Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Another in a Series of Ground Zero Observations

Because I get to see the mess every day, I get to talk about it more than would seem entirely called-for, and since I "was there that day" I am likely to say things that don't seem all that polite or correct.

First: give up the dream that goes something like "We shall rise again".

We're not that kind of crowd anymore. We dicker and bicker and let things get too sacred and in an effort to over-assuage and over-consult and let property-ownership play too big a role, we end up with what now is certainly going to be a big hole in Manhattan for many years, perhaps decades to come. I don't necessarily like to say "I told you so" but I won't pretend I didn't say it already: there's nothing much going on there, and all those derricks and cranes are a big show for tourists.

Second: except for the first couple of years of bedraggled piety that seemed to overcome everyone who got near the site, tourists now come to gawk and buy "disaster" booklets on their way to Wall Street or other nearby attractions. Which is fine.

But about a week ago I finally saw for the first time--the only time--what I thought was a suitable reaction. A Japanese tourist overlooked the mess, briefly bowed with hands clasped, and then proceeded to take pictures. It was a gesture of acknowledgment without the kind of sanctimony that has trammeled half of what might have been good about a rebuilt Ground Zero in time.

Third, and this will be ignored, but here goes: can someone please get rid of all the cranes that won't be used until 2020, sod that vast are over, re-instate Fulton Street so a person can walk across the taxpayer-owned region without having to traverse a tarp-covered bridge and a soggy boardwalk for the next forty years, and take down the damned Deutsche-Bank building quickly as if it were the disgraceful eyesore that everyone knows it to be and not some delicate instrument that needs to be disassembled in a vacuum-sealed laboratory?

Fourth: So far, Osama has gotten all he might have asked for and more with his strike: a great nation has been distracted, suckered, half-broken and turned inside-out with fear and foolishness and humiliating "airport security" rigmarole (when all they needed was to lock the pilot's cabin door); a great city sits with a miserable hole in it that the effete residents seem too afraid to just rebuild as if rebuilding were the point.