Travelling Tales: 9/11 (New York, Day 3)

Today, of course, was 9/11, and a very interesting day to be in New York it was.

I started off fairly unhistorically, meeting Ellie for some absolutely amazing pancakes for brunch in the West Village (lemon pancakes with strawberries and maple syrup: amazing).

Ellie and I then went for a lovely walk down the riverside, dodging cyclists as we atoned for eating so many pancakes. In fact, I took Ellie to the Irish heritage hunger memorial that I visited with Carmel a couple of days ago, which was fun. I noticed something that I hadn’t before, which was that the names of Irish counties and cities were carved into the granite rocks they had scattered around the place. I took photos of a few (especially Clare, for my ma).

We then walked past the World Trade Centre site – or we intended to. The main road that we needed to cross in order to get there was, just as we got to it, the site of a massive, miles-long avalanche of motorcyclists, hundreds and hundreds of them pouring down the streets. I believe it’s a memorial ride in honour of those who died on 9/11, but there were definitely some tensions between them and a guy carrying a ‘build the mosque now’ placard.

There were a lot of demonstrations going on around Ground Zero today, which is why it was so interesting to be there. Not just commemorating the dead, but pro-war on terror and anti-war at all, ‘Grief should not be an excuse for bigotry’ pro-Islamic centre, ‘Jesus loves America’ which was ostensibly honouring the dead and those who gave up their lives, but spent a lot of time shouting about how Jesus made America great and made New York great and how He built America just for us so we should be grateful and love him, which I thought was a shame because it made it a bit contentious (Native Americans?) and sort of detracted from honouring those who died. Politics was everywhere today.

It made me wonder: who’ll be happy if this centre doesn’t go up? Who’ll be happy if it does? And what, if anything, does that say about them?

Here are a few photos of the different rallies:

These are the Christian demonstrators:

And these are the pro-Islamic centre people:

The funniest demonstration was a group of Marxists who were standing by the pro-Islamic centre crowd but criticising all the other demonstrations, saying that everybody else’s demonstrations were a sign of the evil of the capitalist system and how the power should be in… different hands. It was all very Doctor Horrible. I picked up their pamphlet, anyway, just to see what was in it (a lot of Trotsky. Seriously, there’s an ‘Honour Comrade Trotsky’ thing on the second page). Anyway, I thought it would be fun to unleash my Deconstruction Skillz on it, which I intend to do later on.

Anyway, after our encounter with the conspiratorial communists, Ellie and I went to that bastion of Americana, Starbucks, and had tea. We then walked up through various districts of New York, via some japes in jewellery shops trying on lots of bling, through Soho and along the edge of Chinatown, and then we went up to Times Square and broadway (because I’m a really terrible tourist, I’ve only seen the Statue of Liberty from a distance and I’ve been to no other famous NY landmarks). So I took some shiny neon pictures and a nice shot of the Empire State building:

And then we spotted Mickey Mouse on his way home from the office:

And then I came back to New Jersey and went out to dinner with Carmel, her sister Rita, and some of their high school friends who are still in the area, which was a lovely evening. Her sister Rita lived with a couple of the friends for a few years when they were younger, I think, which sounds like it was a pretty lively household. It was a great night, though (and the food was amazing, especially a hand-made spicy guacamole dip that was just incredible).

Wow. Today’s post has been pretty long, but it merited it. It’s getting late now, and I have to get to bed! My legs aren’t so happy with me for making them walk so far today, but hey, I fuelled them with pancakes, so I’m not sure why they’re complaining.

Tomorrow, alas, is my last full day in New York/New Jersey. I’ve had a wonderful time here, and it’s been great to spend time with Carmel and catch up with Ellie. I’m not sure what we have planned for tomorrow, but I’m sure it’ll be amazing fun – though maybe not quite so exciting as guessing at the demonstration that’s going on around the next corner and having a man confess to you that he’s a Trotskyist while he’s trying to talk to you about the underlying problems of the system.

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