pics of disaster-related merchandise and slogans
The dust-covered hair of people I saw downtown on Tuesday made it seem like the shock of the attack caused them to go gray all of a sudden. When this started, it was like the country's bar mitzvah, like we were suddenly initiated into maturity, our innocence buried at ground zero. There could be no more humor. No fun. Tom Tomorrow posted this cartoon on A friend suggested the headline of the next edition of should read: "The Onion Rendered Entirely Unfunny For The First Time in History."

I have no idea why the young woman in the photo above is holding a plastic infant, nor do I know why she placed a flag in its teeny plastic paw. I didn't ask her. There's something terrible about this image: a plastic infant with demented, mass-produced features cradled in the arms of a near child. Maybe this has something to do with sudden maturity. Maybe the young woman, just a few years fertile, wants to take care of someone, to serve and protect a loved one for whom she's responsible. Or maybe, when the girl suddenly matured watching the towers collapse, innocence took this form and appeared in her arms. 

There also was something terrible about Asian women near Union Square selling mass-produced T-Shirts with images of the pre-disaster towers, acccompanied by poorly copyedited text: I Survive the Attack. Hats and pins and flags are for sale everywhere, not to mention Polo "USA" T-Shirts for $15, leftover from last season. And everyone's received mass-mailings about wearing red, white, and blue. 

Does wearing Diesel Jeans, a vintage Phillies jersey, and a pair of once-white Converse really help anyone through this? And as long as we're striving for a semblance of normalcy, isn't it socially unacceptable to wear white after Labor Day? Should a vendor selling grammatically shaky T-Shirts to tourists (who "survive the attack" watching TV from a four-star hotel) be arrested for poor taste and immorally profiting from a national tragedy? Should trendy Soho shoestores be allowed to redress their windows to include a large flag above disaster-related text, no matter how aware and self-effacing? Should commemorative hats be sold on St. Mark's Place alongside Nike and Yankees' caps? These are a few questions, for which the answers won't make much of a difference.

Click here for pictures of the things mentioned above

On Wednesday morning, I paralyzed breakfasting hipsters with a mean glance when they wondered aloud about "how doughnuts get so airy." On Friday night, people at the bars were smiling and body-popping in their seats to a hip-hop DJ, who, of course, should have been mixing Bach cello suites with recordings of bag pipes. On the first post-disaster Friday, people were having fun, and everyone seemed really young. There were mean glances galore, but as Gulf War General Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf once said, them old-school beats be mad infectious, yo. And despite seeming really young, all those trying to make sense of how this now goes on are a little older.

You might not be able to see it, but you're probably holding a plastic infant in your arms too. 

One of these days we'll get back to literary-type postings. It's not right yet though. One day we'll have to, and like everything else, things will be different.


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