Sunday, September 30, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Sunday, September 30th, 2001

It will be difficult to watch tonight.

Two years ago, Public Broadcasting aired a five-part documentary history of this city, dating from explorer Henry Hudson's landing here on another September 11th in 1609 - through the opening of the Empire State Building in 1931. In an extraordinary, even ironic coincidence, six months ago, the network selected tonight to run the new sixth installment of the series, and tomorrow, to run the seventh.

In their sudden, unforeseeable datedness, they will be heart-rending to those here who watch. The narration describes New York, at the end of the second world war, as having "emerged from the world's greatest conflict virtually unscathed... its great walls of stone and steel untouched by the horrors of war."

It even has a clip of Mayor Rudy Giuliani describing his predecessor Fiorello LaGuardia as "the mayor of New York City during the most difficult time ever to be the mayor of New York City."

Nothing in the four and a half hours of film mentions The World Trade Center, its construction, or its destruction. It is as if it had never been here. And a New York television station will show that to its still reeling viewers. Tonight.

Saturday, September 29, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Saturday, September 29th, 2001

A company called Edison Media Research has now released disturbing exit poll data from this city's mayoral primary of last Tuesday.

The survey of voters suggests that twice as many Democrats feel education is the major political issue here, as feel it is 'preventing future terrorist attacks.' Only eight percent of Republicans, three percent of Democrats, believe the next Mayor needs to be "strong in a crisis."

Lost in these inconceivably cold numbers: only 26 percent of those eligible even voted. It may be that the number of New Yorkers personally unaffected by The Trade Center attack is also only 26 percent.

This is a city whose mayor yesterday casually reminded anyone with free time, to try to attend the funeral of any of the 340 dead firefighters. This is a city where readers of one newspaper woke up this Saturday morning to a profile of a priest who has spent all but three days out of the last 18 at Ground Zero, blessing the workers, blessing the dead, blessing body parts.

This is a city where, nearly three weeks after the horror, there is still so much news of death that it is still reverberating slowly. People are just now learning of friends and acquaintances killed. As of Wednesday morning, I had lost one friend. This morning, I know I have lost three. At least.

Friday, September 28, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Friday, September 28th, 2001

Perhaps the one remaining untold overarching story of the city on this 18th day... is anger.

Tonight, a new 'Battery Park City' Residents Association will meet at a downtown college auditorium. Its members are angry, and on top of the original emotion, they are freshly angry that others here think they should swallow that anger and replace it with patience.

Lost in the nightmare, not as horrifying as the smoking monster of The World Trade Center, not as heart-rending as the families of the 6300 victims, are 8,000 or more residents of the area who have still not been permitted to return to their homes, nor given even the broadest idea of whether it will be a day or a year before they will be.

There has not been this kind of mass displacement here since the draft riots during the Civil War, or the epidemics of the decades that immediately followed it.

And on top of these, another twelve thousand live in and around the so-called "Frozen Zone." They must bypass checkpoint after checkpoint... to go buy food... to take their kids to temporary schools... to find supplies with which to clean the coating of ash that has painted the area. They often find one set of rules on the way out of their homes... and another set of rules on the way back.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Thursday, September 27th, 2001


Just after sunset, the busboy dropped a saucer on the stone floor and the 100 patrons at the midtown bistro jumped. It's an apt metaphor for what may be the most tense the city has been since the days immediately following the attack.

A confluence of events has heightened anxiety.

The city's three main newspapers yesterday each told different stories of potential further threats to New York - an attempt to a buy a 727 jet... a tractor-trailer packed with explosives... and a watch for hazardous material shipments.

Add to that, it got downright cold and windy yesterday and remains such this morning. And new traffic restrictions enforced carpooling for suburbanites go into effect today - on the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur.

Tension has been expressed in more than just anecdotal form. It has suddenly become illegal to stand at a police barricade and photograph the Trade Center site, because, the Mayor says, it's a crime scene.

It must be stated, though, that this city seems to need some edginess off which to feed. Several years ago, an all-news radio station launched an ad campaign making fun of the panicky theme music of its rival station. The ratings for the station with the panicky music... immediately increased.


A few years ago, a man named Kenny Marino went from here to Seattle to watch his favorite baseball player, Ken Griffey Jr. He even got to present Griffey with a t-shirt for Griffey's son. The shirt was from where Kenny Marino worked. The New York Fire Department's Rescue One. Rescue One was at the World Trade Center early on the 11th. Kenny Marino didn't come home.

His wife, holding on to the things her husband loved, took a chance and sent the Cincinnati Reds an e-mail, asking if Griffey could hit "an extra homer" because her husband would be "looking down with a big grin."

Tuesday, Katrina Marino came here from her home in the suburbs and filled out all the forms enabling her to get a death certificate for her husband. That night, back upstate, she turned on her computer and couldn't believe what she saw. Griffey had hit a homer.

Moreover, before their game in Philadelphia, the Reds had shown him her e-mail. "I was so excited," she told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I knew Kenny was very happy somewhere."

Of the home run, Griffey said simply, "Only god knows why." He told the New York Times he wants to meet Kenny Marino's family when the Reds come here next season.

Yesterday, a Cincinnati reporter told Griffey about the start of the story, about the day Marino saw him play in Seattle, and gave him the Fire Department t-shirt. Griffey was stunned.

"Oh my God," he said, "I remember that. I still have that shirt."

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Wednesday, September 26th, 2001


This morning, when the assistance center opened here, it became possible for families of the victims to apply for death certificates before, or perhaps ultimately without, the usual necessity, of a body. This morning, when Manhattan's thousands of retail stores opened, it marked... 90 shopping days until Christmas.

The juxtaposition of these most extreme points on the spectrum of human emotion is not going to be muted in New York.

At an ornate, upscale mid-town megastore that sells only watches and other time pieces Tourneau's - one entire, over-sized window is devoted to an advertising message that passersby cannot escape. It reads "Time to plan for the holidays." It would doubtless honor this city, this civilization, if the Christmas selling season were low-key, or delayed, or even held to the more traditional starting dates of Thanksgiving, or even Halloween.

But with New York's economy shaken, honor may have to take a back seat. The sales pitch, always loud and only occasionally not shrill, may get even louder this year. Because with thousands of families wishing to think of anything but the holidays, the unaffected customer's business is more vital than ever.


Imagine if you heard this announcement from CalTrans in the next hour: as of 6 AM tomorrow, all lanes of all freeways heading towards downtown Los Angeles will be diamond lanes: no single-occupancy private vehicles permitted.

In a broad sense, that's what happens at sunrise, here, tomorrow. Right here. I'm on West 62nd Street, the cutoff line past which passenger-less drivers from outside the borough of Manhattan will not be able to go, from 6 A.M. to Midnight. Were you commuting from a suburb or even the Bronx or Brooklyn or Queens, this is where they would stop you.

And what happens then? A forced U-turn? A ticket? An arrest? An impound? That part they haven't worked out yet. The theories are simple. The mayor's office says two-thirds of all the passenger vehicles south of 96th street contain just one occupant. With every bridge and tunnel into this city now a checkpoint for explosives and hazardous materials, the fewer cars at those checkpoints, the briefer the delays.

If you're wondering, and everybody here is: no if you have to take your friend from over here on Sixty-first street up to the hospital on Sixty-eighth street... when you drive back to Sixty-first they won't stop you. Provided your car is registered in Manhattan. If it isn't have a nice trip out of town.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Tuesday, September 25th, 2001


This city's mood can often be gauged in subtle ways. A week ago yesterday, when Wall Street reopened, and the financiers were forced to go by foot, through narrow sidestreets, past checkpoints, a city police officer shook his head in amazement at the good behavior. "My kids don't listen to me this well."

Sunday at the Prayer Service at Yankee Stadium another officer got emotional. "The people have been wonderful," he said. "It's like they don't want to be a burden." There were tears in his eyes by that point.

And this morning, two weeks to the day that the World Trade Center was attacked, there is an article in the newspaper The New York Times, totally unrelated to this sad anniversary. It is a profile of Roger Clemens, who will tonight pitch the Yankees' first home game since that day. It portrays him as half-Texan, half-Manhattanite. As features go, it's a long one: 1200 words. It doesn't mention the Trade Center once. It quotes three ordinary Yankee fans, and three fans only... Alex Nivar, Kurt Englehardt, and John Melville.

Nivar is identified as a New York police officer. Englehardt, a Port Authority police officer. Melville, the troop commander of the State Police here in the city. Coincidence? Possibly. Unconscious barometer of who this city is thinking? Don't bet against it.


A week since I've been down here and it just isn't any better.

A night's heavy rain has tamped down the fire and the wind has blown much of the smoky haze uptown. And thus from Rector and Washington Streets, that sixteen-story remnant of The Trade Center's ornamental metal facing looms more clearly, and somehow larger, three blocks to the north.

It slopes back gently against the mountain of debris, as if it were resting against it. It is a creamy white. The sky is visible through the ornate design. A week ago, I thought it looked like the Colosseum in Rome. Today, I can see it for what it is: a living version of those World War Two photos a bombed-out cathedral in Lyon, or London, or Dresden.

A week ago I told you about some kind of awning or tarpaulin, shredded during the chaos, blown up onto the fourth floor fire escapes at 92 Greenwich Street. Today, today, there's somebody up there with a garden hose, washing those shreds away.

It's time to step back down Washington Street and try to collect myself. But where? I'm five blocks away now, and there's a Pontiac SSE parked here, painted with debris as thick and unidentifiable as the ash off a wet fireplace. It just isn't any better.

