Thursday, March 04, 2010

Fraidy Cats Never Forget!

Happy Year of the Tiger---I’m one of you!  I was walking through San Francisco’s Chinatown recently with my friend Ian--- the day before the Chinese New Year and you know how Chinese have personal space issues, like cutting in line or spitting wherever?  Well in Chinatown, locals were blasting random fireworks right in the middle of the busy sidewalk and not just pop-its, mind-you, but full-blown blaring screeching flaming accidentally lose an eyeball fireworks. 

I’m one of the most skittish people I know.  You don’t have to try hard to get me to jump and scream, which is one of the reasons I was such an easy target for bullies back in school.  So in Chinatown, each time a firework went flying crackling past my head or blasted up at me from the curb, I screamed and jumped until finally I lowered myself to shouting this nugget: “Stop doing that!!  I’m a 9/11 survivor!!”

Now I have never used that one before, but it felt kind of good in a wrong kind of way.   
Just last weekend, I was staying in a hotel in Manhattan Beach, just south of LAX.   Far as I know, the only connection between Manhattan Beach and Manhattan, New York is the name.  It’s not like the '49 ers traded a handful of beads to the Apaches for this stretch of upscale sand.

I’m running in the pouring down rain, completely drenched.  The psychology is so deeply imbedded that California and sun are like glitter and fun so I only had on a pair of skimpy shorts and tank top and there I am, frozen.  Stupid!  I’m soaked through, running past the pretty pier and the stormy ocean---it was Manhattan Beach where that I tried for the first and last time to surf (I can’t do anything on a board) and it’s here where my friend Sandy got married.

Passing the civic center, I see these giant damaged, rusty steel beams sticking up out of the downpour.  A plaque beneath them reads “9-11-01.  We shall never forget.”

You had better work your non-existent Manhattan connection, Manhattan Beach!  What's in a name?  A tragedy by any other name would smell just as foul!  How much cash did it cost to haul those corroded beams out here so far from the scene of the crime?   

Like I said, I’m a super-skittish person, but I don’t walk around afraid.  “We shall never forget” implies all the fearful after-effects that day bore.  Though I’m convinced the civic center had lofty intentions with their 9/11 memorial, it must feel good to them in a wrong kind of way.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Hey Jesse -

Interesting about the slogan on Manhattan Beach 9/11 display.
We should always acknowledge and respect the suffering of the victims of that terrible tragedy.
But when slogan is used to perpetuate prejudice and hostility toward all Muslims, it solves nothing.
The terrorists who committed those atrocities were acting against the tenets of their own religion, and what they did is not supported by most of the worldwide Muslim community.

A leading Muslim cleric in Great Britain, among others, has declared that such acts are un-Islamic.

A 2009 Pew Research Center Global Attitudes survey found that in nine countries with sizable Muslim populations, significant majorities were opposed to suicide bombings. In Pakistan 90% said such acts of violence are rarely or never justified; in Indonesia the number was 85%; Jordan, 82%; Israel, 80%; Turkey, 79%; Egypt 75% and Lebanon, 62%. Interestingly, a 2007 World Public Opinion survey found that only 46% of Americans think that “ bombing and other attacks aimed at civilians are never justified.”

I think that remembering is good, undifferentiated hostility isn't.