August 15, 2005
Drawbacks of Gadgets
Technology can be a good thing ...but those hands-free cell phones sure can make it difficult, on first glance, to tell the "sane" folks from the crazy ones that are just talking to themselves.
August 08, 2005
The memorial collection continues to grow with the recent additions of a few more contextual objects including 3 different souvenir pennants of the World Trade Center, and a plastic World Trade Center souvenir snowglobe. These objects are important additions to the collection as representative of how the towers were viewed before 9/11, both as icon and tourist attraction.
The once kitschy snowglobe, in particular though, with it's fake plastic snow, seems almost eerily profound today as it invokes the somber memory of the falling ash and dust of September 11.
August 04, 2005
I've had a number of things printed recently by VistaPrint.com. They have not only done a surprisingly great job, but are a terrific value as well. (You should check out their full-color business cards.) If you are looking for an amazingly low-cost but quality printer I'd recommend them highly. (If you click their link here, you'll receive 25% off your first order!)
July 31, 2005
Ok, stand back Betty Crocker. I baked brownies tonight. Just for the heck of it. Pretty domesticated right? Although I probably won't give Martha Stewart any reason to worry, they came out pretty good, if I do say so myself ...and now my house smells good. So there.
July 11, 2005
Authorizations and Appropriations
It is the rare occassion that finds me wearing a suit and tie. This morning's was attending a forum hosted by the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, the non-profit organization created to continue on the work of the former 9/11 Commission. The forum, on Congressional Reform, is not exactly the most exciting topic and, as I listened to the invited panelists, I found myself reflecting about how much of it, for the average person off the street, would be just so much more bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo with no understandable relevance at all to anyone outside of those circles.
It seems Hollywood and Washington are much the same in that way. They each have their own language and so it tends to make it nearly impossible for them to communicate or accomplish anything with any real directness or simplicity.
Nevertheless, it was good to finally meet face to face with some of the staffers I have communicated with by telephone and e-mail, as well as have the opportunity to interact with some of the former Commissioners themselves. Finally, I was humbled to be introduced to Mary and Frank Fetchet who lost their son Brad in the WTC, and attended the forum. Mary's tireless efforts as a driving force, along with other families, were almost single-handedly responsible for the creation of the 9/11 Commission.
July 10, 2005
Downtown DC has a million souvenir vendors each with their own hand drawn signs offering you deals there. The typical sign is 3 t-shirts for $10 (which is a pretty good deal if you ask me). So then I came across one that said 4 t-shirts for $10. A really good deal I thought.
Within a couple days, at another place I see 5 t-shirts for $10. How do you beat that, I think.
A day and a half later, while in the car, I spy a neon pink sign: 5 T-SHIRTS FOR $9!
Being the savvy bargain hunter that I am at this point, I somewhat note the general location in my head in case I want to return later, but feel secure in my knowledge that I'm bound to come across a better deal, right?
Wrong. Despite tireless searching, I never found the 5 for $9 guy again.
I think the moral here is: Don't pass up a good thing.
I could be wrong though, cause I'm still searching for a better one. I did get 5 t-shirts for 10 bucks though!
July 08, 2005
Everyday I'm in DC I take the Metro to get around town. As I'm riding I'm always mindful that the subway presents a huge target. Not a point that needed to be made, but was nevertheless driven home by the senseless events in London yesterday.
Riding today and seeing the highly armed security aboard, I thought back to my visit only two days ago to the FBI SIOC and reflected somberly that it would be at full operation once again as it sought to deal with this new crisis.
July 06, 2005
This afternoon was spent being cleared through 3 different levels of security at the J. Edgar Hoover Building as I met and collaborated with the FBI's historian. I was privileged to view the ongoing renovation work to the FBI Tour (currently closed and due to be reopened in 2006) as well as given access to the non-evidentiary material they retain from the 9/11 attacks. Additionally, I was pleased to be able to acquire from the Bureau, for the memorial collection, an actual printed field office copy of the FBI's Most Wanted Poster of Bin Laden.
