Happy New Year

L’shana tova. May we all be inscribed in the book of life.

First off, birthday wishes to Fitz who is headed to SF. He will be
spending his birthday with Tuesday Night West. The nice part about
Tuesday West is that they are simul-cast with a three hour delay. So
Tuesday West does a happy hour while we go out late. Supposedly, they
are going to call Toledo… something to look forward to.

Second, I have put new photos up on tuesdaynight.org. Go to the
Overseen section and see what’s there. I haven’t scanned the deep fried
turkey pictures yet, so stay tuned.

Other than that, I’ll see you Tuesday at Toledo.

i

PS I just wrote the following piece. Lemmie know what you think.

So, Tuesday morning I woke among evil. It’s happened before and I’m
sure it will happen again.

But like I said, I woke among evil. I could tell. It wasn’t the dull
throbbing behind my eyes. It wasn’t really the ache in my gut that
tipped me off. It was the smell. There is no smell quite like a
Grey-side doctor’s office.

“Awake,” asked the doctor as I wheezed into consciousness.

“No.”

“Good,” he responded putting down the newspaper, “I hate to lose a
fare.”

“Just meat and money to you?” I asked.

“Yup. Just a fare.”

I had paid off my place. Covered my debts. And had found myself will
nothing particularly to do. Idle hands. Idle hands.

“You’re lucky.”

It certainly did not feel lucky. I’ve been shot before. You never feel
lucky waking up from being shot. You feel like shit. Simply, like
shit. And I, apparently, had been shot and was now waking up. Like
shit.

I coughed.

“Yup, very lucky,” the doctor continued, “I don’t get it. Ever time you
end up here it’s a frickin’ miracle. Like your vital organs just hop
out of the way when a bullet hits you. Maybe you’re made of jello or a
nasty fart that won’t go away. Someone somewhere must love you.”

I coughed. Oddly, I didn’t feel to talkative.

“Yup, no hydrostatic shock. No bone or organ damage. A slight tear in
the upper intestine, but nothing major. Damn lucky.”

I coughed again. It’s odd feeling like your insides are on fire. I’ve
felt that way before. It really hurts, but after a time… after a time
you get used to it.

“Am I covered?” I asked. I wondered if my employers had extended my
medical coverage. In the company I keep, health benefits were at a
minimum.

There was slight laugh from the door to the room. A gaunt figure leaned
like the dirty part of a shadow there.

“Covered?” I asked again.

Slim at the door nodded his head. I could barely make it out as I tried
to hold my head up. Seeing his nod, I put my head back on the pillow I
assumed to be both stained and threadbare. I chucked as best I could
with fireguts and passed out.

It was Tuesday afternoon when I awoke. Threw up a bit of blood. Sat
up, found my shoes, and checked out. It must have taken me a half an
hour to put on my shoes. Checking out was a bit easier once I found how
to stand. It always amazes me how fast people forget how to stand, how
to walk. I’ve been doing it for a while and I still have trouble
remembering some days.

I limped past the river, staying on the south side. I smelt like the
doctor’s pillow. Found a rickshaw near 50th and South River. Slumped
in and off we went. Amazing the doctor hadn’t gone through my coat; I
still had some cred on me, enough to go home, stop at a liquor store on
the way, get a bottle of something that would probably eat its way out
of the hole that recently developed in my gut, and tip the kid running
his heart out in front of me.

As I lay on my silk sheets, I wondered. About nothing in particular.
The usual before-bed and shot thoughts that one has. I hadn’t brushed
my teeth in a while. Need to pay paperboy. Who won the game last
night? The usual.

So Tuesday I awoke among evil. Maybe Wednesday I’ll wake up on the
beach.

Numb

We are numb. We are hollow with grief and panic and a fear that has not been seen in this country in a long long time. We get goosebumps when we hear a survivor’s tale, or learn that a friend of a friend was late to work and thus not in the World Trade Center when this all happened. The Internet is full of emails asking people to check in, websites (www.helping.org) collecting money for victims, and words of peace.

I am so worried that this is going to get worse. That the gloves are off, the brass-knuckles are on, and that the US won’t stop until it is too late. Is there a “Them” in this war? In World War II, it was simple: Hitler was Them. Mussolini was Them. Hirohito was Them. And now? Osam bin Laden is Them?… but there is no real army to fight against; there is no real installation to fight for and win; there are no beaches to land on. Them is Hydra: cut off a head and a new one grows back stronger than ever. Them is an army of ready-made martyrs willing to trade each of their lives for the lives of American citizens.

