October 06, 2001
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
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."
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.
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.
October 05, 2001
Wave your flag
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
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
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
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.
October 04, 2001
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
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."
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.
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...
October 03, 2001
*** HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DENISE! ***
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
...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
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
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
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.
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
Some days after the attack, the owner draped American flags
over the word "Afghan" everywhere it occurred on his restaurant's
the whole thing
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
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.
October 02, 2001
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
...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.
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.
If you read the post about Writer's Relief
earlier, I've added a link to their site.
October 01, 2001
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
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.
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
On the thirty-first floor...
...there's a gold-plated door...
...take the Lord's name in vain...
September 30, 2001
this is a test
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.