Maybe I’m nuts, or maybe it’s just that I was able to drag myself away from the Tube for most of the day, but I found a lot of the memorials of the day pretty tasteful and restrained.
Yep, I’m surprised, too.
My main beef goes with the territory: live TV featuring anchors who feel the need to improve upon silence. What TV I did catch sent me surfing through digital cable-land, on a Diogenese-like search for an anchor who either wasn’t a blithering idiot or who didn’t fatally confuse political credulity for patriotism. If you were plugged in all day, I could well imagine that your opinion of today differs from mine.
Much of the observances were Just Right. I can do without the reflexive branding of the dead as “heros,” so the so-called Circle of Heros in the Pit grated — though the stagecraft and imagery of the service was lovely. The roll call was perfect, and the NYSE’s holding off on the opening of trading until it was finished was remarkably tasteful.
And I appreciate Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on any speechifying except for classics; it sure cut down on demagoguery and campaigning. But I’ve got to agree with Garry Wills here: are there really no speechwriters who we trust to hit the right note?
The visual of W and his wife going hand-in-hand, making the long walk alone down the ramp into the Pit, was excellent. So was his willingness to spend so very much time with the families, signing autographs, posing for pictures, and pausing for conversation. (His speech later was not so great, in that flat delivery he’s got that could suck the poetry even out of Peggy Noonan’s best. I hope he does better at the U.N. tomorrow; I’m certain that a case can and should be made against Iraq, but he hasn’t made it yet.)
New York itself has gotten back to its normal charming chaos. I found myself in the unaccustomed environs of the Columbus Circle CompUSA not long after noon, and emerged to discover 8th Avenue blocked off by police, fire and emergency vehicles. Seems the wind had picked up suddenly with the falling temperature, and a piece of scaffolding blew off the AOL Time Warner construction project and hit someone on the street below. Just another day.
And tonight, there was an interfaith multicultural anti-war memorial service on the Promenade. The march that preceded it was led by someone banging a drum and singing the most marshal version of Amazing Grace I’ve ever heard…