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 Thirteen.   


Friday--December 13, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 457
Friday The 13th--A Time For Terror To Take A Second Seat To Tuesday The 11th!

Cliff McKenzie
   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 odious spell.

       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 strike.
        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 current protests.

Disney sweatshops darken the Holidays

        All in 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 heads.
        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" scenarios.
        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.     

Celebrating in 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.

"Thumbs Up" for Vigilance

        This 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 Zone.”
        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 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 off.
        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?  

         And what 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 air.
         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 Union.
        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 an abortion.

The bad Karma of Friday the 13th

       Then, there 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, a site that presents the backgrounds of myths and superstitions: 
       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 of Friday. 

"Friday 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.
        I'm glad.

 The Sentinels of Vigilance were born on Nine Eleven

       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 than resolution.
       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.

Counterbalance 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?



Dec. 12--Ku Klux Klan Cross Burning Is An Act Of Terrorism--Questions Supreme Court

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