Monday, September 24, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Monday, September 24th, 2001

5:25 AM PDT

There was a lot of good said at Yankee Stadium yesterday - the words of, and the applause for, the Muslim leader, Imam Izak-El M. Pasha - were inspiring and reassuring. A stadium-wide singing of "We Shall Overcome" was moving and cathartic. But it was silence that made the difference.

The former president, Bill Clinton, and his wife, Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, sat on the dais behind second base, and said nothing. In this city in which each remains extremely popular, each was satisfied to speak volumes merely by being present.

And seated in the Yankees box, singing, cheering, crying, was team owner George Steinbrenner. He had informed organizers beforehand that he thought it unseemly for him even to speak with the handful of sports reporters in the adjacent press box.

And for the seven hours the stadium was open, no one mentioned an awful, pointless gesture. In spite of rigorous security, a container of foul-smelling but not dangerous liquid - reported by the New York Times to have possibly been paint thinner or pipe-cleaning resin - was smuggled in, and left in the nearly-empty upper deck. No one was injured, and only the very few who encountered the smell were scared, because someone at Yankee Stadium made the decision not to announce the incident.


This isn't Abraham Lincoln trying to get re-elected during The Civil War, but it's still the strangest vote in the history of New York City.

The mayoral primary, postponed by the events of two weeks ago, will be conducted tomorrow - with the name of the man who could probably win the nomination of each party... appearing nowhere on the ballot.

He is, of course, the incumbent, Rudy Giuliani, and in these two weeks of hell he has gone from a controversial, polarizing figure, to the most popular New York politician since Fiorello LaGuardia. And he is prevented by term-limits from staying in office.

Giuliani has refused to jump on his own bandwagon, saying again today he hasn't had time to consider remaining. Some of his potential successors, restrained and respectful until today, have now ripped him and accused him of being coy. One, Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, says this afternoon that Giuliani is now hurting the city.

At least once, New York has had to drag a mayor kicking and screaming from office. Literally. In 1857, Mayor Fernando Wood actually got a bill passed establishing his own Police Force. When the city's older police force tried to arrest him, the two sets of cops battled it out on the steps of City Hall.

That, is not a likely outcome this year. But almost anything else remains possible.

Sunday, September 23, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Sunday, September 23rd, 2001

Funerals All Day AM

Carlo Loffredo and David Laub plan to be back in Southern California tomorrow. But first, there are all these funerals.

Loffredo and Laub are two L.A. County firefighters I met on the subway, coming back from the Mets' game. They've been here since a week ago yesterday, at The World Trade Center. When I left them, they weren't certain if they'd be going back to Ground Zero for an overnight shift, or if they wouldn't be needed until morning.

They were hoping for the former. Work all night, and then go to funerals all day. Sounds maccabre. But one fact about life here now that will creep up on you and then overwhelm you is this. With 346 New York firefighters lost, their funerals can be lonely events. A man might die and have his ten best friends die with him.

So Carlo Loffredo and David Laub go in their place. "We'll go pick up Grandma. Or we'll get the groceries. All the errands people are in too much pain to do," David says. They are strangers, yet they are accepted immediately as family. "We're all firefighters," Carlo says.

"Worst experience of our lives," David adds. "And the best. Does that make any sense?"

Security 9:40 AM PDT

A small group of people is directed to leave bags and equipment, inside a small circle marked by eight orange traffic cones. When the circle is sufficiently filled, a black labrador is unleashed by his handler - the bags and equipment are sniffed, as the dog leaps in apparent merriment.

This is what reporters have to do to enter the prayer service here at Yankee Stadium. Fans coming out of uptown subway entrance must produce their admission tickets while still in the station, or be turned away.

The baselines on the field itself are covered with floral arrangements; the pitcher's mound replaced by a floral version of an American flag. The 'prayer for America' officially begins at Noon pacific - fifty to sixty thousand expected.

Crowd Small 10:20 AM PDT

Yankee Stadium has seen two Popes, two Cardinals, and Nelson Mandela. And in today's "A Prayer For America," it will see the leaders of a dozen different faiths, along with former President Clinton, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, entertainers ranging from James Earl Jones to Placido Domingo, from Lee Greenwood to Bette Midler; New Yorkers from Governor George Pataki to George Steinbrenner.

But how many of the grieving will it see? Nearly ninety minutes after the gates opened and just more than an hour until the introductory program begins, and perhaps less than a thousand are here. Logistics and security are extremely tight.

The field itself is overwhelmed with flowers. But this is not to be a memorial service, as the Mayor continues to insist that work at The Trade Center remains a rescue effort, and workers there early this morning insisted they'd found a small bird - still alive - trapped beneath a foot and a half of solid debris.

Bid To Increase Crowd 11:11 AM PDT

Organizers are now telling those who would attend, to simply show up to Yankee Stadium, as unofficial predictions of the crowd have dropped from sixty thousand to perhaps ten.

This solemnly and tastefully prepared gathering may have gotten lost in a group of mixed messages. For days, Mayor Rudy Giuliani has exhorted New Yorkers to "live their lives." This first Sunday of fall is sunny and warm; pro football has returned, the New York Giants are on tv; and in the other baseball stadium, Shea, the Mets are in a pennant race.

There is also the continued insistence that the 6,333 are missing, not dead - thus who, and what, is this service for?

The low attendance - perhaps five to six thousand are here now - is not because of fear. Those Mets games the last two nights drew 42,000 each.

Where Are They? 11:40 AM PDT

They are, perhaps, following Mayor Giuliani's instructions, and are "living their lives." But wherever they are, the fifty to sixty thousand New Yorkers expected at this "Prayer For America," are not here.

With the introductory program already underway and the formal introduction by James Earl Jones less than 20 minutes away, the crowd, if above 20,000, is not much above it. But five minutes ago it began to sing along with an instrumental presentation of 'God Bless America.'

The baseball infield is overwhelmed by flowers - arranged as an American flag on the pitchers' mound. Security has been strict and filled with double and even triple checks.

Whatever has kept the anticipated capacity crowd away, it is not anxiety. At Shea Stadium, in Queens, at least 30,000 are at the Mets' baseball game.

Ceremonies To Start 12:02 PM PDT

With James Earl Jones to introduce the ceremonies and Oprah Winfrey to welcome the attendees, "A Prayer For America," is about to get underway here.

The multi-faith service - leaders of at least a dozen different religions will speak - was originally expected to bring a million New Yorkers to Central Park. Then, relocated here for security reasons, it was presumed the grieving would fill this city landmark which pre-dates the Empire State Building.

But perhaps New Yorkers are out living their lives. At least 30,000 are reported at the Mets' game in Queens, mid-town is busy; there are, at most, 25,000 here.

Ceremonies Underway 12:42 PM PDT

Interspersed with silence so complete that the clack of the wheels of the elevated train 450 feet away echoes through the park, were rounds of applause interrupting speakers, and as dignitaries have emerged from the third base dugout: Senator Clinton, President Clinton, ex-Mayors Dinkins and Koch, even Oprah Winfrey. And chants of "U.S.A." and "Rudy" have waxed and waned.

It is a respectful but not an emotionally-spent crowd. There is as much applause and cheering as tears; as many flags as the never-not-startling "Missing" posters.

It is also a much smaller crowd than thought. A million were expected at the original, but insecure venue, Central Park. Perhaps 60,000 were anticipated here. Less than half the Stadium is filled.

The Chaplains 1:20 PM PDT

In his part of the invocation, New York Fire Department chaplain Joseph Potasnik reminded us that when asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, we answered, invariably, a policeman or a fireman. Now, as adults, said Rabbi Potasnik, "We know who we are. They show us who we can be."

In his prayer for the families, the Police chaplain Alvin Kass was nearly drowned out by applause when he exhorted those here to live their lives, and defend the life the victims died protecting: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people."

Many of those expected here may be doing that now. Fifty to sixty thousand were anticipated, twenty to twenty-five thousand are present. But they have been both moved, and moving.

We Shall Overcome 2:02 PM PDT

For more than an hour and forty minutes, the leaders of a dozen different faiths have offered comfort to those who are here not for a memorial but for "A Prayer For America," a phrase proclaimed on a giant banner hanging from the Bronx Courthouse, across the street.

And amid the applause and the tears, the strongest response thus far: Many, perhaps most, here, rose and clasped hands to join in the singing of 'We Shall Overcome' by the Harlem Boys and Girls Choir.

Attendance was less than half than anticipated as late as this morning; perhaps a thirtieth of what was expected if the event had been held as originally planned in Central Park. But it is clearly not fear that has limited the crowd: 41,168 were at the game at Shea Stadium in Queens, and mid-town is busy.

Perhaps New Yorkers are, as their mayor again implored them to be here, going about the business of living their lives.

The Response To The Imam 2:48 PM PDT

The dignitaries are filing out now, stopped, at this moment, as former President Clinton speaks briefly to well-wishers near the field exit by the third base dugout.

If there was anxiety here, it was, perhaps, that there might have been some backlash, or even some lukewarm reaction, to the Muslim portions of the ecumenical service.

Instead, when Imam Izak-El M. Pasha thundered about the terrorists "We condemn their acts, their cowardly acts," he was interrupted by a standing ovation. "We are an America," the Imam concluded, "made up of all the beautiful faiths and all the beautiful colors."

Representatives of more than a dozen religions filled two hours and twenty minutes of solemn, respectful, but not down-hearted community here. Yankee Stadium, expected to be filled, was half-empty. Across town, the Mets' baseball game drew 41,000, so perhaps many listened to Mayor Giuliani's insistence that they could best serve their city by getting on with their lives.

