Ground Zero Friday Night

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Ground Zero Friday Night

On my third attempt since the terrorist attack, I made it all the way to Broadway and Liberty, a.k.a. the edge of Ground Zero. The barriers to keep civilians at a safe distance are scarcely a block away from the images we’ve been viewing on television.

First impression: it took enormous courage for Mayor Giuliani and other public officials to tell the world that firefighters, EMS workers, and the police department were on a rescue mission. I stood among a few hundred New Yorkers with their cameras out and fieldglasses propped and I’m sure not one would disagree with the fact that no individual could survive such massive carnage.

Second impression: up close, the scene is eerily reminiscent of an action movie set or backdrop of a Broadway play. The torn skeletal outer shell of the World Trade Center hovers above tangled rubble that continues to smolder. The curved husk absorbs the glare from portable stadium lights that illuminate the entire area, casting a dull shadow. Up towards Maiden Lane, I stood before the destroyed base of the Twin Towers. Everything was charred black except for several scattered red steel beams that looked like blood vessels sticking out of a broken body. Shards of twisted metal and chunks of concrete remain covered with ash and dirt.

The cops along Broadway were extremely polite. They permitted pretty girls named “sweetheart” and “honey” to stand in the street to take better snapshots. Through the windows of an adjacent office building, I could see maintenance personnel sporting bandannas and dust masks while hauling plastic garbage bags and mops.

A few blocks south and a couple of blocks north, outdoor cafes did brisk business and the clothing stores were still open with plenty of folks shopping. The Mets game blared from a bar off Duane Street. Happy Hour was extended, so I paid for one beer and had two as Piazza grounded out to third and left two stranded. Atlanta up by one until Mike belted a homer over the center field fence in the bottom of the eighth and Benitez shut the door in the top of the ninth to win it. You could hear the cheers from neighboring bistros and car radios. Life goes on in New York City.

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