Yet Another New York Update

I am continuing these reports by request.

The “frozen zone” was shortened today by about a mile and a half. It is now roughly equivalent to the area of lower Manhattan that has no electric power or telephone service, but crews are working on both, and the New York Stock Exchange, right in the heart of the “frozen zone,” says it will open on Monday, so we can be hopeful. There are people in our industry who normally work in the “frozen zone.”

Some equipment that I need for both the ecumenical event on Sunday and another show I’m working on Monday and Tuesday is sitting on a production truck stuck in the “frozen zone.” All-Mobile Video is trying to arrange a police escort so they can remove the equipment. The lack of air freight has also been problematic. We’re so used to thinking we can just get lenses from L.A. or recorders from Pittburgh or whatever.

There has been tremendous cooperation going on. Liman Video and All-Mobile are trading facilities and equipment to help make my shows happen. I think I previously mentioned WABC-TV being carried on WNYE-TV, WHSE-TV and New Jersey Network. Now WHSI-TV, another Home Shopping Network station, is extending their coverage (which has been wall-to-wall, commercial-free news). WNYE-FM is also carrying the programming of WNYC-FM, one of the few FM stations that had been on the World Trade Center. And NPR’s New York bureau is giving WNYC production facilities (their own are in the “frozen zone”).

The Metropolitan Opera will be doing a memorial concert a week from tomorrow, using image magnification to the Lincoln Center plaza. Most (if not all) facilities and services seem to be getting donated. People are good.

The shortened “frozen zone” now allows two more bridges into Manhattan to be used. Only the Brooklyn Bridge, the Holland Tunnel, and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel are still off limits, and even the last is being used by express buses to and from Staten Island, so they must have been able to clear away enough of the debris. A million tons of building generates a LOT of debris.

This morning I noticed the noise outside my windows that is normally everpresent. It had been “unnaturally” quiet. The noise is a good indication that life is getting back to normal. People on the streets also seem to be getting back to normal routines. And there were police cars in Central Park again (as usual); earlier this week there were none visible.

The New York Times (the only news medium I’ve seen that gives any indication that anything ELSE is happening in the world) doubled the size of today’s movie listings. I don’t know if that’s meant to be symbolic or is just because they couldn’t print and distribute as many different region editions as they normally do. Maybe it’s just a new Friday practice. By the way, WPIX-TV, the WB affiliate, has gotten a low power signal back on the air.

I made my first long-distance phone call last night! I tried a bunch of carriers and finally found one that worked (10-10-333). I actually managed to call Sicily, where my wife has been working on a TV show. She’s scheduled to return on Sunday, but we don’t yet know if a non-U.S. carrier will be permitted to land — or if the airport will be open.

The weather has changed. It had been incongruously beautiful earlier this week. It is colder now, and it has been raining. The rain is problematic for the rescue efforts; workers are slipping, and, when the rain is heavy, they have poor visibility. Maybe the rain has reduced the smoke, but it hasn’t yet eliminated it.

There were 90 false bomb reports yesterday, some innocent (people overly suspicious) but all problematic. One woman has been arrested for falsely reporting getting a call from a cell phone of someone trapped in the wreckage. The mayor made that announcement as a warning.

Press reports have also been wrong — about rescues, airport arrests, etc. Take what you hear with a grain of salt.

Requests for assistance are now getting VERY specific (markers, hard hats, giant insulated coffee urns, underwear, etc.). The centers for this stuff are the giant Javits Convention Center and the Chelsea Piers. As soon as requests are announced, people rush off to stores to buy what’s needed and bring it back. There’s still plenty of blood at the moment, but someone reported (perhaps sneakily) that we’ll still need blood NEXT week. The reason I think it was sneaky is that we had a blood shortage BEFORE the attack.

I’m going to attempt to leave Manhattan and return tonight, visiting friends on Long Island. Tomorrow we set up for Sunday’s ecumenical broadcast.

Thanks for all the good wishes. We DO appreciate them.

TTFN, Mark

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