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The Days of Dogs

Even before last year’s momentous events, I’m certain that I was not alone in thinking that September is the cruelest month. It means an end to the care-free days at the beach or by the barbeque, and a return to school or the post-Labor days office grind. The weather is often perfect, but few of us have the leisure to enjoy it.

For me, September is also a time when I find myself thinking even more about two of my nearest loved ones, each of whom passed away on separate dates within the month. It’s enough to fill my birthday with melancholy. With such varying degrees of sadness all around, annually I ask myself the same question: who, other than Earth, Wind & Fire, really is dancing in September?

Here in New York, of course, there’ll be a mass spectacle of remembrance in the days leading up to. As well as on the day of, September 11th. (Incidentally, we believe that there should be a “th” tacked on to the date, because that’s how people say it, and thus know it.) That 9-11 (the other way people say it) should indeed be a time for reflection is beyond a doubt. Surely it is a moment of sorrow, for grief over the needless loss of life. What other lessons will be imparted is a different story.

I would take a real Pollyanna to say that the city has fulfilled its promise to come back from the attack “better and stronger than ever.” Floating six over-lapping proposals for office buildings at Ground Zero is at best disingenuous. Talk of chopping one billion dollars from the city budget is even worse. Meanwhile, has the U.S. done anything to improve its standing in the Muslim world? Not as far as I can tell. Neither have any of the efforts at improving national security over the past year really made me feel, well, more secure.

I haven’t even mentioned the much less than exuberant state of the American economy, a ship now clearly commanded by malfeasants. Nor have I said anything about the hot stinking weather. Or the prospect that come October, there may not be a World Series, or worse, there may be one, but it will be the Yankees vs. the Braves. Even though it’s not even September, the lazy days do feel long gone.

But wait, there’s time yet to go to Jones Beach. It’s a place blissfully free of commercial saturation, one where public money benefits the public only. It is a space for the masses, free of the distinctions of the classes. Come September, Jones Beach is where I’d rather be. It’s where hope summers eternal.


Theodore Hamm


The Brooklyn Rail


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