting worse, and instead started to make an effort to make things better.

It's one of the reasons that, twenty years later, LA still feels like it's improving, bucking the all-too-common trend of ever-more-dismal urban decay.

It's one of the things I like best about living here - the sense that things are getting better, not worse - that, despite continuing growth, the city is becoming cleaner, more livable, and more beautiful every year.

And the Olympics had a lot to do with making that happen.

#59 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:36 PM:

[...that should be "anxious to hear horror stories of the gridlock they'd cleverly avoided", of course.]

#60 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 03:21 PM:

Of course, the physical situation in New York is much different, with nearly three times as many people in a much smaller area. No room for the damn stadium.

#61 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 03:24 PM:

Rolling over for the big shots with their grandiose plans got us the Cross Bronx Expressway and the collapse of the South Bronx.

Yes, point taken, but didn't it also get you the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the UN, and--for all I know--Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge?

(Quick Google points here, which suggests Central Park certainly owes its existence to big shots and the power of eminent domain...)

#62 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 03:40 PM:

Go, Paris!

[pulls pin on Big Apple of Discord, counts five -- I mean, three -- and flings same into Columbus Circle]

Ah, the benefits of a classical education.

#63 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 03:52 PM:

Well, Montreal built a set of artificial islands for Expo '67... admittedly, they were also looking for a good place to get rid of spoil during subway construction at the time, so that ended up being two problems in search of a common solution.

Why not tack a few extra acres onto Manhattan Island? Heck, what realtor wouldn't want more lots to sell in Manhattan? :)

#64 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Manhattan's been adding acres for at least 200 years. What do you think Battery Park City is?

I don't deny that many fine things have been accomplished by force, fraud, expropriation, and a general willingness to kick aside those without the power to resist. How this recommends the aforementioned as a political program is less clear to me, unless of course you're entirely confident you'll always be one of the winners.

#65 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 04:31 PM:

There's a long history of adding income property to Lower Manhattan, though I suspect that various hydrodynamic issues -- river traffic and the effects of changed flow -- would complicate such a project.

Naah, what am I saying? This is America, the land of the $20 variance! Are you tired? Are you poor? Are you huddled? Well, step right up, unless you're poor. Opportunities are available now for Bahia Bob Moses, a spectacular new project that will unite Manhattan, Governor's Island, and Staten Island (and possibly Brooklyn, at low tide) into a glistening arc of arcing glist. Conceived of as very expensive, Bahia Bob Moses will be the first part of the city in almost a century to be forbidden access by public transport. This forward-looking program, known as Elective Redlining, allows citizens the freedom of choice they want and the exclusivity they deserve.

What's that, you say? You'll miss the romantic views from the Ferry? Fear not, at least not more than this morning's alert has instructed you to. Those bumper cars of the sea will be recreated at Long Island World, a condominium development and theme park stretching from elegant Les Rikers to the Montauk Foreigner Decontamination Center.

{. . . heck, where's Bruce McCall when you really need him?]

#66 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 04:52 PM:

Hell, John, hire Patrick Farley to illustrate that.

#67 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 04:56 PM:

I have no idea what Battery Park City is; I've never set foot in New York City. (I have this strange mental image of high-rises teetering on top of a field of 9v coppertops... :) ) With the relentless audio-visual (hypnotic?) bombardment by Law and Order and CSI: New York and similar entertainments, sometimes that's hard to remember.

When I get home I'll fire up the Keyhole account and take a peek. (Fascinating toy, and kinda useful for trip planning at that.)

#68 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 04:59 PM:

Glen Blankenship:

Thank you for so nicely amplifying my comment that the L.A. Olympics were good for traffic.

Of course, that need not apply to New York, given that automobiles have the vote in Southern California, but are treated as illegal immigrants in Manhattan.

#69 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 06:05 PM:

...given that automobiles have the vote in Southern California, but are treated as illegal immigrants in Manhattan.

Eyah. Would that it were so. Especially now that the heat and humidity have rolled in like... well, like heat and humidity.

#70 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 06:10 PM:

There were times when I lived in New York that I thought cars should be illegal in Manhattan.

I think they may have begun the first whisperings of a stadium plan while I was still living there. It was a stupid idea then, and the Olympics proposal remains a stupid idea, if for no other reason that There. Is. No. Room. I visited last week and realized I had spent too long away from NYC when on my way to The Strand, I almost shouted "EVERYONE JUST GET THE F*** OFF ME!!!" (and then remembering con advice posted on this very blog, decided I was just overdue for some dinner). How any politician could be faced the sheer density and busy-ness of the city and still think adding a multi-thousand seat attraction would be a peachy idea must spend a lot of time huffing whip-its. Or have another person take care of all transportation arrangements. Or have a second home somewhere else.

I love both New York and LA, but I can see where a sprawling system of mini city centers, suburbs and exurbs would work for Olympic events despite all traffic. I still can't fit the idea of Olympics smack in the middle of Manhattan.

