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Saturday, October 06, 2001
2:33 AM      

It amazes me how much thought and reflection has gone on, and how much more will go on, since 9-11. I ran into my friend Robert tonight in Park Slope, and spent probably an hour and a half talking about many things related to the attack, Bin Laden, and what's next. I've read countless blogs, watched hours of news coverage, read lots of papers, and yet there seems to be much more to learn, much more to see. It's an itch that can't be scratched.

Robert was in the Chambers Street subway station when the second plane hit. He turned around and exited as far from the towers as he could, when he saw lots of people running out of the building and down the long underground corridor. When he emerged onto the street, he saw lots of people standing around and watching. He decided, wisely, to continue on to Brooklyn where he felt it would be safer. By the time he got to Brooklyn, at least one tower had already collapsed.

Robert's brother worked somewhere around the 80th floor of the second tower to be attacked. He decided to leave when he looked out the window and saw the gaping hole in the first building, and all of the papers flying around. He paid no attention when the announcement came on, saying that the building was secure, and that people should return to their offices. Because of that choice, he's alive today.

:::

An Irish man with several disposable cameras in his pockets stopped me across from the stock exchange, handed me a camera, and asked me to take a very specific photograph of him:

"Be sure to get the flag on the Exchange, Trinity Church in the background, and the steps of Federal Hall on the right. Thatís where George Washington was inaugurated, on those steps. I want to show Money, Church, and Politics all in the same shot."

From 13pt

NY Artlab's photos are numerous and powerful. Many are from the streets of Manhattan before much of the clean up. Several pictures show the remains of one of the engine pods lying in the middle of Murray street. Accounts I read early-on mentioned that people had been killed by engine parts and landing gear that had been sheered off of the planes and flown away, instead of going inside with the fuselage.

:::

I've been seeing a lot of glossy commemorative "special issues" and "collectors' editions" turning up at newsstands and magazine stores. Many of these say things like "Portions of the proceeds will go to the relief efforts..." Not sure how much, of course. One was dripping with flags, had very little text, and had a huge fold-out "wanted" poster in the middle of it.

Impulse items
There are still a lot of vendors on the street specializing in lapel pins, pictures of The World Trade Center, T-shirts, and flags, but now others are cashing in on the buying wave. Men with briefcases full of watches are setting up shop right next to the souvenir sellers.


[ link | e-me ]

Friday, October 05, 2001
2:47 PM      

Wave your flag
Metropolis Magazine describes itself as being about architecture, culture, and design. It's the only magazine I know of that mingles ads for flatware, furniture, and carpeting among articles detailing the social and political fallout of urban development.

In the midst of our flag-waving frenzy, which sometimes borders on jingoism and sometimes reeks of opportunism, it's interesting to remember that not long ago, there was a controversy about flying the Confederate battle flag over the state capitol in Columbia South Carolina. The cover story of the November issue is titled "Pride and Prejudice." This should be an interesting read... Being an African American born in the south, that flag has always had a significant stigma attached to it. In these times, though, I can at least get in touch with the pride that might motivate someone to want to raise that flag.

The Metropolis website also offers this coverage of 9-11.

:::

As I approach the train station each morning, there are always folks lining the sidewalk near the entrance, hawking CDs, videos, and other merchandise. Who knows where the stuff comes from, but I imagine they do a good business. This is a heavy-traffic area, located ideally between mass-transit and the local Popeye's fried chicken store. I glanced down among the goods and noticed they were selling shiny, shrink-wrapped videos of the movie "Training Day." The movie, starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, opens tomorrow. Are these real? Are they blank tapes? Are they handycam bootlegs shot over the shoulder of unwitting preview audience members? The boxes look every bit as legit as commercial hollywood releases. Meanwhile, the buzz on the movie is 68% fresh, as of today.

Riding the bus this morning, I was engulfed in sounds. Music was bleeding out of the earbuds worn by the guy standing next to me, while a man sitting directly in front of me was playing with a handheld electronic poker game which chirped and bleeped with every button press. Two seats behind him, a little boy is animating his own classic battle between good and evil with two plastic toys. His narration is complete with deep, larger-than-life voices and the sound effects of punches, groans, and explosions. His mom sits quietly one row ahead of him. She seems used to it. I believe Spielberg started out this way.

