Monthly Archives: September 2009

I s*#t you not, this is real

My friends, sometimes words can’t do justice to a piece of video advertising a product so brilliant, and at the same terrifying.

Without further ado,  I present this to you. You’re welcome.

God bless America.

The delightfulness of “Glee”

gleeSo about a minute after I saw the premiere episode of the new Fox show “Glee,” a question popped into my head:
How the hell did this ever get on network TV?
I’ve argued before that there are hardly any interesting shows on the broadcast networks anymore; everything is so safe and watered down and sanitized, for the general masses.
So how in the name of John Phillip Sousa did a show about a high school glee club and their oddball teacher get on Fox?
“Glee” is awesome. It’s subversive and funny and sarcastic and possibly brilliant, though after only three episodes I’m a little hesitant to call it brilliant.
If you haven’t seen it, the first three episodes are on linked here, and I highly recommend it.
Basically, it’s about a very-low-on-the-coolness-totem-pole high school glee club, and their struggle to gain acceptance and deal with each other.
  There’s Rachel, the way overachieving lead female singer, who reminds me a little of Tracy Flick from “Election.”  Rachel’s  got a crush on the best guy singer, Finn, who happens to also be the football quarterback but really, he just wants to sing Journey.
  There’s also a loud African-American in the glee club, a kid in a wheelchair (who sadly gets locked in a port a potty in one episode; I told you it was a little subversive), and a teacher, Mr. Schuster, who was once a glee club star and yearns to see the McKinley High group reach its past glory.
Of course, there are problems, starting with the hilarious Jane Lynch (she was Steve Carell’s boss in “40-year-old Virgin.”) She’s the coach of the “Cheerios,” the cheerleading squad at the school, and of course she hates Glee. There’s also Quinn, the cute blonde cheerleader who’s the president of the Chastity Club at the school (also Finn’s girlfriend; now do you see why he’s frustrated and needs to sing?).

I won’t give away anything except to say that the pilot was supremely awesome, and the next two episodes have been great, too.
I’m reluctant to give my heart to this show because most brilliant stuff on TV gets cancelled; America can’t handle intelligent programming, sadly.
  So even though I’m sure “Glee” will be cancelled within a year, I say definitely check it out.

And oh yeah, the kid in the wheelchair makes it out of the port-o-potty OK. Just didn’t want you to worry.

**I’m getting frighteningly confident about the Jets this weekend. I know they’ll just break my heart, but it’s Patriots week, so I’m even more fired up than usual.

**Tim Stauffer update: My old friend from Saratoga Springs continues to pitch well for the Padres; he took a loss Friday night but his ERA is still 3.51, pretty damn good for a pitcher these days. Great to see Tim doing so well.

A football coach is acquitted: a victory for barbaric practices everywhere


On August 20, 2008, Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, Ky. held football practice. Coach David Stinson ran the players hard, and the practice kept going, and the sweltering heat didn’t make it easier for any of the players.

Allegedly, Stinson told the players they were going to run “until somebody quits.” I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Stinson could’ve said this; in my 12 years of being around high school football, I know coaches say stuff like that all the time.

There is no more ugly example of macho bullshit pride than a high school football coach humiliating and embarrassing his teenaged players because he can. I’ve seen it happen everywhere, men wearing shorts and whistles completely destroying a kid’s self image. It’s a disgusting sight.

Of course no players at Pleasure Ridge Park complained; football players in preseason practice are treated little better than animals locked in cages. They keep their mouths shut and do every drill and maybe they get water breaks every once in a while.

Back to Stinson. On this day, the heat index was 94 degrees, but the players kept running. Eight to 10 players were vomiting, witnesses said.

Finally, one lineman, 15-year-old Max Gilpin, couldn’t take it anymore. His body temperature at 107 degrees, he passed out, his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he died of heat stroke three days later.

This, sadly, happens all too often on the gridiron.

