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Ground Zero Journal

March 7, 2002 -- Lots of dust on the streets still. Now that they've opened up Church St, it's bizarre. So many tourists walking about, taking pictures. All this blue sky above huge construction site that was the world trade center. Kind of quiet. A bit surreal. A couple taking a picture of the bare wrought iron of the canopy of the millineum hotel, which can be seen if you sneek a peek through the construction site walls cordoning it off -- they must've stayed there once.

You can walk right down Church Street now, like you always could. The Post Office is still closed, as are the haircutting place (Jean Louis David), the Stage Deli, and the mailbox place, all on that corner. Everything on Church St on the other side of the south end of the center are boarded up (there was a Burger King there, and a whole bunch of ugly stores, a deli, etc -- and there's still hand-drawn wordings on the brick of the building -- impromptu signs made for the rescue workers with red paint -- that say things like Morque with a directional arrow... 

January 18, 2002 -- Walking down Broadway in front of the Nasdaq Building tonight at about 8:45 pm. All the tourists are up by St. Paul's Church, so by the time you get past 195 Broadway, heading toward the Nasdaq building, there's not many people on the street on a cold Friday night. A Verizon truck rambles down Broadway to my left, and the fella in the passenger seat yells out to me "Excuse me, do you know where the World Trade Center is?" Was about to turn and answer him, when I realized he was a maroon (and a moron). Everyone has a sense of humor but... 

January 4, 2002 -- Story this week has been the ramp. They built the ramp, and people have come. And they are waiting in lines for 3 to 5 hours to walk up the ramp and view the rubble. The ramp is down on Fulton Street by St Paul's Church, and snakes down Broadway, up and down the side streets between Broadway and Church, ending down on Park Place. If you're a tourist, it's the thing to do. 

It's been pretty cold too -- 20's with wind -- so you've got to wonder why these people are waiting in line so long to see rubble. It's been the topic of conversation in workplaces down here, and on the street. Those families taking pictures of themselves smiling as if they're in front of the Grand Canyon should stop and rethink what they're doing.. 

Approached By a Pretty French Journalist

This morning, as I was snapping the pictures of the line you see below, a pretty French woman approached me. She said she was a journalist and asked if I minded answering some questions.

The ramp.

I said no and first question she asked was if I was going to get on the line. I said no and she asked why. I said because it's just rubble. World Trade Center was a neat thing to look at when it was still up; not now. Plus you'd really need to see the before and after to understand what you were looking at. Said I didn't understand why people were waiting on line for so long to see rubble. She asked, well why was I here? I said I worked here. She jotted everything down in a notebook; even took my name; couldn't tell if she was a real journalist or not. 

Then she asked if I was working here on Sept 11. I said no, I couldn't get in.

The line.

Then she said thanks, take care. That was my clue to exit right. I had an idea to take her picture, because I knew she was going to end up in my story, but I let it go. Should have asked her who she was writing for though.. Probably some stupid website that nobody reads...

The line continues..

December 27, 2001 -- There are more tourists in lower Manhattan than I have ever seen. You can walk outside, shake a stick and hit 7 tourists. The line for the bathroom at the Starbucks by city hall goes 20 deep; place is a standing-room-only mad house. Part of this is because it is so cold this week-- nothing like a bitter cold day to make everyone appreciate a hot cup of coffee. Part of this is because with Christmas landing on a Tuesday, 'seems like everyone has the whole week off. Part of this is because the WTC site has become NYC's biggest tourist attraction. And part of this is because you can't walk in half of lower Manhattan anymore -- with the WTC site fenced off, all of the tourists that might have been by the trade center have been forced over to Broadway.


All that's left of the trade center is blocks and blocks of rubble. You can get a lot of good views of it now, but there's nothing to see. I'm betting most of the viewers have no idea how huge those buildings really were -- to look at rubble puts the whole thing out of context -- you really need the before and after. 

The really interesting thing to view, to get the spirit of the place, are the tributes -- the area is fenced off, and on the fences there is hardly a square inch of empty space left -- the fences are covered with tributes that people have come from all over the nation and world to place. Flowers and signs and poems and signed sweatshirts and lit candles and pictures of the missing, with bios underneath. 


It's the bios that really get you. Pictures of people in the prime of life. Young people, pretty girls, parents with young children at home. 

The noxious smell from the fires is mostly gone now. A woman cop directing traffic and helping people cross Broadway had a gas mask hanging from her neck. Doesn't make one feel too secure. And the NY Post reported that cops up by Times Square have been outfitted with radiation detectors. This is almost as disconcerting as the anthrax scares of two months ago, when you had to think twice about taking the subway. Yet people trudge on. You walk outside, and there are so many people on the streets that you figure everything has to be ok. Life goes on.

Charlie's Angel

And I hear they're filming another Charlie's Angels. Drew Barrymore will probably be kicking the pants out of arab terrorists in this one. This makes me sick. I mean, arab terrorists make me sick, because they are stupid egotists falsly portraying themselves as righteous warriors -- and there's nothing worse than being stupid and righteous and egotistical at the same time. And Drew Barrymore makes me sick.  

Drew Barrymore is an actress. Probably a nice girl. But her rights to be an action hero should have been revoked the day she ran from NBC studios in tears when she learned that Tom Brokaw's assistant had received a letter containing anthrax. That was the night she was hosting Saturday Night Live in September. As I've said before, there's nothing wrong with running out of a building that contains anthrax -- but if you have played, and will play, an action hero in the movies, you'd better darn not cry. I mean imagine if Mel Gibson or Sylvester Stallone had run from the building crying.. would they ever get another role in a movie where they play an action hero? It's ridiculous and points out how much of a fake-hero culture we have right now. But that's a rant for another day. 

-- LouV


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