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CURRENT COLUMN This Horrible Day

There's nothing in the air: I'm walking across Central Park at 11:30 this morning after spending hours glued in shock to the TV watching pictures of two of the largest buildings in the world imploding after being hit by airplanes and I look downtown across the Great Lawn to where one has seen the World Trade Center buildings for 30 years and they are GONE and there's nothing in the air...

This city is a daily cacophany of sounds, with cars and pedestrians and air conditioners (in Summer) and always helicopters, jets, even blimps, but today the crosstown roads through Central Park are blocked off and buses are sitting empty or the few that are moving are packed with people, while those people who can't get buses are walking along their usual bus routes -- and the sky is quiet. Even the birds don't seem to be airborne in the park.

Normally, as an audio engineer whose studio is right along the Hudson River air lane and who has to deal with copter and jet noise interrupting his recordings, I would be happy to have a planeless day to work in. Not today.

As I reach the west side of the park, I finally hear a jet sound and look up and see a lone fighter plane, a grey speck in the sky but one I'm relieved to see and hear. It means someone is watching and waiting to try and stop the next terror plane, but how can they do that in the days to come? As in the earlier WTC bombing, one can't search every truck, check every unmarked package or pat down every passenger for hidden weapons that don't trigger the metal detectors. The infamy of today is a larger version of the many smaller terrors of pipe bombs, suicide trucks and gun-wielding maniacs that have been the facts of conflict for decades.

America, especially big cities like New York, has been amazingly spared from the terror tactics that shape the lives of much of the world's cities. We haven't hadthe frequent car bombs of London and Belfast, the rocket attacks and bus bombings of Israel, the rebel attacks of Columbia or the genocide in African countries. I don't know if it's because of our potential power to retaliate or the vastness of our land and sheer numbers of potential targets or the diligence of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, but we've been, on the whole, extremely lucky. Until now.

Now it's nearly midnight of this horrible day and I've been barely able to hold my emotions in check, even as I write this. My Lord, I was teary-eyed while Bush spoke to the nation, which as a stalwart Democrat I would never believe myself doing! Only two times in my life have I really felt like this: when JFK was shot and when I knew my mother wouldn't recover from the strokes that took her life. I guess that's what shock does to you; I hope I'm prepared for the shocks that could come.

Midnight, and there's still nothing in the air - except for the constant plume of smoke from downtown, the remains of the steel and glass and human beings that disintegrated in the inferno.

I guess the Word of This Week is Hope.

Smoke Screen
Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that cigarette

This Horrible Day
The September 11th aftermath

Who's this
"Uncle Johnny guy?

Uncle Johnny's Corner features occasonal random thoughts (approximately whenever the spirit moves Uncle Johnny to write omething new)

Uncle Johnny's "day job" is as an audio engineer and producer/writer. He lives and works in New York City.

John and David used to be partners in a syndicated radio production firm.
They remain close friends.