I overheard parts of a conversation that went like this:

"You see that stereo system my man had?"

"... with the remote control..."

"That shit be bangin!"

"...looked like a jet pack..."

The guy went on to imagine out loud about seeing Mr. Jet Pack riding a bike, almost as if propelled by the blast of music from his pack...

Department of redundancy department
I had to call Verizon this afternoon, and heard this recording: "All of our representatives are currently assisting other customers at this time..." I smiled, and waited. A while. Some time later, the schmaltzy hold music was interrupted by this blunt message: "We know you're still waiting...." Yes, so did I, and the acknowledgment didn't make me feel any better about it.


[ link | e-me ]

Thursday, October 04, 2001
11:46 AM      

When I was a kid, I remember finding out about the proper care and treatment of the flag in the Boy Scouts -- how to fold it, when and how to put it up and take it down, what to do with it if it's damaged, etc. I've begun to notice a number of flags that are beginning to shred against the fire escapes and buildings they're hanging from. I wonder how tattered they'll be allowed to become. I wonder if those flags will be replaced once they're completely shredded.

War drums beating
We're being primed for war through every media outlet. The fighting mood messages are being repeated again and again, from the Bin Laden "Wanted poster" that ran on the cover of the New York Post, to the special section headed "Waiting for War" in the paper I spotted over somebody's shoulder on the train today. The fighting spirit is being bolstered, boosted, and promoted at every turn. Get ready...

I remember coming home one Saturday night, turning on the TV, and finding out that we had begun shooting in Iraq. It seemed sudden, unexpected. I hadn't been looking at the papers until then. This time, I see it on the cover of everything. The question isn't whether, it's when, where and how. To some degree, it's who... Get ready...

CNN: Saturday Night Live made hay of Wolf Blitzer's name - an uncanny moniker for a war correspondent. Over the following days, I stayed glued to CNN. They proved themselves as a ready, thorough, and up to date source of news. Years later, they blew it along with most of the rest of the media, with Richard Jewell: the security guard who was hounded as a suspect in the Atlanta Olympics bombing.

Stilll, when they get their stuff right, they give you a lot. In a section titled "America's New War", they provide a list of the tenants of the WTC. As I hear the names of people who were lost and the companies they worked for, I can look to see where they were.

Piecing it back together
Somehow, it's important for me to make it all as tangible as possible. I find myself remembering the one time that I got to visit Windows on the World, how I'd wanted to go a second time, but didn't have a jacket to get in. I remember walking around that plaza between the two towers. Looking out the windows from the 15th floor of tower 1 at sunset - how everything turned a beautiful golden color. How music played there in the summer.

Along with the flag and its various representations, pictures of the towers in their splendor have become a hot item among street vendors. There are dozens of variations. There are big ones and small ones, wide ones and tall ones, posters to post cards. I've even seen little pewter statuettes. I guess that's one industry segment that's seen an uptick in these times of financial unease. I have a friend that does TV production, and she's dealing with a surge in business making Public Service Announcements related to the attack and its aftermath.

Yesterday, I bought two more photos of the World Trade Center towers. I gave one to Denise last night, and the other sits atop my PC in the office. The picture seems to be taken around dusk, at holiday time. Framed in the lower portion of the photo are giant decorative letters that read "Peace on Earth."

[ link | e-me ]

9:51 PM      

Nine chances of survival
I noticed something about the World Trade Center statistics today. About 50,000 people worked in the WTC complex, and just over 10% of that number are missing or confirmed dead. It's been said that the World Trade Center represented 10% of the rentable office space in New York City. Losing your office, or losing your life; it was one chance in ten, either way that day.

Poppa's got a brand new ride
Police vehicles are looking different these days. I've been noticing these little electric jobbies for the last several days. They're something like a cross between a golf cart and the futuristic spinners of Blade Runner. I've seen red, white, and blue ones. Every one that I've seen looks brand new (as in purchased within the last three weeks). I spoke to a cop about them, and he said they were being used to move people around. They look pretty versatile, even though the steel deck in the back looks like it would be hard on the butt for long rides.

