Posted: Thursday June 21, 2007 4:43PM; Updated: Friday June 22, 2007 12:09AM
Still flogging the book topic. Eric of Gilmer, Texas, wants another column on timing obscure stuff, such as hang times, or doing weird things, such as timing the national anthem, or even esoterica "other than football or wine ... such as Napoleon's Marshals." You are in an area very near my heart right now. Yes, I will have all this in the book, but ssshhh, it is not something you can present to a publisher. I mean, I can't say, "Want the list of Napoleon's 26 Marshals? How about the 20 wine growing regions of Italy? Or the 12 Caesars? Or the 11 crus of Beaujolais? Or the seven hills of Rome?" I can't tell them that I memorize stuff because 1) I like to, and 2) it's supposed to be a kind of mental gymnastics. They'd recoil in horror. OK, you've got me started, so I have to tell you this story, which is one of my favorites. It refers to the famous explosion in the Weatherman bomb factory at 18 W.11th St., in the Village on March 6, 1970.
It was told to me by Vic Ziegel, with whom I worked on the New York Post and who currently writes for the Daily News, and you are now hearing his words:
"I was living at 15 E.10th St., right down the street. I'm shaving this one morning and I hear a big BOOM and the room shakes. Then I see a fireball shoot down the street, following by a naked woman, running like hell. I'm thinking, 'Gee, I had a rough night, but it wasn't that rough.' Then there's a pounding on the door and someone's yelling, 'Everybody out! Fire evacuation! Everybody out!' So what do you do when you've got to evacuate because of fire? Well, I put on my favorite three shirts, and my favorite four pair of pants and my favorite two jackets, picked up my movie rating book and hit the street.
"The building at 18 West 11th is on fire. I use my press card to get through the police lines, and I'm asking firemen, policemen, anyone I can find, 'Think the fire's going to reach 15 East 10th? Is the fire going to reach East 10th Street?' I'm sure there were a lot of cops and firefighters who were convinced that the Post's afternoon angle was going to be: Is Fire Going to Reach East 10th?
"Now here comes the Channel 4 News truck. The young woman with the mike steps out, adjusting her hair, followed by her camera crew, and she asks me, 'Do you know what happened?' and I tell her, 'Well, I saw part of it. I live right around the corner.' She signals for the camera people to move in and she asks me if it's OK if she asks me some questions and I say sure. Then she notices my book.
"'What's that?' she says.
I tell her, 'It's my movie book. All the ratings and everything.'
She gets this kind of weird look and I can see her waving the camera crew back and shaking her head, no. She backs away, tells me, 'Thanks, but I don't think we'll need you,' and they go looking for someone else. PS: The fire never reached East 10th."
You know something? I love that story so much that I think I'll put it in the book. Not exactly sure where, but it's got to be there, don't you think?
As a topper, Eric of Gilmer, Texas, wants to know my favorite author. Easy. George Orwell.
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