the show: 09-07-06
(A brunette woman holds a white cat, speaking to it:) Turn and look at the camera. Don't bite me. Good morning, Sports Racers!
(White cat approaches the camera.)
(Ze approaches the camera, making a purring noise)
I don't feel like being silly today, so I won't. If you want silly, I gave you some links in the sidebar.
S-s-s-something from the forum.
TekPhreak writes, "Were were You on 9/11/01." [sic]
Were were you.
The New York Times reports that the average score on the SAT showed the most significant decline in thirty-one years.
Hmm, check out "Boys, writing."
TekPhreak continues, "Ze, you live in Brooklyn, NY. Did you live there then? Where where you that day?" [sic]
Good idea, TekPhreak! Let's talk about that now rather than on Monday when all the TV coverage will make me want to throw up in my shoes.
I did live in Brooklyn at the time. In fact, in this very same place.
The night before, I was hit with a back spasm that was so bad that when I was lying on the floor I contemplated peeing myself rather than try to make it to the bathroom, which was about fifteen feet away.
Before going to sleep that night I self-medicated with some Vicodin left over from a root canal.
It was in that orange haze that I woke up late the next morning to the sound of the phone ringing. When the answering machine picked up, my sister the painter spoke in a voice that she would use to describe something normal, like a cookbook or a new pair of shoes.
"We're under attack. We're being bombed."
(Ze rubs his nose and mouth.)
I don't know what else she said, but the Vicodin put a soft, almost cozy Hallmark blur around that moment.
TV was out-- the broadcast antenna no longer existed-- so my little clock radio stepped up to fill in the gaps.
I live about five blocks from the East River, directly across from the southern tip of Manhattan.
It took me and the tennis racket I brought along as a crutch almost forty-five minutes to make that trip. The tennis racket would be lost along the way as I stopped to lean on cars when my back seized up.
The parked cars were clean that morning, the last time they would be for weeks to come as the wind shifted the smoke plume directly over my neighborhood. The ash that would cover the windshields looked like a fine snow, except for the intermittent scraps of paper, some of which contained a legible word or two.
The cars were dirty, but the dirt was somehow sacred, and even the schoolkids resisted the temptation to write "Clean me" in the passenger side windows.
By the time I reached the water, both buildings had collapsed, and lower Manhattan was engulfed in smoke. I tried to squint through it to make out any hint of something that might have remained. With no particular thought in my head, I started crying.
A woman I assume was a nurse, 'cause she was dressed like one, came up and hugged me.
She said she was sorry, something I didn't understand, but still feels like the right thing to have said.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry..."
So in the last week, President Bush has called on Americans to use the five-year anniversary of September 11th as a chance to recall the unity that we felt in its aftermath.
It was a pretty amazing unity. We were certainly bonded together by fear but also by a kind of hopefulness.
It was a hopefulness from the experience of the amazing strength that we have when we decide to help each other.
That unity was not about the government.
It was a shared determination among us to make things better.
The President seems to think that "unity" implies supporting him and his policies.
In my personal opinion, the President has no right to attach himself to that part of our experience.
He already had his shot.
(The screen goes black.)
While every other aspect of 9/11 is defiled this Monday, let us at least keep intact the memory of what that unity meant to us.
This is Ze Frank, thinking for myself.