Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Ground Zero

So I finally went to Ground Zero this weekend. I had thought that I had let a sufficient amount of time pass since September 11 to mitigate the awfulness of that visit. It didn't work as well as I hoped.

I was surprised how close we could get to the wreckage. At some points we were only about two blocks away. I was also surprised at how it just, well, sneaks up on you. We got out of the Wall Street 4/5 subway stop near Trinity Church, and could see crowds of people along Broadway gathered at each intersection. So it wasn't so much a surprise in that you knew you were about to see something when you got close to the crowds.

I think I was at Liberty Street when I first saw the wreckage up close. I believe it was what was left of 4 WTC, but it could have been the South Tower. What I do know was that it was a brown, twisted, burned out, massive piece of destruction. It was the visual manifestation of Violence, if that makes any sense at all. You look at it, and that's the only word that comes to mind, repeating itself over and over. Violence, Violence, Violence. It's breathtaking. Jeffrey said I had a visible physical reaction, that I recoiled upon first seeing it. It was one of the few times during this whole thing that I wanted to cry. I guess my Shepherdian revulsion of crying in public won out, because I didn't.

We also saw 5 WTC, where my roommate Christine worked until September 10. It's still standing, but it's not worth much as a building now. It too is burned out and devoid of most of its exterior. They'll have to tear it down. The sign from the Borders bookstore is still in the blown-out window.

We got ourselves good and lost while down there, as any sense of geography that Jeffrey and I had of the area isn't worth much of anything now. So we spent two hours or so there. If you're planning a trip there, I wouldn't recommend staying that long. You don't need to. Walk down Broadway, maybe down Rector. Maybe take a picture or two (yes, it feels morbid and tasteless to snap photos, but I figured that 20 years down the line, I'll have something poignant and real to show the progeny). Then go home.

It occurs to me that anyone reading these Updates would think I'm completely obsessed with death and destruction. I do think about other things. Today I spent a lovely sick day reading for class, watching Jeopardy! and perusing silly rock-band websites.

Of course, the book I was reading was Hiroshima, but I suppose that can't be helped.


Friday, November 16, 2001

If the economy of New York City is flagging, it sure as hay ain't my fault.

Today was a bona fide tourist day. It's good to have such a day once in a while, because it reminds me what a neato place I live in. But it's tough on the wallet.

First, it was off to the Met for my Painting and Sculpture in New York class. Today was 19th Century European Paintings Day, which in art-nerd-speak translates to Super Fun Happy Good Day. After viewing many a Degas and Monet, I was delighted to discover that my professor and I share the same favorite painting -- Jules Bastien-LePage's Joan of Arc. We both agreed that it was one of the most overlooked, underrated, and downright purtiest things in that wonderful building, and then we giggled, because that's what art nerds do.

Jeffrey's mom is in town, and they explored the American wing while my professor and I were giggling over French impressionists. Then we dined on overpriced Indian food that did ridiculous things to my stomach.

I went to the top of the Empire State Building tonight, which is something that I haven't done since junior high. I had tried a couple of times over the summer, but wasn't too keen on waiting in line for an hour.

But tonight, after going through the newly-installed metal detectors, we saw that there was NOBODY there. Deserted. We went right up to the window, right to the elevator, and right up to the observation deck, where we finally found other people, although not much. Prior to September 11, a nice Friday night like this would have found the place thronged with people.

And the southern view...

I read a lot of magazines after The Thing That Was Bad, and I remember one quote by a little boy who said that it looked like New York had lost it's two front teeth. I haven't had many opportunities since then to see the skyline from afar. Sure enough, there's a gaping hole in the southern skyline. In the dark, the space is filled with an ethereal glow from the lights at Ground Zero. It's a sad, sad sight.

But the rest of the city looks fabulous. I was very happy to see that the northern view is dominated by my favorite building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza (or the Big Pretty Building). Big, white pretty building with millions of orange lights as a backdrop, blue bridges, light vestiges of clouds beneath you. It's a lovely place. I'll miss it a lot come spring.

Time to write a paper and play with my new, pretty, overpriced snowglobe.

It's fun to be a tourist sometimes.


Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Caution: Quasi-Self-Righteous Tirade

New York smelled like burning building again today. It hasn't done so in awhile, but I think that the warmer weather today had something to do with it. It's not a good smell. It's an odd smell. It's definitely a burning smell of some kind, but acrid. Sort of like burning rubber, but not quite. I doubt it's going away any time soon. It will probably smell like that when I get back from London in May.