A Letter From New York 5:25 PM PDT

"Together we'll get through it." The president of the council of churches of the city of New York, Dr. Calvin Butts, thundered. "Because we are the United States of America."

It was a rousing conclusion to "A Prayer For America" here at Yankee Stadium an event significant to this community because it was, perhaps, the first one since the attack that did not live up to crowd expectations - possibly because it did not need to.

As originally planned, for Central Park, a million or more were expected. Even when re-located here for security reasons, 55,000 or more were anticipated.

Perhaps 25,000 attended - and we cannot blame fear, for another 41,000 were at the Mets' game in Shea Stadium in Queens.

Maybe that's good news. Maybe New Yorkers are listening to their mayor, who has told them so often, to best serve this city by getting on with the business of their lives.

Saturday, September 22, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Saturday, September 22nd, 2001

That the fans actually sang along with the National Anthem at Shea Stadium here last night was such a shock to performer Mark Anthony that it threw him from his rhythm. That has not happened at a New York baseball game since the 1970's.

That New Yorkers are serious about continuing their life as well as their lives was indicated by the Mets' expectation that 30,000 might attend, compared with the actual crowd: 41,235.

That baseball, or any other entertainment, or any other public assembly, serves as defiant notice to terror, was clear, when ex-Dodger Mike Piazza hit a dramatic eighth inning home run to give the Mets a vital victory in the pennant race and after the game ended, thousands of fans refused to leave the stadium.

That there is still anxiety here, and yet also, still humor, was shown when a bomb-sniffing dog swept through the Mets' dugout hours before the game. With her back to her handler and six camera crews, she stopped. Breaths were held. That's when the handler noticed she'd found... a puddle, and was enjoying a drink of water.

Metaphor enough for the meaning of last night's first large-scale public gathering in this city since the attack on the World Trade Center.

David and Carlo

David Laub says people keep asking him to compare Ground Zero at the World Trade Center to a major earthquake. He says there's no comparison: he's seen both, and there's more damage here, in a small area, than any earthquake could do in an entire community. You and I will have to take his word for it.

David Laub, and his friend Carlo Loffredo, are L.A. County firefighters, here in New York to lend whatever help they can. They paid their own way. Carlo, from Burbank, got the first flight that left for New York a week ago this morning. He was very proud of that, he said, until he got here and found two other Southland firemen already at the Trade Center. They'd ridden the bus. It took three days.

Laub said his first day, he worked 23 hours straight at the site: more manual labor than true firefighting. "But it's therapeutic," he added. "I couldn't stand there and not do something."

Their t-shirts, with "L.A. County Fire" over the heart, were an odd site. We were on the subway coming back from the Mets' game. Four out-of-town firefighters had gone when the gate-keepers realized who they were, all four were admitted even though they only had three tickets. "Typical," said Carlo. "We've been treated like kings," said David. "I still can't used to it. It's like we're heroes or something."

No "something" about it. Not to the people here.

Friday, September 21, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Friday, September 21st, 2001

The Seismologist

How does this city, how does this nation, balance the need for vigilance with the need for freedom?

Very, very carefully.

A friend of mine here got a call from a college classmate, who had been brought in from California for his seismological expertise. That's how bad things are at the World Trade Center site: there are earthquake structural experts here.

They hadn't seen each other for awhile, and so they visited at my friend's home.

The next day, my friend told me last night, there was a knock at the door. Two FBI agents were standing there. They told my friend that they knew this person was in New York, and that he had been at that address the previous day. Could my friend, they asked, shed any light on who he was and what he was doing here.

The seismologist was an Arab-American.

Had he been profiled because of that? Was there something about his flight data that rang bells? When my friend told the story, the agents said 'thank you,' they apologized for the inconvenience, they apologized by proxy to the seismologist, and said if that story checked out, they'd apologize to him directly.

This is a narrow and terrible tightrope being walked. If it can be successfully negotiated, it can contribute to the prevention of terrorism the President spoke of last night. But even if it can't, it is already being walked, in the shadow of the smoke from The Trade Center.

The Real Tribute 1:32 PDT

Diana Ross will sing God Bless America, Marc Anthony the national anthem, Liza Minnelli "New York, New York" - and a photo of an American flag overwhelms the giant scoreboard in right field.

But it is a tiny protrusion atop that scoreboard that is perhaps the most poignant part of what is really New York's first public outdoor gathering since The Trade Center attack.

The city's skyline has been part of the Mets' logo since the franchise was founded forty years ago. Its silhouette rims the scoreboard, and its representation of The Trade Center is in black, covered with the emblem of remembrance here - the red, white, and blue ribbon. Mets' players will donate this day's salaries, nearly half a million dollars in total, to the widows of firemen and policemen.

Back, But With Conditions 2:32 PDT

This is more than just "the first game" - it will be the first major outdoor gathering in this city. Fans will not be allowed to meander among the seats closest to the field while the players take batting practice. Planes headed to LaGuardia Airport down the street will not be able to fly directly over the ballpark - and at Shea Stadium, part of the flight-path for 37 years, that silence may be deafening.

But big-time sports is back in New York eleven days after the Trade Center attack, as the Mets host the Atlanta Braves.

Reminders of the last two weeks will be everywhere. The Mets players will not merely repeat their gesture of wearing not their own caps but those of the New York Police, Fire, and EMS Departments - they will now add in the caps of the New York Port Authority Police, and the city's court reporters. And tonight's pitcher for the visiting team, the Braves, Jason Marquis, is from Staten Island, and he is wearing the cap of the New York Police Canine Unit.

As if reminders were needed.

Rusty 3:32 PDT

As fans file slowly, and patiently, past increased security, the location of early arrivals suggests more than 35,000 may be here tonight, and foremost among them, perhaps: Daniel Joseph "Rusty" Staub, who could never have imagined that his idea would be so desperately needed.

In 1985, while still an active player for the New York Mets, he founded the New York Policemen and Firefighters Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund. It would try to help the families of the five to twenty men lost in the service of this city, annually. Today, 35 New York firefighters are dead, 311 more missing. Twenty-three New York police are missing. Thirty-seven New York port authority police are missing - two known dead.

But as his old team hosts New York's first major league sporting event since the Trade Center disaster, this heartening news: the Mets players, coaches, and manager, will donate their salaries today - about $450,000 - to Staub's fund.

Let's Go Mets 5pm PDT

Imagine if the Trade Center attacks had happened in L.A., and if Dodger Stadium was literally across the street from the UCLA Tennis Center, and if down the street from both of them... was LAX.

That is the backdrop against which professional sports has returned to New York. In the first regular season game since the 10th, the Mets are hosting the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium, a location traditionally so much a part of LaGuardia airport's flight-path that on a long Sunday afternoon a hundred planes might fly directly overhead.

On a good day, many fans, many players, were apprehensive. There have been no good days lately, so the FAA agreed to keep aircraft away from Shea during the games. Security is tighter, the mood more somber, on the other hand in a gesture not seen in baseball since the second world war, the entire Mets team will donate its collective salary - about $450,000- to the fund for the widows of children of New York policemen and firemen.

Most poignant of all: for forty seasons the New York skyline has been part of the Mets' logo. Tonight, its silhouette still stands atop the scoreboard looming behind right field. And on its miniature of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, has been placed the red, white and blue memorial ribbon.

Huge Crowd Attends 6:02 PM PDT

There is no official attendance figure yet, but perhaps 40,000 fans, some waiting half an hour or more, silently and patiently, to pass through new and heightened security, have gathered for this city's first mass outdoor event since The World Trade Center attack. Patriotism in capital letters - including fans singing along with the National Anthem for the first time since the '70s - did not obscure the symbolism of a five-foot tall object 400 feet or more away from the center of the action at home plate.

In the silhouette of the city skyline atop the stadium scoreboard, the miniature Trade Center towers have been painted black, and covered with the new symbol of remembrance - the red, white, and blue ribbon.

Timing 7:02 PM PDT

Was it too early to play baseball here? To play baseball now? Perhaps 40,000 fans here voted "no" with their attendance, and their patience. They suffered bag inspections and movement restrictions with good humor.

And history also voted so. New Yorkers went to professional baseball games in July, 1863, while the Civil war, and anti-draft riots, paralyzed the city for a week. They went early during the First World War to watch pre-game military drills with New York players using bats instead of rifles.

And they went tonight - even as shifting winds brought to this place the faintest whiff of the smoke still rising from The World Trade Center fire.

Bomb Dog Scare 8:02 PM PDT

If 40,000 could come here to be diverted, to pretend this is not a different city - then a few of them could begin to laugh, even in these most dire of circumstances ever faced by the New Yorkers of any generation. Three hours before game-time, her handler brought the bomb-sniffing dog into the Mets' dugout, and half a dozen television cameras swung wildly to capture the symbolism.

Suddenly, her back to those cameras, the dog stopped. Had she smelled something? Was there a new danger? She had stopped.

Of course she had. There was a puddle on the floor of the Mets' dugout, and she had stopped for a quick drink - a brief break amid all this, and an apt metaphor for what all of us were doing here at a baseball game.

Thursday, September 20, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Thursday, September 20th, 2001

Dig We Must 6am PDT

It was an advertising line so subtle, so effective, that for two decades, it was part of daily life in New York. It worked its way into the punch-lines of jokes. It was used in the dark political movie "The Manchurian Candidate." It was how the electric company here, Con Edison, used to explain its endless ripping up of the streets of this city: "Dig we must, for a better New York."