According to a study conducted by Dr. Frederick Mueller at the University of North Carolina for the American Football Association in 2008, 114 deaths have been attributed to heat stroke between 1960 and 2007 on all levels of football.

But this time, someone was going to be held liable. Prosecutors in Louisville decided to go after Stinson after Gilpin’s parents wanted to file a criminal complaint. The coach was charged with reckless homicide and wanton endangerment for not taking steps to ensure the players’ safety.

When I heard about this trial, I was thrilled. Finally, more light was going to be shed on these coaches who think they’re making kids “men” and “tougher” by asking them to endure things no teenager should be asked to endure.

There is no more powerful figure in a high school (especially here in the South) than a high school football coach. He does what he wants, to who he wants, in practice, and no one ever stands up them.

Here was a prosecutor, and some grieving parents, who said no. Who said it’s not OK to tell kids that we’re going to run until somebody quits. It’s not OK to ignore symptoms like, I don’t know, VOMITING, from players as just a sign of weakness. (One other player collapsed during this Pleasure Ridge practice as well, but recovered.)

Yes, things are better than they used to be. Yes, athletic trainers and doctors are doing a better job of educating coaches about water breaks and knowing when to stop.

But believe me, there are still plenty of neanderthals leading groups of 15 and 16-year-old boys, screaming about “discipline” and “toughness” as sprint after sprint is run in 100 degree heat.

Stinson’s trial began three weeks ago, and the verdict came in Thursday night.

The Jefferson County jury could’ve sent a message, loud and clear.

But they didn’t. After 90 minutes of deliberations Thursday Stinson was acquitted on all charges.

Prosecutor Leland Hulbert, the first to try a high school football coach criminally in the case of a player’s death, said he was disappointed in the verdict but knew it would be a tough case to win, saying “it would be difficult for jurors to find a football coach guilty of a crime.”

How sad is that?

During the trial, the Louisville Courier-Journal (which did a fantastic job covering the case), quoted Stinson’s lawyer, Alex Dathorne, talking to the jury.

“Convict football, don’t convict this man,” Dathorne told jurors. “This man was doing what every coach in the country was doing that day.”


This case could’ve been a fantastic precedent that maybe, just maybe, could’ve saved a kid’s life one day.

Instead, barbarism and “good ole’ boy toughness” wins again.


Aaron Krickstein and the wrong side of sports history; also Max Baucus’ bill stinks


Every year, as sure as the leaves fall off the trees in New Hampshire, Aaron Krickstein shows up on CBS’ U.S. Open coverage during a rain delay.



He’s forever frozen in time in our eyes on that day in September, 1991,when as a 24-year-old he played Jimmy Connors in a fourth round match at the U.S. Open.

Every year, we get to see Krickstein battle Connors, with just about the entire crowd against the Jewish kid from Michigan, and for his 39-year-old, fists-pumping, expletive-spewing opponent (If you think what Serena Williams said last week was bad, you should’ve heard Jimbo during this match).

Every year I watch, Krickstein loses in a fifth-set tiebreaker. Still, I kind of root for him each time. It’s like watching an old movie where you know the bad guy loses at the end but you think, well, maybe this time he won’t run into that alley into the line of police cars waiting for him.

Watching a little of the Krickstein-Connors match last weekend, I got to thinking about how unfair sports is to some people, when their entire careers are remembered for one moment, or one game.

Aaron Krickstein was once No. 6 in the world tennis rankings, but all anyone remembers about him is that he lost that epic match to Connors. Ralph Branca, (a hell of a nice man, by the way) won 88 games in the major leagues, but he’s known to history as the guy who gave up the pennant-winning home run to Bobby Thomson in 1951.

Bill Buckner had over 2,500 hits in a great career, but now he’s just the bad fielding old first baseman  who let Mookie Wilson’s grounder get through his legs in the ’86 World Series. Scott Norwood was a solid NFL field goal kicker, but because he missed a game-winning field goal for the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl, his name is mud to many.

