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Saturday, April 12, 2003

Yesterday Linda and I went to the World Financial Center, across the street from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. They had a spring culinary treat going on. All the restaurants, the ones that had somehow survived since September 11, 2001, were represented with samples of their wares. Crowds of people, taking a break from their workday, were filling the Winter Garden atrium to have a taste or two. It looked like things are almost back to normal. We know they're not, but it looked that way.

Off to the side, tucked away from pedestrian traffic, was a display of the Daniel Liebeskind design that will become the new World Trade Center complex. It's a breathtaking group of luminous structures, with an open grassy area on the site of the original WTC towers, inside the 'bathtub' slurry wall that keeps the Hudson River at bay. The towers are topped by a garden at 1,776 feet above ground. There's openness to the design, an inspirational quality in it that is exceptional in public architecture.

A video plays in the display as well, with speeches by politicians and bureaucrats about the new site. In the middle, though, plays a gem from the architect himself.
Berliner Liebeskind, on tape, thanks the people of America, and especially the people of New York, for taking such an interest in what will be rebuilt on the site. In an oblique reference to the public outcry against the first set of designs proposed for Ground Zero, Liebeskind spoke about the thriving civic pride of New Yorkers. In a comment that spoke loudly of the options we all have in response to tragedy and terror, the architect referenced the resiliency of American openness and democracy, of our Constitutional government.

Seeing and hearing this visionary architect speak, I felt the possibility of this moment in history. We can stand for something bigger than power, more lasting than the anger, fear, and vengeance of a people hurt profoundly. We can pick ourselves up to dream new and important dreams, like the buildings that will rise up here, like better education for our children and an open hand to people without means. As the architect finished on tape, I looked over at Linda, who had been there that day, running for her life. There were tears running down her cheeks.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Furniture is fun to have. We live in a small New York City studio and after deciding to stay in it, rather than spend most of our monthly income on rent, we bought some. Then we cleared out all the makeshift stuff that filled our apartment, day after day.

The couch and the big easy chair arrived today. My partner, Linda, is delighted. She's been throwing the chair pillows on the carpet all week, waiting for the rest of the items to arrive, saying, "It matches BEAUTIFULLY!" Now she's bouncing up and down on the real things, giggling. It's fun to have furniture.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Military victory was quick. OK, so now the US is welcome to the hard part. The Kurds are wanting control of the northern oilfields, the Turks are not happy. The mullahs are looking to have a voice in the new government, others would rather behead them. Rumsfeld's Defense Dept would like to run the country till it's completely "secure," if that ever happens. Meanwhile, people in Iraq are raiding hospitals of supplies and equipment. The Israelis want the cover of 'all Iraq, all the time' news coverage to carry out preemptive strikes against the occupied territories (2000 men ferried out of the territories without word, as a rehearsal already). And what do we hear from Iran and Syria, with their new US border?

Let's hope against hope, against all the evidence too, that the Bush Administration will consider letting the UN administrate a postwar Iraq. Let's hope against hope that this brave new world of US hegemony doesn't unravel as quickly as it seemed to unfold.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Hello out there. This blog is simply a place I'm reserving to rant and opine freely, without any particular rhyme or reason. I've been thinking about the way our lives and world change from one moment to the next and in ways that aren't predictable.

I'm watching people pulling down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad on TV-- in the same area where others were recently driving Toyotas into American tanks-- what will be happening tomorrow? It's heartening to see the war possibly coming to an end, but I'm not going to be surprised if things change yet again--and quickly. Let's hope the situation there improves to allow for humanitarian aid to be delivered and civil order to be maintained.

It's impossible not to be excited for the people in Baghdad, even for those of us who think this attack was premature and without the international legitimacy that UN action could have conferred. Let's hope that today's events are followed by real aid and assistance to people in Iraq and that the US makes it a priority. If the people there are helped with the basics of shelter, medical aid, and the like, there's certainly more hope for a positive outcome going forward.

It's also great to see the US Marines in Baghdad talk about the relief they are feeling-- about putting their fear and trials behind them, at least for the moment.

Maybe here in the US, we can begin to concentrate on getting people back to work and into better housing conditions as well. And elsewhere, maybe we can begin to talk to each other as friends with different opinions but common humanity.

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