"Dig we must."

Now it is back, and without humor or pretension or sly image-improvement. It is the explanation for rescue work that is, for all intents and purposes, hopeless. Eight days have now elapsed since the last of just nine survivors was pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Yet, dig they must.


Anthony Samyu is a volunteer rescuer. When they find a hole in the debris large enough for somebody to go into, he's the somebody. Rope secured around his waist and shoulders, he is lowered in, a deadly-serious cave explorer, looking for a life, or a body, or even a wallet.

Anthony's been doing this since the day the towers fell. But why?

He explained it. He was part of the team that found a woman, alive, in the wreckage late last Tuesday. If experiencing that, if reclaiming a living soul from the very ground, were not inspiration enough, there was one more heartbreaking detail Samyu supplied. That woman, horribly mangled, legs broken, had been found between the bodies of two dead firefighters. "Cradled," was the word he used. They had knowingly given their lives on the very remote chance that hours or days or a week later, somebody like Anthony Samyu might save hers.

Dig we must.

Open For Business 5pm PDT

The concierge at one of Manhattan's better hotels had to keep her voice down. She wasn't giving away trade secrets, she wasn't gossiping. She had to keep her voice down because if she spoke at normal volume, her words would've echoed through the lobby.

Her hotel is empty. So is a bigger one three blocks uptown. There are massive layoffs.

On top of everything else, this city now reels from what seems like a cosmic practical joke. In Pittsburgh somebody hangs a sign reading "We Are All New Yorkers." A banner at a ballpark says "I'm a Boston Red Sox fan. I love New York." The city has gone from overdog, to the place you worry about.

And no tourists are here.

About 1100 of the 1600 seats for the matinee of "Phantom Of The Opera" were empty yesterday afternoon. Only 5000 showed up for the first exhibition hockey game. There are parking spaces available.

Even the cold, hard, logic of this truly new era leads to the conclusion that the city is safer, more vigilant, more patient, more friendly. It's raining today but the weather has been extraordinary, the Brooklyn Bridge reopened this morning. And as that concierge pointed out: you can get a hotel room, a ticket to a Broadway show, and probably a big hug at the airport if you look like you need one.

And no tourists are here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Wednesday, September 19th, 2001

Anthony's Pictures 5pm PDT

The envelope sitting in front of Anthony Samyu is unmistakable: what the one-hour photo place gives you when you get your pictures back. Anthony Samyu's envelope bulges. Three prints each of 24 shots... of the ruins of The World Trade Center.

That makes him a ghoul, doesn't it? A tourist who further clogged the pinched-off streets of lower Manhattan just to take shots of the nightmare. Someone with no sense of the human toll, of the sadness that will spiral out for years, because of what happened here.

You couldn't be more mistaken. Anthony Samyu... is a rescue worker... at Ground Zero. Moreover, because he is thin and spry, he's one of the men they lower into the crevices in the debris.

And he's taking pictures. He says he needs to; it's the only way to comprehend that what's around him is finite, that as devastating as it is, it will be history some day, and he will need to remember it. He says that at the rescue site, he has never seen so many cameras. Firemen have them. Cops. Medics.

What does he think of the civilians, blocks away, taking their snapshots? He understands. We should remember this. We must remember this.

It is suggested to Samyu that the affect of seeing, in person, the hell that the World Trade Center has become is so profound, so moving, that some of it - perhaps that seven-story shell of the ornamental metal work, the stuff that looks like a wall of the Roman Coliseum - should be preserved as it is, where it stands, or somewhere close, as a permanent, raw, heart-wrenching memorial - to the dead, and of this time.

Anthony's haunted eyes suddenly flare with life. "Yes," he says softly. "Yes. We have to do that."

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Tuesday, September 18th, 2001

A Week Since What? 5:48 AM PDT

Anniversaries are more than just reminders of things we cannot or should not forget. They are also a means to measure the distance, the safety of time, from a cataclysm. But the one week mark achieved here at this hour is without that comfort. It is one week since a day that, in human terms, was four times worse than the worst night of the London blitz; twenty times worse than the previous greatest loss of life in this city.

But it is not one week since whatever happened, ended.

Just how far away are we New Yorkers from even the rough approximation of normality? Put aside, for a second, the unspeakable devastation at the Trade Center itself, or the prospect of five thousand funerals. Consider the venerable Brooklyn Bridge. It's the one week anniversary of the moment it was closed. It was untouched by the calamity... but if opened, there'd be no place in lower Manhattan to put the cars and people driving over it. The real anniversary, the celebration of the safety of time, is, this morning, not even visible on this city's smoky horizon.

The Smoke 6:32 AM PDT

From where he stood, just outside surrogate's court on Chambers Street, the young man in the court uniform could see only the perfect blue sky on the most eastern side of the Island. Before him, the clean-as-starch façade of City Hall reflected the brilliant end-of-summer sun. The verdant park around the seat of city government blocked everything else: no wreckage, no brown plumes belching into the sky.

He turned to his companion and asked, in all seriousness: "You smell smoke?"

It is, probably, a good thing that he was surprised. Six blocks downtown, on Wall Street, the smoke is still pungent, but lighter, which has in turn created three new prime viewing spots on the walk to The Stock Exchange, and, of course, created the crowds to fill them. And last night the wind changed again. Early this morning, as if anyone needed another reminder of the grim anniversary of an event that is unimaginably far from over, you could smell the smoke, in the Bronx.

J & R 7:05 PM EDT

Nothing happened on this stretch of Park Row. Though the World Trade Center complex was but a block and a half away, the damage here, behind the police barricades, was limited to that lingering fingerprint of terror the coating of the ash from the Trade Center fires and collapse. Yet the J & R stores are closed, and they will be as long as police and soldiers wave pedestrians away from Park Row, which could be months. There is no spoilage at J&R these are a series of entertainment stores that grew from one music shop. There are four of them. One is three stories tall and sells only classical CD's.

When will they open again? Who will lose his job because they will not open soon?

You can ask that question in front of a thousand shuttered shops this morning. The buildings are undamaged, but their mere proximity to what happened a week ago today has sealed them as surely as if they were the plague houses of medieval Europe. The consequences of the fatalities, and the destruction at the Trade Center are obvious. What has happened to the people and places around it, are far more subtle, but no less disastrous.

The Case For Sports 7:48 AM EDT

Last night when they took the field in Pittsburgh for the national anthem, the New York Mets wore not their regular team caps, but rather those of the New York fire department, the police department, and the emergency medical service. The Mets are pushing to be allowed to wear their tributes to New York's rescue companies during the game tonight in Pittsburgh, to commemorate this one-week anniversary... and then, Friday evening, if they host New York's first sporting event since the attack at The Trade Center.

The weekend games may be moved to Atlanta because the parking lots at Shea Stadium here are filled with food and other relief supplies. One of those gently arguing for permission from baseball to do this is John Franco, the Brooklyn native, the son of a city sanitation worker, and fittingly the winning pitcher last night in Pittsburgh.

The case for sports can be made simply by quoting an NYPD officer who stood vigilant but weary yesterday on the slope that rises up to the New York Stock Exchange. Amid the barricades, and the yellow tape; with the smoke still blowing down Wall Street and the awful wreckage only out of sight and never out of mind, he summed it up: "At least tonight I can go home and at 7 o'clock I can put my feet up and watch the Mets and pretend things haven't changed.".

The Three Intersections of Hell 8:32 AM EDT

Do not go to Rector Street. From there, you will see the central fire, and the smoke before the bright end-of-summer sky turns it an opaque tan instead of its original, sick, dark brown... before it erases your assumption that this is what they meant when they first described the fires of hell.

You will say this is the worst place to spend part of this one week anniversary. And your companion will say, no it isn't, and he will walk you another block west. And you will see part of the metal lattice work from one of the towers, sticking, where it landed - seven or eight floors worth - like so much twisted grillwork. With a six-story pile of rubble to its right, it will make you think of the ruins of the Roman Colosseum.

Your companion will beckon you yet another block further. And there you will see the piece of the same metal, having flown, downwards, perhaps 30 stories, or 60, or 90, and having knifed a serrated 100-foot high rip down the edge of a building on the other side of the street, before it finally stopped, and stayed where it stopped, and has stayed there a week.

You will say nothing, and your companion will say "And we're still three blocks away from Ground Zero."

The Giant Crane 9:05 AM EDT

One week since the disaster means that tomorrow is one week since the last rescue. That fact weighs heavily here, and there are indications that the focus at The Trade Center will shift to a long-odds gamble.

Two Cleveland excavation experts marched up The West Side Highway late this morning, to bring in a huge, portable, long-reach crane. With it, rescuers can try to clear rubble in the middle of the vast pile, not just at its perimeter. It is risky it concedes no one is alive in what were presumed to be the highest-chance areas. And as one of the excavation men put it, it's like trying to play pick-up sticks, from the middle, out.

And it may be all they have left.

Eamon McEneaney 9:20 AM EDT

When the World Trade Center was first attacked in 1993, Eamon McEneaney immediately apprehended the danger. He formed a human chain, and directed 65 of his fellow employees from their offices in the north tower, down a pitch-black, smoke-filled stairwell, to safety.

We do not know what Eamon McEneaney did a week ago this morning. We presumably will never know if he had the time to show the instincts and courage that he had in 1993. A week ago this morning he was working, as he was eight years ago, for the securities firm Cantor-Fitzgerald. It occupied half the office space in the top ten floors of One World Trade.

