Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When Worlds Collide: Hipster Clubs and the Smell of Death

The Uncle Fester-like fans of our monthly ISDP feature know that an obsession with the Dark Side of smell has an upside: it opens new perspectives on social behavior and local manners.

This week the disagreeable smell of bodily decay intersected with another disagreeable trend: the infestation of Lower Manhattan by urban hipsters. Gawker has the big picture while zooms in closer.

But the ultimate source of the story is an excellent first-person narrative on Cloudy’s blog post is even titled “I Smell Dead People.”

Imitation is the sincerest yadda yadda. Our nostrils flare with pride!

[Image brazenly appropriated from Mr. Cloudy.]


The Left Coast Nose said...

How about this unfolding story in Detroit where the stench of death pervaded the neighborhood for weeks and months and no one ever checked up on it?

Do you think cops, parole officers, and social workers should have to pass a smell test? (As in: can they smell dead things?)

Avery Gilbert said...

Left Coast Nose:

I'm all over the Detroit story. It will lead the November 13th edition of ISDP (the traditional date for the monthly roundup).

Smell qualification for police has been an issue in 4th Amendment search-and-seizure cases. Claims of having smelled immature marijuana seedlings from 200 meters outside a sealed grow house have been shown to be astronomically unlikely. And cops, like most people, aren't very reliable in detecting alcohol on a driver's breath. (See What the Nose Knows for the full story.)

As for teaching officers to detect a "decomp" by nose--I doubt there will be much enthusiasm from police departments. A buddy of mine in the S.F.P.D. tells me there's nothing his colleagues hate worse than getting a "DB" (dead body) call.

Listening to the citizens and exercising some healthy suspicion will serve as well as having a finely tuned nose.

The Left Coast Nose said...

I will look for your piece. And I led you astray-- Cleveland-- not Detroit.

Avery Gilbert said...

Left Coast Nose:

The macabre twist in the Clevelend (yes, Cleveland) story is that neighbors noticed a bad odor but attributed it to the nearby sausage factory.

I just bumped Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the top of my Netflix queue . . .