Thoughts, comments, images and reflections from the people
who bring you BeansAboutIt [dot] com.
September 28, 2001
I don't usually remember my dreams. Heck, I usually don't
even remember that I was dreaming, but the dream I had this
morning was really vivid - almost a nightmare. It was the
kind of dream where you come to realize that you're dreaming,
and you don't like where it's headed, so you drag yourself
The setting could be Long Island; I'm not quite sure. The
dream starts off in a nice apartment with lots of blond
wood and brushed aluminum-looking fixtures. It's nice and
modern, maybe a little Scandinavian. I remember an area
rug in the living room, and a tall, narrow frosted-glass
window in the front door.
I kiss Denise, as if she's headed for work; close the door
behind her. Some time later, I'm walking outside myself,
across a large, flat, grassy area something like Cambridge
Common in Massachusetts.
On my left, headed in the opposite direction, are a large
group of men and women in blue uniforms; maybe National
Guard. They're not in formation, they're walking in clumps,
as if off to a Legionaire's conference. Many are carrying
large speckled grey Kenneth Cole suitcases. A few have golf
Having passed by the "Guard," I suddenly hear an explosion.
I turn my head to see a sooty mushroom of smoke rising from
the nearby train station. I hear a brief, muffled scream
- it's more than one person screaming.
I begin to walk toward the train station. As I approach,
a train marked "Broadway" pulls out, and begins to accelerate
away. The back two cars of the three car train have been
It occurs to me that Denise could have been on that train.
I reach into my pocket for my cell phone. I'll call her,
and make sure she's allright. The phone doesn't seem to
be working. I look at it more closely, and realize it's
At that point, I decided it was time to exit the dream. My
eyes snapped open.
When I got off the train this morning, the smell of smoke
was stronger than it's been in a long while. A lot more people
were sporting masks at lunch time. Others just pulled their
shirts up over their noses.
Mr. Ferrer was the only mayoral candidate to nix Mayor Giuliani's
plan to extend the transition an extra 3 months, in light
of what's happened downtown. Ferrer's in a run-off with Mark
Green next month. I wonder if this decisision will be the
The daughter of one of my co-workers is missing at WTC. "She's
the spitting image of Ivy," someone was saying. People are
starting to apply for death certificates, but Ivy's steadfastly
refused to think about it. What makes it worse, is that the
daughter called Ivy to say she was OK, before the towers collapsed.
Call me a sci-fi junkie. Here's a link to the Star
Trek: Enterprise site.
Warning: don't follow this link,
if you're religiously sensitive, or don't like "mature" language.
I just heard that GOD HIMSELF held a press
September 27, 2001
There has been a chill in the air for the last three days.
I didn't dress warmly enough yesterday. Today, I broke out
the leather jacket. The autumn leaves are coming.
My friend Brian and a couple of his buddies and their families
staged an escape from New York last weekend. They went up
around Tuxedo, and picked apples. He said he breathes easier
when he gets out of the city these days. One of the men with
him will attend 19 funerals before this is over. Brian says
the guy already looks drained.
This morning, I asked Brian how he's doing. He said "Not
so well... They found my friend last night." His best man's
picture has remained taped to his office wall since the day
we came back to the office.
The Taliban wants Jesse Jackson to come over and hold some
sort of peace talks. I hope he declines.
Today is the Day of Atonement in the Jewish faith. I'm not
Jewish, but I grew up in a town that had a large Jewish population,
and I've always been aware of the holidays, even if I didn't
know precisely what they were about.
The presence of religion is very strong in this big city.
I've gotten on the train other mornings, and heard people
preaching to the mostly disinterested crowd, but the guy on
the train this morning seemed to have a higher level of conviction
behind is words. It might just be my imagination, but the
crowd seemed to receive his message with a little more tolerance
than they would have, say, a month ago.
He seemed to illustrate a simple principle: if you were affected
at all by what happened (and it's hard to imagine that you
could not have been), you're probably assessing what's important,
and what to make of the life you have left. I had the thought
the other day, that we're all dealing in our own ways with
a fundamental "problem": we'd like to be in control of when
(preferably never) and how (if we have to, make it easy and
painless) we die. We have no say over either, and very little
say in how it goes for others. Events like 9-11 rub our faces
in that fact.
