When New York Had Her Heart Broke

I was planning a flight to a conference

When my daughter was in middle school five years ago, she had a homework assignment to interview an adult about 9/11 and she got to transcribe the answers. I was the interviewee. 

1. Where were you when the attacks occurred?

In my offices in downtown Albany. [I was planning a flight to a conference in Dallas scheduled to start the next day. It was quickly canceled. One of the planes that crashed into one of the towers was in Albany air space]

2. How did you find out about the attacks?

Somebody in another office across the hallwas watching it on TV.

3. What were your first feelings/emotions when you heard about the attacks?

Well, when the first plane crashed into the building, I thought it was an accident. When the second plane hit, I knew it was a siege.

4. Did you know anyone in the Towers, Pentagon, or one of the planes? If yes, did they survive?

I knew one guy. Met him at a conference two or three times. I didn’t know him well, but a nice guy, and very helpful. He was in one of the buildings. He did not survive.

looking back

5. Do you “relive” the feelings you felt when the attacks actually happened when you see videos or read articles? Explain how it made you feel.

Right afterward, I did watch a lot of TV, over and over. {See below.] Now it seems when I see pictures of the burning towers, it still reminds me of the day. If I watch the videos, it reminds me, but I tend not to watch videos if I can help it. [What I still remember was just how beautiful the day was before the attacks.]

6. What aspects (parts) of American life do you think we changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

I think, in the short term, there were a lot of people coming together. In the long term, I think people got a whole lot more paranoid, and rightly so. We lost a lot of unity when we decided unnecessarily to go to war in Iraq.

[I’ve written a lot more in the past about the so-called USA PATRIOT Act and Islamaphobia, and lots of other topics. This is enough for today, except…}

Mark Evanier recently wrote about people who may be too young to remember: “Thanks to the Internet and its hoarders, there are hundreds of places where you can download or just watch the news coverage from that day. Here’s one of many. Pick out a channel and watch its broadcast from just before the reports of the first plane hitting the North Tower until you’ve had enough. That was how most of us experienced it that morning…staring at the screen.” Including me. 

John Hiatt: When New York Had Her Heart Broke –

Museum of Natural History

day trip to NYC

Natural history MuseumMy daughter wanted to visit the Museum of Natural History before she started her summer job. So we, including my wife, did.

I’m not crazy about day trips to New York City, which is too much a compression of time. But what tipped the scales for me to go is that my daughter’s beau, Tee, had never been on a train. In fact, he’d never been to The Big Apple, only 150 miles away.

I tied ordering the tickets online. But the Amtrak site, which I’ve successfully navigated several times before was cranky. So I ordered by phone, which involved leaving my phone number until I got an automated call 90 minutes later. I was able to finish the transaction EXCEPT that they were to call me back in “15 minutes” to get my email. They needed to send me not just the tickets but information about COVID protocols, such as wearing a mask in the station and on the train.

OK. This trip meant getting up at 5 a.m. That’s five in the morning, not my natural habitat. Check my blood pressure, then feed the cats earlier than they were expecting; felines, it’d better last you for a while. Pick up Tee, go to the train station, which is not in Albany, but in Rensselaer, just across the river.

The train station is decent, WAY better than the hovel that existed on the site little over a decade ago. As for the trip between Rensselaer and NYC, this article, which I happened to get in my email after the trip. “Winding its way along the pretty Hudson Valley, you’ll appreciate why so many people choose to commute to Manhattan rather than live in the city.” It is a lovely trip, the only civilized way to go to Manhattan.

Oh, the OTHER station

We arrived at Penn Station. Apparently, the brand-new Moynihan Train Hall was across the street, but we never saw it on this trip. For sure next time.

Walking up to Times Square, some vendor guy, unsolicited, put a bracelet on my daughter’s wrist, then wanted her to give him $5 for it. This was a good lesson in negotiating the fact that she did NOT have to buy something just because a stranger foisted on her. A few minutes later, she and Tee were talking at the location where we believe the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

We take the B train to the Museum of Natural History, west of Central Park. I’m quite good at the subway, even though I use it infrequently. My wife had made a reservation for a noon entry, and we got there at 11:30. It was already a long line when many of us were directed to an alternate entrance because that line was “full.”

We’re in line for nearly an hour, wearing masks. Those zigzag lines give one the false impression that you’re closer than you are. Here’s the really weird thing, though: even people with both a reservation and paid-for tickets STILL had to stand in this interminable line to get a physical ticket.

There were lots of cool displays, though some required an additional fee. We did see the North American mammals, dinosaur fossils, and the forests. The Teddy Roosevelt display is recontextualizing the role the 26th President played in the environment and the culture.

The large whale had a band-aid, maybe a reflection of the COVID vaccine campaign taking place while we were there.

Le deluge

The others in my party decided to return to Times Square. But I headed directly to 34th Street to get back to Penn Station. I’m only two avenue blocks away when I got caught in the pouring rain. The umbrella I had kept in my backpack was of little use. Then the lightning started.