There are so many examples of these guys in sports; Nick Anderson, Jackie Smith, Fred Merkle … and I wonder, how do they handle it? How do they walk around and go to the supermarket and the dry cleaners and the mall, knowing they might get recognized and all people want to talk about is the worst moment of their career? How do they feel every time someone blows a big game and ESPN puts them on a list of “biggest sports chokers” or something like that?

I hope Aaron Krickstein is happy today in 2009, wherever he is. I hope he can appreciate his place in history for what it is, and realize that some guys don’t even get remembered at all.

Couple other quick Thursday thoughts:

— Max Baucus’ health care plan: No public option, covers only 30 million uninsured, and not even the Republicans he completely caved in to like it. Yeah, I’ll pass, thanks. God, you know a proposed bill is bad when EVERYONE agrees it’s terrible and starts lobbing grenades at it.

Rachel Maddow, who continues to be brilliant, said it best and I’ll say it again: Why the hell is Baucus caving to Republicans on this, when Dems are so clearly in the majority? Do the right thing, push a truly universal plan through, and let’s move on the 27 million other F’ed up things that need fixing after 8 years of W.

–Finally, this is another one of those stories that could only happen in the South. A South Carolina high school cheerleader killed a 350-pound alligator the other day. God I love stories like this. I’m wondering, though, do you think the next time her school plays a team named the “Gators” she might get flashbacks? Will Tim Tebow haunt her dreams? And more importantly, this is what teenagers in South Carolina do for a good time?

I’m just brimming with questions right now.

Michael Moore’s lack of empathy, and watching a newspaper die, from the inside


Two things sparked this post (I don’t know, sometimes I figure you people might be interested in how my mind works…)

One is Michael Moore, who I generally regard as a brilliant satirist and filmmaker. I’ve loved Moore’s movies since someone in high school told me I should rent this new film called “Roger and Me,” about one guy trying to take down General Motors.

It was hilarious and smart, and since then I’ve seen all of Moore’s movies, including the underrated “Bowling for Columbine,” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which, despite its intended purpose, did not rid us of the scourge of W. in 2004.

Moore has been a powerful voice on the left, and while occasionally he goes too far and defeats his own purpose, he’s still one of the good guys in my mind.

Anyway, Moore’s got a new flick coming out about capitalism, and at a press conference in Toronto the other day he somehow got on the topic of newspapers.

He spouted most of the same lines many of us have used when talking about the slow decline of my industry; corporate greed, profits over people, etc. None of it remotely surprised or affected me.

But then he went a little further. He said “good riddance,” about the death of newspapers. And he predicted that in “one year, or two years,”  there will be no more daily papers.

Well you know what, Michael? “Good riddance?” Screw you.

I say that because newspapers, at their best, expose scandal and malfeasance and bad people doing bad things to good people, and isn’t that what you’re about? Isn’t that why you first started making “Roger and Me,” because you wanted Roger Smith of GM to explain to you why his hard-working factory employees were being laid off by the thousands in Michigan?

And now you’re saying good riddance, and, basically, who cares if newspapers die in a year or two. Who do you think writes stories and uncovers scandal that motivates you to do documentaries? Who do you think is keeping an eye out for the public good, about things like automobile safety and rule-breakers in government and athletes cheating to get ahead? Dedicated newspaper reporters, sir.

I don’t know, I’m probably so charged up about this because the last 36 hours have been horrible at work, which is the other reason I’m writing this.

For the fourth time in two years, the Daytona Beach News-Journal laid off a significant portion of the staff. These cuts hit me harder than the other ones, and I think it’s because we continue to lose good, talented, honest people who bleed for this business and never wanted to leave. We’ve run out of people who didn’t care about the job and now they’re firing indispensable parts of our staff.

Friends of mine, people I care about, got an email from our corporate receivership leader at 4 p.m. Monday (it’s a long story, we’re in the process of being sold and the court has put an outside manager to run us in the interim. Of course, “the interim” has lasted a hell of a lot longer than anyone thought it would).

