I did a bad thing today. I started people talking.
I was up at Union Square, where I used to live, reading the memorials that people have scrawled on giant sheets of paper with markers. (Maybe they’ve been on the news, I took pictures that’ll be posted later.) Things like “Got GOD?” and “We must never forget” and “We love you” and American flags with an image of the two towers instead of stars.
I kneeled down near one of them and wrote:
Then I couldn’t think of what to do with myself. I sat down on the steps and just stared and thought and got hot. I was about to leave, when I saw one of the sheets that just said:
It reminded me of when that same thing was on the cover of Newsweek after Columbine. And I thought the same thing in response: Do they actually not know?
So I kneeled down and wrote:
-Because of what we have done to the Palestinians. Do not let yourself be ignorant of the atrocities our government funds daily.
I thought that was pretty concise, and nonpartisan. Apparently not.
Let me just describe myself physically, the same way I’m about to for these other people, so you can get a clearer mental picture. I’m early 20s, white, short, stubble, cargo pants, t-shirt, Vans. That spells what, stereotypically? LAZY. I know that.
As I stood up, I was verbally confronted by two men and accused of stating that the attack was JUSTIFIED, and even DEFENDING the actions of Palestinians. I never did any of that, as I hope you agree, if you actually read the statement. I am not on anybody’s side in this. I was simply trying to provide a reason, the way the corporate media isn’t.
One of the men was a tall fat MTA worker (late 30s?), the other a short tan Jewish man (early 50s?). I didn’t do a spectacular job defending myself, partially because they were tag-teaming me without attempting to connect (I had to literally turn to address each one), but mostly because they kept repeating empty facts that had no bearing on the situation. Also, attempting to refute inferences and misinterpretations takes forever because you have to first prove what you DIDN’T say. And people often choose not to hear you.
So, fine. I wasn’t doing a great job, but I was doing okay. I was convinced they weren’t doing a great job either. Then a woman (some saint, bless her) said “Hey, you shouldn’t be ganging up on this guy. I see 5 of you and only one of him.” (The others were interested spectators.) I explained it was just two of them, and really I was okay. But that sort of opened the floor for another gentleman (also dressed sort of slack, I observed) to calmly discuss a few more leftist ideas. Like, oh, killing people is bad.
From there we segued into the argument over retribution, and vengeance. Lines got drawn fast then, and my side was outnumbered. By now a for-real crowd had gathered, at least twenty people, and a few had video cameras. At one point, a crying girl screamed “STOP IT!!” and that shut everyone up for about five seconds. Then her father (I assume) made some very convincing points about UN policy that we had violated, and in a minute the whole mess was stirred back to a boil.
I actually didn’t do that poorly taking a stand once there were a couple folks to get my back. But I wasn’t feeling good about it. I was going to attempt to draw some common ground about pain over lives lost when two black people calling themselves “The Twins” wormed their way to the center of the circle claiming that they had predicted the event a week ago through divination and the city refused to listen. After that nonsense, no one could restore order to that discussion, or at least, I sensed that I couldn’t, so I exited the crowd.
I went to all the papers and studied what people had written very carefully. Was what I said really going to be taken as a statement of hatred or anti-Americanism (be that against the government or its citizens)? That wasn’t what I had been trying to express at all. I don’t want ANY more death, and I want everyone to be informed. That’s all I was trying to imply. Not “good” or “evil”.
I wandered back to the crowd, now collected at the base of the statue of Lafayette, and took a couple pictures. Oh Jesus. The WCVB Channel 5 cameraman was in there. No one was being heard without screaming. What did I do? I mean, I don’t believe that this was disrespectful to the dead (because I don’t believe that’s possible) but I didn’t think that it was what everyone needs to hear and feel right now. More negativity? No.
So I left Manhattan, because I really wanted to write about it, but I felt (and still feel) terrible. If you see it on the news, know that I struck the match. I didn’t mean to. I should have realized everyone’s emotions were this kindled.
INTERRUPTION FROM THE PRESENT: I just related this story to my roommate. He said “Honesty is a wonderful thing, but tact is sometimes a necessary portion of it.” He’s definitely right. I gotta learn that.
Now watch me impersonate a normal daylog!
Around 1:30, I finally cried. Not a river but a little bit. Enough. I needed that. I couldn’t sleep at 2 a.m. I rode my bike around Williamsburg till 3, then came back and slept until 6:30. I had to get to the blood bank before they opened at 8. I waited in line till about 11, when they gave us a ticket to come back tomorrow with and sent us away. You think that’s full? The entire line I was in was only type O. It is true that New York City desperately needs blood, but it also can’t cope with the number of potential donors. That makes me feel GOOD.
I wasn’t bored in line. I spent most of it sharing thoughts and reactions with the mom behind me. She has two daughters, one going to college in Madison, WI and one who was down there and saw the first plane hit and saw jumpers. I’m so glad I didn’t see that. I couldn’t fucking deal with that. The guy in front of me had the New York Times with what looked like fantastic coverage, with informative diagrams and photographs like nothing I’d seen on the news. Well, not nothing I guess, but better. But the Times was sold out of every newsstand I went to, and I went to a lot.
I took the 6 train down to Bleecker St and took lots of pictures of the police barricade at Houston St. I also doubled up on some of the ones I took yesterday so I can do a comparison of the Dust Cloud. (Which has only gotten BIGGER.) Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into work to get the roll I took yesterday. So I’ll have to wait to post the whole thing.
I still have not listened to any music at all since the disaster. Really, since the day before that. That is utterly unlike me. The last time this happened to me was after I saw Saving Private Ryan, which was the most emotionally affecting movie for me, ever.