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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

more on anniversaries

not much to say today. i've been rereading On the Road because it's the 50th anniversary of the book and i first read it in high school mostly to look cool even though i didn't really get it and now i just feel too old and bah-humbuggy for it -- i missed my kerouac window i think. anyway, i was reading it last night to celebrate its 40th anniversary and of course today is the sixth anniversary of 9/11. i was living in boston at the time, the place where two of the planes took off. and mercifully nobody i knew then was directly affected by the awful events of the day.

still, you can imagine the rude slap this sentence felt like:
When daybreak came we were zooming through New Jersey with the great cloud of Metropolitan New York rising before us in the snowy distance. Dean had a sweater wrapped around his ears to keep warm. He said we were a band of Arabs coming in to blow up New York.

of course, that wasn't the first eerily prophetic thing ever written that foreshadowed 9/11. a much more famous example: in 1948 e.b. white wrote Here is New York (a brilliant little shot that is best followed immediately with a james agee chaser: Brooklyn Is, which was written 10 years earlier). check out this passage if you haven't already:

The subtlest change in New York is something that people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind. The city, for the first time in its history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.

All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer who might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm.

It used to be that the Statue of Liberty was the signpost that proclaimed New York and translated it for all the world. Today Liberty shares the role with Death.

on a much lighter note ... if (and only if) you are not easily offended, have a very bleak and twisted sense of humor, and consider yourself a fan of what the kids call "hip hop," read this. it's wickedly hilarious.


Blogger cape buffalo said...


what is it with me that i have no patience for kerouac or-of all people-walt whitman?

9/12/2007 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Ah, youtube! How we love you.

This here filmic masterpiece, titled "Osama Likes Frybread" caused me to cough up a laugh. The black humor is ever so noir. (bright green water from uranium mine run off? corrupt tribal officials? FBI plotting? it's all there.)

9/12/2007 8:24 PM  

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