Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September Eleven Again

It is pouring rain in New York City.

Outside the Urban Bungalow, Columbia students race across the campus in an effort to keep themselves and their books as dry as possible.

The weather is one of those eerily appropriate details of today - the sixth anniversary of September 11.

During the memorial program held at Ground Zero (which I viewed on local television) the tears of relatives and friends merged with raindrops, watering the mass graveyard that is now lower Manhattan.

The reading of the names is always moving but today's performance of Bridge Over Troubled Water by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus sent me over the edge. With wind whipping their hair and rain streaking their faces and soaking their clothes, the low-key rendition by these NYC teens left me wailing on my couch.

Hard to believe, but one week ago, we vacated the Love Shack and returned to The City. The sun was shining -- even glaring -- and the smell of our country cabin was still in our clothes as we drove towards Manhattan.

The move itself was more harmonious than any I can recall. Probs because part of the work was already done the night before but probs also because we didn't do the ultra-wrenching act of actually closing down the cabin -- emptying and unplugging the fridge, filling the empty drawers with mothballs, putting Clorox in the toilet, wiping down counter-tops, flipping the mattresses on their sides to prop up against the walls.

I know it's a mental trick, but we left the cabin sorely in need of our return.

If I'm lucky, we might even have to go back twice before we close it up for good.

Perhaps if I spend some time in the Love Shack, the sad/horrible news of the world will seem slightly less so.

Last week, I recall being grateful that we didn't have the equivalent of a Hurricane Katrina or a war in Israel to watch in horror over this past summer. The summer of '06 was overshadowed by the terrible drama of the Second Lebanon War and the previous summer was colored by the fiasco of FEMA and our Federal government's non-response to the disaster in the Gulf Coast.

In the absence of these dramatic events -- and in the face of mostly-glorious weather -- I got lulled into a false sense of security, leading me to ignore such serious developments as the stunning rise of global anti-Semitism and the proliferation of anti-Zionism in academic circles, which might kinda be the same thing, after all.

Yeah, I knew that the Protocols of the Elders of the Israel Lobby was about to be published, in fact, I've blogged about the canards of Walt and Mearsheimer, et al in the past. And I've been reading the same Haaretz, Jpost and JTA dispatches as everyone else. I've even had the pleasure of getting up-close and personal anti-Zionist rants from JOURNALISTS to whom I have sent press releases regarding a current project that critiques Walt/Mearsheimer's point of view.

Still...being back in Manhattan, just across the street from the Columbia campus, which is just across the street from the Barnard campus where professor Nadia Abu El Haj's tenure might get derailed because of a book she wrote that has been accused of being an anti-Zionist polemic, cloaked in (pseudo) scholarship...some things seem more glaringly horrible.

These things are both Jewish in nature and universal, such as the beating death of theatre impresario Mark Vail in Tashkent this past weekend and the stabbing of a rabbi in Frankfurt last week and the recent acknowledgment that there is a HUGE problem with anti-Jewish attitudes in England and the revelation that Madeleine McCann's parents are suspects in her murder and the rising incidence of elder-beatings and stunning acts of child abuse and the heightened security at Jewish schools and synagogues this holiday season.

Locally, I am shocked to return to the public menace posed by NYC's pint-sized gangstas riding the rails. I am depressed by the cowardice of grown men who can, in my opinion, open their mouths and tell the kids on the subway car where to go. I hate the fear in the eyes of senior citizens and young mothers and little kids. I am afraid I might lose it one day and get all Bernie Goetz on the high school hooligans.

I am angry at these kids and want to know why they have decided at such a young age to give up. I want to know why they are choosing this route while the Brooklyn Youth Chorus kids are choosing another.

And it might sound trivial, but I am also disheartened by Sarah Silverman's shockingly nasty attack on Britney Spears and her kids following Britney's uber-embarrassing "comeback" performance at MTV's VMA's this past Sunday night, which I'm not afraid to admit to having watched in real-time while HOBB looked on in horror.

The meanness of Silverman's banter quite took my breath away. While I usually applaud her nerviness, this was something else. It was not funny and it was not clever. It was a public whipping of someone who has already fallen and cannot raise herself up.

In the course of her frankly stupid riff, Silverman alluded to her own Jewishness, as she often does, mixing up references to heroin-addict/singer Amy Winehouse's yiddishkeit and the obviously Jewish punim that both women share.

In this week before Rosh Hashana, known as a time of introspection, I doubt that many members of the tribe are proud to count Sarah Silverman as one of their own.

But I digress.

It is now the afternoon of 9/11...six years after our collective mental landscape changed. The rain has turned into drizzle and I haven't changed out of the Old Navy baby doll nightie I slept in because I haven't left my computer desk and phone since 7:35 am when Little Babe left for school.

Yes, I feel somewhat dysfunctional in my nightie but that seems perfectly fitting for the dysfunctional reality of the world beyond the Love Shack.

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