US Olympics tug of war – East vs. West

As a native Bay Arean, I've watched with growing concern the debate over which city will win the bid to be the US candidate for the site of the 2012 Olympics. We have two formidable metropolitan hubs – San Francisco and New York – places where you can get Burmese food delivered to the door of your overpriced apartment by a transgendered activist with a master's degree in poetry, and we're being forced to compete with each other. But when I remember who made it to the World Series this year, I feel a bit better.

There are a few other points the US Olympic Committee should consider before announcing its decision Saturday.

With Bay Area events planned to span nearly 200 miles between Sacramento and Monterey, there would be a greater ratio of "regular people" to Olympians. Imagine the thrill of being stuck on the Bay Bridge next to a silver medalist in fencing, gassing up next to a van carrying the Swedish rhythmic gymnastics team in Milpitas, or running into a Ukrainian shot putter at a Jamba Juice in one of the area's 1,729 minimalls.

A Bay Area Olympics will guarantee that the athletes are the real stars of the show. In New York, we'd be barraged with paparazzi shots of pentathletes hugging supermodels and some judo team partying with the cast of the latest hit HBO series.

Housing for the athletes is always a crunch. Since the dot-com crash, San Francisco has an abundance of vacant downtown office space and aesthetically challenged live/work lofts that are perfect for dormitory-style living. We can promise a T-1 line and an abandoned laptop for every athlete.

Depending which Bay Area Olympic site you visit, the weather could be sunny and warm, sunny and cold, foggy and cold, warm and overcast, unseasonably hot, or unseasonably cold. Isn't America about diversity? New York will give you one type of summer weather only: miserable.

• Beth Lisick is a columnist for, the online edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco has a dirty little secret in its bid for the 2012 Olympics: There is no summer in San Francisco. I know. I lived there until one July when I could no longer put on two sweatshirts, the kind sold to unsuspecting tourists who bring only Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts. They get off planes whistling Beach Boys tunes, only to encounter a cold city where money is made off their shivering backs.

San Francisco officials bidding for the Olympics will deny that they have anything to hide. But San Franciscans are in general denial about the absence of summer. On the Fourth of July, families camp out for hours before the fireworks display, only to hear the pops and booms and see nothing but red smudges amidst the fog. (And – another note on fog – I remember going to Godfather III at a drive-in and vividly hearing the gunshots of the Vatican catacombs scene but seeing nothing through the fog.)

And each summer San Franciscans bring beach chairs and blankets to Ocean Beach to do what coastal Americans believe is their birthright – sit on the sand and take in the sun. They don't tan, they get sandblasted and turn their cheeks east to avoid skin abrasion.

Bay Area boosters claim that spreading out the games geographically encourages more interaction between athletes and the native population – yeah, if you construe leaning on car horns while stuck in freeway jams made worse by Olympians commuting to their venues as communication. New York has congestion, but at least we have subways and rail lines that get around it and go everywhere.

San Francisco may even have Sharon Stone, but just as with every other comparison in which the rule is to multiply any attribute by 10 to come up with the New York equivalent, we have the cast of "The Sopranos."

As a native New Yorker who returned to the Big Apple after five years living in the virtual cave of San Francisco, I can say unequivocally that there's still time for the City by the Bay to withdraw its bid to host the 2012 Summer Games and submit a new one – for the 2014 Winter Games.

• Michael Antonoff is an editor at Sound & Vision Magazine.

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