Apologies for my hiatus from blogging during the past few months. My work responsibilities cut back on the amount of time I had for documenting New York City from the Southern point of view.
Fortunately, my employer has been kind enough to help out by going bankrupt, exponentially increasing the amount of time I have available for writing.
Starting tomorrow, I'll be back documenting New York City as the hillbilly I still am. Until then, rest assured that everyone up here still talks funny and there's still no place serving good grits or barbecue.
Photo (c) 2010 Darren Drevik. All Rights Reserved.
New York City has had 48 hours to digest the news that Osama Bin Laden, the man who masterminded the greatest horror in this city’s history, is dead.
To describe the initial reaction Sunday night as an outpouring of celebration and happiness would be an error. Yes, there were those who spontaneously gathered at Ground Zero and Times Square to celebrate that one of the most evil men in history had been brought to justice at the hands of President Obama and the Navy Seals. But the overall reaction of the city’s residents has been much more tempered.
Tempered. This is a city that has been tempered over the past 10 years. You don’t travel far in Manhattan without seeing reminders of that horrible day. Firehouses still hang the helmets of those who died trying to save others. When you ask firefighters how long they’ve been with NYFD, the most common answer is nine years – when the department had to go on a hiring binge to replace the 343 firefighters killed that day. You see pictures of loved ones lost in restaurants where their parents still work. You hear stories from co-workers of what they were doing that day. Policemen in New York -- 23 NYPD officers and 37 Port Authority officers died -- receive the type of deference and respect other major-city law enforcement officers don't enjoy.
Osama Bin Laden is dead. But so are the 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001. While his death provides a modicum of closure, it provides little comfort to those wives whose husbands still aren’t coming home, to the children who still know their parents as photographs rather than people.
New Yorkers understand that. So while the city seems relieved and slightly pleased that the man who caused this is dead, there will be no ticker tape parades. In fact, the hope is that the President tomorrow when he visits Ground Zero doesn’t even mention Bin Laden’s name. Doing so, one newspaper editorialized this morning, would dishonor that hallowed ground.
There are the natural concerns about reprisals from single individuals who continue to suffer from the mental illness that the now-dead Saudi spread. But the people of this city are a stubborn and brusque lot. They will go about their business with a slightly heightened sense of awareness, but little fear. Being afraid hands the terrorists a victory; and people of New York are determined not to do that.
The final count was 13 inches of snow. In front of our building, the snow is much deeper, since the 60 miler-per-hour winds blew huge drifts up against our building. My first snow in New York City, and the first time I've seen this much snow since my childhood in the hills of Tennessee.
Irony warning: I made it into work this morning. Was the first one in, and 95 percent of the Yankees in my office aren't here. Feeling pretty smug right now, needless to say.
Winds were pretty fierce last night, and you can read on the news of motorists being stranded, people being stuck on train cars for eight hours, etc. As for this hillbilly, got to stomp through theigh-deep snow last night and this morning. Pretty amazing. I'm not in Kansas Georgia anymore.
Here's a few photos of the snow in Central Park this morning, and one of the beagles despertately trying to find a drift where they can go to the bathroom. Major canine confusion, needless to say.
Spent my first September 11 anniversary in New York yesterday, and it was a sobering experience on a number of levels.
First, I took my children the day before on a tour of the World Trade Center site and the Tribute WTC Visitors Center that's currently located on the Southeast corner of the site. Very sobering. I've been there before, but my son, who had never seen it, was struck by the sizet of the space, and when the size of the buildings were described to him, the enormity of the twin towers and how devastating the attacks were.
Next, we went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and were reminded looking back at the Manhattan skyline of how different it seems without those two towers perched near the southern tip. An outdated photograph on a display on the island showed what the view looked like prior to that awful day in 2001.
Saturday, we watched the ceremony that began at 8:46 a.m. on television, and the reading of the names was as lengthy and painful as it always is. Having the children of the dead read their parent's name and send words of love and loss is gut-wrenching.
Afterwards, there was a hate rally two blocks away, and I couldn't help but be struck at how those who insisted "my God is better and more important than your God" were thinking the same thoughts the hijackers did as they plunged their planes into the towers. I am constantly amazed at how we humans as a species can learn so little and be so blind.
Finally, we finished the day near midnight nearly 60 blocks away, taking in a awe-inspiring view of the city at the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, where I took the photograph at top of the twin beams of light that shine skyward every Sept. 11 night from the WTC site.
