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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stars for Slaughter

Over 300 Hollywood stars, directors, other industry figures, has-beens, and related celebs signed NYT ad, which ran yesterday on A7, specifically defending Israel bombing schools and hospitals in Gaza, which led to dozens of civilian deaths among a total of 550 kids and over 1000 other civilians during the air campaign.  Since they accept the targeting of schools (shelters) and hospitals, one presumes they're okay with the bombing of apartment towers, entire city blocks and neighborhoods, and so forth. 

Yes, the list includes the GOP likes of Sylvester Stallone, Kelsey Grammer and Arnold S but also noted liberals Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Aaron Sorkin, Bill Maher and Roseanne Barr.  And Ziggy Marley! Also Harvey and Bob Weinstein.  "Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields.”

It should be noted:  Unless I missed it, there has not been one clearly documented case of any rockets launched from an occupied, as opposed to empty, school or shelter.  But schools that were used as active shelters were targeted with Israeli bombs, killing dozens of children and other civilians. 

More names: Tom Arnold, Lou Adler, Carol Bayer Sager, William Friedkin, Sherry Lansing, Jon Lovitz,  Jamie Lynn Sigler, Rob Morrow, D.B. Sweeney,  Fisher Stevens, Jerry Weintraub.  Full list

Cosimo's Factory

One of the most important figures in the history of rock 'n roll, Cosimo Matassa, has died at 88.  Huh? Who's he?   He only engineered nearly every hit record that came out of New Orleans from the late-1940s to the 1960s, or they emerged from his studio, and then kept going--Tim White interviewed him for me at Crawdaddy around 1976.  Two of the songs often cited as the "first true rock 'n roll records" both came out of his studio.  And dozens of classic from Fats to Little Richard to Ray Charles to Irma Thomas to Dr. John and "Sea Cruise" and Allen Toussaint and beyond. See Times-Picayune obit for more.  And then there was the Professor in 1950  (whistling now used in Subaru commercial):

David Bowie Counts the Number of Actual 'Moderate' Rebels in Syria

"Rebel, Rebel."

When FDR Shafted Uprton Sinclair

As Ken Burns series starts on PBS:  The following happened 80 years ago this month,  just after "Uppie," the former Socialist, swept the Democratic primary for governor of California leading one of great grassroots movements ever,  EPIC (End Poverty in California)--and seemed headed for victory in November.  His meeting with a very friendly FDR at Hyde Park seemed to clinch the deal.  They even chatted about Teddy Roosevelt's response to Upton's The Jungle 30 years back.  Then Roosevelt and his top aides screwed him, backing his right-wing dullard GOP opponent. And the dirtiest, and one of the most influential, campaigns in USA history--it virtually created the modern campaign--emerged to defeat him.  Hollywood took its first all-out plunge into politics and the saintly Irving Thalberg created the very attack ads for the screen.  See a trailer for my book on what led to all this:

As Ken Burns Series Opens

Woody Guthrie's tribute at death of FDR, "Dear Mrs. Roosevelt."   Or as Woody put it, "I could see he was a cripple/but he taught my soul to walk."   The most famed version came from Bob Dylan--backed by The Band before they were officially The Band--in Woody tribute concert at Carnegie Hall in 1967, Bob's first appearance after his motorcycle accident, which re-assured fans that he had not died.  Here it is with the boys, especially Richard Manuel key on piano, in support.

When U.S. Troops Were Exposed to Atomic Bomb in Japan--Weeks Later

As usual at this time of year, I've posted dozens of pieces about the atomic bombing (before and after) of Japan in August 1945.  Here's a story, from my book Atomic Cover-Up,  on what happened, a month later, when the first U.S. troops arrived. 

On September 8, General Thomas F. Ferrell arrived in Hiroshima with a radiologist and two physicists from Los Alamos, ordered by Manhattan Project chief General Leslie Groves to return to Tokyo the following day with preliminary findings. There was some urgency. It was one thing if the Japanese were dying of radiation disease; there was nothing we could do about that. But sending in American soldiers if it was unsafe was another matter.