Healing through art
The Today show featured artwork about the WTC tragedy done
by children. They talked about art as a non-verbal medium
of expression, that helps people deal with what they're experiencing.
Many of the pieces were powerful in their pure expression.
One struck me: it illustrated two people holding each other
in an embrace of support, while watching the towers burn in
the distance. It brought home the importance of closeness
that I've witnessed in so many ways, and it demonstrated a
moving away from the event.
They mentioned the power of poetry in the piece, too. A friend
of mine shared a poem called "Ancient Fires" with me, that
goes beyond capturing the horrors of the moment and explores
the dynamics that perpetuate conflict.
Then, there's humor. David Letterman and the other comics
have struggled with coming back. Saturday Night Live is going
to tiptoe back onto the air this weekend, but mocking the
President is a touchy subject. But something else is afoot
in the grassroots. After the Challenger accident, macabre
jokes began to circulate, in part, as a way of coming to terms
with what happened. I think it's a matter of time, before
I begin to hear jokes about this event.
I've already seen what might be called "joke art." A day
or so after the attack, I saw a digital rendering of a naked
Osama Bin Laden being probed by the Empire State building,
with the caption "So you like skyscrapers, huh, bitch?" More
chilling, a "photograph" purported to have come from a camera
that was recovered from the rubble is circulating in e-mails.
It shows a person in a winter jacket, wearing sunglasses and
a backpack standing on what appears to be the observation
deck of the World Trade Center. Below and behind him is a
jetliner, pointed straght at the building he's standing on.
The "photo" even has a date stamp of 9-11-2001.
I'm certain that more of this will surface over the coming
days. As uncomfortable as some of it may make me, I see it
as each individual's effort to integrate what has happened
into their lives, and to share something of themselves. No
one leaves something like this behind. Instead, they invent
a new perspective that they carry forward.
Where were you when...?
Everywhere, people are still documenting the experience. There's
a tourist map near the Starbucks on the corner of Broad and
Beaver. The map features a simulated 3-D perspective of lower
Manhattan, with the Twin Towers prominently featured. Three
men approached and stood near the sign. One man stood with
his back to the sign, as another man, holding a note pad,
began a conversation with him. The third was a photographer,
laden with at least two camera bodies, and a number of lenses.
He hovered around the two of them like a dragonfly, snapping
perspectives that included the "witness" and the map, and
at times, the interviewer. I suppose the image of the ghost
of the towers added grit to the story.
"The show must go on." The season premieres continue tonight.
I've always been a fan of ER. I look forward to this one.
The Emmy awards will air this weekend, with a glammed-down
presentation. Everyone will wear "business" attire instead
of the usual glitz and gowns. This will be interesting to
A lot of these machinations have to do with our struggle
to demonstrate respect. Beyond simply dealing with our personal
sadness, no one wants to seem as if they're ingnoring the
significance of what happened. Something as simple as when
to stop flying the flag at half-staff seems confused. It's
a mixed bag now, with many buildings having returned to flying
their flags at full-staff. I suppose this new mood of awkwardness
will continue for a while.
In case you hadn't heard, it is now illegal to take pictures
of Ground Zero. The crowds have gotten out of hand.
David Nicholls offers a perspective from the other side of
the world. It is remarkable in its clarity and conciseness.
"There is no need to mis-cast the evil-doers as
sub-human. They do it all by themselves. No-one who displays
such supreme disregard for humanity deserves to be treated
as a human. Yet we must, or we descend to the same level."
Another art sighting: A squadron of stealth bombers is parked
in formation on the tarmac between a set of hangars. The caption
reads "Can Osama come out and play?" Hawkish sentiments are
The FBI issued a new press
ER meets "Rashamon." Good opening episode. Lots of tension.
The writing on this show is so consistently good, it's amazing.
Speaking of medicine, my brother just forwarded an e-mail
about the "Klingerman Virus." The
whole thing's a hoax.
