A City So Big You Gotta’ Say It Twice
Wajahat Ali and Ishmael Reed
I am at the 9/11 memorial.
2 presidents and their first ladies are holding hands.
Yo-Yo Ma is playing Bach on the cello.
I look to my right, I’m standing next to a Marine.
I look to my left, a man in a FDNY shirt is crying.
I look in front of me, a man in a yarmulke is capturing the scene on his iPhone.
I look behind me, there’s a New York crowd.
I am with our NHK film crew, who are following me around.
All this footage will appear on Japanese television.
I am in New York for our play “The Domestic Crusaders.”
It’s not only the tenth anniversary of 9/11,
It’s also the tenth anniversary of this play’s birth.
Yesterday was our premiere.
We received a New York Welcome.
New York has always overdosed us with love.
Returning from Ground Zero –
I’m in a New York State of Mind.
A city so big you gotta’ say it twice.
A big town with an even bigger heart.
The city that took it on the chin for the rest of us –
And the city that never backed down.
She’s the city that wears the most visible scar of that tragic day.
Maligned by some, hated and abused by others.
Some wish that she would be sawed in half like one of Houdini’s models
And set afloat in the Atlantic.
But she rises above the Bronx cheers
And pursues a nobler course.
Because she represents America,
Because she has to.
She’s the great, steaming cooking pot of the world.
She’s the bouillabaisse of all its flavors.
This ongoing experiment named 346 years ago.
This unfinished draft still being polished
This perpetual work in progress .
New York, New York.
Her spirit is big enough and strong enough
To carry the rest of us with her –
11:03 am, 9/11/11