Lost in New York: The Stink of Spring
Peter Tatara - June 17, 2007
My name is Peter Tatara. I live in New York City. Perhaps you've heard of the place. First made famous in the 1976 film Taxi Driver, New York is today visited by hundreds of millions of people, but while they all visit 42nd Street, very few tourists explore so much as one block away. Enter this very travelogue, a field guide to the urban odyssey that is 43rd Street and beyond. Won't you join me as I get Lost in New York? Okay, that last sentence sucked.
It's summer now in New York City, hot and humid nearly every single day, and it's got me thinking about New York's first hot days of spring. Summer in NYC is spectacular, but the spring -- specifically the first weekend New York decidedly throws off the winter -- is a different story.
While the flowering of everything and explosion of green are indeed beautiful things, they come at a steep price. In addition to the new life that gushes forth with the winter thaw, there is also the unleashing of all the trash, urine, and feces frozen throughout the cold months. And all of it, a horrible, decomposing cacophony, ripens all at once.
Even the palatial estates on Park and Madison smell of dead fish and human waste. The end of the winter transforms the gutters into rotting rivers, spilling stink into every street and avenue in NYC.
The air is wretched this time of year, with the only consolidation being that just as the city overflows with odor, all her citizens, not used to the warm weather, release a drenching rain of perspiration and grow immune to the decaying thunderheads beneath individual sweaty clouds.
Remove any notion, though, that the awfulness of all this is due exclusively to the filth of man, for the flowering of everything and explosion of green means the pouring of nature's poisons into the air, dirtying any point within ten blocks of any park with thick swarms of pollen. Even on the subway, one isn't insulated, and as soon as any train approaches Central Park, it's flooded with runny noses and red eyes.
So, why do I paint this picture for you of a city I love so much? Why not just stay silent about New York's first weekend of spring?
It is a time of humidity, horrible smells, and hot flesh, and that last bit is key. The city wakes during this time, and so do her inhabitants. They sweat, but that isn't all. With the heat comes the stirring of the desire that will forever link man with the animals.
Spring in New York does stink, but it's also a great time to get lucky.