Cornell University has announced that McEneaney is "among the victims" and that his life will be celebrated, Friday. He was one of that school's greatest athletes.

I did not know him well. We were in one class together, in 1976, and he made the critical play in the first sporting event I ever covered as a professional. It was not a good one he fumbled a punt, and that led to the only points of the game. Two days later, not knowing he was standing behind me in that classroom I made a joke about it. Eamon McEneaney walked past me and smiled. "Don't worry. I won't drop the next one."

Monday, September 17, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Monday, September 17th, 2001

The Moment 5:48 AM PDT

At the intersection of Nassau and Liberty Streets, the claustrophobic canyons of Wall Street surrender their only clear view of the wreckage that began its avalanche six days ago, to the minute. The familiar striated metal fascias of the towers are visible from there a seven-story piece, jagged and burnt, sticks out of the ground, where it hit when the towers collapsed. You can see it if and when a gust of wind clears away some of the acrid, hot, fresh smoke from the volcano two blocks to the west.

Already the titans and the minions of Wall Street have seen the groups of two to ten soldiers at every corner, the police cars snaking through the dust-covered streets. Now, a block closer to the Exchange, foot traffic narrows towards barricades. "You got something that shows you work here?" A policeman, all business, asks the question firmly, yet politely. And then he coughs and you notice all the other cops, and the soldiers, and the Red Cross workers, are wearing masks.

It all began exactly six days ago. No one here can guess when it will end.

Security 6:01 AM PDT

As hundreds and hundreds of ex-commuters, now pedestrians, are herded away from City Hall and down Nassau Street, the brokers and financiers can just make out something on the side of the Stock Exchange. The hazy smoke is still too thick to tell what it is. At Nassau and Ann Streets they can begin to taste the dust in their mouths. At John Street, a woman is inside a yogurt shop, trying to get it open. She is wearing a huge face-mask.

By the time the foot traffic narrows at Maiden Lane, half the people who didn't wear masks are improvising: bandanas, handkerchiefs, paper towels even a men's sock, and an American flag. That's when you realize through the haze that the thing hanging from the Exchange is a huge flag. You have not been able to see it for the smoke.

At every intersection, every thirty seconds, someone stops, the press of business be damned. What's left of the Trade Center looms two blocks to the right. The tears do not owe entirely to the smoke.

Stoicism and Reality 6:43 AM PDT

Only a New Yorker would say this: "It should be a pretty smooth opening," according to Curtis Melis. "If there are no bomb threats or building collapses."


Even without them, those who work here have already been sorely tested. Their walk to work is an obstacle course around emergency vehicles, cops, firemen, soldiers and, most jarring of all, twisted pieces of Trade Center metal being slammed into a flat-bed truck at Nassau Street, with a deafening retort. Otherwise there has been silence here this morning: little noise beside the shuffle of feet, itself intermittent as so many stop at every intersection to look two blocks to the west and see the great burning hulk, the thing out of 'War Of The Worlds' what's left of the World Trade Center.

Brooklyn Bridge 7:23 AM PDT

A military Hum-vee backs out onto Wall Street, maneuvering as it does between an electrical company truck and two trailer-sized portable generators. Heads shaking, eyes closed, or red, covering their coughing mouths with a mask, a paper towel, a bandana, a handkerchief, a men's sock, even an American flag, Wall Streeters herded into narrow Nassau Street went back to work against a backdrop totally unlike that which they left, in panic, last Tuesday.

Most seemed to want to avoid the specter two blocks to their right: the ghostly, still-smoking hulk of The Trade Center. But a seven-story tall slice of its façade, twisted like so much iron grating, is beckoning almost irresistibly at the intersection of Liberty Street.

Finally there is this sound or lack of it: The Brooklyn Bridge, closed to all but emergency traffic, and providing another new view of the new New York skyline and the great gap that now defines it.

Recovery And That Which Cannot Be Recovered 8:05 AM PDT

Subway and pedestrian traffic into Wall Street, or the lack thereof, suggests that downtown Manhattan has yet to run its first test at full capacity. And that's a good thing. This part of the city is one half construction zone, one half Sci-Fi film set.

Three blocks from where I stand the wreckage is still startling enough to make stoic New Yorkers gasp. In the smoke still freshly rising from the volcano are the only two pieces most average New Yorkers can yet see the black hulk of the low-rise, Building Seven, the thing that looks like a burned railroad train. That's on the right. On the left, the twisted, seven-story tall chunk of the metal facing of the tower itself, edges jagged and pointed, looking as if it were one of the thunderbolts thrown in Greek Mythology.

And how widespread is the impact of all this? Perhaps this is the answer: it is six days later and still postal service is out, in five different New York zip codes.

Ancient Rome, Modern New York 8:42 AM PDT

It is the 'New York Stare,' and at Liberty and Nassau Streets it is directed at two things. In the foreground, workers are hosing down the century-old façade of the Chamber of Commerce, trying to clean the soot and the ash off its classical columns, designed to evoke ancient Rome. But further down the same street is the sight that makes even the stragglers, late for work, pause, and stare and gape and bring a hand to the mouth. Two blocks to the west, seven or eight floors of The Trade Center's steel fascia, burned, curved, a huge hole in its middle, stands where it landed six days ago.

Unlike the Chamber of Commerce building, there is no "design" required for this sight to invoke antiquity. The twisted, steaming, smoke-shrouded piece of the tower looks like nothing less than the side of the Colosseum in Rome.

Rector Street One 9:42 PM PDT

The reopening of all but the streets directly around The Trade Center has provided the most horrifying view yet. Here at one of New York's oldest intersections Greenwich and Rector is the back-side view, from the south, of what may be the central fire, rising from a depression in the three-story pile of twisted metal, orange, black, and yellow. The smoke is angry and acrid, dirty brown at its origin.

Behind it, part of the Trade Center complex, the outside structure pulled away, the shapes of individual rooms still visible, the floors, buckled by the heat, with that tell-tale sagging so evident at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. And everywhere, despite the valiant efforts to clean up: the volcanic ash, on windows, on the streets, on mailboxes. And to the left, on some fourth-floor fire escapes, torn pieces of canvas of various sizes, possibly an awning that went up, when the towers came down.

Rector Street Two 11:11 AM PDT

It sticks out from the 16th or 17th floor of The American Express building like a fork stuck in the side of a cake. It is a piece of the metal facing one of the trade towers, that fell like a thunderbolt, ripping a nine-story gash in its southeast corner as easily as you could put a nick in a table when you drag a piece of luggage too close to it.

I don't think this heart-stopping view has been seen before, not even in the aerial video shot Sunday. It is terrifying in its starkness, and compounded by what else can be seen from here: the blown-out windows of the pedestrian crosswalk across West Street, and the remnants of the low-rise buildings that stood next to the towers, their walls sheared off, the interior rooms still visible.

Fortunately, this view is behind the police lines. You don't want to see this if you don't have to.

Sunday, September 16, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Sunday, September 16th, 2001

Smoke Worse Than Before 7:40 AM PDT

As morning broke here, there was no doubting that the smoke billowing above lower Manhattan was at least as bad as it had been late Thursday night, before a spectacular thunderstorm enveloped the island and soaked the city and the Trade Center area for twelve hours.

That... is not good news... for anyone.

That the rain did not put out the fires beneath the rubble, that it did not even significantly tamp them down, reduces again rescuers' hopes of finding any of the nearly 5000 missing, still alive. It also raises the risk those rescuers face, working on what one of them to described to me as a "hot pile." It is, however, sadly, and easily explained. For every piece of rubble removed, there is that much more oxygen provided to the countless small fires, some of them burning 75 feet or more below the ground.

It Is Not All Brotherhood 8:10 AM PDT

In an unprecedented gesture, today's New York Times carries a front-page apology, an acknowledgment that some of the thick Sunday paper was printed before the terrorist attack "and that the tone of some articles and advertising is inconsistent with the gravity of the news." The lead piece in the Sunday magazine is headlined "in the rubble of Silicon Valley."

Suburban railroad executives are still taking heat for ordering posters depicting people missing at The Trade Center, taken down at Grand Central Station for 'aesthetic reasons.' "What is this?" a policeman asks a reporter, "The Louvre?"

Another cop shakes his head as he looks from Canal Street towards the urban volcano five blocks south. His regular beat is the upper west side, and there on Wednesday, he says, when the winds changed and began to blow north, from downtown, a caller complained that his apartment... smelled of smoke and what were they going to do about it?

Warning: the winds are changing again right now, again heading... north.

Tapping 8:40 AM PDT

They have heard it before, and again it did not mean what everyone hoped it might. Someone trapped in the rubble pounding at a few feet of debris above them, can make the same sound as two pieces of twisted metal brushing against each other far below the surface. Still, rescue workers leaving Ground Zero early this morning told reporters they had heard tapping. Mayor Rudolf Giuliani told the media in his late-morning briefing that there was no survivor; he provided no other details.

Rescuers know that though the survivor rate begins to plummet on the day after a collapse, people have survived for more than a week in earthquakes in Mexico, under the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland in 1989. That none of the 4,972 missing have been found since Wednesday has not broken the hope of rescuers clawing at the mountain range of rubble that stands where the Trade Center was, that whatever they heard this morning was not a survivor, does not mean they will give up.

Later in the Giuliani briefing, the term was used again: "rescue mission."