There are also new-looking Police Winnebagos in the TriBeCa area. In fact, there seem to be a lot of specialty vehicles with police logos, that I've never seen before. If we had these in the force all along, there had never been any reason to bring them out in public.

Strange bedfellows, take2
There have been accounts in the news about the Detente between Senator Hillary Clinton and Mayor Rudolf Giuliani. Once vitriolic enemies, they've actually been photographed having a laugh together. It's safe to say that they've had to work closely together in these last weeks. Somebody in my office joked today that they'd heard Hillary and Rudy were dating (or is it just having sex?). Hey, more improbable things have happened...


[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, October 03, 2001
8:14 AM      
*** HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DENISE! ***

City Stories
Time and again, I hear from people who say that New Yorkers are not the way they're portrayed in other parts of the world. Then there are the moments where they live up to the stories we've all heard. In the past weeks, there has been a distinctly different spirit in New York, but the old ways are slowly returning...

...The woman moved her arm slowly back and forth in a graceful arc. She said "It went just like this," a huge grin on her face. She was in touch with the beauty of nature. She had been on the Staten Island Ferry with her nephew, and the two of them had seen a whale surface in the waters of the harbor, right near them. This was clearly a big deal - maybe once in a lifetime. The woman said "We are truly blessed!" I heard her share that story with the same glee, three more times before I left the store.

...The man was standing slightly ahead of me on the subway platform. When the train arrived and the doors opened, he stepped just inside the doors and stopped. I looked over his shoulder to see that there was a lot of room inside the car, but he was no longer moving, and had cut off my path into the subway car. Knowing how quick the conductors are to close the doors, I reflexively started maneuvering to get around him. I didn't know if I'd be successful, and said "Step into the car, please." Someone else was standing to his left, further congesting the doorway, and my friend the obstacle easily closed-off half of the aperture. He said "Step in?" I said "Yes, please." By now, I had wedged myself uncomfortably into the narrow gap. I was aboard, and had not been scissored by the doors. The man said "You can go around."

...Culture has exploded in Brooklyn. Last year the Mark Morris dance troupe moved into a brand new facility next to Brooklyn Academy of Music. De Kalb Avenue and Smith Street are bristling with extraordinary restaurants. Off the beaten path is Locanda Vini & Olii, which is on Gates Avenue, only a few blocks from home.

Last night, Vini & Olii held an Opera Night, featuring a Tenor, a Mezzo, and a Soprano. There was a 7 course meal, each course featuring music by a different composer from a different city, and a dish representing that city. There was a delicious Parmesan cheese terrine, marinated Portugese sardines (not the scrawny little salted things that come in a can!), braised duck sauce over polenta, classic Roman pasta, squab... All of this toppped off by generous rounds of a delicious Chianti. A meal fit for royalty, although Vulcans and vegans would not have been happy at all.

The acoustics were perfect, and the crowd appreciative. It felt good to be alive and living in Brooklyn last night.

[ link | e-me ]

11:34 AM      

I forgot to mention that for the past several weeks, we've had new neighbors. They're a little noisy, and they've become more noticeable in the last few days. It's the kind of thing you ignore at first, and then it sinks in- you're going to be hearing a lot from them. Who are they? Jets. Seems the flight paths have been changed to keep air traffic from travelling the length of Manhattan, and now the planes make their approach directly over our apartment.

There's a 25-mile no-fly zone around the city, and that's a problem for Teterboro airport. 75 percent of their air traffic is grounded.

I just read the news that the first burn victim of the September 11 attacks was released from the hospital. He was hit by the fireball. The photo shows that he had substantial burns over his hands and arms, but not his face. My guess would be that he put his hands over his face when the fireball came.

The rubble pile where the WTC used to be is still burning...

The New York Post's headline today reads "ASH-HOLES." Slimy folks have been calling up victims' families offering to sell phony ash, purported to be from the disaster site, to them as a memorial.

[ link | e-me ]

12:06 PM      

The President is supposed to fly into and out of the South Street heliport today. For security reasons, they're not being specific about when that will happen. When I walked into the office this morning, the street was lined with even more cops than usual. We were being directed to enter the building through a single revolving door. A while later, I heard our chief of security say "Our President's making things a mess downstairs."