Three days later, Farrell announced that “no poison gases were released” in Hiroshima. Vegetation was already growing there.

The first large group of US soldiers arrived in Nagasaki around September 23, about the time the Japanese newsreel teams started filming, and in Hiroshima two weeks later. They were part of a force of 240,000 that occupied the islands of Honshu (where Hiroshima is located) and Kyushu (Nagasaki). Many more landed in Nagasaki, partly because its harbor was not mined. Marines from the 2nd Division, with three regimental combat teams, took Nagasaki while the US Army’s 24th and 41st divisions seized Hiroshima. The US Navy transported Marines and evacuated POWs, but its role ashore (beyond medical services) was limited.

Most of the troops in Hiroshima were based in camps on the edge of the city, but a larger number did set up camps inside Nagasaki. Because of the alleged absence of residual radiation, no one was urged to take precautions. Some bunked down in buildings close to ground zero, even slept on the earth and engaged in cleanup operations, including disposing bodies, without protective gear. Few if any wore radiation detection badges. “We walked into Nagasaki unprepared…. Really, we were ignorant about what the hell the bomb was,” one soldier would recall. Another vet said: “Hell, we drank the water, we breathed the air, and we lived in the rubble. We did our duty.”

A marine named Sam Scione, who had survived battles on Guadacanal, Tarawa and Okinawa, now arrived in Nagasaki, sleeping first in a burned-out factory, then a schoolhouse. “We never learned anything about radiation or the effects it might have on us,” he later said. “We went to ground zero many times and were never instructed not to go there.” A year later, on his return to the United States, his hair began to fall out and his body was covered in sores. He suffered a string of ailments but never was awarded service-related disability status.

The occupying force in Nagasaki grew to more than 27,000 as the Hiroshima regiments topped 40,000. Included were many military doctors and nurses. Some stayed for months. The US Strategic Bomb Survey sent a small group of photographers to take black-and-white photos of blast effects. By all accounts the Americans were charmed by the Japanese, thankful that the bomb might have helped end the war and profoundly affected by what they witnessed. “In the back of our minds, every one of us wondered: What is this atomic bomb?” a Nagasaki veteran later testified. “You had to be there to rea1ize what it did.” After describing the horrors, he added: “We did not drop those two [bombs] on military installations. We dropped them on women and children…. I think that is something this country is going to have to live with for eternity.”

Not every American felt that way, of course. A staff sergeant who served in Hiroshima named Edwin Lawrence later recalled thinking, “The Japs got what they deserved.” What he remembered most vividly was the constant smell of charcoal in the air. Mark Hatfield, a young naval officer in 1945 and later a longtime US senator (known for his opposition to the Vietnam war), would reflect on his “searing remembrances of those days” in Hiroshima when a “shock to my conscience registered permanently within me.” Much of his legislative and personal philosophy was “shaped by the experience of walking the streets of your city,” he wrote to the mayor of Hiroshima in 1980, adding that he was “deeply committed to doing whatever I can to bring about the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

The biologist Jacob Bronowski revealed in 1964 that his classic study Science and Human Values was born at the moment he arrived in Nagasaki in November 1945 with a British military mission sent to study the effects of the bomb. Arriving by jeep after dark he found a landscape as desolate as the craters of the moon. That moment, he wrote, “is present to me as I write, as vividly as when I lived it.” It was “a universal moment…civilization face to face with its own implications.” The power of science to produce good or evil had long troubled other societies. “Nothing happened in 1945,” he observed, “except that we changed the scale of our indifference to man.“

When Bronowski returned from Japan he tried to persuade officials in the British government and at the United Nations that Nagasaki should be preserved exactly as it was. He wanted all future conferences on crucial international issues “to be held in that ashy, clinical sea of rubble…only in this forbidding context could statesmen make realistic judgments of the problems which they handle on our behalf.” His colleagues showed little interest, however; they pointed out delegates “would be uncomfortable in Nagasaki,” according to Bronowski.

