|Why do we shudder on
Friday the 13th? It is bad or good luck for Terrorism?
Find out why we're fortunate that Nine Eleven didn't become Nine
13, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 457
Friday The 13th--A Time For Terror To Take A Second Seat To Tuesday The
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Dec. 13 --
Terrorism was born on Friday the 13th. For some, every Friday the
Thirteenth represents the rebirth of the Beast of Terror.
Friday the 13th is commonly known in Western cultures as an
"unlucky day." On its arrival, (twice so far this year) ominous
clouds hang over certain people's heads. No matter how sunny and
bright it might be for others, gloom presides for those cast under its
In Iraq, the Friday
the 13th cloud is thickening over Saddam Hussein's head. The U.S. is
challenging the 12,000-page report issued by Iraq on the Dec. 8 in
compliance with the U.N. deadline to disclose all Hussein's weapons'
inventory. That’s one dark cloud. There are many others.
A Dark Cloud
threatening Friday the 13th
Trent Lott, head
of the Republican Party, is being slammed around the political ring by
opponents who view his comments a few weeks ago regarding how America
would be better off if Strom Thurmond had been elected president in
1948 as a symbol of bigotry and prejudice. The speech set off a mine
field of accusations that Lott is a racist, a bigot who aligns himself
with Thurmond's "state's rights" arguments--a code word, some say, for
wanting to keep America "white."
More clouds. In New York City the head of the Transit Union
told Mayor Bloomberg to "SHUT UP" over strong rhetoric that if the
34,000 MTA employees who operate the city's busses and subways strike,
they will suffer daily fines of up to $25,000 per person, lawsuits and
even criminal prosecution. By law, MTA workers are forbidden to
Friday the 13th also doesn’t bode well for
U.S. “get-tough policies” against Iraq. U.N. allies on the Security
Council, who showed solidarity against Iraq when the U.S. was lobbying
to win agreement on a resolution back-ended with military might, are
currently waffling. They’re starting to retreat from America as the
"Terror Hunter" who "walks softly but carries a big stick" to America
the "War-Hungry Terrorist."
Then there’s the cloud of doom and gloom hanging over the Land
of Enchantment. Mickey Mouse is still picking splinters out of his
rear following a major protest against Disney's alleged child labor
abuse. Disney, as does many other companies, uses contractors in
developing nations to produce their goods and services. Some
treat women and children workers not unlike American sweatshops did at
the turn of the 19th Century. Disney is the focus of
sweatshops darken the Holidays
all, it's a bright day for Friday the 13th aficionados who
like to usher in the dark clouds and watch them roost over certain
The list of world “gloom problems” would eat all the ink in my
Epson 880 Color Stylus printer if I tried to print them all. The few
I’ve listed above represent only a few of countless "doom and gloom"
But, despite all the shadows cast, there is a silver lining,
even in the Friday 13th storm clouds. I started looking
that lining last night in New York City’s famous Little Italy.
I went to Little Italy with my family to celebrate our older
daughter’s birthday at one of the many scrumptious Italian
restaurants. The food was delicious and the cool night air
refreshing. Little Italy was resplendent with Holiday lights.
Walking down Mulberry Street one would think he or she is in the midst
of Rome or Sicily. While the family ordered pasta dishes, I took a
few minutes to capture the beauty of the lights with my Kodak 3400
digital. In the back of my mind I was thinking of a story on Little
Italy because two days ago was the anniversary of Italy declaring war
on the United States in World War II (Dec. 11). It's a rather
obscure point in history most people (especially Italians) would
prefer to erase.
festive Little Italy
Also, the new movie by Martin Scorsese, “Gangs of New York” is about
to be released. It historically and theatrically relates the battles
of immigrants in one of the roughest periods of New York History. The
film was, ironically, shot in Italy. A mile-long replica of New York
City a century ago was built at a cost of more the $10 million to
shoot the film.
As I negotiated my way in and out of parked cars to take
pictures of the Christmas lights and displays on either side of the
street, I came across a plaster figure of a “pizza man” standing in
front of a restaurant. Lots of places have similar figures standing
Vigilant in front of their businesses, usually holding a menu or
offering a special for the day.
Up" for Vigilance
particular one had odd blue lifelike eyes that seemed to penetrate
through me, as though maybe Osama bin Laden was hiding inside the
plaster peering out. I knew that couldn’t be possible because Osama
is over six-four, and the statue was barely five feet. But, I have
learned you can’t tell the size of a man by his height. Sometimes
smaller men are bigger giants than the tallest man. I pondered that
wisdom as I stared into the “pizza man’s” eerie eyes. His countenance
reminded me of a Rod Serling Twilight Zone Mephistophelian character.
He radiated an almost human aura, one that walks the line between what
is real and unreal, the Truth and the Lie, the mystical and
spiritual. Or, as Serling would say, “He is alive in the Twilight
I was crouching down, taking close ups of his face and thumbs
up signal when I head a man yelling at me. I turned and saw a guy
leaning out the passenger window of his car. When he caught my
attention he shouted: "You just think he's doing thumbs up...in a
second, he'll do thumbs down. He doesn't like human beings." Then
they man laughed and laughed. And the light changed. He drove slowly
I looked back at the figure, at its eyes, at the bizarre
twinkle of its painted eyes and the rotundity of his slightly chipped
and worn face. Perhaps, I thought, the Beast of Terror was inside.
Perhaps any minute he was going to swivel the plaster arms and turn
the “thumbs up” into a "thumbs down," Twilight Zone sign that while
Vigilance may rule the day, Terrorism ruled the dark--no matter how
many Christmas lights blazed.
