Saturday, April 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/19: Friday at the Masters, Rice Salad, Documenting Sept 11, 2001

1.  For the first time ever, I watched the Thursday and Friday action of the Masters golf tournament. Today's competition was thrilling. Players not only made one precision shot or one imaginative recovery after another, but the day ended with sixteen players within three shots of one another. Five players are tied for the lead, a record for the end of play on Friday. Honestly, with so many lead changes, so many players moving up and down the leaderboard, I had to remind myself that it wasn't Sunday, that this wasn't the final round. I can't (won't?) predict what will happen this weekend; it will be fascinating and exciting to see if any players break loose from this gridlock or if we'll continue to see sixteen or more players in contention all through the weekend.

2. After breakfast at Sam's this morning, I shopped at Yoke's and, later in the day, I made a rice salad, combining jasmine rice, a medley of red, yellow, and orange peppers, cucumber, cilantro, roasted almonds, olive oil, and vinegar. I forgot to buy kalamata olives. I especially enjoy pouring olive brine in rice salad. Without it, I poured the brine from a jar of pepperoncini into the salad. It was a great idea. I think I'll go the next step and chop up some pepperoncini into the salad I have left over.

3. Last summer, I watched all but the eighth episode of Ric Burns' New York: A Documentary Film. Until recently, this was the final episode of this series. It examines the catastrophe of September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center's North and South Towers were destroyed by hijacked passenger jets. Until this evening, I had avoided watching this episode. It's a three hour long episode. Over the years, I've wanted to get as much distance as possible from the events of September 11, 2001 before trying to learn more about what happened that day. When terrible things happen, I never trust the coverage and stories that immediately come out -- such horrors are so volatile. On that catastrophic day, I did not watch television coverage all day or the following weeks. I wanted to wait.

My wait started to end in 2012 when I first visited the site where the catastrophe occurred. I visited  St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Church, an Episcopal house of worship very close to where the attacks occurred, but which remained, physically and spiritually and miraculously intact in the aftermath of the explosion. Rescue and recovery workers streamed into St. Paul's Chapel throughout the day and night in the days and weeks following the attacks to worship, pray, think, clean up, and rest. Volunteers fed these workers.  My visit to this place moved me.

In March of 2017, Ed, Mike, and I spent a Sunday in Lower Manhattan. We went on a guided walking tour of the area around where the World Trade Center towers once stood. We went to the top of World Trade Center One, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex. More and more of what happened that day sunk in. We also went to O'Hara's, an Irish bar that was crippled by the attacks. We looked through a binder of pictures documenting what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, at the damage done to this bar, and at pictures documenting its recovery.

I didn't realize that this episode of New York, entitled "The Center of the World, 1946-2003", was really a history of the World Trade Center towers, how they were imagined, conceived, and constructed, of the political conflicts involved in getting them built, and how they represented David Rockefeller and the Port Authority's vision of moving Lower Manhattan into a transformed future.

The history was fascinating and connected smartly with narrative threads developed in earlier episodes of the series.

As a result, when the episode made its transition out of the growth of globalization in the 1990s into telling its version of the attacks on September 11th, we, as viewers, had a deep understanding of what the World Trade Center embodied philosophically made it an attack target and what the towers represented has a feat of engineering that was destroyed.

Until this evening, I had never viewed the images of that day in a concentrated way. This documentary did not sensationalize what happened, didn't create false melodrama. The images were horrifying. They needed little narration or comment from the documentary. Those images don't need my commentary either.

As the episode concluded, it emphasized the mammoth task of cleaning up the site and recovering the dead. It presented closing interviews with Pete Hamill, Mario Cuomo, and others who marveled at the indefatigable spirit of the people of New York City, at the deep reservoirs of expertise, goodness, and service that New Yorkers drew upon to help one another and recover from the September 11th attacks.

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