Saturday, 23 June 2007

The scent of summer

If you can move beyond the pungent aroma of drying dog urine, hot rotting rubbish and headache inducing humidity then New York is a lovely place to spend the summer.

Aroma wise I'm blessed to have somewhat of a limited sense of smell. I think long-term exposure to the family Labrador’s farts in my formative years severely impacted the sensitivity of my proboscis.

Bizarrely it’s only the unpleasant smells I have difficulty with. I can smell perfume and flowers no probs, but bad smells have to be extremely strong for me to pick them up. Melissa and Ash were very envious of this ability on our hols in Panama when I was blissfully unaware of the stench of raw sewage emanating from the bay as we took a walk alongside the ocean. I couldn’t smell a thing unlike the two of them who would have glady sold their right arms for a clothes peg each. Quite frankly with a talent like this, I’m surprised some flatulent man – and aren’t they all – hasn’t snapped me up before now!!

Anyway odors aside, I love the summer in New York. There’s just so much going on, much of free and most of it happening in parks. You've got performances by the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera on the Great Lawn in Central Park; Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater, which attracts a lot of well known thesps, and is a fabulous thing to do if you can spare 5plus hours queuing for the free tickets - a limit of 2 per person - handed out at 1pm. A few years ago it was THE hot ticket of the summer season when Meryl Streep performed in The Seagull. A friend of mine was lucky enough to bag a ticket, but only because she and her father came into the park to queue at 4am, and they weren't even at the head of the line. Apparently the police kept kicking them all out of the park, only for everyone to sneak back in a few moments later. The police would return and kick them out again and so on until they finally manage to stake out a spot in the queue and get their mitts on the coveted tickets. They're a menace those theater lovers.

Central Park also hosts free performances at the Summerstage, then there's the Monday night movies in Bryant Park, Shakespeare in The Parking Lot, Shakespeare on the Run (they love their Shakespeare these New Yorkers), the free concerts at McCarron Park Pool in Brooklyn, movies at River Flicks, Moondance held on one of the Hudson River piers, enjoying the sun and a few cheeky beers at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City etc etc etc. So much stuff!! I love New York.

The thing I like most about these events is not so much the culture, but the picnicking and, best of all, the drinking. Technically it’s against the law to drink on the street in New York, but at many of these events the police turn a blind eye. I’ve spent many a happy summer evening getting sozzled under the stars with a pile of friends on Central Park’s great lawn. The classical music playing in the background was largely incidental, since for the most part we’re not an especially savvy bunch when it comes to the arts. Although one year my friend Matt did perk up on hearing the Philharmonic play a familiar piece asking, 'Don’t I know this one from Bugs Bunny?'

Very educational those Warner Brothers cartoons.

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