More than 9,000 Allied POWs were processed through Nagasaki, but the number of occupation troops dropped steadily every month. By April 1946, the United States had withdrawn military personnel from Hiroshima, and they were out of Nagasaki by August. An estimated 118,000 personnel passed through the atomic cities at one point or another. Some of them were there mainly as tourists, and wandered through the ruins, snapping photos and buying artifacts. When the servicemen returned to the United States, many of them suffered from strange rashes and sores. Years later some were afflicted with disease (such as thyroid problems and leukemia) or cancer associated with radiation exposure.

Little could be proven beyond a doubt, and all of their disability and compensation claims were denied, despite the efforts of a new group, the Committee for US Veterans of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Killing Their Own, a book published in 1982, charged that their experience “closely resembles the ordeals of a wide range of American radiation victims, consistently ignored and denied at every turn by the very institutions responsible for causing their problems.” The military had long declared that radiation dissipated quickly in the atomic cities and posed little threat to the soldiers. A 1980 Defense Nuclear Agency report concluded, “Medical science believes multiple myeloma has a borderline relationship with exposure to ionizing radiation. That is, there are some indications that exposure to radiation may increase the risk of this disease, but science cannot yet be sure.”

 In the years that followed, thousands of other “atomic vets,” among the legion who participated in hundreds of US bomb tests in Nevada and in the Pacific, would raise similar issues about exposure to radiation and the medical after-effects. The costs of the superpower arms race after Hiroshima can be measured in trillions of dollars, but also in the countless number of lives lost or damaged due to accidents and radiation exposure in the massive nuclear industry that grew to astounding proportions throughout the country in the 1950s and 1960s.

But the long-overlooked military personnel who entered Hiroshima and Nagasaki—key players in one of the last largely untold stories of World War II—were truly the first “atomic soldiers,” and how many may still be suffering from their experience remains unknown.

For more, see Atomic Cover-up

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Lives of Others--in Israel

I've followed the story of those veterans of a crack Israeli unit who have publicly declared they won't serve in reserves there based on what they saw and did, mainly relating to unchecked surveillance of Palestinians.  But it took my wife today to point me to this NYT story--naturally, they were late to it--which closes with one of them explaining what inspired his move--seeing my favorite movie of the past decade, The Lives of Others (the German Academy Award winner).  The film inspired my obsession (and book and my work on film) and my upcoming book.

Springsteen's 'Manifesto'--for Victor Jara

His tribute one year ago in Santiago to the famed Chilean political folk singer, who died over 40 years ago in the U.S.-backed coup.   Sung in Spanish after his intro, also in Spanish.  It's the last song Jara wrote before he was tortured and killed.   See my recent Jara post here.   Bruce first read about Jara in our 1974 Crawdaddy opus.  Lyrics:

I don’t sing for love of singing
or to show off my voice
but for the statements
made by my honest guitar
for its heart is of the earth
and like the dove it goes flying.... 

Yes, my guitar is a worker
shining and smelling of spring
my guitar is not for killers
greedy for money and power
but for the people who labor
so that the future may flower.
For a song takes on a meaning
when its own heart beat is strong
sung by a man who will die singing
truthfully singing his song.

I don’t care for adulation
or so that strangers may weep.
I sing for a far strip of country
narrow but endlessly deep

When Famed 'NYT' Reporter Promoted Radiation Cover-up

William L. Laurence earned the nickname “Atomic Bill” several times over. As I’ve explored here in the past, he was Pulitzer-winning New York Times science reporter who became embedded with the Manhattan Project and followed its creation of the first atomic bombs at several sites around the United States. As the first use of the new weapon against Japan neared, he wrote several lengthy articles glorifying the Bomb and the men who made it, which were published, with overwhelming impact, by his paper (and others) starting on August 7, 1945.

