9/11: No, America Is Not Over It Yet

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

NOTE: I am doing a separate 9/11 link round-up. There are many great personal stories, tributes, etc. Very worth spending some time reading them.

When one endures a great tragedy — death of a child, loss of a limb in war; or experiences a violation — rape, affair, house burglary– people find a million different ways to ask the victims without actually saying the words, “Are you over it?”The question is profoundly offensive no matter how it’s asked.

A person never gets over some things. He learns to live with it.

Around the corners of the body, house, the town, the life, there are memories. The realness of the memories will shock at surprising and unwelcome times. And no matter how profoundly it’s desired, there will be no forgetting.


Hey, America! You over it yet?

New York city is the shining, favored daughter. She is beautiful and busy and idealistic and innocent and open and hopeful. In her, people, people less talented, less lovely, cast their hopes.

America is America the beautiful. She has her faults, to be sure, but one of them isn’t cynicism. Buoyed by a sunny disposition and the opportunity for renewal, America shines.

New York city is the best of all that. New York is the creative spirit. New York is renewal.

New York city is life.

Sound romantic? Absolutely. And it’s that romance and idealism, that essence of America, that Osama bin Laden saw and wanted to destroy.

I was taking my son to his first day of preschool and heard that the first Tower had been hit. What should I do? It seemed evident to me that this was no accident.

Immediately, my thoughts turned to Israel. They get these attacks all the time. They don’t stop. They keep going.

And then a string of New York acquired expletives flashed through my mind. My son would stay at school. %!@!. Them.

My baby daughter was at my mom’s house. As I walked through the door, I saw the second tower hit and I crumpled.

All those people.

I watched the horror unfold like the majority of my mesmerized compatriots. People jumped from the blast furnace of twisted metal rather than be consumed.

I watched, wondering what happened to Flight 93. Wondering if one of our F16 pilots had to pull that trigger. Horrified at the possibility. Knowing there was only one choice and being sick because of it.

I watched the Pentagon burn. Fearing for the President. Fearing for the White House.

As I watched, I pushed back the fear. I hated being afraid and became very angry. Very, very angry.

I wanted vengeance. I still do. I am disappointed that a bullet from my gun didn’t kill Osama bin Laden. It gives me some small satisfaction that one of our Navy Seals, badasses that they are, received this fine honor. I’m sorry Osama bin Laden can’t be killed again. And again.

This reaction isn’t politically correct, mind you. I recognize that.

It’s not politically correct that I want every single one of those people who laughed at our demise to feel the pain and violation we felt on that brilliant September morning ten years ago.

It’s not politically correct that I believe that people who excuse or justify this behavior are as bad as the perpetrators of the assault.

It’s not politically correct that I have contempt for the uncivilized, backward well of ideological despair that gave rise to these actions.

The rationale for terrorism is the rationale of the serial killer. There is a bleakness and blackness of soul so vast that the only thing that animates his nihilistic life is the death of those who love what he doesn’t–life, love, possibility.

The moral equivalence I see in the face of this depravity makes me sick. It is absolutely disgusting that people can justify or equivocate in the face of such evil.

America, her freedom, creativity, her love of life and liberty, her success, her innocence got attacked on 9/11. The smoldering holes at the Twin Towers are a testament to the greatness our enemies wish to destroy.

And there are some who believe she deserved it. She had it coming. She dressed provocatively. She is more beautiful. She swayed when she walked. She has a bigger house. She has been given everything on a silver platter. She’s greedy. She’s pushy. She’s a whore.

These are all the justifications of the killer, the thief, the rapist, the terrorist, the nihilist, the Nazi.

And there is no rationalization that doesn’t make a sympathizer to this corruption the equivalent of the getaway driver at a bank robbery.

This was built.

And this was destroyed.

The scars from this attack will never go away. America will never be “over it.”

Every TSA feel-up is a reminder. Every bombing in London or Spain or India is a reminder. Every attack at Ft. Hood or on a recruiting center in Arkansas or in Time’s Square or on a flight to Detroit is a reminder.

America, because she is a shining city on a hill, because she reaches so high into the sky, is a target for hate. In a world full of darkness, many want light snuffed out.

So a decade post-9/11, I remember and I am scandalized all over again.