No More Parades 9:10 AM PDT

Mayor Giuliani has pleaded with New Yorkers not to use the newly reopened parts of downtown unless they truly have to. Early yesterday, the barricades along Reade Street were filled mostly by neighborhood residents, silent and stunned by the different perspective of the site provided by getting just two or three blocks closer to it. But by 3 p.m., crowds were pouring off the subways, and taxing the sidewalks in the area. Policemen assigned to barricade duty said they heard more laughter than seemed more appropriate, couldn't swear that these were gawkers from other neighborhoods or the suburbs, but felt it.

Soldiers patrolling the area affording the most dramatic view of the Trade Center, Greenidge Street, were more blunt. "My men need to be out here guiding the relief trucks," an officer shouted towards a crowd standing in an intersection, "not getting you people back up on the sidewalk."

Reminders 11:20 AM PDT

Since Tuesday, the gift shop at the Essex House hotel has had to reorder one item, three times -the postcard depicting the night-time view of The World Trade Center towers.

On the broad sidewalks of Manhattan's tourist blocks, 42nd Street, Broadway, Fifth Avenue, sidewalk art and photo vendors say they're selling almost nothing but images of the Trade Center. "Ninety percent," says Serge, in front of his stand, uptown at Columbus Circle. He has about fifty photos on display. Perhaps five of them don't feature the towers.

And even when some of us aren't trying, New Yorkers can't help but be reminded of the still-startling fact that The Trade Center isn't there. On many of the subway trains rumbling beneath me here, ads for a local university picture a woman pondering her future as she sits in front of... the towers.

The 40 4:00 PM PDT

Night has fallen, the families have gone home, and the small canopy in front of New York Fire Department Engine Company Number 40 has been taken down. Wives, children, neighbors, firefighters, had gathered here on Amsterdam Avenue to support each other. But this was not a memorial.

In a heart-wrenching note to "our families, friends and community," Captain James J. Gormley of the 40 writes "no member from this house is listed as deceased. I consider the members listed missing as still operating at the scene... Hopefully each of our brothers has taken charge of a small group of survivors, and teaches, encourages, and provides significant hope to each group."

Until Tuesday, the largest number of New York firemen ever killed in any one disaster was twelve. The men from the 40 whom Captain Gormley lists as missing number... twelve.

Saturday, September 15, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Saturday, September 15th, 2001

Dire Forecast For Clean-up 6:20 PDT AM

Nine months to a year. That's the forecast of an expert who has inspected the site this morning. How long it will take, how many round-the-clock days it will require to remove the millions of tons of wreckage caused when the two towers of the World Trade Center avalanched into the heart of the financial district here now more than 96 hours ago.

The owner of an area removal contracting firm notes that after four days of heroic, superhuman digging, only the perimeter has been cleared. An estimate last night produced another startling number: destroyed here 25 million square feet of office space.

While there has been no official forecast, workers returning from the site have continually predicted the process would take months. When, in the middle of an uptown subway ride earlier in the week, one shook his head slowly and said "three, minimum," other riders gasped. Now, he seems optimistic. If the contractor is right, the earliest the site would be cleared would be early June of 2002.

Firefighter Funerals 6:40 AM PDT

Thirty-five years ago, New York's fire department suffered the worst day in its three centuries of service. A floor collapsed in a store in Madison Square, twelve of 'New York's Bravest' perished, and this city mourned for weeks on end. Earlier this summer, when a group of firemen were lost on Father's Day, the sadness overshadowed the holiday and many of the weeks that followed.

Today, New York begins to mourn the more than 350 firefighters believed killed at The World Trade Center... two of them, among its leaders, chief of department Peter Ganchi and first deputy commissioner William Feehan. They, and departmental chaplain Father Michael Judge, are being buried today.

The city has now announced that the private grieving for these three men will serve as prelude to a public memorial service, in central park, a week from tomorrow, with perhaps as many as a million in attendance. Two of the organizers of the event are Edward Koch and David Dinkins, both former mayors of this city which is second to no other in its estimation, appreciation, and remembrance, of the men sworn to confront any danger.

Subways 7:40 AM PDT

Three years hence, New York will celebrate the centennial of its extraordinary subway system, the veins and arteries of this community, traveled by 4,700,000 of us, every day.

Since the attack on The World Trade Center, the subway tunnels, most of which converge in and around the area, have been the scene of confusion and frustration. Trains have had to be rerouted around the Trade Center and the 111 shaky buildings in the immediate neighborhood, and not just because of the fear that the boisterous vibration of these built-not-for-comfort-but-for-speed vehicles might exacerbate problems at Ground Zero. At least one station, Cortlandt Street, is still inaccessible due to the debris from the collapse of the towers. Inspections yesterday suggested the station has caved-in.

Other stations in the area were tested trains running gingerly through them and West Side service has been extended this morning... one small bright note for New Yorkers, who for five days have been fearful above ground, and frustrated below it.

Remove Those Posters 8:08 AM PDT

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: if New York lasts a thousand years, this may be its finest hour. Four full days later, rescuers still claw their hands bloody, hoping against diminishing hope that someone is still down there alive. And not only are new posters of the missing still going up all around the city, but good Samaritans have even been papering the town with pictures of people they do not personally know.

But not here at the so-called 'Crossroads of the World,' the railroad station, Grand Central Terminal. When Adrienne Mand posted a series of "Missing" fliers, they were immediately taken down on the instructions of station management.

An incomplete but thorough inspection in the last half hour here located two freshly posted "Missing" signs at the remote Track 27 but none in the massive station itself... possibly the smallest number of fliers in any building in this city.

Nine Months? 8:42 AM PDT

Subway directions signs in thirty-odd West Side stations still read, in chilling innocence, "E trains to World Trade Center all times." All times? Even the future? Just two months ago Larry Silverstein signed a 99-year lease for all of the Trade Center's office space. He says it should be rebuilt, in part as a memorial to the estimated 5000 dead, but not immediately.

If excavation contractor Anthony Acierno, who has just inspected Ground Zero, is correct in his forecast, there is no reason to worry about rebuilding before it would be appropriate or seemly. He shocked reporters this morning by suggesting that the debris here weighs more than a million tons, and that to remove it will take from nine months to a year.

Enough To Stop You In Your Tracks 9:06 AM PDT

The subway workers were in the 'frozen zone' to inspect the damaged Chambers Street station. None of them had seen The World Trade Center since it all happened. As we cleared the building on the southeast corner at Greenwich Street, we froze. All six of us. Three blocks distant, there it was: the debris like not just a train wreck, but like an entire toy train set thrown by a petulant giant and the burned and twisted tracks and the trestle thrown on top for good measure.

And here, back of the barricades, at Duane Street, the most horribly awe-inspiring part of this vision of hell-on-earth remains the same: the fire, and the dirty brown smoke still rising into the azure sky. The fire looks new. This all looks like it happened 90 minutes ago, not 99 hours ago.

It's 20 Oklahoma Citys 9:42 AM PDT

At this distance, five blocks north, the bottom eight floors of The World Trade Center complex look like they always have, like they did when I worked there and used this entrance in front of me.

They look that way at first. Until, that is, the smoke clouds part for a second and you see the four-story pile of twisted metal in front of them; Until, that is, you realize that each of the windows is broken, burned out; Until, that is, it finally dawns on you that the top 102 floors of this building, are gone.

New Yorkers are today getting this close a view for the first time. They stand behind the barricades at every intersection in near-silence, and then someone mutters, "It's like Oklahoma City only 20 of them."

The Avalanche 10:20 AM PDT

An intact, three-story tall siding from The World Trade Center sits in the middle of the pile, pitching forward at 20 degrees, leaning to the left at about 45 degrees, looking like nothing less than a ski resort crushed in an avalanche. Fire hoses dampening the whole horrid mess, water shooting seven stories high.

Even at a distance of nearly five blocks, this awful scene, made visible today for the first time to the average New Yorker, inspires silenced awe. Dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people standing, staring, and a phenomenon repeated at intersection after intersection: Someone will look away for a moment, then look back at the great, terrifying, smoking pile, and say "Did something just happen? Didn't it just change?"

The answer is no it merely looks that way, it merely looks like it happened four minutes, not four days, ago.

Phil Returns 11:20 AM PDT

A decade ago, Phil worked on the east side subway line that serviced The World Trade Center. He hadn't been back since. Cops, and even soldiers, waved him and his crew and one ringer past the barricades and onto the moonscape of Chambers Street. Dust everywhere, broken glass, ruptured watermains.

Phil got quieter as we walked westward. And then, at the intersection of Greenwich Street, the parade stopped. Phil looked three blocks to our left, and there it was, the great smoking ash heap of The Trade Center like some horrific model mountain, as jagged as the Alps, as shrouded as the San Bernardinos only not by clouds, but by smoke. Active, well-fueled fires that could live for weeks. "My good God," Phil said. "It's so much worse than the pictures on TV."

The Volcano 12:40 PM PDT

Each time the city opens a little more of downtown, the scene repeats itself. As the average New Yorker gets a closer look, new horrors become evident, and crowds, silent, mournful, disbelieving, stand at the barricades to watch the mountainous, smoking rubble like a volcano thrust suddenly upwards into Manhattan by some geological horror.

Few spectators say anything, but when they do, the statements seem improbable: "It's like Oklahoma City only twenty of them." But it does look like that.

Excavation contractor Anthony Acierno inspected all this morning and shocked reporters by predicting the rubble will not be removed in less than nine months. Standing three blocks from the volcano, one wonders if it will take that long just to put out the fire.

