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Thursday, March 16
Misty water colored memories of the way we were
It was the Sunday before bush invaded Iraq- a sunny cool day on Long Island. I was meeting a local musician at a cemetery for a photo shoot (his idea and remind me to tell you about the time I was shooting a band at a haunted insane asylum). We didn't talk about politics as I was concentrating on the lighting that day. After a great shoot, he suggested that we head over to the train station down the block to get some moody, "You don't love me, I'm going away" shots. Capital idea, I thought.
The train station was near a lot of cemeteries rather than a residential area. It was deserted and provided a great backdrop for the lonesome musician with his guitar on his back. A few Long Island Railroad trains blasted through there without stopping. There was plenty of time for him to get off the tracks as the trains here like to blow their whistles excessively miles in advance of a road crossing. We took some shots on the lonely platform and the lonely waiting room as the sun streamed low in the west highlighting my subject's lonely long blonde hair.
We were wrapping it up, smoking cigarettes and talking before we departed in our respective all American automobiles, when several policecars and transit authority cops pulled into the parking area surrounding us. They had reports of terrorist activity. We reported that we had been there for about an hour and hadn't seen anything suspicious nor were there any middle easterners there doing anything suspicious. The cops informed us that he and I fit the description of the possible terrorists. Huh? I still had PTSD from 9/11. We were in our 40's, we both had blonde hair and he had blue eyes, me, green eyes. We were about as boy and girl next door looking Americans as you can get... except that we were middle aged.
We were informed that since 9/11, it was deemed illegal to take photographs at train stations. I noted that there were no signs to that effect and we most certainly had no intentions of breaking any laws or blowing anything up as we were lifetime residents of the island and we kind of liked it. We were also at one of the boringest lines of the LIRR and it was a Sunday when ridership was almost zero. I can't imagine why terrorists would target a place like that- the train station at the cemetery?
We had to show our ID, have the cops call in to check us for priors, let them check the pictures on my camera and search our cars and we were let off with a warning and next time, we'd be arrested for tresspassing at a railroad station. It was almost Alice's Restaurant-like.
Three years later, I still recall my heart racing at that train station at dusk. I was hoping against hope that we wouldn't invade Iraq until UN report on WMD's was analyzed. I didn't believe anything the government said after 9/11. Now I read about pacifist groups being targeted by the FBI as a threat to national security. I read about little old ladies being searched at airports, American citizens being wiretapped and being told that it's ok for Dubai Ports to oversee what is shipped into this country. I am now convinced more than ever that our government perceives the American people as the greatest threat to the military takeover of the world.
PS: The photograph accompanying this article is from the time I got a flat tire under the FDR drive in Harlem. I was taking pictures of the pot hole (in the summer, mind you) that attacked my car and noticed the sign warning that it was a crime to take pictures. So I took some. Many policecars drove by while we were there taking pictures of holes and each other. They simply waved to us. Good luck whitey. Earlier that day, my car was searched as we attempted to park behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Let us sing: God bless America, land that I love!