One month


I intended to visit “ground zero” today, but I didn’t make it. It is now hot — WAY above normal for this time of year. But it is not as hot in my neighborhood as it is at the site of the World Trade Center.

Today an ironworker reported that his colleagues had this week extracted a steel beam that was “cherry red — like it just came out of the pot at the mill.” The fire is still burning, one month after the attack.

The New York Times reports that, as of yesterday evening, there were 438 confirmed dead at the World Trade Center site, with 380 of those identified and 4,807 reported missing. It is unlikely that all of the missing will be found.

The temperature in a crematorium typically runs between 1,500 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the same temperature range that engineers think existed in some of the inside spaces of the World Trade Center.

The smoke is bothering eyes and throats in lower Manhattan. The New York Times had independent air-quality tests conducted, and they pretty much agreed with the government’s that the air quality is not dangerous, although in one spot asbestos readings were said to exceed EPA safe levels but not OSHA’s.

Another step was taken today towards the change of municipal government. Today’s election seemed to have better turnout than the last, at least in my district, where there was a line at 8 am, and I was number 80. At this point, with 60% of the districts reporting, the mayoral slot is too close to call. But it is extremely likely that the person within a heartbeat of the next mayor will be Betsy Gotbaum; there’s no Republican candidate for public advocate.

John Baxter, who got 65% of his party’s vote in the 32nd council district in last month’s primary, is nevertheless demanding a re-vote. He cites many irregularities. If only other winning candidates would have such an attitude! (In New York, that’s not a sentence fragment; it’s a Yiddishism).

The current mayor rejected a $10 million contribution from Saudi Arabia today, when he learned that the prince who gave him the check issued a statement about a “fair” policy towards the Palestinians. I don’t have all the details at the moment.

Another gift not going through is the main (at one time called Cardinal Richelieu) post office. It was to become a new, airy Penn Station, something ex-Senator Moynihan and some municipal bigwigs thought would be a great idea. New Yorkers who commute via Penn Station and would have longer to walk to the subways were not so sure. The Postal Service has decided that the problems in lower Manhattan have increased their need for space at the post office, which they were going to share with the new station. The tracks already run beneath the basement.

Beneath the basement of the Customs House, one of the smaller World Trade Center buildings, a radio reporter was interviewing an ironworker when a car alarm went off in what had been the underground parking garage. It was a scary sound.

Scary skeleton puppets will not lead this year’s Halloween parade in New York. Instead, the lead puppet will be a giant phoenix, the bird that rose from ashes.

Perhaps the parade will be less commercial this year; perhaps not. The mayor’s office of motion pictures and television says commercial production in New York is already back to pre-September 11 levels.

I went to see two New York-related motion pictures last night at the Directors Guild theater. We were given notices saying that they were installing card-reading scanners for admission.

During both movies, I kept searching for glimpses of the twin towers, but they never made it past the edit-room floor. One was “Don’t Say a Word,” scary even though it had nothing to do with anything that’s happened since September 10.

The other was “Zoolander.” It involves a terrorist plot, an Islamic country’s government, and a fireball explosion. In this case, the head of government of the Islamic country is the good guy. I won’t give away who the terrorists are. The movie was completely silly and full of jokes. It was a nice break.

TTFN, Mark