I have spent the last few days attempting to lead a normal life. Calls to friends. Drinks with guests. Laughing at jokes. But it all still feels so wrong.

We tried deep fried turkey therapy last night. The turkey was good… Fitz was right: deep frying a turkey is a great idea. Skippy, Kwame, Joe and I made a flag… that’s the real way to do it. But then we saw planes flying overhead, and at least to me, felt wrong, felt dangerous. I am still unsettled.

So far as I have heard everyone has checked in okay. There are two and three degrees of separation people that are unaccounted for, but all in all, I feel lucky.

There is no difference, in my mind, between what Robertson and Falwell said about the liberal media, homosexuals, and pro-choicers causing “God” to punish us than bin Laden saying that America caused the wrath of Allah to befall it. Roberston and Falwell are treasons snakes, and the poisonous vemon that they spew belongs nowhere in this world. This kind of institutional hatred makes Falwell and Roberston compatriots of bin Laden. It just fuels my deep distrust of organized religion even further.

The following is an exerpt from Bruce Schneier’s monthly computer security email called the Crypto-Gram. I believe it neatly sums up a lot of the fears I have.

11 September 2001

Both sides of the calendar debate were wrong; the new century began on 11 September 2001.

All day I fielded phone calls from reporters looking for the “computer security angle” to the story. I couldn’t find one, although I expect several to come out of the aftermath.

Calls for increased security began immediately. Unfortunately, the quickest and easy way to satisfy those demands is by decreasing liberties. This is always short sighted; real security solutions exist that preserve the free society that we all hold dear, but they’re harder to find and require reasoned debate. Strong police forces without Constitutional limitations might appeal to those wanting immediate safety, but the reality is the opposite. Laws that limit police power can increase security, by enforcing honesty, integrity, and fairness. It is our very liberties that make our society as safe as it is.

In times of crisis it’s easy to disregard these liberties or, worse, to actively attack them and stigmatize those who support them. We’ve already seen government proposals for increased wiretapping capabilities and renewed rhetoric about encryption limitations. I fully expect more automatic surveillance of ordinary citizens, limits on information flow and digital-security technologies, and general xenophobia. I do not expect much debate about their actual effectiveness, or their effects on freedom and liberty. It’s easier just to react. In 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed in the Atlantic. Originally people thought it was a missile attack. The FBI demanded, and Congress passed, a law giving law enforcement greater abilities to expel aliens from the country. Eventually we learned the crash was caused by a mechanical malfunction, but the law still stands.

We live in a world where nation states are not the only institutions which wield power. International bodies, corporations, non-governmental organizations, pan-national ethnicities, and disparate political groups all have the ability to affect the world in an unprecedented manner. As we adjust to this new reality, it is important that we don’t become the very forces we abhor. I consider the terrorist attacks on September 11th to be an attack against America’s ideals. If our freedoms erode because of those attacks, then the terrorists have won.

The ideals we uphold during a crisis define who we are. Freedom and liberty have a price, and that price is constant vigilance so it not be taken from us in the name of security. Ben Franklin said something that was often repeated during the American Revolutionary War: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It is no less true today.”

So what do we do now? We continue. We carry on with a greater sense of purpose and strength. In that vein, we go to Toledo on Tuesday.

“They’ll pay you to take their pictures.”

You never what you’ll hear at Toledo Lounge. Simple as that.

So I was sitting at the bar, with my new camera, playing around, taking pictures, carrying on. At any rate, a guy comes up to me and starts talking about the camera and if I am a photographer. Simple, idle banter. And then he asks me if I take people’s pictures… okay this getting a little odd, but nothing too bad. He asks me for a card, which I don’t have on me. He says he’ll be by tomorrow and I can give him a card then. He says that he has women who will pay me to take their picture… this gets stranger. I’m not really sure if I want give him my card… call me crazy.

At any rate, I am in the midst of training. The CEO, the two founders, and a host of other corporate types are here brainwashing us. So much fun. The long and the short of it is that I am unsure whether I will be at Toledo tomorrow.