Friday, September 14, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Friday, September 14th, 2001

Rain-collapses 7:07 AM PDT

As symbolic as is the rain, even with it, there is no time for sentiment. It has been raining and raining hard, probably a third of an inch, since about 1 AM Eastern time. Spread out over just the immediate four-block radius around the World Trade Center, that means tons of additional weight - on the debris, on any possible survivors, and most ominously of all, on no less than 111 buildings in that 4-block zone.

Construction workers fresh from the site yesterday told me their experience tells them that dozens and dozens of buildings will be unsalvageable - "we'll have to pull them down before they fall down" - and that the removal process will take not weeks but months. And all of it complicated by the seemingly least menacing thing to come out of the sky here since Tuesday morning.

False Victim 7:40 AM PDT

It was the kind of story rescuers have both hoped for, and feared, since Tuesday morning. A woman, in medical scrubs, a cell phone in her hand, hysterically telling officers that she had just spoken to her husband, a Port Authority policeman. He was trapped, in the hole below One World Trade. And there were nine other people there with him - alive.

Despite the heavy rain and the mountains of debris, workers rushed to the location she specified. And acoustical soundings, and trained dogs, and panicked searches found... nothing.

The woman - New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik told a news conference twenty minutes ago - finally admitted she had made the story up. She has been arrested, charged with hindering an investigation. From Commissioner Kerik's remarks it is unclear whether or not Sugeel Mejia actually has loved ones missing at the site.

Missing posters 810 AM PDT

Marina Gertsberg.

Montgomery Hord.

John Perconti.

Lloyd Rosenberg.

They smile out at you from the poles supporting the traffic light at the intersection on 9th Avenue. Their names can be read on the door that swings inward at the subway station at Sherman Square. The simple, and simply tragic, words "missing" leap from the page-sized posters at the memorial on 14th Street.

They are among the missing, and their photographs have been papered around this city. An extraordinary percentage of them are from one financial firm that occupied almost half the space on the top ten floors of One World Trade. That's where Marina Gertsberg worked, and Montgomery Hord, and John Perconti, and Lloyd Rosenberg.

And then there are the "other" officially missing. 4,759 of them.

Posters - One 9:10 AM PDT

In his novel "The War Of The Worlds," H.G. Wells described it as 'the great disillusionment' - beyond the terror is the shock of learning that what you've relied on - does not work.

Nothing in this city this morning exemplifies that shock more than the omnipresent plastering of photographs of missing people on almost every available public space. Their loved ones, already in disbelief at the prospect or likelihood that they are dead, are further confounded by the idea that in the information age, they must tape-up homemade posters in hopes of finding out what happened to a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife.

Most seem to be from the Cantor-Fitzgerald financial firm. Tuesday, it had nearly 700 employees inside One World Trade Center - on four floors above the 100th. Only a few have been found, alive or dead.

Posters - Two 9:40 AM PDT

They are taped to traffic light boxes, and on subway walls, and, in one much-publicized venue, to a camera crew van from a local television station. They are the photographs of the missing, produced on home computers and printers, with the barest of information - a picture, a name, the building and floor on which they worked, height, age.

And although mathematically this might not be probable, half of them seem to depict employees of Cantor-Fitzgerald, Treasury Bond specialists. One-thousand of its people worked at One World Trade, on floors 101, 103, 104, and 105. Thus far, the company has accounted for only a handful of those who were not on vacation or assignment elsewhere Tuesday.

This morning, these people, and these now water-logged pictures, have come to represent what happened here in as profound a manner as the physical devastation could ever do.

On The Barricades 10:25 AM PDT

Another quarter-mile or so of downtown Manhattan has been opened to civilians - the barricades have been pushed back to Canal Street. The soaking rain has, as promised, tamped down the smoke that here, yesterday, made the air so bad that five minutes' exposure produced rough throats and watery eyes. Face mask sales have shot through the roof throughout the city.

And do not mistake the stoicism of the New Yorker for calm. Less than an hour ago, a downtown subway train came to a grinding, sudden halt, just north of 23rd Street. The lights dimmed. Thirty seconds later, the train roared back to life, and sighs and laughter filled the air. One woman, fanning herself, said to no one in particular: "I was holding my breath - I thought that was it."

The Fire Is Still Hot 11:05 AM PDT

A twelve-hour, soaking rain has just tapered off here - and still, incredibly, smoke plumes upwards, twenty stories high, from "the hole." This underscores what rescue workers told us yesterday: the rubble upon which they are working, striving against all odds in hopes of recovering just one survivor, is still hot. Fires still rage beneath what is, in places, ten stories' worth of debris. And it is those fires that endanger the 111 buildings in the four-block area around the Trade Center.

The public has been permitted about a quarter mile closer. The boundary is now Canal Street - roughly where the Holland Tunnel empties out - and still, despite that rain, you can smell the smoke.

Rescue Route Blocked 12:20 PM PDT

It used to be 'The West Side Highway' and it used to be the best route for commuters to the Trade Center. Now, it's the access for rescue workers, dump trucks, ambulances, bulldozers, and here at the Canal Street intersection their constant rumble, almost ceaseless since Tuesday, is at a halt. Heavy equipment, stopped, backed up for blocks and blocks.

And there can be only one reason for a movement lockdown - the inspection of the Trade Center 'hole' by President Bush must be imminent.

Skies have cleared and one lone welcoming sight awaits the president - The Statue of Liberty would doubtless be visible to him as he approaches.

Fighter Jets Above Trade Center 1:02 PM PDT

For fifteen minutes, lower Manhattan has experienced something it has not seen since early Tuesday - air traffic: flyovers by fighter jets, amazing the crowds on the West Side Highway, even getting policemen to stop and stare.

They are, of course, here principally to protect the airspace during President Bush's visit here. That their banking, darting, and roaring through the suddenly brightened skies provides perhaps this city's first entertainment in four days, however, should not be overlooked.

Numbed To Horror 1:40 PM PDT

While the President sees all this for the first time, for the now four-day veterans here, the grim work doesn't just continue, it almost becomes mundane. A voice, more weary than shocked, scratches across a police radio blaring onto Canal Street: "Body parts found on the 14th floor of The World Financial Center."

With the efficiency and dispassion of a bank teller, a woman dispatcher repeats the grim news. "Body parts found on the 14th floor of The World Financial Center."

Consider what this means. The World Financial Center was not one of the buildings hit or burned on Tuesday. This development, and whatever horror led up to it, is so grisly, so improbable that on any other day it would've been the lead story somewhere. But here, on Day Four, it is just a detail.

Masks 2:20 PM PDT

Three days later and this is a different city.

It's not just that you can stand here at the intersection of Canal and Greenwich Streets and look downtown ten blocks and see nothing but two buildings, perfectly framing the smoke still rising from where the 12-million square foot World Trade Center stood. It's also what you see on the faces of New Yorkers - not their expressions, their face masks. With a twelve-hour soaking rain having ended this afternoon, the number of those protecting themselves from the smoke-tinged air is down to perhaps one in 50. Yesterday it might've been one in 10.

And these masks may be with us for the duration. Construction workers told me they can already smell the decay of bodies - and that smell could move uptown.

There is only one comparison: the masks we see in the chilling photos of the worldwide flu epidemic of 1919. This is a different kind of epidemic.

Candlelight Vigils 4:40 PM PDT

Forty minutes ago, it began. Throughout Metropolitan New York, in small clusters like the dozen people who stood for half an hour at the intersection of 70th Street and Amsterdam Avenue before they began to walk to join up with another group at Red Cross Headquarters on 66th Street, and proceed to Fire Company Number 40 further down the block... to large groups numbering in the hundreds at Union Square downtown and the Brooklyn Promenade across the East River in Brooklyn Heights... candlelight vigils at sunset... silent tributes BY New Yorkers TO New Yorkers, and to all of the victims of Tuesday's terrorism.

Even Drivers on the suburban Long Island Expressway report that at nearly every overpass, they see small groups standing on the bridge sidewalks, candles lit, tributes paid.

USS Comfort Docks 5:20 PM PDT

The USS Comfort, the Navy's giant floating hospital, has just been docked at a berth on the Hudson River at West 57th Street. The aircraft-carrier sized ship is here to provide a resting facility for weary rescue workers; even in the darkness, the three giant red crosses against its white hull are visible.

This is the third symbolic gesture of the day here. Few New Yorkers got to see President Bush, but the three or four hundred workers at The Trade Center site who shook the president's hand say they were greatly moved by his presence and how he lingered to talk to nearly every one of them, however briefly.

And then there was the first gesture. Since terror came out of the skies over Manhattan twice on Tuesday morning, this city has seen virtually no aircraft. Late this afternoon, two F-15 fighter jets circled the island for several hours. Their purpose was, of course, to protect the airspace around the president. Their impact was to reassure the citizens of this city that in these troubled times, they are far from alone.

My Tour 6 PM PDT

President Bush got to see Ground Zero; I got a much lower-profile, but nonetheless still staggering, behind-the-lines tour late this afternoon.

And walking through the neighborhood immediately south of the barricades at Canal Street is remarkably like getting the insider's look at Burbank or Fox or any other Southland film studio. One block of Washington Street features untouched small apartment buildings with not a soul to be seen or heard. Turn a corner, and parked by every manhole is a phone company or electricity company truck. Make a right and you do a double take: there are 19, count them, 19, caterpillar bulldozers in the middle of the street waiting to be called upon.

And finally, as far as your escorts will let you go, still six blocks in the distance, the ever-present, seemingly never-ending, smoke... the smoke from fires where the World Trade Center used to be... fires that resisted more than twelve hours of pelting rain, which look just as fierce, and portend just as badly for the chance of any more survivors, as they did on Tuesday afternoon.

