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9/20, 9PM





Friday, September 28, 2001
3:09 PM      


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 awake.

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 bags.

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 flattened.

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 a toy...

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 deciding factor.

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 conference.


[ link | e-me ]

Thursday, September 27, 2001
12:54 PM      

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.

Hollywood's response
"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 see.

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.


[ link | e-me ]

1:12 PM      


In case you hadn't heard, it is now illegal to take pictures of Ground Zero. The crowds have gotten out of hand.


[ link | e-me ]

3:26 PM      

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."

Read more

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4:48 PM      


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 prevailing.

The FBI issued a new press release today.


[ link | e-me ]

11:19 PM      

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.


[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, September 26, 2001
9:09 AM      

Ripple effect
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 to cross.

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 these times.

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 browser's controls.

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.


[ link | e-me ]

11:24 AM      


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 !"
Attachment: WTC.Exe
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 a reboot.
  • E-mails itself to everyone in your Microsoft Outlook address book.
  • 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.


[ link | e-me ]

8:18 PM      


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...


[ link | e-me ]

9:03 PM      


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 kids?

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.


[ link | e-me ]

10:45 PM      


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 themselves.

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.


[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, September 25, 2001
11:27 AM      



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 to muster.

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 and exploded....

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 then? ...

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.


[ link | e-me ]

Monday, September 24, 2001
5:31 PM      


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 His coverage is well done.

I recently commented on how massive the clean up must have been. 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 bit intense.

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.


[ link | e-me ]

Sunday, September 23, 2001
12:07 PM      



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 sidewalks.

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 - " 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."



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