During my visit, it was also quickly arranged for me to have a private tour of the secured FBI SIOC (Strategic Information Operations Center) utilized to manage crisis situations. The unit chief served as tour guide and who, I was humbled to find, also served in the recovery effort at the Pentagon.
Walking down the main corridor of the SIOC, on either side, is a rather tortured timeline of enlarged event photos from crisis situations and events that the center has overseen in it's capacity, the last and most recent of the photos being from 9/11.
Most interesting to me were two sobering photos there that I had never seen before (because they have yet to be released publicly). Obvious evidence photos, each presented a singular object. The first, showed a broken silver colored buck knife, the blade and the handle separated from one another. The second, was what appeared to be a charred and tattered single piece of paper from an Arabic passport, with Arabic writing upon it and the black and white headshot image of a man in desert headdress. Collected from the rubble of the Pentagon attack, I was informed, these were believed to have been carried by the hijackers.
Strangely, out of all the objects from 9/11 I have viewed and/or handled now, I was left feeling almost stunned at seeing those photos, viewing these two small instruments that brought about so much utter destruction.
July 02, 2005
I never had the chance to meet my grandfather because he died long before I was born. It's been 50 years since he passed away and today my uncle and I took my grandmother and her sister to Arlington National Cemetary to visit the gravesite and leave flowers at his headstone.
July 01, 2005
The knot in my throat
Working with the items from 9/11 day in and out, you tend to distance yourself from the flood of emotions and horror that can come when truly reflecting where the objects originate from. Today was spent meeting with the two historians (from the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the Naval Historical Center) specifically tasked with going into the Pentagon after 9/11 and preserving any items of potential historical significance. All items preserved from the Pentagon were solely on the account of the actions undertaken by these men and their team, so it was very insightful talking with them and hearing their first-hand accounts of the specific hurdles and challenges they faced in doing so. Then, as two individuals intimately familiar with 9/11 artifacts, it was also good to be able to collaborate with them both.
During my visit, I was shown some of those items saved from the Pentagon attack, with the warning that some of the things can be hard to view. While I'd expected that some degree of clothing items (military uniforms) might be seen, I was rather unprepared when the curator then opened a box and handed me a small folded square of purple fabric. Opening it carefully, it instantly became apparent what it was.
A little girl's dress ripped full of shrapnel holes.
The curator explained it was presumed that it had been packed in the luggage aboard Flight 77.
It was all I could do to hold back tears.
June 29, 2005
Take Back The Memorial
Today was a very humbling (and far too humid) one as I had the privilege of meeting and spending some time with some of the many 9/11 families in a walking tour of both the WWII memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. It was a powerful time making them aware of our memorial effort and reflecting with them about their own lost loved ones while standing before memorials devoted to other tragic losses. The families were in DC to bring attention to the Take Back The Memorial campaign, which opposes the current tortured and completely innappropriate plans for the WTC site and proposed memorial there. I was pleased that my trip coincided to meet with many of them and support them in that effort. I'd urge you to visit the campaign website and lend your support as well.
June 28, 2005
I'm headed back to Washington with a lot of memorial business scheduled for the next two weeks. As always, it should prove an interesting and full visit. I'm just hopeful to find some actual vacation time in this "vacation" too.
May 27, 2005
LA -home of the car chase: live on TV
With the endless miles of freeways here and no lack of desperately stupid criminals, police pursuits can be almost a daily occurance for us. If they last any length of time at all, they are then covered by the media copters and beamed directly into your home as breaking news. As crazy as it sounds, it can be some of the most riveting TV to watch, if only because literally anything may happen in the next moment. Unfortunately true "Reality TV".
As many as I have watched though, I don't think few will ever equal the true surrealness of watching today's breaking news event live on the TV and then looking out my front window to see the long pursuing trail of police cars, CHP units and helicopters chasing the subject down my little residential street and past my house.
Only in LA.
May 13, 2005
The end of an era
With the new and final movie now about to be released, it's strange, and perhaps even a bit melancholy, to think that it's now all coming to an end. A good chunk of my childhood was taken up by it all and while I've grown older and my once childhood passion has waned with time, it does occur to me that this is the last time that there will be the same excitement and anticipation of a new one being released.