Baseball Report 7:15 PM EDT

With the major airports in Washington and Boston still closed, ones in Chicago and New York having shut down before reopening, and all other air hubs on extremely limited schedules, sources in the emergency logistics departments of some prominent carriers say baseball's plan to resume play Monday and Tuesday is in jeopardy.

Only seven games are to be played Monday, but the New York Yankees have to get to Tampa for a game that day, and then to Chicago by Tuesday evening. While many other trips in the next week could conceivably be handled by rail or bus because all teams are playing within their own divisions, the Florida Marlins have to get to Montreal for a game Monday, the Houston Astros have to be in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The airline sources say baseball needs to be flexible - and with no certainty about when anything approaching a full flight schedule can be achieved, so do the other sports. In short, college and pro football executives have to worry about... next weekend's games.

Masks 8:05 PM PDT

This is not the same New York and you can see it in the faces of the citizens. Not the covered-up looks of apprehension... but the gauze face masks many of them are wearing.

Sirens and subway snafus are apparent everywhere, but only downtown - 23rd Street and below - is this remarkable change evident.

During the hot and humid afternoon Thursday, when the smoke from The World Trade Center site was enough to irritate eyes and constrict throats within minutes, perhaps one in ten pedestrians was wearing a mask of some kind. Even after the rain Friday, the smoke continued to plume into the atmosphere, and maybe one in fifty were wearing masks.

It all looks frighteningly familiar, if you have ever seen the black and white photographs from 1919, when masks were worn everywhere in hopes of combating a worldwide influenza epidemic.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

KFWB radio reporting for Thursday, September 13th, 2001

The Numbers 6:02 AM PDT

The numbers are the most awful, inarguable distillations of what happened at the World Trade Center on Tuesday. New Yorkers have been fearing them and at the same time needing them. This morning some of them are here:

Grief counseling requests yesterday alone: 2500

Employees missing in each of two companies: 700

One unconfirmed report, quoting a Port Authority source, suggesting casualties in the World Trade Center Complex: 20,000 to 30,000

And of all these cold statistics at once heartless and heartbreaking is the report from the New York Fire Department. Veterans still recall the numbing tragedy of 1966, when the department suffered its worst day: a dozen firefighters dead. This morning, the NYFD says, it has lost 350.

The First Memorial One 7:32 AM PDT

Twenty-odd blocks north of the Trade Center, in front of the equestrian statue of George Washington in New York's Union Square, the city's first shrine to the victims draws about a hundred at this hour. Most striking of all: Sixty or so pieces of cardboard and paper, taped to the plaza itself, held down in places by candles, with markers provided for mourners to write a message of any kind.

Among them: "Rebuild the towers, taller than ever"..."I am angry. I am sad. I am afraid and I will heal."...

And taped to several boards, photographs of missing workers from the Trade Center: "Marina Gertsberg if you have any information... please call."

The First Memorial Two 8:32 AM PDT

Two young women. Seated on the steps of Union Square Park, in front of an informal memorial to the dead, and the missing, of The World Trade Center. They were arm in arm, one trying to write on the posterboard taped to the plaza, the other, supporting her friend when she broke down in tears then resumed her struggle. No others, not even dozens of reporters and photographers, dared to impose on her grief.

After the two left, what she wrote could be viewed, with respect. Inside a heart, in red crayon: "Dylan Keeler R.I.P."

The First Memorial Three 9:02 AM PDT

They stand, looking straight down at the words written in markers, in crayons, in tears.

A hundred or more New Yorkers at this first of the shrines to the dead and missing at the Trade Center, on the steps of Union Square Park, 20 blocks north of the site itself the silence interrupted only by sobs, the bells of a distant church, and the endless wail of sirens of vehicles still headed downtown.

Many eloquent passages penned, some in Chinese, Yiddish, even Arabic. But the most poignant, perhaps, also the most simple: "To my Mom and Dad," it reads. "I'll always love you."

View From The Bridge One 9:31 AM PDT

It is the average New Yorker's best perhaps only chance to see with his own eyes the new, numbing skyline. The "Q" train leaves the subway station at DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn and, about three minutes later, rises from the ground to vault the Williamsburgh Bridge over the East River to Manhattan.

And for just under four minutes, the financial district, still off-limits to civilians, is visible. Riders move and look to the car's left side to stare slack-jawed: at the smoke still obscuring the American Express Building; at the soot visible on the historic Woolworth Building; and, mostly, at The Millennium Hotel, standing alone, blue sky and brown smoke next to it, next to where the towers of The World Trade Center... used to be.

View From The Bridge Two 10:32 AM PDT

This is the New York subway system's car 4239, the "Q" line which for the $1.50 fare provides New Yorkers something money cannot buy them on the ground a view, for as long as four minutes, into the heart of The World Trade Center area.

As this train crosses The Williamsburgh Bridge into Manhattan, passengers look to the downtown side, and stare in disbelief not at the smoke which still billows upwards, obscuring the center of the view; not at the Statue of Liberty, unclouded by the still-burning debris, but at what, after two decades, is gone from the vista: the towers of The World Trade Center in their absence dominating this horizon more powerfully even than they did when they still stood... just two mornings ago.

They Were In No Danger One 11:02 AM PDT

The questions are not being asked at this makeshift memorial in New York's Union Square Park not being asked aloud, at least. But rising to the surface on this Day Three: account after account from survivors of the collapse in the South tower, Two World Trade Center, the second structure to be hit that they were reassured by building officials that they were in no danger.

Today's New York Times quotes Arturo Domingo, who was working in the Morgan Stanley offices on the 60th floor. As he descended a stairwell, he was stopped on the 44th floor by a man shouting through a bullhorn. "His exact words were," Domingo said, "'Our building is secure. You can go back to your floor.'"

Domingo did not do that. And is thus here to tell us about it.

They Were In No Danger Two 12:03 PM PDT

What would you do, in the 'Big One,' in an L.A. high-rise, if officials told you the building was safe, but your instincts told you it was not? The parallel to that question is being asked around this city as the survivors of the second tower to collapse tell of being advised they were safer inside than out.

Richard Jacobs, climbing down from the 79th floor, told the New York Times that on the 48th, he and his Fuji Bank colleagues heard an announcement that 'The situation is under control.' Jacobs did not believe that, and continued to descend. His colleagues went to the elevator bank. They pressed the 'up' button. They have not been seen since.

The Rescuers Speak 2:02 PM PDT

Covered in the dust from what they call "the hole," a half dozen construction workers from Long Island were smiling broadly as they headed home via the Subway. They were there, and part of it, when the men were rescued from the hellish wreckage earlier today.

But they also painted a picture of the Trade Center area unlike any thus far depicted on television. "It's as if there was a battleship off shore and it fired into downtown," said one. Dozens of buildings, thought another, will have to be knocked down before they fall down. Debris, said a third, will still be being removed... months from now.

And the smell, the smell of death, is ever-present there, and soon, they expect, it will drift up Manhattan Island and give New Yorkers a still more horrible dose of the reality of terrorism. That's why these men were actually rooting for the rain predicted by forecasters it will tamp down the dust, and the smell... and the fires: "I'm working on top of ten stories of debris," said one, "and it's all hot, there are still fires down below."

The train reached their station, 34th Street. As the construction men exited, the rest of the passengers burst into applause.

The Next Worst Thing Ever 4:03 PM PDT

Officially, 4,763 people are missing here. That number could have been 4,765. That it is not, makes this a good day.

Six of the construction workers involved in the rescue of the two trapped firefighters rode home - just like the rest of the soul and sinew of New York on the subway, on the "C" train. They were covered in that white ash, that ghoulish, ghastly pale powder. They were smiling. Because two people aren't missing tonight.

And though rain tonight would add weight to the mountains of wreckage, these men are praying for it. It would tamp down that dust, put out the fires they say they can feel beneath their feet as they pick through the rubble. It would also delay merely delay their most horrifying prediction that soon, the terrible smell, of bodies decaying under the debris will become so potent that it will drift out from the site and across Manhattan.

Panic At The Rescue 5:23 PM PDT

"Nothing has captured this," the construction worker said as he tried to find comfort against the hard plastic bench of his subway ride home. ""It's as if there was a battleship off shore and it fired into downtown."

Run they did. Fifteen blocks, he said. Which building was in danger of collapse? It was impossible to tell, they all agreed: dozens and dozens of structures in the Trade Center area are fatally compromised. These men say that the final toll could be fifty buildings and months of work. "We'll have to pull them down, or they'll fall down."

And these six heroes were happy. They were part of the earlier rescue of two trapped firefighters. They did not seem to notice that as they left the subway at 34th street, they passed a sign posted long ago to make New York's labyrinth of rails easier to understand. "E train," it reads. "To World Trade Center all times."

Sports, Airfare, and Chaos 9:15 PM PDT

The decisions by the National Football League, Major League Baseball, pro stock car racing, college football, and other sports organizations to postpone or cancel events through the weekend may indeed be respectful, but it is not purely so.

Sources in the emergency management operations of major airlines who told us Wednesday night that the NFL's decision would be preempted by the logistics of the nation's fractured flight schedule, now explain that the other outfits' postponements were also heavily influenced, in some cases mandated, by the simple fact that no one could guarantee that the planes needed to transport athletes or anyone else this weekend, would even get off the ground.

Thus, these sources say, the sudden about-face from several college conferences, which had previously announced they would play football... regardless. And these sources also caution that though the sports leagues hope to return to the fields and tracks next week, right now there is still no way to be sure the country's air transport system can get them there.