Monday, January 08, 2007

Pee-eugh! What’s that disgusting odor permeating Manhattan right now? And how easy would a WMD gas attack be? Or is this one?

First off, a bit of full disclosure about today’s picture.

It wasn’t taken in New York. That’s Representative Wesselhoft from the Oklahoma House of Representatives, in the process of going a bit over the top concerning some other issue.

Nevertheless, it’s a perfect fit for New York.

Manhattan this morning reeks of gas – the kind of stuff that burns in stoves and furnaces.

I picked up the smell just as I walked into my cranky work space a few hours ago. I thought it might have something to do with rotting internal infrastructure in the commercial slum of an office building where I rent workspace and communications hookups with other self-employed entrepreneurs. No such luck.


Within moments, all my entrepreneurial neighbors were hawing, hacking and gossiping to each other or over the phone from their own workspaces. And then the word got out via Internet news that the odor was extending all the way up the West Side from Chelsea to Rockefeller Center, a distance of about a mile and a half. Not to mention New Jersey, a mile or so across the Hudson River.

So where’s it coming from? Search anybody in charge. The Fire Department referred the matter to Con Edison, the gas company here, which doesn’t have a clue. The utility is “investigating.”


Is it cooking gas? Or is it WMD poison gas?

Is it in “negligible” concentrations? Or is it in concentrations that will make people sicken or die like some poisoned Russian Agent? And if it’s “not serious,” how come so many people around me are complaining of headaches?

Is “Mayor Mike” Bloomberg, the public official so security minded that he arrests bicyclists out of fear they might create traffic jams that somehow will pave the way for Al Quaida, even aware of the gas leak yet? Or is he still in his weekend home in Bermuda, with do-not-disturb messages attached to his answering machine while he cuddles up to dreams of the Presidency?

I dunno. But I can tell you, if this is the best the city, the state and the Feds can do when some mysterious gas permeates New York, we’re all doomed. Me. You. And anybody from here to San Francisco.

Stay tuned. More dispatches eventually from New York – if there still is a New York and if anybody is left alive in it.

Well, I’m wildly exaggerating.

Scratch that. I HOPE I’m wildly exaggerating.


"Mayor Mike" held a press conference today at 11 AM. He offered one of those razzle-dazzle 'em self-contradictory statements that I just love:

"“The smell is there, we don’t know the source of it; it does not appear to be dangerous.”

Yo, Mike, if you don't know what it is, how can you tell whether it's dangerous or not?

I'm happy to report that the stink is gone from Entrepreneur Central where I work with all kinds of self-employed types – accountants, fashion designers, online newsletter editors, wedding photographers, Internet geeks and other startup businesses.

I was outside about 25 minutes ago, and I most certainly can confirm that whatever-it-was is no longer blowing around the West 30s in concentrations strong enough to smell.

But this was not just a big joke.


A subway train in the West 20s was evacuated for a while because of the strong "gas" odor.

PATH commuter trains between New Jersey and New York were stopped for a while.


Betcha wannabe terrorists are rejoicing. Just explode your poison gas bomb in New York with a timing device, while you're hightailing it out of town. You'll have all manner of public officials saying in laid-back lethargy, "Duh. Gee. I dunno. But it's probably not dangerous. Happens all the time here." And there'll be a lot of dead bodies before anybody in charge wakes up.

What does it take to get government on the offensive when odd smells permeate the whole city? (Turns out this smell covered territory from the Battery in Lower Manhattan to midtown -- a distance of about (this is only a guess-timate) five linear miles. You could bump off a whole lot of people in five linear miles of Manhattan at rush hour.

But that doesn't seem to bother anybody in government, who are practing buzzzzziness as usual. They won't know something really bad has happened until everybody's dead.

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