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Day Two Teil 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 : 8

This morning I found this little gem by Lance Morrow in the back editorial of the just-out memorial issue of TIME, "The Case for Rage and Retribution:" "Good times have a way of sometimes making Americans squalid."
     Ergo it looks like it's clobberin' time, in other words, for both those about whom it could be said (as is said,in the same editorial) "Never before has evil had such production values" (which is what New Yorkers always look for in our terrorists), and also of our internal enemies: purveyors of lax culture, rap musicians, overweight teens, etc. etc. etc. etc. This'll teach us softies, that is to say.
     And of course as I told you about, the headline from the ever-reliable New York Post: SIMPLY KILL THESE BASTARDS!
     This event is raising profound moral issues of the most difficult kind. I imagine most people are aware of these. How they act on them now and in the future -- who knows. My initial instincts, on Tuesday, were somewhat to the right of Orson Card's (check this out).
     Which as an immediate response from the reptile brain is utterly understandable, I think. The problem is knowing when to make the reptile let go of the wheel before it's too late.
     One of the reasons I immediately went to the prayer vigil, Tuesday night, was to reaffirm the need to exercise restraint in thought if not emotion. And yesterday I spoke to Clute & Roz Kaveney & a couple others from Britain, and read a number of extremely good writings by my former Clarion students on what rationally should be done, and I know they are right, and will act accordingly --
     And even as I consider the world situation in toto, from as wide a perspective as I can muster, there is still deep down in my heart that most American of responses: Kill 'em Allll.
     Our Burroughsian tendency is what D.H.Lawrence found most frightening about us, I think -- one of his favorite books of mine is STUDIES IN AMERICAN LITERATURE, and in it is his summary description of the American psyche -- you know it: [something], silent, stoic, and a killer. That as we used to say in my parts (and yours too I feel certain): "He'd just as soon kill you as look at you."
     And as you & I both know, this isn't necessarily a bad way to be considered, at least in some situations. But usually not those involving international relations.
     But in any case, this is now out of our hands. Blinky is going to do something, God knows what.
     I gather things are, presently, weird and getting weirder, elsewhere. What ever happened to those three planes off Vancouver you were talking about? And I just have this in from London, from Paul McAuley:

The enormity of the whole thing is slowly sinking in here, and the endless replays of the different views of the two planes hitting the two towers are beginning to seem a little ghoulish -- death porn indeed. It is being taken *very* seriously in this much bombed city, with overflights of the city cancelled or diverted, high security on government buildings, and police deployed everywhere -- twenty in *ranks* on Hammersmith tube station today when I went in to HarperCollins. Now we are all waiting to see what Bush will do...