Fortunately, at 34th and 7th, I could go into the entrance for the LIRR, Long Island Railroad. The walk is just as long, but it’s drier. Eventually, I meet up with the others, and we returned home.

The trip back took longer because Amtrak has to share tracks with Metro-North (train from Poughkeepsie to NYC, among other routes) as well as freight lines. Having finished my reading, I pulled out my laptop and checked my massive amount of email. The Wifi was occasionally spotty but generally usable.

After dropping off Tee, we went home after a very long day. I’m glad we went, but I hope not to take another day trip again for a while. And even more happy that we left when we did, for the subway system flooded later that afternoon. 

Ranked-Choice Voting for NYC

over a dozen candidates for mayor

RCV_sample_ballot
CORRECT!

I’m rather excited that New York City is using Ranked-Choice Voting for its Primary Election this year. “In a 2019 ballot measure, 73.5% of New York City Voters voted yes for RCV.”

Election Day is Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm. The Early Voting Period is June 12, 2021 – June 20, 2021.

The offices up include MAYOR, PUBLIC ADVOCATE, COMPTROLLER, BOROUGH PRESIDENT, and CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS. BTW, You are required to wear a mask/face covering and maintain 6 feet of distance when entering any Board of Elections facility.

For mayor, the Democratic candidates are, in order of their strength in a recent  poll:

Eric L. Adams, Brooklyn 11221 – 22%
Andrew Yang, Manhattan 10036 – 16% – the guy who ran for President last year
Kathryn A. Garcia, Brooklyn 11215 – 15% – she was commissioner for the New York City Sanitation Department and is running as a largely apolitical type who gets stuff done
Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan 10004 – 10%
Maya D. Wiley, Brooklyn 11226 – 9% – trying to be the first Black woman Mayor of New York City. Supported by AOC and some other progressives.
Dianne Morales, Brooklyn 11216 – 5%
Raymond J. McGuire, Manhattan 10023 – 4%
Shaun Donovan, Brooklyn 11217 – 3%

also:
Aaron S. Foldenauer, Manhattan 10006
Paperboy Love Prince, Brooklyn, NY 11221
Art Chang, Brooklyn 11238
Isaac Wright Jr., Ridgewood (Queens) 11385
Joycelyn Taylor, Brooklyn 11216

The Republicans pit Fernando Mateo against Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels.

How this works

A voter can “rank up to 5 candidates in order of preference: your 1st choice candidate, your 2nd choice candidate, and so on up to your 5th choice candidate… You cannot rank the same candidate more than once.” Yes, you can write in candidates.

“If a candidate receives more than 50% of 1st-choice votes, they are the winner. If no candidate earns more than 50% of 1st-choice votes, then counting will continue in rounds. At the end of each round, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated.

“If your first choice is eliminated, your next choice will be counted, and so on. The process of elimination continues until there is a winner.

I’ve been advocating for some form of the instant runoff election in the US for over a decade.

The strategy is that the candidates want to make the top 5 of as many ballots as possible. So it’ll be to their advantage not to alienate someone who you could be a second or third pick. The level of trash-talking in such a large field seems relatively minor.

I have no strong rooting interest here. I might have voted for PLP because, as noted on Twitter: “Thanks for ranking me #1 make sure to rank me before ‘top’ candidates so your vote for me counts! Let’s show them how strong the movement of love really is!”

Seriously, Garcia would definitely be on my list. Beyond that, I’m not at all sure. And since I can’t vote anyway, I won’t sweat it.

overvoting
WRONG! You can’t have two first picks

February rambling: Incompetence Opera

Gun violence dashboard. Every Building on Every Block: NYC property tax photos from the 1930s

red green lightAs the Climate Collapses, We Ask: “How Then Shall We Live?”

Modern Weather Forecasts Are Stunningly Accurate

Greenpeace ships set sail to tell the global story of plastic pollution

Gun violence dashboard

Weekly Sift: A Fishy Emergency Threatens the Republic

Grammar as Resistance

United Methodist Church voted to toughen its teachings against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and LGBT clergy. It must now decide whether it will stay together

The case for capping all prison sentences at 20 years

Melinda and Bill Gates’s Annual Letter discussing surprises from toilets to sexist data to textbooks

It’s illegal to drive your car covered in snow and ice in New York State

Every Building on Every Block: NYC property tax photos from the 1930s

It’s Impossible to Follow a Conversation on Twitter

This week with John Oliver:Brexit III

New York’s Rejection of Amazon Isn’t Anti-Tech, It’s Pro-People

Deepfake: A Brief History of Unreliable Images

FTC Details Big Jump in Losses, Complaints about Romance Scams

Isaac Newton’s Secret Religious Writings and Apocalyptic Prediction

Ken Levine podcast: TV in the age of Ageism

The original obituary of Frederick Douglass

Meet the Safecracker of Last Resort

What one wants from hotel showers

Europeans Keep Finding Ancient Dodecahedrons in the Dirt

The 25 Most Influential Movie Scenes of the Past 25 Years

Stanley Donen, co-director of ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ dies at 94

