The Beat Goes On?
The staccato beat of the news this week has been? odd.
On one hand, I have hardly been able to turn on the television
without seeing Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security, gravely announcing that we should expect that Al
Qaida will attempt to attack us this summer and may be well
over 90% of the way through their preparations. [Am I the
only one that finds the term "Homeland Security"
ominous and faintly fascistic?]
As I walked across the West Side Highway and up to Broadway
for the subway, I wondered if the somber looks on the faces
of everyone didn't have something to do with living in New
York, working near where the World Trade Towers had once stood;
having awakened to grave announcements that the folks who
brought us 9/11 were actively planning to bring us more.
No one I saw this morning, including myself, seemed to be
acting as if this were just before the start of the first
long Holiday weekend of the summer.
On the other hand, Scott Peterson seems to be back in the
news a lot. There is a lot of chatter about "Shrek 2";
"Troy" seems to have just about faded; "The
Day After Tomorrow" is about to open, visually showing
us what to expect for our flagrant disregard for the environment;
we are scrutinizing the price of gas as the sales of full
size SUV's fade while being replaced by sales of smaller SUV's.
There seems to be no lack of interest on the part of tabloids
in the foibles of the rich, famous, or merely photogenic.
The television upfront went on last week. The chatter is that
the new network shows are pretty good but not good enough
to stem the steady erosion of viewers to cable. However, it
will be interesting to see how the mega media companies utilize
their broadcast and cable outlets to maintain quality and
Last Thursday, I had lunch, along with several others, with
Bernie Brillstein, the entertainment legend, at Trattoria
Del Arte to discuss a PBS project he wants to do. Steve Friedman,
formerly producer of the Today Show, currently doing a project
for PBS, stopped by to pay his respects, as did Mark Itkin,
the super packaging agent at the William Morris Agency, as
did at least eight others, none of whom I knew. It was rather
like watching folks kiss a bishop's ring.
Ellen won an Emmy.
Statistics demonstrate that New York is a very safe big city
while a drama student was murdered in Central Park.
In other words, the natter continued unabated in our lives.
As did the deaths in Iraq; assassination attempts in Baghdad
and storms in the Caribbean that almost defy the use of adjectives.
The political campaign continues as does Bush's fundraising.
Several friends discussed, seriously, their international
options if Bush is re-elected while others discussed their
despair about the future if Kerry wins.
I wonder about all these things: the celebrity natter, the
effect of gas prices, the celebrity fixation of our society,
a murder in America's safest big city, musing about what higher
interest rates will do to the economy and the price of housing.
I savor the thrill of lunch with legends and experience of
living in the city that calls itself "the capital of
the world" while observing and participating in the American
These are the ordinary things of life.
What has not been normal or ordinary is the undercurrent of
fear I feel walking up Broadway to the subway. What is not
normal is riding the train last Monday and having half the
train staff and passengers checking out a "suspicious"
individual. What is not normal is the abuse of prisoners by
American soldiers in a scandal that just keeps expanding.
When I got to the office this morning, I checked out the location
of my "go" bag, the escape kit I keep, as I have
been directed to since 9/11.
That, too, is what I do not find ordinary, that I have a "go"
bag and escape plans.