These people got an email at 4 p.m. (hey, might as well get a good day’s work out of them) saying they had to show up at 11 Tuesday morning and meet with human resources, and bam, that was it.

Long-time employees, newer employees, journalists of great skill and people who put in an honest day’s work for a story; it doesn’t matter.  One email, a handshake, and a few week’s severance pay. And what was once a vibrant, passionate voice shining a light in this community gets just a little dimmer.

It is heartbreaking watching a living, breathing organism like a newsroom slowly, excruciatingly die. People I respect and trust were walking around like zombies today, trying to keep working, but dealing with the feelings of surivor’s guilt and helpless anger at the same time.

Many more talented writers than I have been writing about the breath being slowly expunged from this business we love; I can’t put it nearly as eloquently as they have.

But let me just say that watching it from the inside has been even more painful than I could have imagined.

I’ve been trying to come up with an analogy of what it feels like, and the best way I can describe it is this:  It’s like watching a beautiful mural on a wall that you helped paint, slowly being chipped away and chipped away, and as each piece falls to the floor a little piece of you falls with it. And you can’t stop it, or rail against it, you just have to stand there and watch.

Look, I know Michael Moore does have empathy, and I know he’s really railing against the corporate monsters like Gannett and Tribune Co. for putting profits over people when he says “good riddance.”

But there were people crying and hugging and not wanting to leave at my office today, trying to hold on to one last moment of being a part of something bigger than themselves. As I said goodbye, I was grateful I wasn’t joining them.

But watching them leave, I was sad all over again.

And I think if Michael Moore, or anyone else who has been gleefully dancing on the tombstone of newspapers  had been there, maybe they’d feel a little differently.

The King of the Open is toppled. And I am stunned.


One last tennis post after a truly wild final weekend at the Open …

Saw some things in a four-hour tennis match I hadn’t seen before Monday.

Saw a guy not named Rafael Nadal push Roger Federer around a tennis court. Saw a guy not named Rafael Nadal blast winners past Federer for three-plus hours and refuse to yield.

Saw a guy named Roger Federer, against an opponent not named Rafael Nadal, looked befuddled and flummoxed on a tennis court. Saw a guy named Roger Federer, against an opponent not named Rafael blow a two sets to one lead, and fall completely apart like a weekend hacker in the fifth set.

As I”m watching this match Monday evening, watching the future superstar Juan Martin Del Potro stage a shocking rally to beat Federer in five sets, I kept thinking, “Are we SURE that’s not Nadal on the other side of the net?

Because, dear readers, for the last five years, only Nadal has been Fed’s kryptonite in big matches like this. So when Del Potro, a 6-foot-6 Argentine (who looks taller) was pounding forehands past Fed in the fourth and fifth sets, I couldn’t believe this was really happening.

Oh, those of us who follow tennis closely knew Del Potro was a comer, a 20-year-old with huge shots and a great mental makeup. But Federer just doesn’t lose Slam finals to guys not named Nadal.

It was wildly disconcerting to see Federer miss so many forehands, and serve so poorly (50 percent of first serves for the match).

Even when Del Potro pushed the match to a fifth set, and the crowd at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was going nuts for the underdog, I expected Roger to come through. Again, he doesn’t lose matches like this.

But the fifth set Monday was scarily reminiscent of the one Federer played against Rafa in the Australian Open back in January. He was broken early, and he never quite was able to come back. It was shockingly one-sided at the end, just like it was in January.

Look, this is probably good for the sport right now. The list of guys who have the mental and physical ability to stand up to Federer is woefully short, and now maybe Del Potro can be the rival that threatens Federer at Slams that Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic can’t quite be yet (or may never be).

But as a Federer fan, Monday was disappointing.

So the U.S. Open ends with the two champions everyone figured we would have. Of course we all saw Kim Clijsters and Del Potro winning it when we prognosticated two weeks ago, right?

God .I love the unpredictability of sports.