Too many sad days in New York. Too many hysterical newscasts. The poor news stations seem so disappointed at the prospect that Flight 587 wasn't blown up by terrorists.

It's a very interesting -- and at times, disheartening -- time to be a journalism student. On Monday we had a guest speaker from Newsweek come into one of my classes. He expressed his disappointment with his publication for propagating a vapid sense of jingoism. And I'm inclined to agree with him.

Don't get me wrong. I love my country. I love this city. Osama Bin Laden is a bad, bad person. And I'm happy that the Taliban seems to be out of business.

I'm just not entirely convinced that the ends justify the means. Should we have been over there for the reasons we were? Should we have gone in a long time ago to help the people in Afghanistan? Will abolishing the Taliban help us find out who crashed those planes? Is the Northern Alliance much better than the Taliban? They've been known to execute dissenters as well. It's just that we're more inclined to agree with the Northern Alliance's political views, so Peter Jennings glosses over the fact that they killed 100 Taliban sympathizers yesterday (not necessarily soldiers mind you, just sympathizers).

It's all very confusing.

I'll get off my soapbox now. Anyone else want a go?


Thursday, November 8, 2001

"The Thing That Was Bad"

Everything's back on track again. The lovely phone people hooked the phone back up, and my computer decided to function normally again, so I can re-join the 21st century.

Otherwise, situation normal -- or as normal as one can ask for given the shenanigans and goings-on. Roommate Christine and I are tired of the euphemisms for September 11 ("the events," "the tragedy," "the bombing," when it wasn't really a bombing to begin with). We prefer to call it The Thing That Was Bad, and leave it at that.

Of course, we're both not sure that we've fully dealt with it yet. Our semi-flippant attitude may be an indication of some greater distress, which will probably rear its ugly head a few months from now in the form of a meltdown in the produce section of a British supermarket, causing much embarrassment to ourselves and many peas to be thrown about. Maybe all we need is to distance ourselves from it.

I have not yet been to Ground Zero (two miles south), and I'm not entirely sure whether it will help or hurt. It's not like I need to go see "proof" to assure myself of the reality of the situation. I saw (and smelled, and inhaled, and choked on) enough for that. But I do need to cross 3rd Street sometime before I leave. Bobby's coming up Thanksgiving weekend, so we'll try then.

On the upside of things, it looks like the country's returning to "normalcy" (a wonderful buzzword, might I add). Rather than jeopardize their "Survivor" and "Friends" ratings, CBS and NBC did not air Bush's comments to the CDC. Bless them for reminding us of what's really important. Or something.


Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Technologically Stranded

You never really fully appreciate the benefits of the modern world until you're deprived of them.

Last night, my computer decided not to start and my phone went dead, leaving me with only a cell phone with a Philadelphia area code to defend myself. It may not be the biggest problem in the world, but it is a trifle unpleasant.

So if you've tried to reach me and wondered why I haven't called or e-mailed back, I apologize. I'm currently taking advantage of the lovely NYU Journalism lab facilities at every opportunity.

No phone, no computer, no microwave in the dorm -- it's kinda like pioneer days, without all the cholera. And with cell phones. And cable TV.

I guess it's not like pioneer days at all.

Talk to you soon, I hope.


Monday, November 5, 2001

Froggy Funeral

Alas, a beloved member of our humble household here at Apt. C1-4B has passed on to that big lily pad in the sky.

Nikki's frog Mona was discovered this evening reposing at the bottom of her bathroom-situated fishbowl (Mona was moved to the bathroom after she started making noises like an electric razor, keeping Nikki and Arielle up).

Mona was three years old, which is a respectable froggy age. We're not quite sure if she was even a she, but we do know that she was a good, faithful frog.

She really looked funny lying at the bottom of the toilet before we flushed her.

Good night sweet Mona, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest


Sunday, November 4, 2001


Did you know that creating a website is one of the most tedious and aggravating tasks known to mankind? Oh it's true! But isn't it nice when it's done?

Thousands of sites are launched every day. Most of them amount to nothing in the grand scheme of things. This is one of those websites. I intend it to be a place where those few who are interested can find out who I live with, and what I'm doing with myself -- particularly this spring when I'll be far, far away.

I'm also trying to keep the site as sparse as possible, so prospective employers can see my resume and clips without seeing florescent pink kitty cats prancing about the masthead. Not that there's anything wrong with florescent pink kitty cats, just don't look for 'em here. This is more about soothing, doctor's-office-waiting-room color schemes, and understatement. On that note, watch for pictures of me slathered in tempera paint at the body art contest. Coming soon!

Enjoy, take care, keep in touch