September 26, 2001
When I walked out of my apartment yesterday, traffic was clogged
in every direction. A man climbed off the bus, and asked if
I knew what was going on. I didn't . He said he'd been on
the bus for 45 minutes, just to go a few blocks. I found out
later, that it took Denise an hour to go 6 stops. The rumor
I heard, was that there had been a bomb scare at the Brooklyn
bridge, so they were checking every car before they were allowed
A report on TV last night indicated that business at Marriott
hotels alone is off more than 40%. People are, not surprisingly,
avoiding air travel. One reason? Even though the White House
is proclaiming that air security is tightened, Reagan National
remains closed because it is a "special case." There have
been a few cases of people smuggling box cutters or other
weapons through security check points to prove a point, and
- oh yeah - there's the story about the guy who carried a
gun through security undetected. He said he'd forgotten that
he had it (don't know how you forget that you're packing heat).
He had a carry permit. After he got through, he realized what
had happened, and alerted security. Hmmm... sounds like there
are still a few kinks in the system.
I've also been hearing a lot of stories about how Hollywood
is canceling production on a number of action movies -- especially
ones that allude to terrorism or feature things blowing up.
A new show on NBC called "The Other Half," which was designed
to be about the battle between the sexes, is doing special
programming about the WTC aftermath.
Echoes of an era
Denise is in a class that looks at media and current events.
Last night, they handed out a copy of a poem called "September
1, 1939" by W.H. Auden. It reads remarkably current in
Civics - minded
I went into Park Slope yesterday, and found myself involved
in an interesting ritual. Every few blocks, I would encounter
a group of election volunteers handing out flyers. As I reached
each of these gauntlets, a different person would try to engage
me in a conversation every few steps. There were lots of these
clusters, and lots of volunteers. They were organized. They
had big signs with big pictures. One bus shelter displayed
a political poster that covered the entire side of the shelter.
There was a vigor in their demeanor that I don't remember
in previous elections, especially for a primary. Maybe it
was compensation for what was expected to be low turnout.
One report forecast the turnout at only 17%. Once I'd voted,
I would essentially have to chant "I've already voted... I've
already voted... I've already voted... " as I passed each
of these gatherings.
Path of least resistance
This has little to do with the World Trade Center aftermath,
except it affects my ability to read about it online. I've
been noticing that more and more websites I visit are hard
to read, because the text is minuscule. What's worse is that
the HTML is set up so that I can't resize the text with my
A few weeks ago, I bought my brother's wedding gift online
-- I used the registry that he and his new wife had referred
me to. I ended up copying the source code into Dreamweaver,
increasing the font size, and adjusting the table cells, just
to get a legible version.
This has to to with a possibly unconscious bias on the part
of the page builders. They're using Windows machines to set
up and proof their pages, and they're locking the text to
the equivalent of size -1 or worse, -2. It looks OK on their
machines, and they don't have to worry about their layouts
getting stretched. While it's a pain in the butt for Mac/Netscape
users like myself, it's probably worse for people who typically
need extra-large type on any platform. It's a drag that way
too many web developers are falling into these bad habits.
I can get around this problem to some degree, by using IE5
for the Mac, but I think there's a fundamental problem with
that. Maybe Netscape and the other browser makers will ultimately
adopt Microsoft's workaround - make their browsers display
text in an exaggerated point size. Hopefully, if they do,
users will have the option to turn the feature off, as needed.
If I want to watch TV, I'm not forced to watch with any particular
brand of set to get better performance.
I come in peace
I've just seen a report of a new virus called the "War Vote"
virus which is distributed via e-mail. It's been verified
by the antivirus vendors. Although not widespread, this virus
has a malicious payload.
What does it look like?
The e-mail containing the virus will have some or all of
the following characteristics:
Subject line: "Fwd: Peace Between America and Islam
Is it war against America or Islam !
Let's Vote to live in Peace.
What does it do?
- Attempts to delete all files in your Windows folder after
- E-mails itself to everyone in your Microsoft Outlook address
- If the infected computer is a web server, it rewrites
all of your .htm or .html files to read:
"America ... few days will show you what we can do!!!
It's our turn )))
Zaker is so sorry for you."
The speculation is that the virus was created by an opportunist,
not one of the actual terrorists involved in the attack on
the World Trade Center. Lovely.
Neptune and back in six minutes
I have been looking forward to "Enterprise" for several weeks.
I'm liking the opening minutes. A theme song with lyrics!
... more later...
100 years since First Contact, we remain impulsive carnivores...
Imagine that: a Klingon compound in Sausalito...
