The host city for the 2012 Summer Olympics will be determined on Wednesday when 117 members of the International Olympic Committee -- after receiving various, unspecified cash payments -- cast secret ballots in Singapore. The finalists are London, Madrid, Moscow, Paris and New York.
My sources -- well, actually, the guy who cuts my hair (quite badly, I might add) -- indicate that Madrid, while a swell place in a swell nation with swell food and wine, has absolutely, positively no chance of being the 2012 host. After all, Madrid is not an Olympic city. Madrid's sport is bullfighting. And unless Carl Lewis comes back as a torero, they've got no shot.
Anyway, as a public service, we now will handicap the rest of the field, in order of likelihood that the city is selected:
Pluses: Rick and Ilsa had their best days here in "Casablanca." . . . Champs-Elysees is Yankee Stadium of urban boulevards. . . . When you tell somebody they're fat, ugly and stupid in French, it sounds almost romantic. . . . American tourists will get a kick out of staying at the "Paris Hilton." . . . Bordeaux-flavored Gatorade!
Minuses: French still haven't thanked us for bailing them out during World War II. . . . Anti-American sentiment intensified once we turned the croissant into the croissandwich. . . . To speak French, you have to glue your tongue to the roof of your mouth and pray you don't mispronounce every third word. . . . Perrier vs. Coca-Cola? Please. . . . I'll bet they have a lot of soccer on TV over there.
Pluses: With everyone driving on the wrong side of the road, you can save time by driving on the right side of the road. . . . Buckingham Palace guards willing to moonlight for free working Olympic security if they're given those nifty tote bags. . . . That Richard Branson fellow seems like he'd be a good host. . . . They speak a more correct and cultured English than we do.
Minuses: In-room pay-per-view at major hotels only offers "Chariots of Fire." . . . When David Beckham sneezes, entire city shuts down. . . . English cuisine was one of hidden causes of the American revolution of 1776. . . . London tabloids make New York tabloids look like the Wall Street Journal. . . . I'll bet they have a lot of soccer on TV over there.
Pluses: Crooked gymnastics judges get to sleep in their own beds. . . . Russian mob runs a tight ship. . . . United States led a boycott of 1980 Summer Games here. I wouldn't mind seeing that happen again. . . . "A Night With Yakov Smirnoff" at the Anton Chekhov Playhouse to add Wednesday and Saturday matinees in fall 2011. . . . Hard to find USA Today.
Minuses: Don't get me wrong -- it's a beautiful city and I like the Lenin Mausoleum as much as the next guy, but after a full day of Olympic archery and equestrian, I don't know if I'm in the mood for cabbage schi, fish colbasa and pickled tomatoes. . . . Bolshoi Theater crowd can get pretty rowdy coming out of most weekend shows. . . . Hard to find those neat fur hats in the summer. . . . I'll bet they have a lot of soccer on TV over there.
Pluses: Even at jacked-up Olympic prices, the $6 potato knish is a street bargain and a culinary delight. . . . Only city bidding for Summer Games with an ESPN Zone. . . . All urine testing can be done in a dark corner of a subway platform. . . . Spike Lee gets to sit courtside and heckle European basketball players. . . . Hookers to offer 2-for-1 specials to synchronized swimmers. . . . Official torch bearer: P. Diddy!
Minuses: Some Manhattan parking garages will require first-born as a deposit. . . . Best chance for Olympic stadium is divisive plan to build 80,000-seat dome underwater in East River. . . . Marathon route through Central Park might conflict with Hare Krishna bake-off. . . . Homeless guys already using official "NYC2012" panhandling cups. . . . "Fuhgedaboutit" means "your mother's a goat" in Greek. . . . I have three words for you: Trump Olympic Village.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Do you really think Patriots owner Bob Kraft intended to give his Super Bowl ring to Russian President Vladimir Putin? (Steve White; Lombard, Ill.)
A. Who are you kidding? Putin palmed it -- you know it, I know it, the entire cast of "CSI: Miami" knows it. Do you have any idea what a Super Bowl ring brings on the black market in Minsk?
Q. I saw that CBS's Jim Nantz played golf in Maine the other day with former presidents Bush and Clinton. How did that come about? (Richard Parks; Plantation, Fla.)
A. Gary McCord was scheduled to play, but Augusta National called and requested he be replaced.
Q. How come you haven't written about MLS in awhile? (Eric Rosen; New Berlin, Wis.)
A. Any time I see a goal scored in an MLS match, I write about it.
Q. Since the whole Kenny Rogers incident was caught on videotape, don't you think he assaulted the wrong camera guy? (Paul Martin; Dayton, Ohio)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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