Official KKNY Decree: The Scent of NYC Summer 2010 Is...Garbage!

Every year I share my official "Scent of Summer" decree with friends, and I've decided to make it an official KKNY public service. I've been making these announcements since I first moved to NYC fifteen years ago, as my first few months as a New Yorker were during the hottest months of the year. I quickly learned that each summer tends towards a pervasive scent--to my nose, at least.

For the first decade-plus, it was either garbage or urine, but the last two summers have been--sadly--homeless person, a trend that unfortunately came about at the same time as the city's recent economic decline. (And before you freak out, I know very well that saying NYC smells like a homeless person is not very nice...but New Yorkers will recognize this particular scent, and there's no other way to describe it: It's the smell that hits you when...You're in the subway, waiting on a hot, hot platform. The train finally arrives, and an empty car pulls up in front of you. The optimistic side of your brain goes "Woohoo! Seats! I can cool off sitting down!" But in reality, there's no air conditioning in the car, and slumped in the corner is an unfortunate homeless person wearing 15 wool sweaters, a full-length down coat, and duct tape/garbage bag shoes. The smell hits you like a wall of steaming horribleness, the doors close behind you, and you're trapped, holding your breath and exchanging "We should have known better" glances with the other poor souls caught in the car with you. As sorry as you feel for the obviously crazy guy huddled alone in his seat, you just can't get past the smell, which stays with you for the rest of the day.)

This summer, we're back to garbage. Really, really strong steaming rotting nausea-inducing garbage. I was actually going to make the decree a few weeks ago, but a friend suggested I wait until July, when the scent usually really sets in. And...yup...I ran some errands this morning, and it's set in.

So, prepare yourself folks. Get out there, stroll, and practice holding your breath!

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