What's with that weird Sprint commercial about flouring the
How many years before Kirk's Enterprise is this one? It looks
retro, compared to Next Generation and DS9, but I'm not so
sure it's retro compared to the original series. On the other
hand, the communicators and the weapons look right. That pistol
that Captain Archer pulled looked like a descendent of Deckard's
pistol in Blade Runner.
The widescreen format and the lighting looks good. There
are new things here, not just the same ol' stuff recycled.
NX - 01: appropriately simple designation for the
first Enterprise and a young Starfleet. They've never heard
of Klingons until now. It's been 30 years since the first
warp flight. Warp 5 is a big deal. Phase pistols are brand
new technology, too. You get to hear the first utterance of
"... To boldly go where no man has gone before..." and the
phrase was coined by the captain's daddy. The answer to one
of my questions - Archer is 100 years before Kirk. Good first
episode. I'll be watching.
Oh! That goofy Sprint commercial again: "How are the kids?"
+ Static = "Flour the kids." Dumb.
Fantastic Voyage Redux
I've just seen a news piece about a miniature camera and transmitter
that can be swallowed, so that doctors can explore the entire
length of your digestive tract. It takes 50,000 pictures in
the span of a day, and transmits them to a belt pack. You
download the images to a PC, and away you go... much more
comfortable than what Katie Couric went through, and you can
get images of places an endoscope can't reach. Not bad.
Back to the aftermath, already in progress:
People who lived in Battery Park City are being allowed to
return home for the first time, only to find that they've
been ripped off. Apparently, people with access to keys helped
Getting more in touch with my "Creep Show" mindset, I think
it's eerie that the World Trade Center wreckage is being brought
to Fresh Kills landfill to be sifted.
September 25, 2001
IT'S BEEN TWO WEEKS NOW.
The primary election, which was originally scheduled for
September 11, is being held today. I expect that a lot of
New Yorkers will write in the name of Mayor Rudy Giuliani
on their ballot. The overall sentiment seems to be that term
limits are a good thing, but that an exception is in order.
There have been many times where I have disagreed strongly
with Rudy's choices and tactics, but this is not one of those
times. He has completely distinguished himself from any other
leader in this time of crisis. The man is a walking demonstration
of dignity and poise at a time when either seems impossible
If Mr. Giuliani is added to the November ballot, I'll consider
voting for him.
Belly of the beast My friend Rick forwarded an e-mail
from a friend of his, named Chris. He's is an engineer for
Dell Computer Corporation, who was scheduled to do an install
in the area near the World Trade Center on September 11. His
e-mail recounts in extraordinary detail, what happened to
him. As I read the account, it also became clear how quickly
everyone pulled together to help, and how New Yorkers once
again lived-down their reputation.
I left the hotel about 8:35AM with plenty of time to get
to my destination. I walked past the WTC at about 8:40AM
(I actually paused to look over a map I had in order to
make sure I was headed in the right direction) and was about
2 blocks away when the first plane hit Tower One. I did
not see the plane, though. I, like many around me heard
what sounded like a jet on approach for a landing and several
of us looked at each other in a questioning fashion as though
we all knew the plane was flying way too low. Within a second
though there was the massive explosion. I and every one
around me turned and looked up to see flames and debris
billowing from Tower One of the Trade Center. There was
a hole in the side of the building that looked to be at
least 15-20 stories high and fire burning across the entire
width of the building about two or three stories high. Needless
to say, we were all in utter shock. I watched as tons of
glass, steel and other debris fell to the ground where I
had been standing only minutes earlier.
We all knew that the plane hit the building, but it took
a few moments of time for the magnitude of the event to
register. Everyone around me was silent in their shock.
After a minute of staring, I called home on my cell phone
to let my wife Debby know what happened. I must have sounded
hysterical at that time as I explained in one sentence everything
that had just transpired. All I or anyone else knew at that
time was that a plane had flown in to the World Trade Center
Within three to five minutes of the event, the streets
were filled with police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances
all heading towards the Trade Center. The number of rescue
workers and the speed in which they were mobilized was truly
amazing. Within ten minutes from the initial impact, the
streets were essentially cleared of civilian traffic and
rescue vehicles were flying by in startling numbers. Streets
were being blocked off at certain locations for pedestrian
traffic and the sound of sirens filled the air....