Then, on August 9, he observed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki from one of the support planes. Sixty-six years ago this week, he wrote about that for the Times—again, an account that expressed wonderment and pride in the death-dealing device. As always, Laurence provided colorful depictions of the bomb’s blast and visual effects with little focus on its startling radiation dangers.

Less well-known is another Laurence project, which also took place sixty-nine years ago this week, with his latest front-page story appearing on the morning of September 12, 1945.

To that point, US officials had downplayed Japanese casualties in the two atomic cities and largely pooh-poohed Japanese “propaganda” claims on the lingering effects of radiation exposure and accounts of thousands perishing from some new “plague.”  A U.S. general, Thomas Farrell, had toured the ruins in Hiroshima and wrongly  claimed Japanese reports of up to 100,000 killed there were wildly inflated--and that only a handful died due to radiation effects.  It was the beginning of the decades-long suppression of key evidence, including all film footage shot in the two cities(as I probe in my book Atomic Cover-up).

A confluence of events on September 9, 1945, suggests that American officials, right up to the White House, had indeed initiated a public-relations campaign to counter the first rumors from Hiroshima. The War Department, after weeks of delay, finally allowed the New York Times to publish the exultant first-person account of the Nagasaki bombing mission by W.L. Laurence. 

The same day, Laurence happened to be touring the Trinity test site, where the United States tested its first atomic weapon on July 16, with General Leslie Groves and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (left, on that day, in the crater). The top-secret area finally had been opened to journalists.

Two weeks earlier, President Truman’s secretary, Charles G. Ross, had sent a memo to the War Department urging the military to recruit a group of reporters to explore the test site. “This might be a good thing to do in view of continuing propaganda from Japan,” Ross wrote.

Now General Groves, who believed the reports of radiation disaease from Japan were a "hoax,"  was personally escorting some of the newsmen near ground zero. His driver, a young soldier named Patrick Stout, spent several minutes in the crater of the blast and was photographed, smiling.

Laurence’s account of this visit (delayed three days until September 12  due to a censorship review) disclosed quite frankly why he and thirty other journalists had been invited: to “give lie to” Japanese "propaganda" that " radiations were responsible for deaths even after” the Hiroshima attack, as he wrote.   He quoted General Groves calling any deaths by radiation in Japan as "very small." (In truth, the total was probably 20,000 or more in the two bombed cities.)

General Groves had expressly asked the reporters to assist him in this effort, and they did not disappoint him. Geiger counters showed that surface radiation, after nearly two months, had “dwindled to a minute quantity, safe for continuous human habitation,” Laurence asserted. He did introduce one bit of contrary information: the reporters had been advised to wear canvas overshoes to protect against radiation burns.

But Laurence was keeping a lot to himself. Embedded with the Manhattan Project for months, he was the only reporter who knew about the fallout scare surrounding the Trinity test: scientists in jeeps chasing a radioactive cloud, Geiger counters clicking off the scale, a mule that became paralyzed. Here was the nation’s leading science reporter, severely compromised, not only unable but disinclined to reveal all he knew about the potential hazards of the most important scientific discovery of his time.   Read his Sept. 12, 1945 story here and note repeated use of word "propaganda" to describe Japan's claims, the debunking of reported symptoms of radiation disease, the explicit claim that the bomb had to be dropped to end the war. 

The press tour, in fact, had “an oddly reassuring effect,” the New York Times observed in an editorial. Later, a scientist informed the young soldier, Patrick Stout, who stood in the crater during the press tour, that he had been exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity. Twenty-two years later Stout became ill and was diagnosed with leukemia. The military, apparently acknowledging radiation as the cause, granted him “service-connected” disability compensation. Stout died in 1969.

W.L. Laurence would win another Pulitzer for his Bomb-related reporting in 1945.

