2006-08-09 / Features

108th, 115th Precincts Hold National Night Out Revels

BY THOMAS COGAN

There's a Cole Porter line, "under an August moon burning above," that came to mind in view of the crescent glow over last week's National Night Out Against Crime. Rather than burning, the moon seemed to be melting. National Night Out Against Crime takes place on the first Tuesday in August, when the weather is likely to be warm, with the nocturnal moon perhaps in an incandescent phase. This year's event was held on a night when the temperature stayed in the 90s, even after the sun went down and the humidity was nearly as high.

Any night with the temperature in the nineties can spark crimes that flare because irritated bodies and tempers strike back at provocations that might on a more moderate evening cause only grumbling or be ignored altogether. It seems, however, and even though statistics might prove otherwise, that beyond murders and assaults, the usual roster of index crimes in New York would be down on a night like our most recent Night Out Against Crime because-Cole Porter again-"it's too darn hot." Why worry about burglary on a night when a burglar can hardly breathe and, come to think about it, potential crime targets can't get up the energy to worry?

Yes, it was that sort of night, when even partying with the local police was done a bit reluctantly. At two National Night Out functions, the 108th Precinct's, in a playground behind Long Island City headquarters, and the 115th Precinct's in the usual spot, Northern Playground, across Northern Boulevard from precinct headquarters in Jackson Heights/Corona, kids romped in water spray and everyone lined up for food. On such a night, one can get a renewed appreciation for frozen ices (even when they're colored industrial blue), which have provided hot weather relief since the days long before air conditioning.

The music at the 108th's picnic was recorded. At first it was Hispanic or Caribbean, but that was interrupted, and over the public address system a voice familiar to many said, "I'm changing the music. If anyone has a problem with that, come see me." We were soon listening to Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Billy Joel, which might have been all right with

everybody or drew no protest because of the heat. At the 115th's festivities, the music was live: a jazz trio, with Kim Clarke on bass, Tim Siciliano on guitar and Skip Scott on drums. It's a combo that had played at an earlier Night Out and it was certainly welcome back, though the applause the three received probably would have been louder on a night when clapping enthusiastically didn't cause profuse sweating.

The heat wave continued another two days; the crime wave never arose. Everyone asked said they hoped neither would recur by next August's Night Out.

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