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The devastation that Hurricane Katrina wreaked upon New Orleans concentrated the minds of New Yorkers, who also weighed the possible consequences of such a storm’s hitting the five boroughs someday, including the evacuation of up to 2.4 million residents. A team of emergency planners was to be dispatched to the Gulf Coast to glean what preparatory lessons they could. Katrina’s remoter effects were felt here in the form of a stifling blanket of humidity. Several competitors at the U.S. Open were overcome: One vomited on the court; another collapsed in the bleachers; yet another, a rather good-looking player from Spain, Feliciano López, played in white Capri pants that were soon rendered all but transparent by his copious perspiration, affording fans an unexpected anatomical spectacle. Andy Roddick was defeated in straight sets in the first round, his much-advertised mojo nowhere in sight. Al Sharpton went to Texas to hold a prayer rally with Cindy Sheehan; on the way back to the airport, his driver was arrested for allegedly leading Lone Star cops on a nine-mile, 110-mph chase. The chief deputy claimed that, far from targeting the Reverend Sharpton’s limo, he had never even heard of its famous occupant, adding, “Maybe I’ve just been out here in the country too long.” Mayor Bloomberg, questioned by a reporter about Sheehan’s antiwar vigil, declined to comment, on the grounds that “it’s not a local issue.” He did, however, speak out in support of CBGB as the imperiled rock club’s lease expired, calling it “a great New York City institution.” Thoughts turned toward 9/11 as the fourth anniversary of the attacks drew near, with some New Yorkers pondering exactly how much solemnity the occasion demanded. Meanwhile, a helicopter continued to canvass the tri-state area in search of the one pine tree elegant enough to grace the plaza of Rockefeller Center come Christmas—which, given the weather, seemed a long way off.


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