Nurses from the Opening Credits of the TV show MASH

The Forgotten Story of the American Troops Who Got Caught Up in the Russian Civil War

For decades, the only thing staving off a worldwide Socialist revolution was a grouchy librarian

Now I Know: When Sears Sold Homes by Mail and Why The $1 Bill Doesn’t Change and When Doing the Math Meant Breaking the Law and How to Recycle Thousands of Tons of Military-Grade Metal

Bella’s journey ends

The canine section: He finished the race, didn’t he? and Good dog

Greg Burgas: More comics lists we can argue about!

Movie trailers for the movies Yesterday (2019), about Beatles music, and Who Is Arthur Chu?,, the sometimes hated JEOPARDY champion

The Most Bizarre Stock Photos I Could Find Brought to Life by Your Captions

MUSIC

The Dunning-Kruger Song, from The Incompetence Opera

Why -Tracy Chapman (Live 1990)

SO CUTE – Aubrey Logan

I Wanna Be a Lifeguard – Scud Lightning

(Gimme Some of That) Ol’ Atonal Music – Merle Hazard

No or No – Twice

The Ball Game – Sister Wynona Carr

Take On Me – Weezer

Coverville 1250: Cover Stories for Robert Palmer and Bobby Brown and 1251: Gerry Goffin Cover Story and 1252: The Chinese Zodiac of Cover Songs

One Hundred Ways – James Ingram

Night and Day – Marc Hunter

Oh, Man – Jain

Orpheus in the Underworld overture – Jacques Offenbach

Theme from The Muppet Show, a cappella rendition – Mr Dooves

You Won’t Bring Me Down – Sina

Private Eyes – Sleeping At Last

Black Velvet Band – Irish Rovers

B.E.R. – The Night Begins To Shine

Chuck Miller: The times that I met Peter Tork

Sheila E. , B.B. King Blues Club, 18 Aug 2017

The singers are on stage left, which was close to us.

Rebecca Jade, Sheila E., Lynn Mabry
When we heard that the #1 niece, Rebecca Jade, was going to be a backup singer for Sheila E., the percussionist a protege of the late artist known as Prince, we were pretty excited. But when we found they were going to be performing in New York City, well, that became a priority.

First, get tickets online at the BB King Blues Club. Next, find a place to stay downtown that cost only an arm and half a leg; the Distrikt fit the bill. I took the bus down early for a work meeting, and the wife and daughter followed about three hours later.

We met at the hotel at 4 pm. I actually took a nap, largely because of some tooth pain (another story). We get to the club less than two blocks away, and found ourselves in line. It’s a dinner theater, as it were, and since I bought only the “cheap seats,” ($49.50 each, plus handling), by the time we got in, there was but one table left that was close by, stage left, already with a single patron.

We had a $10 minimum to eat/drink; easy enough. The Daughter had a cheeseburger and fries that was only $13. I had mac and cheese for $20, with a slab of salmon for an additional $7; not bad, especially the latter. The wife’s meal of shrimp and grits was not only overpriced at $36, but skimpy. I gave her a chunk of both the mac/cheese and fish, and the Daughter was generous with her fries. Her Mississippi mud cake ($12) was like it came from a box of frozen dessert.

Then the show begins, sort of, with two Sheila E. videos. Watch America and Funky National Anthem: Message 2 America, the latter of which shows the Niece at 0:58 and beyond.

The band comes out:
Lynn Mabry – vocals
Rebecca Jade – vocals
Eddie M. – saxophone
Mychael Gabriel – guitar
John Wesley McVicker – drums
Raymond McKinley – bass
Bertron Curtis – keyboards

Ooo, the singers are on stage left, which was close to us. We were watching Sheila, of course, but also my first sister’s only child.

Watch:

Love Bizarre (with a Prince/P-Funk/Sly Stone medley). The niece is in the striped skirt.

Purple Rain. A guy in a blue T-shirt was way too loud nearby with his running commentary.

17 Days/Alphabet St./Raspberry Beret, the latter with an RJ solo!

Girl Meets Boy. Sheila E. slows it way down to sing a song she co-wrote after Prince’s death. She says it’s available for free on SheilaE.com. She urged everyone to find a stranger and tell him or her that you love them. The Wife and I took that opportunity to catch RJ’s eye.

America/Baby I’m A Star/Glamorous Life.

A nice show. We see the niece after the show far too briefly, then went back to the hotel and were asleep before Snoop Dogg started his 11:30 show at that venue.

BTW, there were a LOT of people recording her, and she didn’t seem to care. The videos above were taken very near where we were sitting, on our side of the stage.