Then I thought about the fact
it was only a few hours before midnight, just a few clicks of the
clock’s hands before the dawn of Friday the 13th. I wondered what
would happen as the clock struck midnight. Would the statue change to
bin Laden? Hussein?
about the guy in the car yelling at me? Who was he? He had an
accent. It was hard to understand him. Was he Hispanic? Middle
Eastern? Russian? His words were leavened with a heavy accent.
Perhaps he was the messenger of gloom and doom sent by the Beast of
Terror to speak for the muted statue? After all, Terror was in the
Earlier that day sparks ignited between the Transportation
Union Local 100 President, Roger Touissant and Mayor Bloomberg. The
Mayor, I assumed, didn't like being told by a Transit Union labor
leader to SHUT UP, especially with local and national
television cameras playing the events on screens across America and
the world. George Bush has his Saddam Hussein, and Bloomberg
obviously has his Roger Touissant, president of the Transit Workers
In Iraq, a similar stand off was playing itself up. Saddam
Hussein's 12,000-page document was a pulpy way of telling George Bush
to SHUT UP!
Over fifty years ago the issuance of a declaration of war
against the U.S. by Italy was another SHUT UP message. And
yesterday, the comments by the only African-American Supreme Court
Justice sent a thunderous SHUT UP to those who claim burning a
cross on someone's lawn is an expression of Free Speech,
constitutionally protected just as burning the U.S. Flag is, or having
The bad Karma
of Friday the 13th
was the SHUT UP the Republican Party issued to Trent Lott, the
majority whip, who is being castigated for having made an errant
comment suggesting the Untied States would be much better off had a
bigotry and segregation survived over liberalism and integration. It
got so heated with Lott that President Bush stepped in to make a
comment deploring Lott's comments in hopes of defusing the issue.
All this, of course, is happening during the week of the Dawn
of Friday the 13th.
I took a brief look at the superstition behind Friday the 13th,
just to see if in fact the Beast of Terror used that day and date as a
breeding ground for Terrorism.
According to author Gabriella Kalapos at
www.suite100.com, a site that presents the backgrounds of myths
Friday, it seems, got a bad rap because Eve was allegedly
supposed to have tempted Adam with an apple on a Friday, casting the
pair out of Paradise and into the naked cold of Terrorism--life's
brutal reality. Also, Christ was crucified on a Friday, and for
Christians, this event brought a cloud over the day for the past two
millenniums. Oddly, eating fish on Friday has some ability in
myth to enhance one's fertility.
The following is Ms. Kalapos comments on the female dark side
is the only day of the week named after a woman. The others pay
homage to either Scandinavian male gods (Wooden, Thor, and Tiu –
God of War) or celestial bodies (Saturn, Sun, and Moon). Friday
was named after the Norse Goddess Freya who represented fertility
and sexual love. She is strongly associated with spring, birds and
cats. Romans named the day dies Veneris after Venus, their own
version of the Freya goddess. Ancient fisherman did not set sail
on a Friday out of respect for Freya, because she was considered
Goddess of the Sea. This tradition is still practiced by many sea
folk today, except their reason for not setting sail on a Friday
is now due to a fear of bad luck rather than reverence for an
ancient goddess. To make the history of Friday even more
interesting, it turns out fish were often eaten on Friday as
fertility charms in honor of Freya. Thus, it seems the catholic
habit of eating fish on Friday was pagan in origin."
Now, regarding the date--the 13th.
Roots of the "bad luck" stigma for 13 appear to come from Christianity
again. At the Last Supper, there were thirteen attendees, Christ and
the Twelve Disciples. In France even today, it is considered bad
luck for there to be only thirteen dinner guests, and the policy is to
have someone standing by to fill an extra seat to make the compliment
more than thirteen. If not, the superstition says, someone will die.
Also, it appears that retaliation against paganism was an
issue. Pagans used the lunar calendar with thirteen months to measure
fertility. Christians refuted this date.
Modern Terrorism missed the historic date by a couple of
days. Instead of having a Nine Thirteen to look back on and affirm
the horror of that day, we have Nine Eleven.
Sentinels of Vigilance were born on Nine Eleven
the symbol of the day the Terrorists struck the World Trade Center and
Pentagon, and the day the Sentinels of Vigilance were born and the Era
of Vigilance began, means "to the rescue."
In 21st Century lingo, 911 means anyone can pick up a phone
and call for help. Children are trained by Vigilant parents to dial
that number whenever they feel threatened.
I'm glad our Beast of Terror in 21st Century wrappings didn't
appear on Nine Thirteen. That might have fostered more superstition
Nine Eleven to me means a child or adult can pick up a phone
and call for the Sentinels of Vigilance--fire, police, medical,
emergency response. It connotes a much more positive outlook than a
Nine Thirteen would have.
Perhaps we should consider shifting our emphasis from calendars
that circle Friday the 13th (we've had two of them this past year) to
Tuesday the 11th.
Terrorists attacked us on Tuesday, September 11. The attack
can be viewed as a "Day of Terror" or the "Birth of Vigilance."
I'd like to see Tuesday the 11th be the counterbalance to
Friday the 13th.
the above date with Tuesday, the 11th.
If we're going
to give Terrorism, or one of its children, "bad luck", a special note
on our calendar, then we ought to equally recognize Tuesday the 11th,
as a tribute to the "good fortune" of human evolution.
If we look at Nine Eleven as the Birth of Vigilance, perhaps
it will overshadow the power of Friday the Thirteenth.
It works for me.
How about you?
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