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.