Every so often, it occurrs to me that most traffic cannot travel below Canal Street. TriBeCa has been transformed into a giant walking mall. Fancy joints that were nearly impossible to get into before 9/11 are comfortable these days.

Zeldman can write:

....What does it do to the souls of TV producers, to package tragedy as entertainment, complete with slick graphics and catchy theme lines?

What does it do to the souls of those who watch?

A few nights ago I dined in an Afghan restaurant in my neighborhood.

Some days after the attack, the owner draped American flags over the word "Afghan" everywhere it occurred on his restaurant's signage."...

Read the whole thing



[ link | e-me ]

4:56 PM      

Terror nation
Ever heard of Tularemia? It's a potential biological weapon detailed in today's Daily News. They published a table listing Anthrax, Botulinum, Smallpox, Plague, Tularemia, Nerve agents, and Mustard gas, along with their symptoms, and what stops them.

At lunch, I heard a woman on the street say "They want to give everyone Smallpox vaccinations..." Last week, I heard a passerby say something about "bio-chem..." A year ago, anyone using that word was probably speculating about stocks. Today, the potential for biological warfare is barroom talk.

At about 5am today, some crazy person cut the throat of a Greyhound bus driver with a box cutter, spun the wheel into oncoming traffic, and caused the bus to crash. Surprisingly the driver lived. Six others weren't so lucky. The FBI was called in to investigate. At the moment, it doesn't seem to be a "terror attack." Briefly, every Greyhound bus in the country was sidelined. Now, they're hand searching all carry-on baggage on Greyhound buses. more

I have the distinct impression that they're going to get x-ray machines for the lobby of my building. They'll probably be installed in a matter of weeks. I was surprised to hear a report yesterday, that only now are they adding barricades around the base of the Sears Tower in Chicago, to prevent attackers from driving right up to the base of the building with a truck bomb. Such barricades have been commonplace around New York buildings since the first WTC attack.

I mentioned Mr. Ferrer's decision not to support Mr. Giuliani's proposal to stay on an extra three months to work out some kind of transition for the recovery process. Today, former mayor Ed Koch has come out in support of Ferrer. This could get interesting.

[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, October 02, 2001
2:30 PM      

Another week has passed. There are many more to go...

Mom's a star.
My mother's an honoree at the 2001 Women of Influence awards next month. The event is being presented by the YMCA of Essex and West Hudson.

She's always amazed me with her energy and involvement, but I thought I might be a little biased... Guess not.

:::

Mark Maginn is a talented and thought-provoking poet. He's completely rewritten the piece that I mentioned before, and he's submitted to Writer's Relief.

Mark had this to say about Writer's Relief:

245 Teaneck Rd.
Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660
201-641-3003
[website]

...is a service that helps publish your work, for a quarterly fee... They watch the market, prepare cover letters and track acceptances and rejections. I've gotten ten publications wanting my work in the past year through them. I'm very pleased.

Mark


[ link | e-me ]

3:23 PM      

Michael was out with a sign again today. It simply read "God Bless You All. My prayers are with you."

He told me that he got a really cynical comment. Someone walked by, stopped, and said "What are you, a Jesus Freak? Just what the world needs - another religious fanatic." Then the guy walked on.

Sounds like fear to me. It's odd to see how people warp not only the practice and expression of religion, but the interpretation of that expression.

[ link | e-me ]

4:59 PM      

If you read the post about Writer's Relief earlier, I've added a link to their site.

[ link | e-me ]

Monday, October 01, 2001
11:29 AM      

I'm noticing a rhythm to my attentions these days. It's like a tide or waves that move in and out. Sometimes, I'm very aware that we're still in the thick of thinking and doing our way out of what happened three weeks ago. In "normal" times the months fly by, but I can usually think of things that I've done to consume the time. We're in October now, and it seems that some part of time itself was deleted since the 11th of September.

I've been noticing that celebrity TV interviews all seem to start with the obligatory acknowledgment of where that person was on the 11th, then a bit about how awkward it is to talk about being funny, etc. right now. Only then, is it OK to talk about what they came on the show to promote.

