9/28/01 - Memo to America: This new war should NOT be like the War on Drugs.
Leaders from the Left and Right scrutinize the President's anti-terrorism initiative for civil liberties violations.
Shopping Spree? The Knicks have until Monday to use their injury exemption for Luc Longley. Top candidates include Marc Jackson of Golden State and Chris Gatling of All-Over-The-League. In related news, Eisley wants some PT.
9/26/01 - No more amateur pictures of the WTC ruins? Hmmm...I'll seriously doubt that's enforceable. In Southern towns near Fort Bragg, members of Delta Force quietly disappear. Architects and city planners debate what's next for Ground Zero. In the meantime, a group known as Creative Time looks to fill the hole in the sky with Towers of Light. I'm all for it. On the eve of this new war, James Carroll ventures into the Crusading mind. Nat Hentoff considers what the war on terrorism means for civil liberties. Are we headed for around-the-clock CCTV? Maureen Dowd scrutinizes the recent yuppie penchant for gas masks, a New York fad that'll no doubt be exacerbated by this horror story from the Globe. Fear and Loathing in America: Hunter S. Thompson offers his take on terror over the past two weeks. Stephen Jay Gould contemplates kindness. In non-WTC news, he's back, and for the rest of the league, it's payback time. I must admit, I look forward to watching Latrell Sprewell eat MJ alive on opening night. In related news, so long Luc. Can the Knicks get an injury exemption up in here? Luke Skywalker turns 50. Enterprise, the new Star Trek show, premieres tonight. It doesn't have to be very good to be better than Voyager. From the Atlantic, Studs Terkel interviews on death and dying.
9/24/01 - New Fellowship of the Ring trailer. Go now. I need to be in the Garden Oct. 31st. Wizards. Knicks. MJ. Gotham. I need them. More than ever. Cheer all year. Never forget. In the wake of 9-11, David Aldridge wants basketball back (and MJ to play point.) In related news, the Sportsguy formerly known as Boston Sportsguy examines MJ's comeback - it's the best take I've read so far. The cast of Scooby Doo including CGI Scooby, just in case you can't find a better way to spend $10 these days. Sunday morning a few friends and I ventured down to Ground Zero, or at least as close as authorities let people, which was about a block away. Along with the melancholy and pacifism of Union Square on Friday night (see below), it's something I'll never forget. Strange smells still linger heavily in the air in Lower Manhattan, and dust still coats everything. Pieces of paper and various other assorted debris are stuck in the anti-pigeon spikes all over the top ledges of the Trinity Church. The sun beats down from the spot in the sky where the World Trade Center once stood. And all that remains of the Two Towers is a blackened and charred four-story husk (that oddly enough still reads Borders Books and Music), just enough to remind you that once a huge building (or two) stood here. A very somber and eerie experience, and hopefully not in a shape-of-things-to-come kinda way. Since more than half of my traffic these days are looking for some variation of "ghost+faces+in+smoke+at+wtc," here's what y'all are looking for. I'd say it's a reach.
9/22/01 - Visited Union Square last night and witnessed the WTC memorial vigil firsthand. Most striking, other than the thousands upon thousands of candles, was the pacific nature of it all. There are absolutely no calls for justice or retribution, just hundreds of homemade signs asking in various ways to give peace a chance. The tone there is completely unlike either the vengeful flagwaving we've seen on television or the self-flagellating relativism permeating Columbia right now. (along the lines of: If we only understood Osama Bin Laden, this wouldn't have happened.) At any rate if you live in New York and you haven't been down there yet, it's definitely worth an evening visit - you won't forget it. As the war on terrorism heats up, the attack on civil liberties begins. Don't call it a comeback, he's been here for years. It's looking more and more like MJ will return to the NBA next season. Fallows and Lewis talk tech in the pages of the Atlantic (parts 2 and 3.) Surprise, surprise. Athenian soccer fans show no class during a moment of silence for the WTC victims.