Greg Mitchell’s book and e-book is Atomic Cover-upHe also co-authored with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

What a Shindig!

Too much fun:  Roy Orbison closes a vintage Shindig show, with Darlene Love in backing group, and joined by Everly Brothers and teen dancers, on "What'd I Say."  Plus a milk commercial.

Young Aretha

Frankly, didn't know she made a number of Shindig appearances, well before she was well-known, below from 1964 in a great tune, and yes that's Darlene Love in back-up group The Blossoms.

Friday, September 12, 2014

And Now: Child Abuse

NFL superstar running back Adrian Peterson indicted on child abuse and negligence.  And now arrested (mug shot left) after laughing and joking at practice all day.  He's now been de-activated for Sunday's game.  TMZ was first to report this detail:  "Sources connected to Peterson tell us (that) the alleged victim is a male child from Minnesota who was visiting (Peterson) back in May at the running back's Texas home. We're told the child returned home to his mother in Minnesota who noticed injuries and took the child to a doctor. A short time later, the doctor contacted authorities in Texas to report Peterson."

Deadspin with more and claim that son was beaten with "a switch" (that's old school, use of a branch from a tree). UPDATE from NYT.

And these sickening details of injuries and Peterson's texts to mom from CBS in Houston.  It's as open and shut as Ray Rice with no video needed. Kid may have also been hit with an extension cord.
The beating allegedly resulted in numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”
Peterson also allegedly said via text message to the child’s mother that he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I (sic) thigh” and also acknowledged the injury to the child’s scrotum in a text message, saying, “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”...
Peterson estimated he “swatted” his son “10 to 15” times, but he’s not sure because he doesn’t “ever count how many pops I give my kids.”

Jon Stewart on Obama Speech

My view: He could have just said, you say ISIL, I saw ISIS, let's call the whole damn thing off.

Walk Hard But Carry a Soft Stick?

Juan Cole, an expert on the region, responds a little different than many, to the Obama ready-for-war speech--claiming that actually it may just be plea to calm down while he takes weeks to maybe do little and then back off as the hysteria declines.  Well, maybe.  Must-reading in any case.
What if Obama is a sharper reader of the Middle East than his critics give him credit for? He knows ISIL is likely not going away, just as, after 13 years, the Taliban have not. US military action may even prolong the lifetime of these groups (that is one argument about AQAP) even as it keeps them from taking more territory.

Don’t listen to his expansive four-stage program or his retooled, stage-managed John Wayne rhetoric. Look at his metaphors. He is telling those who have ears to hear that he is pulling a Yemen in Iraq and Syria. He knows very well what that implies. It is a sort of desultory, staccato containment from the air with a variety of grassroots and governmental forces joining in. Yemen is widely regarded as a failure, but perhaps it is only not a success. And perhaps that is all Obama can realistically hope for.

The Cowardice of Congress---the Law-Breaking of Obama?

Today's NYT editorial is partly aimed at Congress's cowardice in not voting on Obama's new war, but aims mainly at his law-breaking on the matter--read strictly, it would almost be suggesting grounds for impeachment.   And news story reveals "tepid" at best support from those in the region.  Jordan rejects and wisely points to core issue in the region of Palestinians and says it will just help re-build Gaza.  Editorial:
As the Pentagon gears up to expand its fight against ISIS, a fundamentalist Sunni militant group that controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, Congress appears perfectly willing to abdicate one of its most consequential powers: the authority to declare war.

The cowardice in Congress, never to be underestimated, is outrageous. Some lawmakers have made it known that they would rather not face a war authorization vote shortly before midterm elections, saying they’d rather sit on the fence for a while to see whether an expanded military campaign starts looking like a success story or a debacle. By avoiding responsibility, they allow President Obama free rein to set a dangerous precedent that will last well past this particular military campaign.

