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Intemperate Zone

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What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.” That was how Jane Austen put the matter a couple of centuries ago, and last week, suffering New Yorkers were equally eloquent. “It’s disgusting. It’s sluggish. It’s gross,” repined one Lower East Sider. And it was. As the city sank into estival torpor, Con Ed reported that electricity consumption had hit an all-time peak. People sought relief however they could. Jimmy Fallon chilled down by sharing a frozen hot chocolate with a guy-pal at Serendipity. Katie Couric bared more than the usual amount of skin while dining out on the Upper East Side, her low-rise jeans revealing a metallic-looking thong that kept her nether parts cool. Leonardo DiCaprio and Gisele Bündchen sweated over lunch in the torrid meatpacking district—where, admittedly, the smell is not as offal as it used to be. A man sitting in a Jaguar outside an allegedly mobbed-up Queens social club was thoroughly aerated by a hail of bullets from a passing SUV. Mayor Bloomberg was surrounded by his very own microclimate of cool breezes, as his approval rating soared to 60 percent and his Democratic challengers (like Gifford Miller, newly ensnared in “Flier-gate”) continued to auto-destruct. Governor Pataki ventured out west into the cornfields of Iowa, evidently with a 2008 presidential bid in mind. Although his name recognition left something to be desired—“Last name, run it by me again? Pete what?” a puzzled man inquired after shaking Pataki’s hand—some Iowans seemed thrilled by his presence in their state. “The governor of New York!” one woman exclaimed. “I’ve always wanted to go there and twirl my umbrella down Fifth Avenue in the rain.” New Yorkers of a liberal kidney diverted themselves by fantasizing over deservedly cruel fates for Karl Rove, at least until President Bush’s Supreme Court pick gave them something new to ponder. The nominee, John Roberts, is decidedly a man of the right, and his urbane appearance (and Buffalo origins) offered but cold comfort—which is, perhaps, the best kind in a hot week.


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