Earlier this month it was the far west dealing with unrelenting heat that fueled devastating wild fires up and down the coast. This week it’s the east coast that’s broiling. Pity the poor players having to deal with the conditions at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens.
And while it may seem we are experiencing yet another indicator of that oft mentioned bugaboo Climate Change, these spells do come around every now and again on their own. I found the following recollection in one of my old journals that brought back a particularly wild ride one hot summer’s night in the city.
Reeking tendrils of humidity stewed street stench wafted through the city like a hangover from the 1968 sanitation worker’s walkout. The city sucked. So off I headed to Boston to ride it out. Not that Boston was any bargain, but at least the beaches were proximate and, at the moment, free of medical waste.
The train, I figured – five hours from Penn Central to Boston’s Back Bay – a tranquil change from the jet whine life I was leading at the time. Plus, traveling by train felt like riding through New England’s backyard.
There was no real hurry, though no understanding, either, of how often the trains ran. This was still pre-internet, pre-smartphone, but if the airline shuttles worked every half-hour, then the trains would probably go on a similar schedule, right?
I arrived at Penn Station at 6:40 p.m. as the last of the day’s commuters battled for already fouled air space. Fixed-wing floor fans attempted to do what only an advancing ice age had a prayer to accomplish, cool the joint. Instead, the fans fueled the street reek and knocked the walking weak off balance as they neared the piles of uncollected trash. But I was already in a weekend state, oblivious to all the ill winds and foul moods, as well as one step ahead of the medical waste that was reportedly still bobbing off the Rhode Island coast. Continue reading