Reading Names Update

I posted earlier about how when I read names on 9/11, it occurred to me that the people I was reading names with were the people who went down there to help and lived. The readers this year were first responders and volunteers. When we were lined up to read, I turned around and took pictures of the people in the line behind me.

Some of you may remember me pointing out the sweet faced guy in the white hat.

A firefighter friend IM’ed me. “The Lt with the nice face is Mickey Kross. Mickey survived in the stairwell remember that group?”

Mickey Kross, a Lieutenant with Engine 16, was in stairwell of the north tower when it collapsed. I found his story in his own words. I’m posting a few excerpts, but the full story is here.

“We had finally made it down to about the 3rd floor when we suddenly heard this tremendous noise. Hurricane winds overcame the stairwell and picked me up. I moved towards the railing to try to make myself as small as possible for shelter; I literally tried to squeeze myself into my helmet. Debris hit me from all angles and enveloped the stairwell in total darkness. I didn’t know what was happening, that the entire tower was collapsing down on top of us, but whatever it was, I didn’t think it was something I could overcome. My prayer was that it just be quick. But, just as suddenly as it began it ended, and I was engulfed by a total silence.”

Stairway B, Tower 1.

“We were given rope to help us extricate ourselves from the debris and we crawled out one by one, but at the top, were faced with a minefield of jagged surfaces and beams. You had no idea where you could and couldn’t step. I started walking what I now know now was east but it brought me to a less stable area. I was told to turn around. Everything from the offices was pulverized, like a blizzard, except a two of clubs playing card which I found in the debris and still have today. Eventually, I saw my captain coming up the pile and that’s when I realized that I was probably going to be all right.”

“There was a desk set up on West and Vesey with a list of about 400 firefighters who were presumed dead, including myself. I still can’t believe that I was able to cross my name off that list, but 343 members of my department remained on there permanently, including many longtime personal friends, six firefighters from Ladder 7, the unit we shared our firehouse with, and the officer from engine 1, who I’d just been traveling up the stairs with. I stayed at the site until 10 p.m. that evening, and returned every day for approximately three months to bring them home.”

“I don’t like to revisit the memories of that day, and thankfully some have been erased from my mind, but I feel compelled to try to remember and express what happened there for sake of those who can’t.”

I don’t know what to say. I wish I had shaken his hand. (All of their hands, really.)

Identical Strangers

Paula.jpg My friend Paula Bernstein’s book Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited is going to be in bookstores on Tuesday, October 2nd. Everyone has a book coming out! Paula is also going to be on “CBS Sunday Morning” this Sunday, Sept. 30th at 9 a.m. ET (and I am DYING of envy). Paula found out a couple of years ago that she had an identical twin sister, who was living in Paris. Can you imagine??

From Publishers Weekly: In this transfixing memoir, Bernstein, a freelance writer, and Schein, a filmmaker, take turns recounting the story of how each woman, at age 35, discovered she had an identical twin sister … Once you find someone, Bernstein writes, you can’t unfind her.

That’s Elyse on the left and Paula on the right, at age seven.

I was wrong!

Surf2.jpg It’s been pointed out that some dogs do like to carry things in their mouths, so there. I take back all the evil thoughts I had about dog owners who walk around with their dogs carrying stuff in their mouths.

Here’s another picture of the fabulous dog-rescuing Matt and Joe. I know there are lots of people rescuing animals all over the world, sorry to focus on Matt and Joe, but this was so great.

I am very very very very happy with how this new chapter has turned out, and I’m pretty sure my editor will be too. It’s got a ghost story!

Plus, I’m very happy because the new TV season has started. Everyone, don’t forget the show Reaper. It premiered last night. I meant to post a reminder, but I’m sure you can find it online if you missed it. Tonight I’m hopeful about Bionic Woman and Dirty Sexy Money.

Good People in the World

Surfers.jpg Before I forget, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend: HI CHRIS!

I know you’ve all probably seen this picture, but I just love these two guys. This is Matt Smolenski and Joe Riopelle rescuing a dog named Shell-B in Michigan. I just love that they did this. I wanted to email them and thank them, and I figured they’re in their 20’s, they must have a Myspace page or something, but I couldn’t find anything.

Thank you, Matt and Joe. Oh, look at that sweet dog face. Thank God for Matt and Joe.

It always freaks me out to see a dog off its leash. Not because I don’t think the dog is well behaved, but because you never know what can happen. I worry for the dog. I guess you can’t keep a dog on a leash all the time, it’s like thinking I’ll never leave the house and therefore nothing will happen to me, but still. It’s inexcusable on city streets I think. The dog sees a stray cat or mouse, runs into traffic and that’s it.

Speaking of things that owners do that bug me, I don’t like how some people walk their dog and have the dog carry something in their mouth, like their water bottle, or the paper they’re going to use to scoop up the dog’s you-know-what. It’s like the dog is a walking-performance-piece, there’s something so narcissistic about it. I’ve never had a dog who does that voluntarily. Yes, they like to chew, and moves things from place to place, but walk around for a while with something in their mouth? No. I’m sure the owners love their dogs, and I’m as narcissistic as the next guy, but I feel for the dogs. But maybe I’m wrong about this. If someone who does this wants to set me straight, that would be cool.

My Next Book

Bowe.jpg My friend’s brother, who I adore, has a new book out called Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy.

From a review in USA Today. “Something must be said of Nobodies’ final chapter, a masterwork and mixing pot of ideas, spiced by the anger of an intelligent man who has witnessed too many instances of the Latin proverb, homo homini lupus: man is a wolf to man.

I’ve been mulling that over. Someone has a book out that moves people to say things like that. He’s going to be on Jon Stewart on Monday, by the way. He’s very cute. And smart. Just saying.

Then I see a clip of Naomi Wolf on the Colbert Report. It’s worth watching. Wolf has a new book out called The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot. A lot of us are thinking what she has written about, and she carefully laid out arguments demonstrating that our concerns are not groundless.

I’ve been trying to think of a book that will put me in an interesting place with interesting people (trying to find an adjective other than “interesting”) and meanwhile John Bowe and Naomi Wolf have written the kind of books that could change lives and history. So I’ve changed my line of thinking. Except so far the only idea that came to mind is a book that demonstrates the need to protect animals and I admit that I don’t have the heart to write it. It would mean investigating and immersing myself in the horrible things we do to animals and I can’t even watch a TV show if an animal gets hurt in it and that’s a fictional animal.

Fuck. It takes courage to write these books. That never occurred to me.