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The Mysterious Case of the New York City Smells


New Yorkers are a hardy bunch. We can deal with a lot of things that would send other people running for the hills. But even we have our limits, and one of those limits is smells. Bad ones. Lately, New York City has been smelling really bad.

Special to The Roosevelt Island Daily News

I’m not talking about the usual smells, such as the smell of garbage in the summertime or urine in the subway. (Although come to think of it, those have been particularly rank lately, too.) I’m talking about brand-new smells, scents that we’ve never sensed before and that we wish we never had to smell again.

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A Blast of Concentrated New York City Smells

For example, last week I was walking down Lexington Avenue and smelled something alarming. It was like nothing before. It was so bad that I actually stopped walking and looked around to see if anyone else had noticed it. But apparently, nobody had, because everybody was going about their business as if nothing was wrong. That’s New Yorkers for you. We’re so used to smells that we don’t even notice them anymore unless they’re strong enough to peel paint off a wall.

Anyway, this particular one was beyond paint-peeling strength. It was like somebody had taken all the bad smells in the world — rotten eggs, skunks, Limburger cheese — and concentrated them into one small area near Lexington Avenue and 50th Street. As far as I could tell, there was no actual source. It just hovered there in the air, getting stronger and stronger as I walked toward it.

I finally had to flee the area lest my sinuses be permanently damaged. But ever since then, I’ve been wondering: What could possibly be causing this sudden outbreak of new and improved smells?

Nearing the Limit

New Yorkers are tough. We can take a lot. But even we have our limits when it comes to bad smells. So what’s causing all these new and improved bouquets around town? Your guess is as good as mine. But whatever it is, I hope it goes away soon. Otherwise, we may have to start considering moving to Connecticut.

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