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Meltdown!

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The day after the summer solstice, there was a full moon over New York. Not since 1987 had the lunar presence loomed so large in the nighttime sky. Yet this seemingly auspicious sign was preceded by a series of small disasters across the city. At 56th Street and Fifth Avenue, a massive pavement collapse created “the mother of all potholes.” At least one onlooker thought that a meteor had hit, and the Times calculated that the gaping orifice could accommodate no fewer than 86 average-size people, or 102,900 bagels. In Union Square, an attempt to erect a 25-foot, 17.5-ton ice pop went terribly awry as the noontime sun reduced the kiwi-strawberry obelisk to a river of pink goo, which upended several passing cyclists and sent one woman to the hospital with a badly sprained ankle. The failed erection dashed New York’s hopes of snatching the giant-Popsicle record from the Dutch village of Katwijk aan den Rijn, but it was not expected to hurt the city’s Olympic chances. For the second time in a week, a helicopter went down in the waters around Manhattan. The passengers, corporate executives from Delaware, were pulled from the treacherous East River currents by NYPD and civilian rescuers, and showed their gratitude by taking out full-page notices in the city’s papers proclaiming WE LOVE NEW YORK. Less fortunate was a 14-year-old boy who fell off a homemade raft and disappeared into the murky depths of the Bronx River. (What do the city’s waterways look like under the surface? To get an idea, one scuba trainer said, “Go into a closet, turn out the lights, and put your hands over your eyes.”) The public furor over the fate of ground zero went on unabated, gay-bashing incidents were reported to be sharply up, and as many as one in four subway MetroCard swipes continued to prove mysteriously ineffective. On a blither note—and since no hebdomadal wrap-up would be complete without a boldface name—Uma Thurman was observed knitting a sweater during her son Levon’s first visit to the barber. Happy Fourth!


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