September 12, 2006

The day after

Everyone speaks of 9/11, an historic date that changed the way most Americans view the world. It certainly changed the citizens of Wonderland.

No one speaks of 9/12, the day after, the first day of search and rescue, what has happened to the first responders and to the EPA's lie a couple of months later that sounded an "all-clear" on air quality.

In a letter to the editor of Salon magazine, an unidentified woman wrote: "I am sick of hearing about 9/11 and New Yorkers." To her I say, on behalf of all my friends and neighbors, FUCK OFF AND DIE. Don't think we aren't tired of media saturation/exploitation of the day; we are. There are other, more sympathetic ways, to commemorate unnecessary loss of life.

Yet 9/11 and its aftermath are not going to go away, and if you think they are, try getting on an airplane. Wonder if your phone lines are tapped. Are your e-mail conversations monitored? Aren't you curious how the Feds are funding all the end of privacy as we knew it? What exactly are we saving here?

Lady: no one wanted to see you dead. From Alice's vantage in Wonderland, no one thought you and your town were worth the effort to destroy. It reminds her of the survival rate of cockroaches. You can put them through almost anything, and they will live. They won't be any more pleasant to have around, but they'll still be there.

I think about August 7, 1945, in Hiroshima, Japan. That was the day after there, another day that changed the world. More than 100,000 civilians were killed a day earlier, never mind the subsequent radiation sickness there and in Nagasaki. That was 61 years ago, and I expect that no one in Japan doesn't know someone, someone's mother, grandfather, who was affected.

The History Channel is still running World War II documentaries. Locally we call it the war channel when we are charitable; the Hitler channel when we are not. You don't see documentaries on the suffrage movement or recreations of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. If you see a woman on the History Channel, it's either Eleanor Roosevelt or Mata Hari.

In media land, women still don't count. Five years later, on the day after, when tradition would have women nursing the wounded, their standard role in wars passed, no one has paid attention to them -- or to the heroism of either gender who sifted through the rubble, whose children may see their parents' lives cut short for their bravery.

Personally, I can't watch any of the 9/11 offerings on TV, no matter what their guise. Some of my friends hiked home four hours on the original date; others lent their efforts to the rescue team at Chelsea Piers. I wrote an article on disaster preparedness, and donated my fee to the fraternal associations of New York's finest and bravest.

Every year I write another check. It is not much, but it is as much as I can manage. I don't need TV to remind me of the 9/11 horror show. But if you always thought New Yorkers were indifferent and callous, think again. We in Wonderland stick together, be it the day after or years after.

Last year I borrowed the entire Thin Man movie series from a friend. This year, I rented the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Once upon a time, love was all around.



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