Couple other Tuesday morning thoughts:

1. Not sure if I should be happy that Patriots looked so bad in their 25-24 win over Buffalo Monday night, or if I should be mad because Belichick is going to give them hell in practice all week and they’ll come into Sunday’s game at my Jets all fired up and beat my boys 62-3.

2. Kanye West, you made me feel sorry for a pop country starlet today. And that’s hard to do. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Mr. West, quite the musical performer I’m told, got up on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards the other night and interrupted pop tart Taylor Swift’s award acceptance speech, taking the microphone from her hand to say Beyonce’s video was better. Truly awful behavior.  I know, you’re like me: You’re shocked to see a hip-hop guy or a rapper misbehave.

3. I see Serena Williams apologized again. Hey, third time’s the charm. Maybe by her 7th or 8th apology she’ll actually call the lineswoman and say she’s sorry.

4. And finally in honor of the late, great Patrick Swayze…

Mark Sanchez makes me happy, and maybe the best Federer shot ever

Jets Sanchez Football 

You know, I’m trying to stay level-headed today. I keep telling myself, “It’s only one game, it’s only one game.” Lots of quarterbacks have had one great game. Hell, a journeyman named Scott Mitchell once had three great games, got a huge contract, then stunk up the field for the next two years.

But man, Sunday afternoon my New York Jets’ latest “savior” quarterback had a hell of a debut. A smashing, bang-up debut, one that had all the critics (well, me and every other Jets fan who are conditioned to be critical after 40 years of mostly losing) shaking our heads in wonder.

Mark Sanchez played like a 10-year veteran in leading my beloved Green and White to a stunningly convincing 24-7 win over the Houston Texans, heretofore thought to be a pretty good team. Sanchez stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush. He made smart, accurate throws. He scrambled when he had to. He held on to the ball when his receivers were covered and he didn’t try to be Superman, forcing a ball into triple-coverage.

In short (which, incidentally, is what I am), he was awesome. The Jets’ offensive line was awesome, giving Sanchez all kinds of time. Leon Washington, who you will soon learn is my favorite Jet, was terrific, too.  Thomas Jones, who did nothing in the first half, had two huge runs in the second half to help salt the game away.

And man, what a start for the Jets defense. They were flying all over the place. New coach Rex Ryan came in with a lot of expectations on him, to make the defense great and blitz and force turnovers and all that stuff he did with the Baltimore Ravens.

Well, so far, so great. The Jets forced two turnovers, harassed Houston QB Matt Schaub into all kinds of hurried throws and sacked him twice, and tackled as well as the Jets have tackled in years. Darrelle Revis, the star DB, completely shut down Texans wideout Andre Johnson.

Very, very satisfying opening win, right up there as openers go with the win at Tennessee a few years back, and the mauling of Seattle in Bill Parcells’ first game in 1997.

The bullies from New England come into the Meadowlands next week. I’m certain Sanchez will make a few mistakes in that one, since Bill Belichick is known for confusing young quarterbacks.

But I really like what I see from this kid; after his one huge mistake, an interception returned for a touchdown, he didn’t get nervous or suddenly make tentative throws; he fired a laser to Dustin Keller on 3rd down on the next drive for a huge first down. The kid seems to have moxie and swagger (Moxie and Swagger, weren’t those two of the dudes in Billy the Kid’s gang?), and you have to love what he showed Sunday.

Couple other quick thoughts on Sunday’s NFL games:

— Poor Bengals. They’re down 6-0 to Denver, finally score with 35 seconds to go to take the lead 7-6, and it looks like they’re going to win. Then Denver hits a miracle play, off a deflection that just happens to land in Brandon Stokely of the Broncos’ hands, and he goes all the way for the winning touchdown.

All I can say is, Bengals fans, I’ve been there.

— Boy am I glad I drafted Drew Brees with my first pick in both fantasy leagues I’m in. Six touchdowns? Yeah, I’ll take that every week.

— Don’t overreact to Week 1, but the Panthers and Browns appear to stink, the Chiefs and Lions may not stink as much as we thought, while Philly and Indy are going to be pretty damn good again.

