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What's new in iJamming!...
Mon, May 20, 2002
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured albums
(Hub, Slumber Party, DJ Harry, Spearhead, The Who tribute
Albums that sound different since September 11
(Charlatans UK, Arabian Travels, Cafe del Mar, Sugarcult)
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
The full iJamming! Contents
A Thanksgiving Toast
to iJamming! surfers near and afar (American or not)
A memorial in Chinatown, Manhattan, photo taken Monday September 24.

As an Englishman living in America, Thanksgiving has always been my bonus holiday. And for many years, something of an oddity, too - primarily, I suppose, because it seemed to take some excitement out of Christmas, which is neither celebrated by all Americans in the way of the British, nor warrants as much time off work as in the UK (where the country shuts down for as long as two weeks). There has also been the unpleasant irony about Thanksgiving that a holiday which began as a communal sit-down with Native hosts must now be conducted in the (highly selective) memory that American settlers wiped out the vast majority of that Native population along the way.

And yet I have come to treasure Thanksgiving. I have a large, extremely close extended family here in the States, and more so than Christmas - which I occasionally spend back in England - Thanksgiving is the one time of year I know I will see them all. I appreciate that Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, which means all Americans can enjoy it equally - rather than Christmas, Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan, to name but three religious festivals relevant only to Christians, Jews and Moslems respectively. I love that Thanksgiving is a family celebration that defies commercialisation; having a young son who is spoiled beyond reason at Christmas, it is gratifying to see that the love at Thanksgiving comes from the heart, not the wallet. Finally, unlike Christmas, which in America sees most people back at work the next day, Thanksgiving is the start of a four-day weekend of extreme leisure and relaxation, an opportunity to sit back and take stock.

This year, there is much to take stock of. Thousands of families will be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with empty seats at the table, where should have sat the husbands, wives, sons and daughters who died so tragically and unnecessarily on September 11 - many of them in the pursuit of saving others. Some ten thousand children in the region will be missing a parent at the table as a result of these barbaric attacks; dozens, if not hundreds, of pregnant mothers who have lost their unborn baby's father will struggle to raise a 'thanks' as they prepare for an impending birth date. I can hardly imagine the hole in the hearts of these grieving family members, though having borne witness to the attacks as a New Yorker, I certainly feel personal pain.

Then there are the economic losses. The national economy was already in free fall even before September 11, after which some 100,000 jobs vanished in New York City overnight. While the more established companies and higher-paid employees will survive, those who worked at the foot of the employment ladder - the cleaners, cooks, assistants and temps - are struggling to find work in a city suddenly overrun with unemployment. I have personally noticed a far greater number of homeless in New York City this autumn than in any of the last ten years, which I must assume comes from a combination of the economic downturn, the sudden spike in unemployment and the loss of the homeless peoples' temporary abodes in the vast catacombs, caves and subways of what was once the World Trade Center.

A perspex-covered letter attached to the railing at Ground Zero. The part that the rain has smudged out at the top reads 'USA and Britain as one.' Thanks, Shaun and Amanda.
And yet, while counting one's losses, one must also count one's blessings. There is so much to be thankful for, and for myself, I start with my existence. I don't know how we got here, I don't know where we're going, but I know that I am here, and to not enjoy my time on earth is to waste my very being. After September 11, I bought a card with a quotation from the writer Henry Miller, which sits on my desk as a reminder not to waste another moment. It reads, "The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." If I can draw any positivity from September 11, it is in that awareness: awareness of the fragility of my life, followed by awareness of all that I should be thankful for, leading to awareness of my every living moment.

Those of us blessed with the love of spouses or long-term partners - oh, and you lucky ones in the romantic throes of a new love affair - should be thankful that humans are capable of expressing such soulful emotions. Those of us blessed to have smiling children at our feet need no reminder to be thankful; but those of us parents who still have parents should express additional gratitude for the love they gave us and the sacrifices they made, and should be thankful that they are still with us to offer advice and care, and to share in their children and grand-children's ongoing growth.

Those of us with employment, be it freelance or permanent, must be thankful for it at a time when others are uncertain of their next paycheck. Those of us who take for granted a roof over our heads should recognize that others in this country are not so fortunate.