#71 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 07:01 AM:

How this recommends the aforementioned as a political program is less clear to me,

Hadn't noticed that I was recommending it as a political program, but maybe I drafted the comment carelessly. Just wanted to observe (1) that reasonable people can disagree about the goodness of a city hosting the Olympics, and (2) that a number of New York's landmarks, which are almost universally admired, were not so admired at their inception and may even have come into existence through bad motivations, skulduggery and naked power.

#72 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 10:37 AM:

Battery Park City is a neighborhood in lower Manhattan that was built on the land that resulted from dumping the dirt that was excavated for the high rises and office towers that lay in the house that Jack built...um, I mean, that were built in the financial district in the last century, including (especially?) the World Trade Center.

The part of Hoboken where I live, incidentally, was river 150 years ago or so. Hoboken Island was the name of the place. And that's why we sometimes call the people who live in the rest of New Jersey "Mainlanders."

Central Park was a "slum clearance" project...a friend calls it "Urban Removal - that's where you take the nice houses where people live, throw out the people and tear down their houses, and build something that wealthy people can enjoy, but which no one, least of all poor people, gets to live in."

There have frequently been proposals to ban automobiles from Manhattan, or at least private ones (as opposed to taxis, limos, and delivery trucks), or at least from lower Manhattan, or at least private ones from lower Manhattan during certain hours. Agreeing on these details has proved to be an insurmountable barrier, so far.

#73 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:34 PM:

Kip, I don't know that I like the idea of Solomon as quarterback. "Divide the ball in half, and give one half to each of the wide receivers..."

#74 ::: Maines ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 12:51 AM:

L.A., Atlanta, etc., don't have the geographical problem that New York has: Manhattan is an island. It takes great effort to squish thousands and thousands of people through the limited number of access-points every day. Adding thousands more trying to toodle back and forth between venues in Manhattan and Queens (and thinking the trip will be something less than crowded and time-consuming, because they're not from around here): not a great idea. Unless there's a plan to pave over the East River so there are more points of access.

But then they'd have to pave over the Hudson, too, so the New Jersey people wouldn't be jealous when they wanted to come to the new stadium for Jets games.

#75 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 01:56 AM:

"The New York of 1960! Motor vehicles, driven by the light of the atom and guided by superheterodyne radar beams, climb and descend the great helical access ramps to the Island of Wonders that is Manhattan! Observe, tumbling in viridian coils from the suspended superhighways, the genetically advanced Arcadia vines, which clean the air beneath the vast crystal dome and provide a limitless food source for the City's working classes, both through nutritious fruit and the broad variety of bird species that nest within them. Could the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon have been so magnificent?

"It is a festival day in America, and the annual Macy's Aerial Display has begun. All the great powers of the world have sent their finest rigid airships to compete in mock battle above the city streets, a remembrance of the days before warfare among men was abandoned for the grander struggle of unrestricted commerce!

"Now see, as the crowds gather, how vast Bakelite panels are extended from the New Jersey and Long Island shores, temporarily abolishing Manhattan's island status. These crossings were first conceived as a method of evacuating the city in the event of invasion or interplanetary war, but now provide a grandstand for millions as the aerial dreadnoughts, nostalgic toys of a past era, duel with fireworks and intensified light. This year, as in many previous events, the forces of China are victorious, bringing their ancient skill with gunpowder to a peak of art."

-- From an early draft of narration for the "GM Futurama" exhibit at the 1939 NY World's Fair, before Frank R. Paul's designs were replaced by the "Democracity" of Norman Bel Geddes. GM's design staff considered Paul's work "a damn sight spicier" than Bel Geddes's, but executives worried that concentrating on an actual city rather than a hypothetical one might offend some visitors, particularly those from Western states.

#76 ::: Roger Burton West ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2005, 07:58 AM:

A note from a Londoner:

You lucky, lucky, lucky bastards.

#77 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2005, 09:54 AM:

As I remarked on Joseph Nicholas's LiveJournal: Sympathy on catching the bullet we dodged.

#78 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2005, 11:23 AM:

London, hey? I been there! A Sydneysider sympathises. It worked OK in "Sidderney" because it's not - by comparison - a big crowded city. Well, except by comparison with Adelaide, Canberra, etc.

To me, a Summer Olympics is better in a smaller-sized place with room around it for stuff to sprawl out and extra people to wodge into. You may end up with a bunch of stuff it takes a long while to grow into, but at least you haven't had to destroy a whole lot of things to put in a bunch of stuff you don't end up having a use for in.

Mind you, there does seem to be a large supply of rundown derelict buildings for crimes to happen in, according to the gritty crime dramas, tho' I thought all them had been converted to gentrified living spaces :) Are they still looking for something to fill the Millennium Dome?

Well, as Benjamin Barker once said: "There's No Place Like London!"

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