Within about 30 seconds of the building's collapse, we
were all engulfed in this cloud of white, chalky dust. For
a few minutes, there was absolutely no visibility within
the cloud and it was extremely difficult to breath. My eyes
began to sting and my mouth filled up with dust. I just
continued to move southward running my hands along a chain-link
fence so I would know which direction I was going in. I
heard children crying, people screaming in fear and others
calling out the names of friends of family that they could
not see. No one knew where to go to escape the cloud and
there was a point where I believe many of us thought we
might choke to death. Fortunately for us, the initial thick
burst of dust became reduced to the point where there was
some semblance of visibility and breathing became not so
much of a problem. My situation improved when I found some
temporary refuge underneath a grove of trees by the park.
Most of the crowd was heading down towards the water, but
since the trees seemed to provide better shelter, I stayed
there for a while waiting for the dust to settle.
After about 15 minutes, the cloud had cleared significantly,
however we still could not see clearly to the WTC. We could
however hear at this time the collapse of Tower One which
sent chills through everyone as well as another massive
cloud of dust our way. This time though, we were more prepared
for the dust cloud and thus most us covered our faces with
shirts or masks by the time we were engulfed.
As before, the dust eventually settled and the air cleared
enough for us to see the empty space in the skyline where
the towers had once been. Among the many things I was thinking
at the time was what I was going to do with myself. I didn't
know if my hotel was covered by the rubble but I knew that
going back for my clothes was not an option. Where to go
Ferries and tug boats began arriving at the water's edge
in order to evacuate people to New Jersey. At first the
call was for women and children only, which caused one boy
of about 11 years old standing by me to burst out in tears
at the thought of leaving without his father (the emergency
team did not force this family to split up)....
I went to the bathroom and shook the dust off my clothes,
washed my hair and body in the sink and tried to wipe the
dust off my shoes and bags. A Brooklyn police officer came
in the bathroom and let me know that if I needed any new
clothes that the Red Cross had a station set up in one of
the hotel ballrooms on the other side of the lobby and were
providing food, drinks and clothes to those in need. I went
to the ballroom where I saw people lined up to give blood
and tables of food and drink being given away....
As I walked towards the train station, the streets were
lined with volunteers handing out water, juice, ice, wet
towels and just providing overall support to the large masses
of people who had come across the bridge and were walking
through the city. People were glad to be helping others
in any way they could and I couldn't help but feel a deep
sense of pride at the way people were treating each other
in the wake of this event. At no point in time throughout
the day had anyone considered asking for money for the goods
or help or services being provided....
I just wanted to end by emphasizing my admiration for all
of the people of the New York City area who came together
and helped each other in the midst of this tragedy. I also
feel the same way for the rest of the country which is showing
an unprecedented level of national unity as well. We truly
have a lot more in common with each other than we cared
to think about last week.
September 24, 2001
Today, I noticed how odd the phrase "back to normal" really
can be. There's no getting "back" there. It's a new day. Even
if we build new towers in their place, it will be years in
the making, and they will be new towers. At best, we'll
have a new routine, once we figure out what that is...
The digging-out continues. I'm still thinking of people
I haven't heard from in a while, and trying to get in touch
with them. I frequent Indigo Books in Brooklyn, and found
this on their website yesterday:
Regular Customers: If you haven't been by -- if
you can, could you pop in just to let me know that you're
ok. There are a few faces that I normally see that I haven't
and I am getting worried. I want you guys to know I do care
for you all very much and I need to know that you are alright.
Everyone is busy reconnecting.
Other perspectives: David Gallagher has a very nice
site called lightningfield.com.
is well done.
I recently commented on how massive the clean up must have
has pictures that start in the distance and take you right
in to the belly of the beast.
I've had the privelege of reading one account completely,
and I'm starting to read another account, from people who
were at the site on the day of the attack. They weren't onlookers.
They weren't people who rushed in once the stuff hit the fan.
They were involved in the attack, and got out with their lives.
Just in knowing that these are the words of the friend of
a friend, something very different about the experience of
reading these accounts.
About depictions: Denise and I picked-up a coffee
table book of New York images this weekend. It features beautiful
pictures of the twin towers in their glory. Last week, my
boss became concerned that our very-corporate website would
be disturbing to some, because the splash screen contains
a tiny picture of the World Trade Center. She had us jumping
through hoops to replace the picture, even though it was an
elegant image of the towers the way they were. Others had
a much bigger problem. Before September 11, picturing the
towers blowing up or falling over, would have been considered
an amazing fantasy - sort of like putting King Kong atop the
Empire State building. One rap group had to pull an eerily-accurate
looking image from their site, and scuttle plans to use the
same as cover art for an upcoming CD.
