Sep 02

Thirty-four 90+ degree days is 33 too many

Let me go on record as saying I despise the Three Hs: hazy, hot and humid. The terrible trio  Thermomonsidewalk combine to turn the average Manhattan workday into a hellish tempest of melting macadam, short-tempered tourists and gridlocked traffic.

The modern Manhattan Summer bears little resemblance to the kinder, gentler ones of my youth. It's replete with carbon monoxide, toxic ultra violet rays blasting through a depleted ozone layer and enough carcinogens to conjure up images of Chernobyl in Chelsea. And lest you think these are merely the rants of a middle-age meltdown, think again. Heat kills. The last great NYC heat wave killed 1,100 people in 1966.  And, that cannot be good for tourism.

According to The New York Times, the summer of 2010 went down in the National Weather Service's record books as the hottest ever in New York City. We've had six official heat waves, 34 days of 90+ degree temps and an average daytime temperature of 77.8 degrees.

Who needs Hades when you have Hell's Kitchen?

I've also had the misfortune to run headfirst into the hottest summers in recorded history for St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, respectively. And, as our Russian tour guide so eloquently put it, “Your Mr. Albert Gore was sure right about his world warming.”

Aside from a latter-day George Hamilton trolling the Westhampton beaches in search of some unsuspecting parvenu, an octogenarian suffering from poor circulation or a middle-aged Lolita sunning herself on the Jersey Shore in hopes of hooking-up with The Situation, I can't imagine anyone enjoying this horrific heat. As my business partner, Ed, so eloquently puts it, “This blows!”

As for me, I'm hunkering down, riding it out and waiting for that first crisp, cool day in October when Manhattan truly comes alive. When it does happen, and it will, I'll crank up one of the
most evocative tunes I know: Billie Holiday's 'Autumn in New York.'

Summer in the city? You can have it.

Jul 23

And, now, it’s on to Mother Russia and let’s win there

This Sunday, Chris “Repman, Jr.”, Cody and I leave on a two-week trip to Russia. Our goal is to
Elbrus-map summit Mt. Elbrus in the Caucasus. If successful, it will enable us to lay claim to having bagged two of the world’s ‘Seven Summits.’ We celebrated New Year’s Eve 2007 on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, East Africa, and hope to top out on Elbrus on August 3rd.

‘Kili’ was a beast, and Elbrus looks to be no easier. At 18,481 feet, it’s Europe’s highest point. It’s a double-coned volcano that is wrapped in ice and snow (which, if nothing else, will provide a welcomed break from this horrific hazy, hot and humid weather we’ve been experiencing for the last month or so).

In addition to the climb, we’ll be touring St. Petersburg and Moscow (and, possibly, ducking stray bullets and mortar shells from irate Chechnyan rebels).

As I’ve done on my previous trips abroad, I’ll be asking locals their views on the image and reputation of the U.S. (being careful not to offend any irate Chechnyan rebels in the process). This is my first big trip abroad since Obama assumed office, so it will be interesting to see if, as was the case with his predecessor, I hear the locals say something to the effect, “We love Americans. We just hate your President.” Most Tea Party members, Evangelicals and Glenn Beck fans would probably say the same thing.

I hope to file at least one blog from the former Soviet Union if the vagaries of wireless connection enable me to do so. If not, Repman readers will be blessed by content provided by a host of able and willing guest bloggers who have volunteered to fill the void (however miniscule said void may be).

And, so I end by paraphrasing the final, immortal words of Senator Robert F. Kennedy: “And, now, it’s on to Mother Russia and let’s win there.”