Mr. Obama, who has spent much of his presidency seeking to wean the United States off a perpetual state of war, is now putting forward unjustifiable interpretations of the executive branch’s authority to use military force without explicit approval from Congress.

Obama Widens Endless War

Maybe best thing I've read on Obama's speech, by Philip Gourevitch at The New Yorker--captures all the contradictions.  Can't help feeling that he was taunted into battle, as a child might succumb.  Just one bit, on forgotten war (I've tried to raise it at Twitter)  that few mention:
The President never mentioned Libya. That was the last time he attempted to wage a war on the spur of the moment, getting into it, at first, as a rescue mission to prevent a predicted massacre, then escalating fast and hard—but remaining always in the air—in support of rebel ground forces whom we barely knew, and whom we understood even less, with no clear end but total regime change, and with no commitment whatever beyond the first rush of the revolution. That war then spilled over into Mali, and turned inward in Libya, so that today the country is an absolute catastrophe—far worse off than when NATO joined its troubles, with Tripoli in the hands of forces much like ISIS.

When 'NYT' Reporter Was Chief A-Bomb Propagandist

At this late date, many are still surprised when they learn that a famous NYT reporter, William L. Laurence, was embedded with the Manhattan Project when it produced the first atomic bombs, and then produced numerous articles, starting on the day Hiroshima was hit, for the Times (widely published elsewhere) that were the main source of background info on the project and the bomb--and promoted both.  After the bombings, he would write articles, after a visit to the site of our bomb test at Trinity, that essentially pooh-poohed concerns about radiation danger.   It's an amazing story, and if you want more see my books Atomic Cover-up and (with Robert Jay Lifton) Hiroshima in America.

I'll just note now:  a month after the Nagasaki attack, the Times published Laurence's account (68 years ago next Monday) of his experience when he was allowed to go along on the Nagasaki bombing.  I'll let you read it all here--it helped him win a Pulitzer--but no the general glorification, references to the "genial" crew members, and so on.  Also this concise statement:  "Does one feel any pity or compassion for the poor devils about to die? Not when one thinks of Pearl Harbor and of the death march on Bataan."  Note:  Only a few dozen  Japanese troops were killed in the attack.  The majority of the 80,000 or more killed were women and children.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Godfather of HBO Soul

Just announced, after feature film, new doc on James Brown coming to HBO on October 27, from Mick Jagger and the indefatigable Alex Gibney.  This gives me another excuse to post my favorite vid of the year, mash-up of James and Dylan.    Like a Rolling Sex Machine.

From the Reality Show Hall of Fame

It was my next-to-last year at Crawdaddy but somehow we missed this 1978 classic "rock and roll sports" reality competition featuring (hold your breath):  Michael Jackson and Joan Jett (running 100 yard dash), Rod Stewart, Ed McMahon, Phyllis Diller, ELO, Seals & Crofts, Michelle Phillips, other Jacksons, Kenny Loggins, ShaNaNa, Sandy Duncan, Anne Murray, Susan Anton, and the list goes on and on!

On Losing a Friend on 9/11--And the Losses Since

Thirteen years years ago, at this hour on this day (and very sunny, like today), I was  boarding a train to New York, heading for my office in the East Village, in New York, at Editor & Publisher magazine.  A few minutes later, as my train sped south, an airliner flew almost directly overhead over the Hudson on its way to find and smash into one of the World Trade Center towers.  Before the train reached Grand Central, a conductor announced that first one plane, then another, had hit the WTC.  I looked down the river and saw the smoke, recalling that one of my friends, who I had talked to the night before--about the Little League team we coached--worked on a very high floor in one of the towers.

I watched the next hour unfold at Grand Central, tried to catch the last train out of town, barely missed, then evacuated the terminal in full after they announced a plane might be heading out way.  Then I wandered downtown...

The rest if my story from that day (and the state of terror and war since) which I wrote for The Nation two years ago. And my photo at Ground Zero one year after.