Paul was just visiting here, and flew back to London this past Sunday. Last evening US TV started slowly turning the wheel to steer us into Di-Di-Mania, I fear; the worst journalistic instincts are beginning to reemerge, and we can only hope that they'll just fail in the face of what's going on. On the Today show this morning they were actually playing a phone message left by a woman who was on one of the top floors of the Trade center, playing it over her picture as she was saying goodbye to her husband and that was just terribly wrong. Paul is spot on with the death porn aspects; I can't tell you how many times and from how many angles I've now seen what happens when an airliner crashes into a building. Thank God I've not seen any signs of teddy bears and great mounds of flowers yet, but that's only because no one's being allowed near the site. But you've seen pictures of the site, and see why.
     Now to recount what I told you yesterday afternoon. Yesterday I left around 12:30 PM and started walking downtown. The weather was beautiful again, as it's beautiful again today; weather so perfect that there is no weather. I walked down through Grand Central, where the taxi rank was closed on Vanderbilt. There were plenty of cops inside and not many commuters. Mostly tourists, it looked like. I'd say the ones who came here this week have been getting their money's worth. From Grand Central I walked back down 42nd to 5th Avenue. The streets were still to a large degree absent of traffic; some buses, some taxis, but not much more. About as many people on the street around GC to 5th on 42nd as you'd expect there to be on a Sunday afternoon. On 5th I turned south. From 5th & 42nd the Towers were once readily visible, and now for the first time I was looking at a vista where the absence was utterly unmistakable. At 34th Street I had to go over to Madison and then walk south two blocks, as the area around the Empire State Building was sealed (last night some idiot called in a bomb threat, and the building was evacuated, which didn't take long, considering the few people around; there was nothing to it). When I got back to 5th, at around 27th, I realized that I was seeing a very strange thing. Yesterday, I described the following feeling to you, and now I'll try again. South of 27th on Fifth, the buildings are all, pretty much, no later than 1930. The cornice line is fairly straight and the main things that stood out, in this vista in my experience, have been the Flatiron building at 23rd and then, some fifty blocks further south, the Twin Towers. And now, of course, the towers were both gone, and clearly gone; the wind had shifted and the cloud wasn't overhanging the spot at that moment. It was as if I had suddenly been transported into the past, and was looking at the scene as it would have been in the late 1960s (or earlier, of course; but that way the blurred color of street traffic etc. at the bottom of the picture matched perfectly. It was one of the weirdest feelings I've ever had in my life. A couple of times later that afternoon, I reexperienced it, seeing a vista in real life (because it does not come across on TV) changed beyond my expectation. I think the closest comparisons I can come up with are thinking of Paris without the Eiffel Tower, or Seattle without Rainier. I say Rainier rather than the Space Needle because the former gives you more of a sense of permanence than the latter, and it as was impossible to imagine that the Trade Towers would ever go anywhere as it was to think that the moon, one day, would turn blue and stay that color. Anyway. I'd been told by Ellen that I couldn't go below 14th & she couldn't go above. Well, as of yesterday she still couldn't get above 14th but I got as far down as Houston. (They were being more stringent where she lives, as she lives near St. Vincent's, which was the major trauma hospital; but at this point, there seeming to be few survivors, there's a certain dispersal of personnel in effect.)
     Traffic is moving in NY above 14th St. At 14th, which crosses Manhattan at its widest point, every Avenue is barricaded with light police barriers and yellow tape. No traffic is moving between 14th & Houston, a distance of maybe a twenty minutes walk. None of the stores were open in that area, save for fast food places, pizza joints, ice cream places... the combination of readily available snacking products and lightly clad youth on rollerblades, bikes, etc., hanging out, the occasional frisbee in the park etc., combined with the somber cast of most faces, people asking me where I'd bought my newspapers, and so forth, gave the entire scene a remarkable air. I think of what was said of the urban events that occured during the progress of Lincoln's memorial train -- half circus, half heartbreak. At Houston, there are further barricades and these are well secured. Cops and State Police checking ID and letting through only residents. On the block nearest Sixth, where I was, there were rows of orange bulldozers, maybe twenty in all. (Almost 10,000 tons of debris have been carried out, thus far) Hundreds of people standing, staring down Sixth toward the absence. From this far down it was clear exactly how big the cloud was, or is. If I turned and stared north, uptown, the sky was clear blue and cloudless; then I'd turn south and stare directly into whiteness. Or, rather, whiteness with a distinct undertone of yellow/brown; like the bowl of air over LA when you're getting ready to land. I could see the silhouette of the Woolworth building, which must be damaged at least so far as the facade goes, vaguely. A number of the surrounding buildings will need to be brought down, it's fairly sure. One Liberty Plaza, for which the Singer Building was torn down in 1968, is one of these -- it may collapse of its own accord, yet -- in which case the powers that be have exerted justified architectural revenge. Next door, the Milennium Hotel is in similar shape. (The spelling of Milennium is deliberate; after the hotel chain imbeciles misspelled the name, they claimed they meant to do that). The skyline will change further, no doubt. This far down in Manhattan, the light as noted is tornado light. At some point further down from where I was able to get, of course, the no-fly zone must begin, though I am not sure exactly where: probably everyone who lives between Canal and Broadway has been evacuated. (There's been nothing in media, near as I've seen, regarding what is happening to the people who haven't been able to go home.)This would include Johan's, but they're up in Pound Ridge; and of course includes Ellie's place in Battery Park City. She tells me that while they were running her & her neighbors down along the street to the Staten Island Ferry she saw people jumping, flames, falling debris, they were all covered with soot and dust and ash, who knows of what. Down there the air smells heavily of burned plastic and rubber with a strange undertone that isn't fully developed yet, that I would prefer not to think of as decomposition but very well may be. The wind shifted last night and blew north, so we had to sleep with our windows shut. I had a terrible headache through most of the afternoon into early evening, and have been coughing more than usual (!! just the place for Camille 2000 to go). There are of course God knows what toxins in the cloud (and part of it is powdered glass, asbestos, etc.) but I don't see how we could have kept from breathing them. The rain is supposed to start tonight, by midnight, and continue through the night; I think that will at last settle the dust, and put out the remaining fires. It doesn't look as if there are going to be many more survivors found. Yesterday I told you they were using 18-wheelers to carry out the dead -- who seem to be almost entirely in pieces, thus far -- and this morning comes word that Giuliani's ordered 11,000 body bags. I should think that everyone in NY will at the least know someone, who knew someone.
     As of this morning, here is my personal tally. 1) My HC colleague Dee Dee's brother-in-law, in the South Tower, not heard from since Tuesday morning. 2) A writer-colleague's nephew, who worked in Windows On the World, the restaurant at the top of, I think, the North Tower. 3) A social worker colleague of Valeria, whose cousin's wife is missing. Most everyone is back at work this morning, though mostly people are just talking about it. Valeria just called to say that school was about to open; she had to go in a couple hours early to get ready for the day. Here at HC no one calling, no emails. Very quiet. I think it may have sunk in to the couple of people who yesterday were calling for things that maybe we're not at our most efficient for the nonce. I'm going down to meet Ellen after work this afternoon, and have a drink with her, somewhere in Chelsea. They're evidently letting people above 14th, now.

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