I wasn't in New York that day nine years ago. But as then-governor George Pataki said at the time, "Today, all Americans are New Yorkers."
This will officially be the most insane week in the world. Consider:
Today: Have to finish organizing everything for the packers and movers. Anything that isn't going to New York has to be out of the house by the end of the day. We've had two garage sales and given away so much stuff that our kids and friends are sick of us offering free furniture, food and clothing. My son and daughter are rummaging through the freezer since we can't take any food. They seem disappointed that there's way too much healthy food and not enough beer.
Tomorrow: Packers come to box up everything. Pet shippers arrive to crate up and take 66.6% of our beagle population to the airport for shipping to a kennel in New York. Have to unplug the refrigerator, since it has to chill for 24 hours before they can load it on the truck. I will have a moment of silence in front of my grill, since I will not be able to take it to New York. Are my days of cooking outdoors over?
Thursday: Loading the moving truck. Taking our remaining beagle to the vet to have some minor surgery. Spending the rest of the night cleaning up the house and spackling and painting so it will look good for the buyers who we foolishly think are out there and who -- in reality -- will never show up to see our handiwork. Spend the night sleeping (sic) on an inflatable bed.
Friday: Drive to Knoxville for my class reunion. Lunch with my mom, who probably will be wearing black as she continues to mourn my moving so far away from her. Then heavy drinking with people I haven't seen in three decades.
Saturday: More drinking, hoping to distract myself from the enormity of what I've done.
Sunday: Nursing hangover, a final brunch, and then a long drive to a motel in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Monday: Drive into New York. Take out a loan to pay for the parking down the street from our new apartment. Pick up keys, and finally see what it looks like. I'm going to love it, even if I have to lie when I say that I love it. Spend rest of day cleaning and painting.
Tuesday: Moving van shows up. Try and hold off getting hernia until after lunchtime.
Wednesday: Do whatever the misses says. Or else.
Thursday: Help the misses navigate the subway to her new job. Then continue searching for one for myself. Pine for barbecue, grits, waffles and fried chicken.
I sure felt like a fly in the potato salad yesterday. Spent the afternoon at New Yankee Stadium. Got a tan on my knees (my legs were in the sun and my head and torso were in the shade). Like a trucker's tan, but in reverse.
Decided not to wear my Braves cap, since I was in an AL park, but I did sport my bright orange University of Tennessee t-shirt. No reaction whatsoever. Which was fine. Some guy with a death wish showed up in a Red Sox jersey. I figured he was some frat pledge on an initiation dare, but he swore he wasn't.
But as a sociology experiment, my first visit to the epicenter of northernness was worthy of a research paper. Some of my key findings for my Southern brethren:
Because of the high concentration of those ethnicities that do not eat pork, all the hot dogs in the stadium were all-beef franks. By the fourth inning, I was suffering from pork withdrawal.
The outfield was torn up, according to my host, because they'd hosted a boxing match there last week. I can understand messing up good baseball turfgrass for a monster truck pull, but for a boxing match?
Beers from the shouting vendors in the stands are $9. Hand them an Alexander Hamilton and the $1 tip is assumed by every vendor. Don't you dare think about asking for your buck back.
Musically, Canada has a much better national anthem than we do. America the Beautiful blows them both away, but at sporting events, we tend to screw up The Star-Spangled Banner in a big way. Maybe the next time the Braves play in New York City we could get them to play "Dixie" or Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American."
There's always those people in the stands who love to hear themselves talk, and consider themselves an expert on everything that's happening on the field. But I have to say, New York has a higher concentration of Cliff Clavins than anywhere else. I had people all around me pontificating on every aspect of the game. One predicted what was going to happen next (and disproved the maxim that a broken clock is right at least twice a day). Another would read stats off the huge TV matrix board and then recite them to his friend as if he was pulling Toronto Blue Jay right fielder Jose Bautista's slugging percentage out of his Yankee-cap-covered cranium. A third was taunting error-prone Blue Jay left fielder John McDonald -- from 800 feet away in the upper, upper deck. I'm sure McDonald heard every word.
In the end, it was a grand day. The Yankees racked up an 11-run third inning and coasted, former Atlanta Brave Mark Teixeira upheld the South's honor with some solid hitting and fielding. I didn't buy any pinstripe hats or jerseys, but my loathing of the Yanks has been diminished somewhat, thanks in large part to my host Jessica and her loyalty to her team.