I am not “over it”.

I remember. I remember who did this.

I remember those who died as innocents. I remember those who tried to save the lives of those trapped  and lost their own. I remember those on Flight 93 who forfeited their own lives for their fellow Americans. I remember those who died at the Pentagon.

I remember those who  planned for a long, hard war against a pitiless enemy. I remember the National Guard pilots faced with a suicidal choice. I remember our military and our police and our firefighters and our first responders and those quiet DHS, NSA, CIA and FBI nerds combing through mountains of data for that needle of information to prevent another attack.

I remember our Marines and our Navy and our Army and our National Guard troops who have been asked to serve again and again–who put themselves in grave danger every day hunting the vermin who rejoice at using a dull knife to decapitate an innocent.

I remember as many details as I can. It is the least I can do.

I will never forget. And neither should you.

Hurricane Irene: PREPARE!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

So, on Twitter a few minutes ago, I created a list for folks on the Northeastern seaboard looking at their imminent crisis. Most seem rather blithely detached from the impending pain. I know that feeling. It’s the same one one has looking into the Grand Canyon and seeing the vastness and feeling small and overwhelmed. People see that satellite image and it seems unreal. It isn’t.

Prepare. The New York Times has a gorgeous interactive tracker here.

Overarching ideas: If I were a single mother or had health problems or have infants or small children, I would be evacuating now. New York is going to have some problems that New Orleans had: A rather land-locked populace, many of whom rely on public transportation. The time for leaving is now. You have two days. Don’t dally. If it comes to nothing, you’ve had a nice long weekend away. If it comes to something, being stuck three or four floors up and helpless with not enough food, water, medicine? Misery. Ask for help NOW.

So, here’s some things you’ll need if you decide to ride it out — something I most certainly DO NOT recommend considering what’s coming. But if you’re a stubborn mule and refuse to leave, at least be prepared.

