July 28, 2003
Around me, New York is breathing a sigh of relief. The huge
seemed to have slipped by us without doing much damage to
Not so upstate, where trees were felled. Claverack Cottage
was spared from
more than a few small branches down and a power outage but
some of our
friends and neighbors were not so fortunate.
These were storms worthy of reams of poetry; storms worthy
of a scene in
Lear -- slashing, monstrous storms that downed trees and pulled
lines and made great clashes of noise while walls of waters
seemed to fall
with winds that may have been tornadoes.
Thats the kind of weather weve been having.
But over the last weekend, we had the sweetest couple of
days that wed seen
all summer. They were brilliant days, sunburst full. And in
those two days
we celebrated our eighth anniversary, surrounded by friends
at a party that
lasted much later than wed expected last Saturday night.
Friends came from
New York and Washington, D.C. and from all around Claverack
to help us
It was a wonderful, small breather from all our realities.
As this week has been the week in which a City Councilman
in City Hall, not far from our city apartment and almost next
door to where
It has been interesting to me that no one used the word assassinated
first talking about the killing of Councilman Davis just after
he was shot.
But thats what it was. It is a word that is a little
harsh for our tender,
frightened times though just this morning Mayor Bloomberg
began to use the
I am not the only person who called to a loved one downtown
to ask if they
were safe. Many who knew nothing of what was going on other
than there were
ambulances and helicopters and swarms of SWAT teams. It shook
the city, particularly until the assassin was identified.
Could it be that this was another terrorist attack? Thats
how our minds
think here. Any act that is in the least out of the ordinary
Today, on the radio, I heard that 18,000 people were out of
power in Metro
New York because of sabotage on one of the power stations.
Now the first thing we think of isnt a teenage prankster.
We weigh every
event as if it might be a terrorist attack.
Which is what it was but on a very singular and very
granular level here
in New York.
Part of the civic conversation in New York today is not just
about not being
able to smoke in bars but about the recent 9/11 report which
were huge holes in our intelligence before the catastrophe
with many here
convinced not much has been done to close those holes since.
But before this poor Councilman was shot down and while the
raged, there was the fiery finish of Odai and Usay Hussein,
shot down in a
gun battle worthy of the last scene of Scarface.
Ah, but are they dead? the Iraqis are asking.
I suspect they are. And to prove it we will release pictures
corpses. Not very American but very human. Who can forget
the vision of
the body of Mussolini hanging from his heels in the dog days
of World War
II? Or, more recently, the death of the Romanian dictator
and his wife,
also strung up before the crowds to prove they were gone?
It is a venerable tradition this: the desecration of the
dictators. And while we have not hung the Hussein brothers
by their heels
in the Mosul town square, we have released photos of the corpses,
convinced some but not all. Where are the photos of their
But the end of Saddam Husseins sons does not seem to
have tampered down the
violence but rather increased it. More soldiers die each day.
It is no wonder that we, as a nation, are questioning the
quality of the
victory we have won.