The cause of the gas-like smell in Manhattan today remains mysterious, though it’s said that it’s not dangerous. Cf. Don DeLillo, White Noise, pp. 116-17:
"It doesn’t cause nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, like they said before."
"What does it cause?"
"Heart palpitations and a sense of déjà vu."
"It affects the false part of the human memory or whatever. That’s not all. They’re not calling it the black billowing cloud anymore."
"What are they calling it?"
He looked at me carefully.
"The airborne toxic event."
Left: Looking down toward Atlantic Avenue from a courtyard two flights above it. Right: The vitrine of a store selling Islamic goods. Below: A prayer rug with a compass.
Reviews have started to come in for Only Child, to which Peter contributed a memoir-essay, "Postcards to Myself" (an excerpt is available at the Random House website), and a couple have singled out Peter’s essay in particular: Publishers Weekly recently called it one of the "gems" of the anthology, and this week Time Out New York wrote that it is "superbly and achingly sweet."
The Washington Post reported last week that crape myrtles and camellias have an easier time of it these days in Washington, D.C., thanks, at least in part, to global warming. According to a new revision of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s map of hardiness zones, if a tree likes it hot, it will find congenial temperatures considerably to the north of where it found them a decade and a half ago. "You could say D.C. is the new North Carolina," a botanist told the Post.
Streetsblog (which covers the human ecology of New York City, broadly considered) therefore speculates that New York City must be the new Baltimore. It is, as you can see above; the yellow-colored zone 7 handily includes both cities, as well as Tennessee, Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle. In fact, though, Baltimore and Brooklyn seem to have both belonged to zone 7 in 1990, as well. What’s new is that in 1990, the two cities were at the northern edge of the zone, and now they’re inside it by a large and comfortable margin. To see a neato animation of hardiness zones across the nation shifting northward, from 1990 to 2006, like a rising tide of particolored molasses, consult the National Arbor Day Foundation’s website. Then go buy a live oak for the front of your brownstone.
If an image of tranquility would assist in the survival of the holiday season, consider a visit to the webcam at Jigokudani, a hot spring in the snow-covered mountains of Japan, where snow monkeys visit daily for their baths. (Hat tip to Peter)