The Generators: Excerpt from “The Ark”

From the opening chapter of The Ark, Dee takes Apollo out for a walk after Hurricane Sandy:

I took Apollo out toward Broadway. A threatening row of generators, inert grey metal boxes the size of trucks, lined the streets, steel bars and locks, red electric bolts along the rusted edges, thick cables and tubes clumped out across the sidewalk, into doorways, droning fierce metal on metal. IMAG1702A misery came into me, a weighty nothing, the tininess in my head gone. I was worthless. I knew that. It wasn’t just death, the meaningless of that, my stupid realization of my impending deterioration, but the clear pathetic thud of utter meaninglessness. IMAG1579It was this street, this fleeting attempt against the waters taking everything back, the cables and machines, the buildings and walls, huddled in the sharp early light, waiting for the inevitable next. IMAG2357Apollo pulled hard to the garbage truck and pissed.

Staten Island’s Midland Beach

Staten Island’s Midland Beach has recovered from Hurricane Sandy – on the surface at least.IMAG3233The peace and quiet belies the devastation from Hurricane Sandy from just ten months ago…tucked away in parking lots. IMAG3226Still evident on the surrounding streets. IMAG3237IMAG3245IMAG3241Construction projects dominate the ocean front.

Yes, all seems on the rise, except the ground, which is as low and flat as ever, while another hurricane season approaches. IMAG3224

New York Snow Storm: Anxiety Rules

There is no doubting that it snowed in the city. IMAG2370IMAG2379IMAG2374But it was just a snow storm, not a blizzard. IMAG2381IMAG2394IMAG2384Many in the city remain on edge about storms – storm alerts, panic buying, empty subways – given the fact that the last one was much worse than most expected.

Store opening - 101 days after Hurricane Sandy

Store re-opening – 101 days after Hurricane Sandy

Manhattan Retreat

Downtown Manhattan is a noisy neighbourhood, making it hard finding a place to think. For example, while there is a park around the corner….

John Street Methodist Church Park

John Street Methodist Church Park

It is claustrophobic, more akin to a prison yard than a park. City Hall Park offers a beautiful fountain, festively decorated during the winter, for contemplation… IMAG2156But the traffic, on Park Row and Broadway, is a never-ending story. IMAG2174The East River Esplanade looks like it might have moments of quiet…

East River Esplande

If not for the fact that the traffic on FDR Drive Overpass is worse.

FDR Drive above South Street and East River Esplanade

The World Trade Memorial has potential as a place of solace…

World Trade Memorial

Once the security checkpoints are gone and the construction is complete.

World Trade One has completion date of 2014

World Trade One projected completion date: 2014

Until then, I will have to accept that the only time silence comes anywhere around here is when a hurricane comes to town. IMAG0027But then the power is gone too…unless I get a generator. And there’s no quiet in that.

Maiden Lane, Manhattan: 10 Weeks after Hurricane Sandy

The television cameras recently returned to the pier at the foot of Maiden Lane in Manhattan. IMAG2124This wasn’t for news on Hurricane Sandy, but a ferry accident in which 90 people were injured. manhattan ferryIt has now been over ten weeks since Hurricane Sandy, and this part of Manhattan, around Maiden Lane, remains much the same. IMAG2117The external generators and boilers are still in the streets. IMAG2115Many of the businesses remain closed. IMAG2120Yes, the Toyota Prius was removed, but it was just replaced by another external generator.

December 8, 2012

December 8, 2012

January 10, 2013

January 10, 2013

Now I am keeping watch on a pair of delivery bicycles which have been chained to the same spot since the storm.

November 15, 2012

November 15, 2012

January 10, 2013

January 10, 2013

It will be odd when all of these things are finally removed…by thieves or the city.

Faux Good

NRA Spokesman Wayne LaPierre stated that we should take this horrifying moment of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting as an opportunity to get at the real issues. He is right. There is little doubt that we need to reflect on our true natures, who we are, what we have done, who we have loved and cared for, who we have shunned and hurt. We need to recognize that it starts in all of us and, only after genuine, tough reflection, can we offer what we have learned to others. APTOPIX Connecticut School ShootingI intended to go out to the Rockaways today, to help distribute gifts and food. And I didn’t. I have many excuses to myself for this – I’m not really needed, I’m tired, I can’t be late for Christmas Eve dinner, I’ll do it later – and I do believe some of them, or at least I say I do. But the truth is that I am lying to myself. I am selfish and lazy. I’m pretending to be a good kind-hearted individual when I’d rather sit here and indulge myself. I’m faux good. (Good intentions do in fact pave the road to hell.) IMAG1666One thing that did hearten me during the Hurricane Sandy aftermath was that this false nature in us wasn’t nearly so apparent. I saw many sharp words exchanged because things had to get done. They weren’t pretending. They were being direct. People expressed themselves intensely and honestly, in anger, in sorrow, in devastation, in thankfulness. There was so much of that. New Yorkers can be quite good at this, speaking their minds – maybe too good – but we must remember that there is much positive in that.

Rockaways Donation Center

Rockaways Donation Center

Being direct and honest. I think it might be just as simple – and hard – as that. I think back over the past couple of years to a most unpleasant situation at my workplace. The problem was never the difference of opinion – what could there be possibly wrong with that? – but because those who disagreed with me have whispered, plotted and attacked. I knew of this but was not concerned. Truth will out. That’s what I’ve always believed. But the bystanders didn’t do anything for fear they might be subject to the same attack. In other words, the misery wasn’t in what was said but because this cabal manipulated  so many – even themselves – into believing that the monstrous shadow in the room wasn’t real. It was something else…which brings me back to LaPierre: “There are monsters out there every day, and we need to do something to stop them.” Indeed we do.wildthingThese wild things live in us. These are terrifying things. We can’t hammer one another to concede. This isn’t about intimidation. This isn’t about winning an argument. This is about what is true in us. It is about being honest. It is about reflecting on how our actions affect others and making an examples of ourselves so that this world might be a safer, kinder place. Or do we want to pretend that we need a “good guy with a gun” to do that for us? Not me. I need to do something. I really do.