Muggy Memories

May 28, 2011 at 2:35 am (By Amba)

It’s hot already.  I had to clear a path through the shrinking pile of boxes so the super will be able to get the air conditioner from the closet over to the window tomorrow afternoon.  Until then, I’m wetting the cats down to keep them cool and going through all the moving-in motions oiled with sweat.

Although North Carolina summers are brutal, you do not really experience this (unless you work outdoors) because effective central air conditioning is universal.  Just another way in which appearances are deceiving and New York City is more of a natural environment (you could almost say Stone Age) than many much greener places.

I have only to close my eyes to be transported back to the fire escape of my first, East Village apartment, trying to cool off in the evening, overlooking the Puerto Rican grandfathers sitting on the sidewalk on folding chairs in their sleeveless undershirts, fanning themselves.  All that’s lacking is 43 years and the soundtrack:




  1. Emilie said,

    What really takes me back in time in the wonderfully appropriate video is the sound of extraneous crackling from the LP – a little thing that is now almost gone forever, but was a part of the listening experience of my youth as much as the backdrop of insect noises on a muggy, non-air conditioned summer night.

  2. mockturtle said,

    Here in the Pacific Northwest, our ‘high’ today is supposed to reach a sweltering 57 degrees.

  3. amba12 said,

    Emilie — so true!! And that surface crackle heralded (and was the small price of) a depth and richness of sound that is gone now, too.

    Apparently it has dipped into the 40s overnight in St. Louis ever since those hellacious tornadoes. One mother of a cold front must be headed our way, or stalled out in the Midwest. It will hit just around the time I get my air conditioner up and running.

  4. Melinda said,

    Can’t remember the last time it was this hot and humid for so many days this early in the season. Or maybe it was, but I was running from an air-conditioned apartment to an air-conditioned office via a brief trip on an air-conditioned subway.

  5. wj said,

    On the other hand, northern California is having lovely March weather. (No, that wasn’t a typo!) With occasional days like today which don’t really count as lovely, even for March. Which is why the heat is still on, and we keep wondering whether we were right to take the comforter off the bed.

    If it rains in the next couple of days (as some of the forecasts suggest it might) it will be the first time in my memory that it has rained as late as Memorial Day weekend. And my memory stretches back over half a century. Normal, for us, is the last rain hits in late April or early May, and then nothing until late October. (Well, except for the annual rain in the first week in September — which always catches people by surprise somehow.) When people say “golden California” what they actually mean is that all summer the grass is golden (i.e. dead), unless you use water that we don’t have enough of to keep it green.

  6. amba12 said,

    Yes, it does seem that right now the eastern half of the country is having summer, the western half is having winter, and in the zone in the middle where the two meet and clash, they’re having twisters.

  7. amba12 said,

    UPDATE: The A/C is in, and the cats’ behavior has done a 180. No longer are they hiding under the bed in the belief that they are in the shade. Instead, they’re lallygagging about near me in typical feline fashion.

  8. mockturtle said,

    We even had a small tornado near here yesterday. Very unusual.

  9. sippican cottage said,

    Hearty housewarming wishes from your friends in western Maine, where it’s 72, which is about as hot as May got.

  10. Dave Schuler said,

    Your album cover brings back memories for me, Amba. I heard Jose Feliciano play in the old Unicorn Coffee House in Boston back in the early 1960s.

  11. mockturtle said,

    I remember when the country was so polarized [I was on the left at that time] and Jose Feliciano was on a late-night talk show where he expressed his very conservative views. A lot of people were shocked but I admired him for being candid, knowing he would turn off a lot of his fans.

  12. reader_iam said,

    I’m so enjoying this music, Annie (even though I’m late to the party). I’m glad your AC is in, and I hope you’re having a cool and lovely Memorial Day. It’s supposed to hit 90 here today, but so far the humidity’s not so bad and our old house hasn’t heated up too much (no central air). Pleasant, overall.

  13. Melinda said,

    If there’s ever a time that New Yorkers are in touch with the elements, it’s during a summer blackout. During the last one, in 2003, everyone was out on the street or sitting on the stoop, or the fire escape, or anywhere they could get some air and light and be in touch with other humans.

  14. amba12 said,

    reader: this and “Light My Fire” were my favorite songs, the ones I played the album for, but maybe this one even more because it was in Feliciano’s own language and I was the one who had to cross over to meet it. Like time itself, the song seemed slower to me then.

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