An Incredibly Long Time Ago, For An Incredibly Long Span – Greece The Granddaddy of ’em all. Every four years, all the city-states would stop fighting (except Sparta, who was typically dickish about things) and assemble at Olympia; there was no water polo. Running, throwing stuff, beating each other up, and being naked. Literally invented Olympic cheating: so much cheating. Several commentaries on the ancient Olympics still exist, including one by Anaphylaxis that’s just hundreds of pages ranting about Bob Costas.
1896 – Greece Pierre de Coubertin was a French person who liked crowds, and wanted to give away necklaces to men in shorts, so he resurrected the Olympics. Despite the aforementioned Gallicism of Count Cucumber or whatever the fuck his name was, these new Olympics were thoroughly injected with Victorian bullshit, and the real high-test bullshit, too. Amateurism for the athletes (but not the organizers), mostly; keeps the filthy yobbos off the pitch, dontcha know.
1900 – Paris The idea to let Greece permanently host the Games while letting everyone else pay for them is not a new one: it was one of the competing beliefs when the Modern Games started, but Peter de Coubertontail was a complete asshole and moved the Games home, setting the precedent of having them in a different city each time. This led to the emerald-pooled disaster we see today. (But here’s the thing: this may be seen as the Good Old Days in a few decades if we keep up the roaming-city model. People have caught on to the scam, and the only countries that can still host the Olympics without a public uprising are dictatorships.)
1904 – London These were the games that “re”introduced the marathon to the world. There’s all that Battle of Marathon bullshit, but there was no ancient marathon. Excellent sales hook for an otherwise counter-intuitive endeavor. I mean: if you have to go 26 miles, then you should use a vehicle. Why didn’t Phillipides (or whatever) take a horse? The marathon is stupid.
1908 – Rome? It is at this point that I realize the folly of this foray into the depths of Without Research. I got nothing. WAIT: Johnny Thorpe. Johnny Thorpe was 1908. Johnny Thorpe got fucked, man. Free Johnny Thorpe.
1912 – New York? Seems like they should have had one in America by now. And if they did, it would be in New York. Los Angeles? Was there even a Los Angeles in 1912? Goddammit, how did I make it out of college this dumb?
1916 – Cancelled (World War I)
1920 – Cancelled (Spanish Flu)
1924 – Cancelled (Mickey crashed his Porsche and broke his arm.)
1928 – Los Angeles? Even if I’m wrong, LA in the 20’s, right? Art deco and orange groves and pants held up by suspenders. In the fields of Pasadena, the new crop of starlets came in every May just like clockwork, and at night Benedict Canyon echoed with cries of “Why me?” from Fatty Arbuckle’s place. It was the Golden Age of Hollywood.
1932 – If younger Enthusiasts want a giggle at their elders, then dig up Mr. Mom. It’s from ’82 or ’83, and the story is that Michael Keaton–who is a man–loses his job at the same time his wife–a woman–got a job, forcing Michael Keaton to do all the lady jobs. He is so bad at them! Completely flummoxed by the supermarket, and I think one of the children falls into a paper shredder. Groceries and kids are lady jobs! From 2016’s perspective, though, he just seems mentally disabled and it’s impossible to root for him. It’s the supermarket. Not that tough. Also, Teri Garr is his wife, and because it is 1982 or ’83, when she goes back to work, she is immediately sexually harassed by every man in the building and it is played for laughs. Not kidding: the second she walks in the door, four or five guys in suits start sprinting at her screaming “WO-MAN! WO-MAN!” like Animal Muppet.
1936 – Berlin Thank God, I know this one. I’ve never been so happy to see Hitler. ’36 were the Nazi Olympics, and were not topped in Jew-hatin’ until 1972. Jesse Owens won four gold medals, and then went on to become the first African-American to break the color barrier in baseball, playing shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Was Johnny Weismuller at these Olympics?
1940 – Cancelled (World War II)
1944 – Cancelled (World War II, too.)
1948 – This couldn’t possibly have been in Europe, could it have? Europe looked like a hobo’s ass on Easter Sunday. You couldn’t have Olympics there. Or Japan. Moscow? Australia? I need to know.