  1. Bleach: You’ll use it to clean. Before the hurricane hit here last time, I became a whirling dervish. I cleaned EVERY piece of laundry. The house was spotless. The first thing that happens when the hurricane comes through — no electricity, no sanitation, no public works. Think about it. Think about not flushing your toilet. Yeah.
  2. Extra paper goods: Toilet paper, paper plates, plasticware, garbage bags, baby wipes (no showers), etc. You can’t have too much.
  3. Camp lamps: You know those propane camp lamps? Make sure you have fuel, too. But when you lose electricity, you’ll want to sit around in the sweltering heat and do something. Get cards, books (no iPad), board games.
  4. Landline for telephone and MAKE SURE you have an old-fashioned phone that doesn’t need batteries.
  5. Buy more perishable food than you think. Fruits, veggies. Dried goods get boring after a couple days.
  6. CASH IS KING. ATMs won’t work. Banks will be closed. You will need money to buy things from whomever is still open. Their credit card machines WON’T work.
  7. Fill up the car with gas. This could save your life. Your car engine is a generator. It can charge your phones. It can get you the hell out of Dodge. Fill it up.
  8. Buy a chainsaw now.  Laugh if you will, but we helped many people get out of their driveways and out of neighborhoods with our chainsaw. People were stuck. Don’t be one of them.
  9. Buy a handcrank NOAA radio. You will use this. When the reality of no electricity settles in, you’ll start panicking because you don’t have enough batteries. Hand cranks work no matter. Buy one here.
  10. Guns and ammo. Make sure and have it ready. There was no looting in Houston. Know why? Self protection. People get desperate. When we left and finally evacuated a week after the last hurricane, we stopped at a private gas station that our friends are part owner of — we needed to top off the tank after doing some running around. A very frantic dude came up (he was armed) who wanted gas. We all were armed (four men and me and the kids). It was a good thing we were.
  11. High calorie food and multi-vitamins. Chocolate. PB&J. Boxed foods. Get a variety. You’ll be sick of it all before it’s all over.
  12. Clear plastic covered containers and plastic bags. PUT ALL VALUABLES in clear plastic bags. Put plastic bags in the bin. Be ready to put them in the car and go. 12.5 Have a container with emergency items — hunting knife, rope, tarp, duct tape, etc.
  13. Gas stove works. Everything else won’t. You’ll need a grill and charcoal and matches or a lighter. Keep em dry.
  14. WHEN IN DOUBT EVACUATE.  What’s the worst that can happen? You’re wrong? Who cares? It’s better than being stuck in a flooded city, I can promise you.
  15. Get water. During the first hurricane, we had surprise guests. Friends and extended family lived in a mobile home. They couldn’t afford to leave but the hurricane was on a direct path. We had them come to our house. It was a good thing we had lots and lots of extra water. You want to be in the position of helping people–not needing help.
  16. You have a short window to make contact with family. The government will take over the cellular and landline network for emergency channels. This will piss you off. Don’t panic. Addendum: Make sue someone knows what your plans are. Give out back up phone numbers. People will be worrying about you.
  17. Extras: Duct tape (for windows and blowing and stuff) and LED flash lights. FIRST AID kit. Aspirin, antibiotics, butterfly bandages, etc
  18. Take pictures for insurance. Right NOW, get out your phone. Go around your house and take pictures of everything. Save the photos somewhere safe. Insurance. Someone mentioned emailing them to yourself. This is a good idea. Get it in the cloud in case you need to make claims.
  19. Last thing before all else fails: Fill the tub with water. And as @chrisofrights says, the water tank has extra.
  20. Plastic bags. You really can’t have too many between trash and clean up. RT @FineCalliCat: wipes..don’t forget wipes
BONUS: Don’t forget an emergency kit. Fill up on your medicine, etc.
Double BONUS: Manual can opener. Forgot that.
You’re probably thinking this is melodramatic. Not so much. Things get primal awfully quickly. When it comes down to it, there will be a grim determination that sets in. You’ll start only seeing men at the grocery store. You’ll see panicked people pleaded with grocers for more water. You’ll wish you had prepared. You’ll feel foolish because you knew what you should do but you didn’t do it.
Do it.
Once the hurricane hits and once the electricity goes out, you’ll be thrown back in time. There will be no sanitation. There will be water everywhere. Trees and debris will be strewn. You’ll wonder when someone will clean up. No one is cleaning up. YOU are cleaning up.
Civilization is a delicate thing. It goes out the window, and quickly, under trauma. Your best defense is preparing now. Communications will fail. You’ll wonder how the government does anything. And the answer is, they don’t do much, very well, on a good day. Under pressure, they go to where they’re most needed first and there’s many things they simply can’t do. Expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised when they come through.
Good luck!

Cowboys, Indians, Cops, Robbers, & Now, Jails: Un-PC

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

A jail for children“:

Children may play cops and robbers all the time, but putting a pretend jail in a public housing playground in a historically black community struck some residents as an insult.

“We started complaining because it was like promoting kids to go to jail,” said Natasha Godley, 37, who has a 6-year-old son.

The prison look, including the offending word, was part of the original design of the playground, which was made by a company called Landscape Structures and erected in March 2004, the New York City Housing Authority said on Wednesday.
JailMonifa Bandele/Black and Brown News The jail, as it once was.

But it had not elicited complaints until this week, said Sheila Stainback, an agency spokeswoman.

Lumumba Bandele, a lecturer in black history at the City University of New York who lives nearby, said he began complaining to the housing authority and local officials about the playground this past weekend.

“The fact is that this community along with six others in New York City makes up the majority of the prison population in New York State,” he said. “And to have this here under the auspices of NYCHA is absolutely insulting.”

The jungle gym, tucked behind a building near Throop and Park Avenues, sits across from a handball court adorned with paintings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Oh yes, let’s make this a race thing. Let’s belabor the insensitivity of a playground that simulates one of the classic kids games: cops and robbers. Children are naturally inclined to see rules broken in (dare I say it) black and white. “Jail” is often a routine result. “You’re stuck in jail until you’re tagged out!”

Meanwhile, let’s ignore the underlying problems causing so many of these kids to end up in a real penitentiary. It’s too painful to examine generations of government dependence, the devaluation and absence of fatherhood, and the destruction of a moral underpinning to families with (mostly) boys ending up in prison.

Let’s pretend that playground equipment will be the psychological straw that will drive a youngin’ into a life of crime, since we’re living in fantasy land and emphasizing nonsense.

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