I was struck by an interview this morning with Kelsey Grammer of "Frasier." His long-time friend and producer David Angel was on one of the planes that crashed into the towers. As he talked about his friend of 18 years, he kept slipping into the present tense, as if David were still here. It was touching to see someone publicly coming to grips with a loss at the most fundamental level - how do you refer to someone you've lost?

Denzel Washington was on this morning too. He spoke of smelling the smoke as soon as he got off the plane, and how the mood in New York is noticeably different from other cities.

Riding the train this morning was a bit of an oddity. The train stopped between Court Street and Bowling Green for a minute or so. The pause was just long enough to set the mind racing. I thought of how the folks who were on the train that morning had been stuck underground between stations for a period of time, then many people got discharged from the train, only to find themselves exiting the station into the path of the oncoming dust cloud. I began to wonder, ever so slightly, if something sinister and unseen was happening above us. The wait wasn't long enough to be truly nerve-wracking, but a month ago my only concern would have been whether the delay was going to make me late.

When I got off the escalator from the train at Bowling Green, the smell of smoke was thick in the air. It wasn't the plastic/electrical fire smell that had been wafting from WTC in the previous weeks. It was much more woody. Still, I immediately assumed it had to do with Ground Zero. As I walked to the office, two fire trucks whizzed by. On the back of one, a fireman was busily donning a "Scott Pack" breathing apparatus. A minute later, a third ladder truck flew by. As I got to Water street, It became clear that the wind was carrying the smoke from a completely different direction than the World Trade Center. It drove home the point that the WTC disaster was not the last fire that NYC will ever endure. Emergencies, too, are a part of life that goes on since then.

[ link | e-me ]

2:40 PM      

Enter the Opportunists
After weeks of "happy news" about how even the petty thieves were well-behaved during this period, the stories are starting to come out about folks who are trying to take advantage of the situation. I've heard bits about how the mob is selling pieces of the wreckage as souvenirs. This morning, I overheard someone on the bus talking about some thieves who may have become victims: apparently, there were people who went into the towers, thinking they could make off with jewelry and other loot from the mall stores. Big mistake.

Be sure to spell my name right
I walked into a Starbucks this afternoon, and saw that the American Red Cross had set up a workstation where you could register yourself on their Family Registration website. That way, people who might be looking for you can find out if you're OK. It's a good idea. The thing that bugged me is the smack of commercialism that went along with it. The banner and instruction card that hang on the wall next to the PC clearly say "powered by Microsoft and Compaq" no anonymous donors, these. The lettering for the organizations providing the "power" was bigger than the text that spelled "American Red Cross," nearly overpowering the main message.

Denise and some of her friends had an interesting observation about some of the benefit concerts that are going on: you don't hear so much about actual dollars that some of these music stars are laying out. Instead, they're asking the buying public to pony-up. Maybe if they just dug deep, more real dollars would go to the charities, instead of the inefficient (albeit well-meaning) organizations set up to funnel the proceeds.

A not-so-publicised fact is that much of the funds raised by organizations on behalf of charity groups never reaches the groups they were intended for. The money is eaten up in the overhead of the sponsoring group. One fund-raiser, Pallotta Teamworks, has a track record of getting 60% of the money they raise to the ADIS research organizations they benefit.

But then, maybe some of those stars actually are giving of their own, as well; and they just don't need the extra publicity to go along with it.

:::

The newspaper headlines today are starting to give a figure for the "cost" of these attacks: $60 Billion. That's an imaginary number. Nobody's ever even touched a single Billion, have they? As I sat in the Starbucks, sipping my latte (yes, I drink those - dont' bug me) I heard an odd song on the sound system. I couldn't quite make out all the lyrics, but the fragments I heard seemed to comprise, in a way, a theme song for the times we're living through:

"This ol' earthquake's gonna leave me in the poor house...
On the thirty-first floor...
...there's a gold-plated door...
...take the Lord's name in vain...


[ link | e-me ]

Sunday, September 30, 2001
1:20 PM      
this is a test

[ link | e-me ]

7:42 PM      

That's it for now. I've spent a good amount of time this afternoon, playing with Blogger. I had an idea of what I was going for, (some things I thought should work, didn't) but some of that didn't pan out. Still, I'm happy with the result. There will be additional changes in the coming weeks. Lemme know what you think.

[ link | e-me ]
 
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