London? You’re shitting me. The United Kingdom was on food rations until ’54, and these fuckers were wasting money on water polo?
1952 – Arrakis The rhythmic gymnasts attracted the sand worms. Everyone was eaten.
1956 – Montpelier, VT Very chill Olympics. Down to earth, laid back. Large number of athletes never left, and live there to this day.
1960 – Rome I know this one, too. This was definitely Rome, and Cassius Clay won a gold medal. Later on, he would tell a story about throwing this gold medal into the Louisville River, but he told a lot of stories. Rafer Johnson? I want to say Rafer Johnson, who was a decathlete who would later go on to be Robert F. Kennedy’s security at the Ambassador Hotel. (Before RFK got shot, candidates didn’t get Secret Service protection, so Kennedy’s security that night was an Olympic medalist, and Rosey Grier from the Rams. The past just made shit up as it went.)
1964 – Tokyo? I think this was Tokyo. Interesting fact about Japan: when you see street scenes of the country and note all the people walking around with surgical masks on their faces, it’s because 40% of Japanese are born not with mouths, but with what could best be described as a reverse anus on their face. That is actually the direct translation of the Japanese word for the orifice: “reverse face anus.”
1968 – Mexico City Shit was so fucked up in 1968. Fussing, fighting, whatnot. People dying, Nixon lying. Viet Cong gonna getcha. Mayor Daley ate Abbie Hoffman’s brain in public, and the police cheered. There were two professional football leagues, and I’m sure that crazy nonsense was happening in other countries, too. And here’s how racist ’68 was: the black guys with the fists? Not only were they openly reviled by the world, but the other guy on the podium–a white Australian–was also blacklisted. For the crime of Proximity to Negritude, I guess.
Also: the 1968 Olympics were the first Modern Games to take place while the Grateful Dead existed. Remember the Grateful Dead? This is a blog about the Grateful Dead.
1972 – Munich Remember how fucked up I said shit was in ’68? SO MUCH MORE IN ’72.
1976 – Montreal Bruce Jenner won the decathlon, appeared on a Wheaties box, and was then never heard from again.
1980 – Moscow The first of two Cold War-boycott Games, this Olympiad saw Jimmy Carter, who has led an exemplary and admirable life except for those four years he was President, pull the US out, and then I would assume that they cancelled the games, right? If we’re not there, then it doesn’t count.
1984 – Los Angeles If they’re not there, it totally counts, though. America kicked ass in every possible way at the ’84 Olympics: they were produced by Pete Rozelle and big and flashy and featured a jetpack guy at the Opening Ceremonies, Mary Lou Retton and her dimples in the gym, and Carl Lewis on the track. And, you know: the USSR wasn’t just Russia. All the Commie countries boycotted (except China, because the day China gives a fuck about what Russia thinks is the day China sucks its own dick in Tienanmen Square) and we won everything. Best Olympics ever.
1988 – Seoul “Seoul part of Only Korea. All Korea is Only Korea.”
Get out of here! I’m talking about the Olympics!
“Father invent Olympics. I got best Olympics.”
Could you leave, please?
“Love our banter.”
How big are those heels, buddy?
1992 – Barcelona Dream Team.
1996 – Atlanta There was a bomb. Kerri Strug. I’m sure there was swimming. Was the Jamaican bobsled team at the Atlanta Olympics? I think they were.
2000 – Sydney Nothing. I got absolutely nothing, and y’know what? I totally cheated and glanced at the Wikipedia page; even after reading it, I still have no memory whatsoever of these games. In my defense, this Olympics is the closest one to September 11th, and I feel that has something to do with it.
2004 – Athens The Olympiad returned to its ancestral home; Nia Vardalos from the surprise comedy smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding lit the Olympic Torch. Should be noted that in 2004, Greece still had a little money left, or at least still had people willing to extend credit.
2008 – Beijing The Opening Ceremonies were the equivalent of John Holmes walking into the room and whipping it out. Awesome and terrifying and a bit arousing. There were also sports, I assume.
2012 – London Queen jumped out of a plane. Usain Bolt did. Bob Costas did not get pink-eye, but I wish that he had.