On that morning in September, I found myself stuck at Grand Central Terminal—just off a commuter train and transfixed in front of a TV tuned to Fox News within a large newsstand just off the main hall. The image on the screen: the Twin Towers on fire. By now it was certain that this was a deliberate, terrorist attack. but Grand Central had not yet been evacuated. The subways were still running—with the towers yet to fall—but I could not move from in front of the TV.

A good friend of mine worked on a top floor of one of the towers. I had just spoken to him the night before.

So it went for millions of New Yorkers that day. It’s always amazed me how so many people in the rest of America—and so many politicians—could invoke 9/11 to sell or accept war, torture, wiretapping and all the rest, yet most of the citizens in the region that experienced 9/11 and the human loss more than anywhere else, here in the New York area,  opposed  those measures, according to polls. Now families, around the country, mourn lives still being lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others decry the wasted resources and human spirit spent on wars..

Compared with the stories of some New Yorkers, my own 9/11 story pales, but it informs everything I write and feel about the tragedy.

That morning, I was midway to Grand Central Terminal on a train speeding along the Hudson when the conductor came on the public-address system and said, “A plane has just hit the World Trade Center.“ And, sure enough, looking straight down the river, there was one of the Twin Towers smoking. Then, a few minutes later, pulling into Grand Central, came another announcement: “You’re not going to believe this, folks, but a plane has just hit the other tower.”

My first thought was: “What floor does Jon Albert work on?” I recalled it as being horrendously high. I had just talked with my friend the previous night. He was on the board of the local Little League, I was a manager.  I had coached his son Stephen for several years, and wrote about Jon and his boy in my recent book, Joy in Mudville. In fact, I was coaching his son that month on my “fall ball” team, and his dad was one of my assistants.

Only much later, when I learned the flight paths of the two jetliners, did I realize that as I was hurtling south on the train along the river, at least one of the hijacked planes flew directly overhead. Nearing the city, I might have even heard it.

After ordered out of Grand Central, I spent the next three hours, in a sun-drenched daze,  trying to reach our office, more than thirty blocks south. I took a cab for a few blocks, then all traffic stopped. I walked back to Grand Central thinking the subways or trains might be running again. They weren’t. Like other New Yorkers, I staggered around town  for an hour. Catching bits of news off TV sets in bars and cafes, some of us learned that another hijacked airliner might be heading our way.

Then I trudged to the office. Rooms in every hotel were already taken. At one, three young people who had been catering an event ainone of the towers tried unsuccessfully to book a room. They were ghost-like, partly covered in ash.

As I got below 14th Street, I could see the mountain of deadly smoke covering that patch of blue sky to the south that once embraced the towers. I was a veteran of ground zeroes, having spent a lot of time in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but this was here, this was now. Swirls of acrid dust blew in my face—pulverized concrete and (I imagined) human residue.

Well, I reached the office, somehow got some stories up on our website, and when the trains started running again, I headed for home in the evening. When I got there,

I found out that Jon Albert, who worked at Marsh-McLennan, had not yet returned, and everyone feared the worst. Also missing was the daughter of our neighbors directly across the street.  (We had just given the neighbors our son's old backyard swing/slide set for the use of their daughter's kids when they visited.)

None of us could reach our office the next day, as everything south of 14th Street was sealed off, but many of us dodged the police lines a day later to help get the issue out, on time: a small miracle. To do it, we had to ignore the disturbing smells from outside that often filtered through our ventilation system. Our first cover at Editor & Publisher was all black with “September 11, 2001” in white type. My friend Jon Albert still hadn’t come home.

Two weeks later, I took my son, along with Jon’s two boys, to a Mets game. Then I arranged for the Mets to let them come down on the field and talk with manager Bobby Valentine in the dugout and meet some of the players. They were all kind.  The boys still thought Dad was coming home. He never did, and the paperback edition of Joy in Mudville is now dedicated to him. So is the local Little League field. So is this article, and everything else I write about war and terror.