Taking a Moment to Pause and Reflect 2018

Try to remember the kind of September

When life was slow and oh, so mellow.

Try to remember the kind of September

When grass was green and grain was yellow.

-“Try to Remember,” from The Fantasticks.

I’m amazed by how time passes, and how sometimes it feels like everything is okay. But, sometimes, when the sky is that blue like it was on that day, and if there was some hint of memory of what was, I start feeling sad. And, last week, the test runs of the Tribute of Lights made me thoughtful.

On Saturday, September 8, 2018, just a few days before September 11, 2018, MTA finally reopened the Cortlandt Street subway station for the 1 train  – now renamed WTC Cortlandt St.  I have so many feelings about this. I’d walk by the side of the Oculus hub; I’d see the sign for “the future access to the 1” and I kept wondering when was that happening, and now it’s real.

I remembered when the MTA had reopened the 1 train’s tunnel underneath the World Trade Center after September 11, 2001. It had felt like a stunning miracle, after the death and destruction. But, that destroyed Cortlandt Street station remained the subway station that didn’t come back, while the R and the A/C/E subway lines’ stations did come back.

I had walked by the A/C/E side at one point and my eyes grew teary when I recognized where that spot was on the floor to the entry would have led to the Warner Brothers store upstairs of the World Trade Center (or so I told myself, because my memory was never any good). And, of course, upstairs and all around was that community – the people who came and went through that whole complex, what made life real – wasn’t there anymore.

I was always more a downtown person, even when I had attended Alma Mater up in Morningside Heights (the nature of being from Brooklyn: everything is uptown anyway). I had looked to the Twin Towers as the compass to help me figure out where I was; as architecture, not everyone liked them – but I did. (see here, for instance, for Gothamist’s review of the 20th century commentary on the WTC’s architecture).

For a very long time, I felt it was too easy to be lost. But, now there’s a new World Trade Center. The area has changed a lot. The memorial is a beautiful, reflective area. The Sphere has returned. The rebuilding of the destroyed St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church is still in progress.

It sometimes feels very surreal to see that there’s so much commercialism, but there was a mall years ago anyway. However, the sense of luxury that’s there now, especially over at the World Financial Center (sorry – now “Brookfield Place”), wasn’t quite what had been there. Downtown was more about the hustle – you got to get to where you were going, or you don’t know what you were missing.

Sure, a subway station is back, but there’s more to it than that. It’s 17 years. All these years later, I wonder how much we are missing, and whether we have grown or should I keep hoping somehow that things will be better.

I am curious to see the art (and the possibility of a climate-controlled subway station?). The reopening of the all the subway stations after 9/11, and after Super Storm Sandy when it felt like a setback, have somehow reminded me that life keeps going.

See here for the NY Times article by Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Winnie Hu on the reopening of this Cortlandt Street station, complete with a mosaic by Ann Hamilton with the words of the Declaration of Independence and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

See here for the tumblr post by MTA Arts & Design on the mosaic.

See here for Gothamist’s coverage of the Cortlandt Street station reopening.

As done before, some photos:

Above that photo I had taken some years ago at the Brooklyn Promenade.
I had also taken this photo a couple of years ago at the Brooklyn Promenade.
I took this one on Sept. 10, 2012, via my old phone.
Photo that I took on Sept. 10, 2012, via my old phone.

See here for last year’s post, and here for the 2016 post, to access the links to earlier posts here on triscribe on this day.

Take a moment to pause and reflect, and thanks for being here.

(cross-posted at sswslitinmotion.tumblr.com)

More Thinking About Anthony Bourdain

I recently watched an episode of “American Masters” on my local PBS
station (WNET Channel 13)
, regarding Jacques Pepin. I liked how the documentary made one have insight on Pepin as an immigrant who taught Americans how to think about food, and how to make and eat food. But, when Anthony Bourdain appeared as a talking head in the episode, I
was struck by how I sad I felt, as I was watching this after Bourdain’s passing. Bourdain was so smooth about talking about Pepin and the art of food. Bourdain was not someone who didn’t know what he was talking about; he was very much a part of the food and television community.

At least, CNN will be airing the last of Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. this fall. According to Time Out NY, in October, the Food Film Festival will premiere one of those final episodes, in which Bourdain checks out the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

I’ve been meaning to share this for the longest time – this fascinating essay by Thomas Wickersham, manager of The Mysterious Bookshop, from June 14, 2018, on Bourdain as a mystery writer, over at Crime Reads. (h/t The Mysterious Bookshop’s Facebook page post). Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised about that. As Wickersham noted, Bourdain’s style on his television shows, No Reservations and Parts Unknown, had a noir flair.
It’s still hard to fully realize that we won’t have more after Bourdain’s final episodes.

(cross-posted on sswslitinmotion.tumblr.com)

Happy Independence Day 2018!

Happy Independence Day. It’s been a tumultuous year so far in politics and current events in America.

(Current events being the first draft of history, as I’ve heard it been said, I think, by the late journalist Gwen Ifill).

Take a moment to reflect on the meaning of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and don’t forget that the Constitution does say we’re “to form a more perfect union.”

I mentioned this last 4th of July on Facebook, crediting the idea to WNYC’s Brian Lehrer: on America’s birthday, like any birthday, acknowledge it, warts and all, and hope (and work) for better.

“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James Baldwin. Something to think about in these times.

See here for NPR’s traditional annual reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Yes, there’s “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” but as I get older, I’m more struck by the end of the document, when the Founding Fathers state: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

The Founding Fathers were about to do something dangerous, and they knew it. But, they went ahead together, in hopes of something good. Social contract theory meant something to them. The experiment continues, 242 years later.

NPR on Facebook shared a link to a feature from July 4, 2010, wherein NPR’s Guy Raz interviewed author and historian Ray Raphael on dispelling myths about Independence Day and the revolution.  The linked page notes: “America ended up with the 4th because that’s the day the Declaration of Independence was sent out to the states to be read. The document was dated July 4, so that’s the day they celebrated.”

As we lawyers say: just go by the effective date…

I’m sharing this on triscribe, as around here, every day is APA Heritage, but  I had this link laying around since May: Atlanta Braves player Kurt Suzuki, on being an Asian American in Major League Baseball. Baseball has long been America’s game, but it is odd that there aren’t a lot of APAs in major league baseball, for any number of reasons.

I’ve been terribly behind on blogging. We’ll see how the summer goes.