Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 9, 2002
WAR: I'M STILL STANDING
I got my hair cut over the weekend, and the barber shop shares space with a nail salon (yeah, Italian barbers and Korean nail ladies under the same roof - that's New York). The nail salon, for several years, has had a big cheesy mirror on the wall in the shape of a skyline, with the Twin Towers dominating the set. All over New York, we see the same thing: businesses big and small, from Time Warner cable trucks to small businesses with awnings and window stencils with the New York skyline, the unmistakable silouhette of the Towers standing at silent attention, going about their business as if nothing had changed. It pleases me, even, to see the towers holding up one end of the Chock Full O'Nuts coffee can.
Now, as big a fan of Rudy as I am, I have to disagree with him and with the victims' families who want nothing big built on the Trade Center site. Those towers were New York's signature, the most distinctive feature of the skyline; Manhattan today looks as if it had its front teeth knocked in, which essentially it did. You can't always tell just from looking at film footage now that it's New York. And they were also a booming hub of finance and commerce, providing more than 50,000 jobs and supporting many others. Both the symbolism of hieght and distinctiveness and the practical power of the Trade Center's role in the economy are what was targeted. I may be far down the list of victims -- all I really lost was my office and everything in it -- but it kills me to think that the City will let all those jobs float away, and will content itself to re-writing its John Hancock in tiny, meek letters.
Hundreds of people died at the Pentagon, and people there went back to work the next day. Not out of a lack of respect, but out of necessity -- there was a war to plan -- and a sense of duty. The dead at the Pentagon have not thereby been disrespected. New York is not the command center of this war, but its symbolic and financial importance should not be neglected. People here are doing their part just by coming back to work, gabbing idly about the big bullseye on the City's back. Rebuilding the Trade Center as something both distinctive and economically productive is part of the war effort, too.