Norlinsk, in Siberia, is the most polluted inhabited region in the world. The permanent population is only 12, so I assume that this statistic reflects a per-capita bias. That said, the ground is so infested with cobalt, mercury, and the like that no trees grow within 25 miles. Windborn seeds that blow in by chance die on contact with the soil. I will (presumably) be accompanying a Discovery Channel expedition to document and glorify the savagery of this planet. Temperatures will be in the -45 degree range. For those of you in the New York region–those who’ve spent the last week shivering in 20 degree weather–that means that I will be travelling to a place where the average temperature is, oh, about 60 degrees colder. Where your spit freezes before it hits the ground. As a smoker, a non-fitness expert, a sufferer of Reynaud’s syndrome (in which circulation is restricted to the extremities of the body), a lush and a layabout, I expect this to be a poignant combo of physical hell and mental overstimulation.
Apparently we also get a few days in Moscow before the Soviet-era NUCLEAR ICEBREAKER departs. I won’t spend a dime, of course. I will have to brush up on my Russian.
The interesting thing about a situation like this is that I don’t find myself preparing for a voyage of this oddity as a result of my own life path. My brother is the one hired to direct the show and hire the crew. I’m a qualified nepotism-ee. But in a sense, this is the heart of these adventures. To find yourself on a NUCLEAR ICEBREAKER in Norlinsk, Siberia, for the one and only reason: no reason. No reason at all.
I bid you good evening from Bushwick, Brooklyn, which often bears a striking resemblance to Norlinsk, Siberia.