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Summer in the City

Well its summer in the city and the subway stations are sweltering (how’s that for some alliteration?). Jasper is up in Nova Scotia with his favorite person (Alex) pursuing his favorite prey (bugs and birds) and casting doubt on the validity of the phrase, “it’s a dog’s life.”

Back here in the concrete jungle, meanwhile, I continue to work on my projects and ring myself out each night before bed. The air conditioners are cranking and I am bracing myself for a hundred million dollar bill from everyone’s favorite company, Con Ed.

So what better way to beat the heat than to do hot list? Here we go:

WHAT’S HOT:

THE HAMPTONS. The Hamptons are always a great escape destination for us denizens of the most densely packed large city in the US. This year is no exception. The Tenth Annual Midsummer Night Drinks at Chad Leat’s stunning home in Bridgehampton to benefit God’s Love We Deliver was certainly a highlight of June. The glitterati gayz were out in their full regalia of pink shirts and carefully distressed Sperrys to booze the night away and make new friends. I managed to lose my car along the way (I left it at a friend’s earlier because I would be drinking, how responsible!) and had to be driven home by a new friend in an equally new Porsche 911 Turbo. Its a rough life, y’all. Between the swirl of parties, the thump of Day and Night, and some well-deserved beach time during the day and hot tub time at night, there is hardly a moment to ponder the just how lucky we are to have such a beautiful and charmed place so close to NYC.

TRAVEL. I’m off to London to see friends and then to Greece for a wedding. But even those who have less far-flung plans seem fired up for an out of town jaunt over 4th of July weekend. My hairdresser is headed to the Jersey Shore to do some surfing. Friends young and not-so-young are flocking to Fire Island for some shenanigans. And of course the Hamptons will be loaded to the gills with regulars and house guests galore.

LOBSTER. Its cheap thanks to a glut of Maine lobsters being trucked into NYC. Grab a lobster roll now before price hikes end this bit of belt-tightened indulgence!

THE IPHONE 4: Everyone who has one is being forced to pass it around at parties so the rest of us can ogle it. Reception issues? No one I know seems to care. Who talks on the phone anyway?

THE WORLD CUP: Viewing parties galore are bringing together folk young and old. And while bad refereeing has marred some of the goings-on, the crowds here seem to grow only increasingly fired up about watching these thrilling matches.

WHAT’S NOT:

THE HAMPTONS. Jeez, 27. I know its boring to complain about the traffic but its just getting out of hand. The place is a parking lot! Circumnavigating all of the major roads using back routes is the only solution, but its ecologically unsound to use a circuitous 15 mile route for what should be a 4 mile drive. Not to mention annoying. Plus all the citidots who haven’t gotten behind the wheel all winter and spring are now finding their sea legs, so to speak, making for some rather close calls. Combine that with day drinking and a BlackBerry to human ratio of approximately 4 to 1 and it makes for some rather unsettling journeys. iPhones and Domaine-Ott Rose soaked glasses down people!

PRIDE. While I had a rather lovely day on Sunday bouncing between parties and hosting one myself with the indomitable Patrick Duffy at BES, the crowds at the parade itself seemed awfully small. Has World Cup enthusiasm robbed NYC of some of its Pride energy? I know not…but its a theory.

COCAINE. Reports of drano-laced stashes are dampening enthusiasm for the white stuff among Manhattan’s chicest, most underemployed set. Of course, that’s not such a bad thing.

THE DISCONTINUED W AND V TRAINS. Budget cuts have led to a characteristically poorly thought-out redesign of the most dysfunctional transit system in America. The M has been rebadged to (sorta) take over for the V. Also the W went away and the G got all messed up. Bus schedules are being slashed. Meanwhile, the residents of NYC overwhelmingly rely on public transportation, not private automobiles, to get to school, work, and other commitments. Public transit is a public good that serves as the engine to many sectors of our economy. Not only do MTA budget cuts overwhelmingly impact the least economically-advantaged in our society, they also slow the entire city’s economic recovery. As I often say, time spent waiting for a subway train is time not spent teaching a class, cleaning a home, or answering a hedge funder’s phone. There is a limit to how much an individual can accomplish on a commute. We need a transit system that lives up to NYC’s reputation as the most vital, productive, exciting city in the world.

For a fascinating analysis of NYC’s traffic terrors, check out this recent article in Wired magazine. In it, Felix Salmon discusses Charles Komanoff’s awe-inspiring proposal to improve the flow of people around our fair city. In contrast to recent MTA service cuts and fare increases, Komanoff’s work suggests buses should always be free, because the efficiency with which passengers can board is more valuable than the change in their pockets. Predictably, driving a private automobile during rush hour should be taxed heavily. Komanoff’s research strongly supports my position that we are on the wrong track (pun!) with regards to the future of our mass transit system.

xx

-B

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