Wrapped in the flag: Jeffrey Zeldman has a very interesting
piece called "The
Angry Flag Vendor." Sometimes, it's just about the money.
An e-mail went around the office today, essentially saying
that it's OK to use the firm's e-mail to broadcast messages
requesting support for charity, but keep your politics to
the private channels. Things were starting to get a
Under the Cross: When you get close to Ground Zero,
you can't miss the evangelical effort that's afoot. We were
handed a beautiful pamphlet with a title that said something
about rememberance. It was very beautifully done. By the end,
it was clear that it was a religious tract. Most tracts were
obviously that. A number of the people handing out tracts
had shirts that bore American flags, but curiously didn't
display the cross so prominently. The churches have come of
age, too. Many of those shirts and tracts had URLs.
September 23, 2001
My Second visit to Ground Zero. It felt more real this
time. Denise hadn't been, so we went there together.
It was much more of a zoo this time. The police weren't
trying to keep people moving. There were way too many
of them. There were still many solemn faces, but there
was more of a tourist aspect to it. People were pushing,
demanding that others move on. One older woman asked
Denise to take her picture, standing in front of the
disaster, as if it were Mt. Rushmore. I guess it was
her way of saying "I was there."
Near the Helmsley memorial, I saw a woman with a little
cigar. She asked the man standing next to her "What
happened here?" Stunned, the incredulous man said
"You don't know?!" Clearly, she didn't. It's
hard to imagine someone going for nearly two weeks without
exposure to some form of media, but she looked as if
she could have been homeless. The man went on to explain
about the planes and the collapse. Then she asked in
a thick accent "They going to fix it?" The
man didn't understand. She repeated herself, and when
he still didn't understand, changed the question - "They
going to repair it?" The man seemed agitated and
upset now. "They can't fix it," he said.
I began to step back and look around. There is evidence
of a massive clean-up that's taken place already, but
there's so much left to clean up. There were bits of
paper from the blast, stuck up in crooks in the scaffolding.
There are muddy places where much more paper and debris
remain. The dust is everywhere. It clings to statues
and buildings, covers some cars, seems to have congealed
in some places.
There was also evidence of the international impact
of it all. I saw relief workers from other countries,
cops from other cities. A crew of people from New Orleans
had loaded up a trailer with supplies, driven up here,
and started preparing free gumbo for all takers.
There were outpourings of love and support for the
police and firefighters. Handmade cards from school
kids festoon the sides of fire trucks and police vehicles.
I saw viehicles you can't photograph. In TriBeCa, I
saw a trailer with a big awning. Big bold letters on
the sides read "United States Secret Service."
One guy standing near the trailer had an elaborate earphone
rig. I stepped toward the trailer to frame a shot, and
the guy said firmly, "No photos." I stood
in the area for a while, and saw about a half-dozen
would-be phtographers shooed-away. We must be like flies
to them. You'd think they'd use a nondescript trailer.
I think the lettering just calls attention to them.
We passed by a fire house, where 17 of the 36 members
had been killed. There was a chair full of candy and
cookies. A man from the fire house came out, picked
up the container, and started moving through the crowd.
"If you want some candy, or cookies, take some"
he was saying. "You don't have to be afraid."
Denise said she heard that the man had lost his nephew
in the collapse.
Signs of reconstruction are everywherre. Near Ground
Zero, you can hear the constant rattle of jackhammers
in the streets. Phone technicians are all around, checking
and installing cables. The utility companies are out.
There seems to be a village of temporary generators
forming near South Street Seaport. In many places, you
can see mountains of cable, and plywood-and-asphalt
mounds snake temporary high voltage along the edge of
The shops at South Street Seaport are open. People
are sitting at the restaurants near the river, giving
a semblance of normal - the new normal. A woman in clown-face
was standing near the door of a T-Shirt shop. She mugged
for my camera. When I spoke to her, she said she had
to come out and do something - "...show everyone
that there's still hope..." she said, then paused
and said "...even though there's no hope."
I said "You had it right the first time."