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Peter Mehlman

Peter Mehlman

Posted: July 4, 2006 01:39 AM

Jingo

What's Your Reaction:

A friend with an office near Ground Zero called. He knows nothing about construction but he sees a lot of people who look like construction workers milling around. That's the thing about New York; everyday you pass big people in hard hats doing nothing but eating lunch on vacant lots and by the end of the month they're eating lunch on the completed frame of a 88-story building.

That's why now - before leases are signed, maps redrawn, signs replaced, subways re-routed and the collective conscious re-wired - is a good time for New York to seriously rethink naming The Freedom Tower "The Freedom Tower."

At first blush, and all subsequent blushes, a structure called "The Freedom Tower" belongs in Epcot, not New York. Its twangy jingo-ism (should) trip the same cringe reflex you (should) get when rah-rah Olympics fans chant "USA! USA!" as NBA players squish some remedial team from Swaziland.

Besides, New York already has a Statue of Liberty. Liberty, freedom - synonyms, no? Not that "Statue of Liberty" is such a hot name either but it was a gift, no one wanted to be rude, so it was plopped it in an unobtrusive spot in the middle of the river and that was that. But The Freedom Tower is no gift. It's costing lots and lots of money.

The hurdle to picking a new name lies in those who insist this new structure must (!) stand as constant reminder of our freedoms. As if pedestrians will look up, see the tower and suddenly remember, "Wait a minute. I can do whatever the fuck I want." The truth is, when pedestrians look up and see the tower, they will think, "Shit. I thought I was walking Uptown."

Even wobblier is the logic of hyping our freedom as a response to the September 11th attackers. "They hate us because we're free and they're not," goes the theory. Zipping from Egypt to Afghanistan to Germany to American flight schools and strip clubs sounds pretty free, but let's go with this theory a moment. If that's why they hate us, maybe it's a bad idea to rub it in the face of the next novice maniac - you know, similar to how you might avoid calling your identity thief to let him know you also have stock options.

Not that a new name should imply any intimidation on the part of America ( The You-May-Be-Right-About-Us Tower), but as things stand now, we're coming up just shy of erecting The Infidel Tower. A happy medium (The Cautiously Pessimistic Tower) has to be lying around somewhere. After all, when you're the richest, most powerful nation in the world, modesty is super charming (The Hey: We-Do-What-We-Can-Do Tower). And, not unlike the guy who buys a yacht and names it "You're Poor," America is not the most popular sailor in the marina these days. A little charm can go a long way about now (The Did-You-Lose-Weight? Tower).

Perhaps more local, Chamber of Commerce-y concepts should be explored in re-naming the most highly anticipated addition to the Manhattan skyline of all time. Oh wow, New York has so much to offer (The Duane-Read-Every-Two Blocks Tower), so much opportunity (The Fall-On-The-Street-And-Sue-The-City Tower), so much nervous energy (The Klonopin Tower), so much subversiveness (The Apocalypse ASAP Tower).

The possibilities are endless. The odds of improving upon Freedom Tower are even more endless.

Of course, there will be the issue of what to do about people who will, immediately upon the re-naming the tower, flip out. And people will flip out. Not the people of New York, but people. Underlying their apoplexy will be the pervasive American fear that, minus the maximum number of mnemonic devices, anything can and will be forgotten. Have you no sense of history? they will ask with a smug air of inferiority.

As if 9/11 was like a vacation that never happened without the proof of a "Welcome to Aruba" Snow Globe. As if 9/11 needs an emotional lien.

Please.

The Guilt-Free Tower. The Back-Off Tower. The Yeah-We-Know Tower....

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