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Monday, March 21, 2011

Scents and the City ...and a prize draw

By Garry Bradshaw

My buddies Charles Lott, Sam Anther and Mr. Randa and I set about to discover the true smells of New York City. First we had to decide what is New York City?

To anyone not from New York, it is only Manhattan. Tourists very rarely venture to Staten Island for example, and with good reason. The smells of Staten Island are more North Jersey factory than pleasant Fifth Avenue olfactory. So for our purposed, scents in the city would be limited to Manhattan.

That night, Charles and Mr. Randa were downtown at a sports-themed eatery called “Jimmy Chews”. They were debating whether to starts with the smells of the Meat Packing district – where they no longer pack meat -or near massage parlors of China Town where they still do.

So the decided to start at the very bottom … Battery Park, where the East River and the Hudson Rivers meet blending into an almost seaside smell, even with suntan lotion mixed in on warmer days when sunbathers flock to the park.

The rivers themselves have distinct smells and blindfolded, I’m convinced I could tell the difference. The Hudson (which separates Manhattan from New Jersey to the west) has more toxic pollutant smell. While the East River (to the east, duh) separates Manhattan from Brooklyn and Queens. It has less dumped pollutant smell, and more dumped Mafiosi smell.

Meanwhile, Uptown, Sam Anther and I were waiting my friend, Mr. Brigg. The scintillating smells of street vendor fair wafted our way. There was the greasy meat smells of bratwurst and halal gyros. Competing for nose space was the aromatic nirvana of roasting nuts.

The alluring smells of dishwater dogs and soft pretzels competed with Philly cheese steaks and lamb on a stick.

Occasionally I’d even smell the semi-sweet, semi diesel aroma of an ice cream trucked, parked and ready to sprinkle jimmies.

Mr. Brigg was late and didn’t call as usual, so Sam Anther and I wandered.

The old smells of New York, bus fumes and taxi fumes have gradually given way to more sterile smells of rainy sidewalks and brewing coffee, thanks mostly to the growing use of electric buses, hybrid taxis and a Starbucks on every corner.

The sterilization of Manhattan started with Mayor Giulianni I think. You really have to be lucky and in the right flow of wind in Central Park even to get a whiff of marijuana these days … not like the old days of Mayor Koch when Central Park smelled like Tommy Chong’s movie set trailer.

Sam Anther went off for a little while to have sex with a random stranger so I headed to midtown. The homeless have a special smell of course, but most of them smell better than the tourists. And of course there’s quite a funk near the peep shows around Port Authority Bus Terminal.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I’d much rather be on a crowded subway with someone with body odor than with someone who’s covered their body odor with way way way too much perfume … and it’s always the cheap perfume, the kind on sale at Duane Reade or from Perfumania or the knock-off stuff from the sidewalk sales on 14th Street.

Later that night I caught up with Mr. Anda and Charles outside the Garden. We agreed that spending an evening exploring smells had left us feeling a bit too metrosexual so we decided to catch the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Champion) match and hope the smell of blood would restore our testosterone level.

Over the years, the normal arena hot dog and peanuts fair has given way to a more suit-and-tie friendly cuisine of London broil and crepes Suzette. I was amused that my cup of Chinese Noodles from the concession stand was embossed with the letters, “M-S-G”. Later I realized it stood for Madison Square Garden.

I wondered … could the smells of Manhattan really be captured or rather do the smells capture us?

Take a guess on who is "Garry Bradshow". Those who guess correctly will be entered into a giveaway of a 100ml bottle of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Soleil.


Blogger tmp00 said...

I think I know who it is but I won't spoil it..

12:14 AM EDT  
Anonymous Joan said...

I think it could go either way.

Being that most of the smells are so un-perfumey as it is, I don't think most firms aspire to make it a scent to begin with. Bond No. 9 tries to capture the smell of NYC in a bottle, but the only one that's really done the job so far is the concrete-and-streetcart scented Washington Square.

I think some good ideas for NYC perfumes would be Eau de Garment District (the plasticky smell of brand-new starched cotton shirts, or maybe the sunny, cat-fur smell of cashmere if they wanted to go upscale) and Eau de Midtown (exhaust-which isn't a terrible smell, cumin, rubber, and vendor flowers).

I liked the "sex with a radom stranger" bit here. It totally threw me off.

12:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Alyssa said...

Ditto, Tom. Though we haven't heard from him in quite awhile.

12:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous Lavanya said... this Kelley?

12:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

I think I know too but my lips are sealed..... :-D

1:59 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's Carrie from Sex and the City ;-) Alica -

1:59 AM EDT  
Anonymous Jiyin said...

I'm going to take a stab at it -- I think it's Mr. Colombina. :)

2:37 AM EDT  
Anonymous hongkongmom said...


2:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Stacy said...

Other than being the author of the article I have no idea. It is a good read though, you can imagine yourself with the author smelling all the notes that make New York a wonderful place.

3:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So funny! The smell of "dumped Mafiosi" :D

4:11 AM EDT  
Blogger Koki said...

*Must* be Mr. Colombina, who else?? And up to his usual witty standards as well!

7:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Katherine said...

The sense of humor means it HAS to be Mr. Colombina, no? :D

Hope I'm right, if so... welcome back!!!

11:13 AM EDT  
Anonymous londpon said...

Definitely Mr Colombina/Marina. Long time no hear.

12:20 PM EDT  
Anonymous sybil said...

Mr. Columbina for sure!

1:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Tammy said...

Oh, I agree with the surely must be Mr. Colombina, and I hope this heralds his return to the blog!

3:33 PM EDT  
Blogger Isa said...

Well, here goes my guess: Mr Colombina! I hope so :)

Oh, God willing, I will be in New York for the first time next summer, so I will be able to smell its essence.

4:55 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To guess is not hard... :)

5:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Gator Grad said...

I too am guessing Mr colombina

9:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Sean Morey said...

As the man behind a good-smellin' woman, I too guess Mr. Marina Colombina.

9:47 PM EDT  
Blogger lovethescents said...

Hello again, Mr. Colombina!! Excellent laugh, thank you :-)

6:58 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Yes all ... Twas me!

So nice to be remembered!

Mr. C (AKA Mr Marina ... AKA G Bradshaw)

PS: Keep smellin good!

9:21 AM EDT  
Blogger ~elise said...

Mr. Columbina!

1:19 PM EDT  
Blogger ccdouglass said...

Mr. Colombina!

3:26 PM EDT  
Anonymous L said...

Mr. Columbina was my first thought as well. Thanks for another draw.

2:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Alice said...

Mr. Columbina....Hope I'm not too late for the party....

10:16 PM EDT  

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