Probably one of the pinnacles of my childhood memories is driving around in my uncle's car late on a warm Maryland summer's night with a large Coke Slurpee from 7-11 and a full box of movie trading cards he bought me. A full box! High on sugar, my mouth all stuffed full of those hard sticks of trading card bubble gum to the point of nearly gagging, and the combination of the cold slurpee making it all hard to chew. But the cards, the glorious cards! There was the sheer, unadulterated joy of opening each pack and digging through to see what doubles were there, and the smell of the bubble gum dust on the cards. Then as I looked at each card, each holding just an image from one movie scene, it would somehow transport me back into the theatre once again and the thrill of seeing those words projected up on the big screen for the very first time: "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away..."
For an 8 year old boy I just don't really know if it gets any better than that. So I just want to say: thanks Star Wars. I'll miss you.
Now I'm gonna go get a Darth Vader Slurpee and eat my C-3PO Cheez-Its.
April 15, 2005
Most of today was spent attending the opening and media preview ceremonies for the NY State Museum's exhibit Recovery: The World Trade Center Recovery Operation at Fresh Kills now appearing in San Clemente at the Casa Romantica Cultural Institute. I was privileged to spend time with the gentlemen charged with overseeing the recovery operations as well as one of the curators from the NY State Museum, which retains the largest collection of artifacts from NY. As I have found myself now part of this group consisting of only a handful of individuals in the world knowledgable in the preservation and curation of items from 9/11, it is always interesting then to meet and collaborate with others that can knowledgably discuss the topic.
The exhibit opens to the public April 23rd and runs through July 10th. I'd urge you to visit if you have the opportunity. Besides that, the California weather was just perfect for a drive down the coast and back.
April 05, 2005
After (having to forgoe moving forward at Forest Lawn) scouting a number of different institutions and venues throughout California for the last few months, encouraging preliminary discussions have now begun with a possible new venue that would serve as a permanent and final repository for the memorial collection, while enabling the ongoing effort to broaden considerably.
As well, we are pleased to have located a brilliant and talented web designer to work with in constructing an official memorial website, and creative development on that project has now begun.
Additionally, the memorial effort has undertaken and been involved with a few research initiatives which are ongoing, but announcements should be forthcoming on in the hopeful near future.
More details on all of these developments should follow soon.
April 04, 2005
While watching the unrelenting media coverage of the Pope's death and the myriad of footage from throughout his life, it occurred to me like a bolt of lightning. One of the key natures of holiness or being considered "holy" must have something to do with speed. Think about it for a second. What do the Pope and, say, the Dali Lama have in common? Whenever you see them in public, they both move like they are underwater or almost in slow-motion. No big gestures, no fast movements. In fact, I think you'd be hard pressed to think of them doing anything but slow and graceful deliberate gestures. It's difficult (and perhaps even disrespectful) to picture them with their arms above their heads, doing the wave, running, mosh dancing or playing dodgeball for that matter. Therefore, my conclusion is that slowing down and taking it easy has to be pretty close to holiness. Hallelujah!
March 18, 2005
What is this world coming to?
I can not help but remain aghast at the developments and response with regard to Terri Schiavo. Looking past the very arguable point of whether or not she would have chosen this, I find it simply staggering to think, in contrast, that if anyone were ever to even propose a similar fate of starvation for dogs or cats at the pound, or even prisoners on death row the ensuing uproar would be deafening and immediate.
February 25, 2005
Sometimes it really feels like my life is some bizarre TV sitcom with just random celebrity guest stars. In mere moments it can swing from the exclusivity of a Hollywood red carpet with flashbulbs popping away, to the extreme opposite of coming home to the remaining smell of the blackened charcoal briquette I made of my fishstick dinner the evening before.
The only thing missing has to be a laugh track and the cheesy theme song.
February 14, 2005
Candy hearts for everyone!
Or maybe you prefer chocolate?