N.Y. Times staff writer Geist pens that paper's ""About New York"" column, humorous forays into eccentric Gotham byways that highlight the city's manic diversity. This collection includes scores of those columns, organized under rubrics such as ""Hustlers,"" ""Trendoids: The Chic and the Dead,"" and ""Well-to. Do's and Don'ts."" A fast-talking introduction sets the tone (""Here in the nation's thyroid, people scurry about at a frenzied pace. . .I still think people are talking to me on the street when they're just talking to themselves""); and columns on the woman with hypersomia (a heightened sense of smell) in the ""nation's most pungent city""; a psychotherapist who sells outer-space burial plots; Tofutti; opera-ticket scalpers; the train announcer at Penn Station; etc. flesh out this enjoyable, albeit patchy, portrait of a city as odd as the wildest dreams.