When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

03 May 2006

Unhappy memories

New York City had its biggest fire since 9/11 yesterday: a complex of ancient warehouses on the Brooklyn waterfront burned to the ground, covering much of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan with acrid, chemical-smelling smoke.

It was a ten-alarm fire, which means, I think, that NYC was getting mutual-aid support from firefighters responding from Canada at one point... whew. (Okay, I exaggerate, but just a little.) The FDNY made good use of its fireboats, pouring millions of gallons of East River water onto the roaring blaze.

Smell is an incredibly powerful trigger for memory.

I happened to be down in the Financial District yesterday, putting in one of my relatively infrequent appearances at the office, and as I walked down lower Broadway with the haze and smoke in the air, I was having major flashbacks to that awful day in September 2001. My companion, a Chicagoan, noted that I looked a little funny, and asked if I was okay.

"Unhappy memories," I explained.

The New York Times is circumspect about the cause of the fire, though it notes that the owner of the property has had questionable fires on his properties in the past.

The dishy NY real-estate site Curbed states it a bit more boldly:
"Word on the street is... party A recently wanted to purchase entire 1 million+ sf of terminal space from Party B. Party B refused because he/she thought that they could make more money by renting it out to film and TV entities. The word is that Party A burned it so that Party B could no longer make any money with it. Heard this from four different sources in Greenpoint this afternoon."

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