Finally, check out my penultimate U.S. Open tennis blog here, and watch this amazing shot (below) by Roger Federer in his semifinal win. This was maybe one of the two or three best shots I’ve ever seen Roger ever hit; my jaw hit the floor. Federer later called it the best shot he’s ever hit, and you can tell by his reaction how excited he was.

P.S. As usual, my favorite sports writer Joe Posnanski has written an entire, beautiful column about this Federer shot; check it out here. In it, he makes a fantastic point that I completely agree with: The more you know about tennis, the more you appreciate how amazing Federer is.

A bizarre and disgraceful exit for Serena Williams

*Sep 04 - 00:05*

Wasn’t going to blog today, but I did want to post my thoughts on what sadly will become a major tennis controversy over the next few days, and that is the crazy end to Serena Williams’ U.S. Open semifinal match against Kim Clijsters.

I thought the call was terrible, but Serena’s behavior was classless and disgraceful, and a terrible blight on her reputation.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the clip below:

And here are my thoughts on the whole mess.

Have a good Sunday.

All hail NFL Sundays

Some people use Sundays Copy of Michael footballin the autumn as a day of rest. Some people rake leaves, do some reading, or catch up on cleaning around the house.

Others use it as a day of worship.

I do that. Although instead of praying to God, I go to a different kind of house.

It’s a sports bar with 37 TVS, friendly waitresses, really good food, and diehard fans wearing jerseys of varying colors.

On Sundays in the autumn, I watch six hours of NFL football. It is a religion of sorts to me; I worship at the altar of pro football.

I can’t wait for this Sunday, week 1 of the 2009 NFL season. Wait, let me rephrase that. I CAN NOT WAIT. I love everything about football Sundays. I love waking up late, around 11 or so, and starting to think about the New York Jets game that day.

I love eating, showering and then slipping on my dark green Wayne Chrebet No. 80 Jets jersey, my go-to gameday attire for the last 10 years (last year I switched to a Brett Favre jersey in a fit of temporary blind love, but I’m sure Wayne understood).

I love arriving at the bar (where, to my wife’s endless amusement,  I was referred to as “Jets Fan” on my tab until they learned my name) and looking where my beloved green and white will be playing. It’s a strategic thing, really; I hope the Jets are on one of the four TVs side by side  above the bar; that way I can watch four games at once without really having to move.

(On a related note, I don’t get why women don’t understand this, but yes, men can watch four games at once. We’ve been trained over the years and we know the rhythms of our games that we can really, truly be looking at all of them at once and not miss anything big.)

I love seeing the same people every week, and learning their tendencies; the old Steelers fan who downs Coors Light while yelling that they should throw to Heath Miller more; the collection of 20-something Giants fans, who are never happy even when the Giants are winning; the four 70-something Bills fans who don’t really even get excited anymore, and take even small joys (“Hey, a 10-yard pass”) as reasons for hope.

And then there is my favorite group, a co-ed mix of about six Washington Redskins fans who look like they remember when Sonny Jurgensen was a rookie.

I don’t want to say they’re old, but I swear one guy told me he remembers that Red Grange kid from high school.

They’re grumpy sometimes (hey, look at the Redskins’ record the last 10 years), but bless their hearts, every time the Redskins score a touchdown they break into a rousing chorus of “Hail to the Redskins.” And sometimes, they look so joyous, I want to join in.

This is what I call my Sunday family, and even if we don’t know each other’s last names (or sometimes, first names), I look forward to spending time with them 17 Sundays a year.

My Sunday family has seen me yell and scream and throw stuff, and have sometimes come over to cheer me up when the Jets (invariably) break my heart again.

My wife came to the bar once with me; after 10 minutes she looked around and had the same expression on her face that a caveman would have upon encountering an iPod: Utter, sheer bewilderment.

And so Sunday it starts again. I know, truly, that for the 40th straight year someone besides the Jets will win the Super Bowl.