9/21/01 - I sit in one of the dives on 52nd St., uncertain and afraid, as the clever hopes expire of a low dishonest decade. September 1, 1939, by W.H. Auden (with commentary by Slate's Eric McHenry.) By all accounts, President Bush gets well-deserved high marks for his speech last night. He definitely performed far beyond my (admittedly low) expectations with his gravitas and composure. But, the elephant in the room right now is, what does this all mean for civil liberties? (Speaking of which, interest in biometrics takes off.) I must confess, the sad, satiric fate of Sam Lowry still dwells heavily on my thoughts these days. Broadcasters prepare to minimize war metaphors during weekend football. Governor Tom Ridge becomes Terrorism Czar. A solid choice. Despite some alternate theories out there, the Flight 77 hijackers seem to have been clearly headed toward the Pentagon. In more WTC-related matters:
9/14/01 - Cellphone coverage is still really spotty (Other than DC for some reason, I've had trouble calling out of Manhattan), and of course the alteration to the Lower Manhattan skyline is still jarring, but otherwise life is slowly returning to a semblance of normality here in NYC. The electrical fire smell made it uptown on Wednesday, but since then there's been no atmospheric fallout from the tragedy north of 30th St. or so. Tuesday night brought extraordinarily disconcerting Brazil-tinged nightmares of terrified people, vengeful ghosts, falling buildings, and an unnatural, unspeakable void. Last night, I had a dream I was picking over the rubble. So subconsciously, I suppose, I've started dealing with what happened, even if I still feel that I'm in a bit of a daze. There's plenty of weblogs out there - Now This, Medley, Genehack, to take just three examples - that are doing a superlative job of following the ups and down of the tragedy and its aftermath, so I'll leave it to them. One thought, though. When they construct the new and improved Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan (my hope is that they break ground before I finish my PhD work here, in 5-7 years), I do think they might want to consider naming some important portion of the complex after Mayor Giuliani. For all his many considerable faults, Rudy's unquestionably been the most dynamic and imposing New York mayor since LaGuardia even before the Tuesday air strikes. And since Tuesday, he's been in exemplary Churchillian form, handling the crisis with amazing aplomb and just the right mix of sorrow, openness, and determination. (As an aside, Ken Jackson, quoted at length in the above article, happens to be one of my professors this term.) In short, Giuliani has made Dubya's stream-of-unconsciousness mumblemouth routine seem positively cringeworthy. Not that Goreson Welles would have been much better. Also, It's been very heartening to see the rest of the world show their support during the past few days - I thought the Star-Spangled Banner during the Changing of the Guard in London was particularly moving. Dubya going to Omaha? No comment at this time. As for what's next, we have the following: On one side, "I say to our enemies, we are coming," says Sen. John McCain. "God may show you mercy. We will not." On the other, "Any enemy of the Muslims will be punished by God," says Imam Mohammed Muslim Haqqani during Friday prayers at a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul. "The United States and Israel are enemies of Islam." I'm definitely of the "they put one-a-yours in the hospital, you put one-a-theirs in the morgue" school of retaliation. This is not Vietnam, this is not the Gulf War - Our homeland has been attacked, our civilians have been murdered, and we are well within our rights to respond with devastating force in Afghanistan. But this is a new type of war against a very old type of enemy. Carpet-bombing Afghanistan may only result in the slaughter of countless innocents, while the guilty parties just stay holed up somewhere. And I fear that every head cut off the hydra of fundamentalist zealotry will only result in thirty or forty new ones sprouting. This is not a political war - it's a religious and cultural one, and all the usual rules are out the window. For that reason, I hope we choose our actions very carefully, and that we don't start something we can't finish solely to appease the burgeoning anger and resentment of the American people.
9/7/01 - Is Secretary Rumsfeld on the way out? Caught the repeat of the MTV Video Music Awards last night. I must be getting old...what a horrible train wreck of a show. Was it always that awful? U2 and Tim Robbins/Susan Sarandon - not to mention the aging trio of Loder, Norris, and Columbus - looked mortified to be there, as well they should. Some of the performances weren't bad, I suppose, but lordy. I would have turned it off much earlier in the night had it not been for the promised new Fellowship teaser. In a pop culture world gone wrong, at least the Lord of the Rings films still look butter. Hmmm....perhaps if the Bushies had done this across the board, poor Pete Domenici wouldn't have to stick his neck out like that. Murmurs posts mp3s of the recent REM unplugged show. Andrew Sullivan finally gives up the TRB column at the Gore Republic. Alas, he's replaced by Peter Beinart, who's only lefty in comparison to Sullivan. What the hell happened to the New Republic? Bob Dylan surveys the "science-fiction world where Disney and Disney's science-fiction have won" in autobiographical form. Hope it makes more sense than Tarantula. Finalizing class schedule...I'll post reading lists when I get a chance.
9/4/01 - Well, after I ran into Fred randomly in the East Village not once but twice last night (and I'm so far out of the scene that I hadn't even realized he'd moved to NYC), I knew that karmically it must be time to update the blog. Loving the first week back in the city. Everyone in my US History program (all seven of us) seems very interesting and cool, as does a solid bunch of the Europeanists. I'm definitely the old guy in the bunch - some of these cats are 22 and fresh out of school - but the change is definitely refreshing. Berkeley's pretty well acclimated at this point now too.. He had a rough couple of days at first, but his mood definitely improved once we hit the ultra-swanky dog park at 105th and Riverside, only a mile or so away. Apparently Al Gore cum Orson Welles is "unsure" about another Presidential run. Let me help you with this dilemma there, bud. Short answer, no. Long answer, hell no. Congratulations and best wishes to Steve and Lyn. Here's to many happy decades. I know I should've told you this last week, but alas. Sci-Fi has started showing Farscape from the beginning Monday through Thursday at 8pm. For sci-fi people (Buffy fans, that means you too), I can't recommend it enough...It's got a really great Blake's 7 flava to it. Love and Theft comes out next week (not today, as I earlier posted - check out the great poker-influenced commercial here.) Dylan's also coming through MSG this fall, but at my current level of graduate student poverty I might have to let this one go by. Which really sucks, since at this point I think ole Bob is a national treasure that should be enjoyed as much as possible while he's still performing. If he's coming to your town, go see him. Sox implode. That's too bad. I definitely see them as the Knicks of baseball. Speaking of which, did I mention I'll be getting all the Knickerbocker games on cable this year as a perk of living on 122nd and Amsterdam? Booyah. R.I.P. Pauline Kael 1920-2001. Apparently George Lucas named the bad guy in Willow after her, which only lowers him yet again in my estimation. I didn't always agree with her take, but she had a great way for slicing through pretension. Bad day for the Beasties: Grand Royal closes its doors. Speaking of Lucas the Hutt, Mark Hamill dogs Ewan MacGregor for schooling the new Episode 2 title. Attack of the Clones? Ugh. It's a good thing I was on vacation when I found out. Andrew Sullivan defends Condit. Interesting, although perhaps a little too contrarian for its own sake. As I noted earlier, Hawaii was wonderful too. Below is a smattering of pics from my time on the islands. The other people you see are my siblings.