What is it, exactly, that makes people want to climb shit? Is it something genetic? Can you trace it back to something in their childhoods? Why is it that they look at something mundane and say to themselves, "The only way today would be complete is if I rolled up my sleeves and crested that motherfucker"?
I guess I can sort of understand mountaintops: If you can make it to the top of Everest, then you get a view that only a rare few have ever taken in. But these schmucks that climb the New York Times building in Manhattan? Three guys in six weeks have just up and scaled it's rod-encrusted walls...for what? To get a good look at a city that you can see from any one of a dozen legal observation points?
I went to an event at the Explorers Club Mansion on the Upper East Side last night, primarily to see inside the Explorers Club Mansion. And it was cool, in a "it'd be really neat to throw a small wedding in here" sort of way. But it wasn't, as I expected, like the Batcave, with giant pennies and stuffed T-rexes and glass cases containing Sir Edmund Hillary's climbing gear. (To be fair, there was a stuffed polar bear and a canoe that must've been someplace cool.) There were other floors that were roped off, ostensibly for members only. I guess that's where one finds the super-sweetness, the rooms that look like the headquarters for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
As I left, I grabbed a brochure—really just to prove to myself that I'd been there. And on the last page there's a bit about becoming a member. To do so, one must "demonstrate credible contributions to field research, scientific exploration and educational dissemination of that knowledge."
Where's the "sitting on one's ass thinking up cool ways to blow shit up with lasers while drinking Bass Ale and eating nachos" club?
Oh, right. San Diego.