And I know, in my 34-year-old brain, that it’s kind of silly I wear a football jersey and hat and scream and yell for three hours at other men I don’t even know.

But I don’t care. It’s fall, it’s Sunday, and for a few hours I get to act like a kid again.

1 p.m. can’t get here fast enough.

P.S. If for some reason you’re curious, my Super Bowl pick for this year is Baltimore vs. Green Bay; I just don’t think the Steelers can repeat, New England has lost too much on defense, and I’m not sold on either the Colts (no running game) or San Diego (Norv Turner is their coach, no more needs to be said).

And for my beloved Jets, I see somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7, and no playoff spot. I hope I’m very wrong, but rookie quarterback plus rookie coach doesn’t spell championship to me.

Eight years

So I don’t really feel like dredging up all the old emotions I’ve felt by writing about 9/11 in the past, today on the 8th anniversary. I can’t believe its been eight years; it seems like it’s been not nearly as long, and also way longer than that, if you know what I mean.

Everybody deals with this terrible day in their own way. Some people, like me, take time to watch old footage and think about the day; others want to ignore it and treat it like any other day.

So here, I’ll simply reprint an essay I wrote three years ago for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, on the 5th anniversary of the day that changed the world forever:

Despite post-Sept.11 changes, the heart of my N.Y. goes on


September 11, 2006

Everybody talks about Sept. 11, 2001 being the scariest day of their life.

To a New Yorker like myself, Sept. 12 was almost as frightening.

I was living in New York then, working for a basketball magazine in Manhattan.

The day after the world changed forever, I took my usual 8:46 a.m. train into work. I had about a 10-minute walk from Penn Station to my office.

That morning, it felt like the longest 10 minutes of my life.

The streets and avenues were cemetery silent. The usual cacophony of bleating taxi horns, vendors hawking “authentic” souvenirs, and commuters loudly complaining on their cell phones was absent.

I could hear my footsteps on the sidewalk. The wind was blowing ever so slightly, and you could hear that, too.

My favorite thing about New York City was always how alive it felt. Ten things were happening at once at all times, on every corner. New York City was a place I felt in my bones, in my blood, in the water mains exploding and the subways derailing and the tabloids screaming for somebody to be fired.

Now, on Sept. 12, 2001, all I could think of on my walk was how these boulevards felt like any other city, in any other state.

It could’ve been Dubuque. Or Minneapolis. Or Daytona Beach.

It was an awful, empty feeling. It may have been the first time I ever felt sorry for New York City. And watching TV that day and over the next few days, it seemed like pity was being heaped on New York like an extra spoonful of marinara on some linguini.

We don’t want your pity, I felt like yelling at Brokaw and Rather. We’re New York! We’ve got the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden and Central Park!

Soon, though, the pity turned to empathy, and New York City regained its bearings.

Over the next several days, the beautiful noise returned, slowly but surely. People became impatient with each other again, and World Trade Center-related paraphernalia was sold like always in the myriad of souvenir shops.

And a bizarre new strain of window-shopping took place at Penn Station: Every day, thousands of New Yorkers like myself stopped to stare at the fliers of missing persons, hoping against hope we wouldn’t recognize the eyes looking back at us.

We New Yorkers like to think of ourselves as shoe-leather tough: Nothing or nobody can ever keep us down.

And so it was true of Sept. 11: Two airplanes that killed almost 3,000 people dealt a severe blow to our collective solar plexus, but our wind and energy would return.

When I return home to New York City now, I don’t notice many changes from the pre-Sept. 11 world.

I wish I could tell you that New Yorkers came together forever as one after that horrible day, and the little concerns like construction on the George Washington Bridge weren’t so important as they had been before.

But that didn’t happen. Nothing can make New Yorkers change their ways for long.

All that’s missing are two towers that had always been a part of the city’s tapestry.

With or without the Twin Towers, New York goes on as the best city in the world.

And the sounds of the street are once again always in my ears.