Letter From New York September 16, 2014

Or, as it seems to me…

As I begin to write this, it is a quiet night. I am sitting in the kitchen of my friends Dawn and Gail’s home in Provincetown, Massachusetts. They are out with friends and I am sitting putting together my thoughts about the past week.

It was another anniversary of 9/11, the 13th. There was for me a certain symmetry to this one. On September 10th, 2001 I spent the evening with Jon Alpert, the visionary filmmaker, at a screening of a film he had done about the election in New York that was about to happen, Mark Green versus the billionaire Mike Bloomberg.

An early review of the film said that it would topple Bloomberg’s chances of winning the election. Mike Bloomberg came across as arrogant, privileged, ill-mannered, capricious and not a good candidate for Mayor. But then 9/11 happened and the world changed and a billionaire businessman seemed the best person to take over a city that was reeling from a great catastrophe. And, it turned out, he wasn’t a bad mayor. He may have been capricious, ill-mannered, arrogant and privileged but he brought the city back from the brink and carried it through the dark days of 2001 and 2002 when the city was so wounded it didn’t understand how it would survive its pain.

So on September 10th, 2014, on the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11 I found myself back in the company of Jon Alpert. He and I had dinner with our mutual friend Diana Sperazza, currently an Executive Producer for Investigation Discovery. Before that, she had been at Discovery Times Network and had been the EP on a project we had done ten years ago, OFF TO WAR.

We laughed and reminisced and talked about 9/11, 2001. Diana had been living in Washington. I had been in New York. Jon had been in New York, too. Filmmaker that he is, he grabbed a camera and headed towards the catastrophe and caught poignant images of that day. He had marched from his organization’s headquarters in the oldest firehouse in New York, mere blocks from Ground Zero and managed to get past the barricades. His footage ended up in an HBO special.

The weather has been eerily like that surrounding 9/11. Beautiful, sun kissed days. All summer I have thought about how like that time this summer has been and have had an uneasy feeling. 9/11 in New York was the most beautiful day and we have had the most beautiful summer. Some part of me has lived in fear that some terrible event would befall us this beautiful summer.

We made it through. There was no repeat of 9/11. No mass terrorist event.

But we now live in a world that is the child of that day. Since then, we have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and made a bloody mess of them. ISIS has just killed yet another Western hostage. The Caliphate rises; Arab states want to stop them but are tepid in their support of our desire to stop them. Various terrorist groups now seem to be starting to cooperate, lending their “expertise” to each other. Beheadings are becoming a trend. Egyptian terrorists have started using the gruesome practice in hopes of getting as much attention as ISIS or ISIL or IS, whatever they are being called.

The world feels like a more dangerous place these days. Our outrage against beheadings doesn’t stop them. Sanctions haven’t tempered Mr. Putin’s expansionist tendencies. And our response to Ebola has been slow and strangely muted.

A strange exhaustion has fallen upon us. Everyone seems tired on all sides of the political equation. Boehner seems reading a script as opposed to acting from conviction. One pundit described Obama as a bird in gilded cage, waiting to be let out. Like many Presidents, the office is aging him rapidly.

So we go on, living our lives as best we can while the world seems whirling out of control. Here at home our infrastructure is decaying as we fight wars to keep the barbarians from the gates.

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