Above all, it's my own feeling that at this time of celebrating a peculiarly American holiday, those of us who live here must be thankful for just that. There is a reason that the United States of America is the destination of choice for such vast numbers of immigrants worldwide, and it is that this country offers a degree of freedom unprecedented in human history. For many years, those who live in America have enjoyed almost total freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. In addition, the USA embraces a work ethic that rewards endeavor and enterprise: throughout its short history, it has been a central tenet of this country's existence that if you are willing to work hard, you need never go hungry.

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, the values that made this country great - compassion, sacrifice, pride, devotion and faith to name a few - enabled the country in general, New York City in particular, to get back on its feet far sooner than expected. These qualities are recognized from afar: after September 11, a friend of mine sent a letter from England that included the lines, "They destroyed so many lives, they destroyed the towers, but they can't destroy your pride, that fierce unshakable pride and belief that you have in yourselves and your country." They are some of the truest words I've ever read.

I am personally appreciative that America is such a pluralistic society; I take enormous pride and satisfaction in the diversity that doesn't just survive, but thrives from living shoulder-to-shoulder in American cities and suburbs. Less than a quarter mile radius from my Brooklyn house there stands not just an ornate Protestant Church, a historical Catholic Church, and two storefront houses of worship, but also a synagogue and a mosque; I am thankful that in this community, so close to downtown Manhattan that the fire from the World Trade Centers dropped charred papers on our doorsteps, there has been no violent retaliation or retribution among these faiths, only an increased attempt to understand and live alongside each other in the freedom we take as our right.

A letter sent to New York City and posted on the front door of Squad Co. 1, Park Slope, Brooklyn, from which twelve firefighters died on September 11.
Yet clearly, on this Thanksgiving, many of those rights are being challenged. It infuriates me that the terrorists used this country's multitude of freedoms to launch an attack from within, for they gave our government license to clamp down on these same freedoms under the entirely plausible, if not totally provable, pretext of preventing further such attacks. It upsets me that in the economic downturn, especially here in New York, there are not enough jobs available to feed those who are willing to work hard, let alone those who have fallen through the inherent cracks of an overtly capitalist society. It saddens me that we are at war, and though I vehemently argue that our actions are just and necessary - and are widely appreciated by those they most strongly affect, here in America and overseas in Afghanistan - I am fully aware that American arrogance must be replaced by a greater understanding. In the future, this country can not simply impose its will on other countries, however much it knows it is right; it must work to win over the hearts and minds of those countries' citizens first through the positive dissemination of accurate information.

(Many other countries, especially those that practice but one religion, have an even greater duty to broaden their horizons - culturally, politically, theologically and economically - if we are all to come together, but on this holiday, I prefer to offer thanks than cast accusations.)

It can seem such an impossible task for an individual to influence his or her country's direction (let alone to help those in other countries) that many are inclined not to bother - a cynical attitude that is rampant in the western world, and has done much to bring us all to this current sad state. But it doesn't need to be that way.

Two clichés come to mind that have never rung truer than in these turbulent times: 'Think Global, Act Local' and 'Charity Begins at Home.'

As an American citizen or immigrant with a roof over your head and food on your table, you can help your great nation be better perceived across the world by improving upon it at home. Take the spirit of unity and compassion we all saw in the aftermath of September 11 and practice it on a daily basis. Call local charities and ask how you can help; most require physical bodies offering spare time as much as they need financial contributions. Engage in intelligent conversation, especially with those you consider outsiders; make an effort to understand their point of view and be sure that they are trying to understand yours.

Those of you reading this overseas, please make efforts to better understand Americans, their core values of justice and equality, their celebration of diversity, their freedom of religion, and their contributions to humanity throughout history, just as you would any other country or creed.

Above all, be thankful. Across the world, we must be thankful for what we have. Here in America, this Thanksgiving 2001, we must be thankful for everything this wonderful country has given us - especially the freedom to say what we want, play how we want, and be who we want. Let us never again take those freedoms for granted.

Thanksgiving 2001

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