Wino Wally's 



September 21, 2001

Itís Tough to get Focused

The last time I checked in, I announced my white wine contest.  The entries are in, but Wino Bob and I havenít ruled on the winner.  Somehow, September 11 changed everything.

Monday, September 10, I took the day off because I had a series of meetings in NYC on Tuesday, the 11th.  Wino John tried to talk me into joining Wino Bob and him for dinner, but I knew I couldnít keep the financial brainoid act at its peak after an evening of imbibing, er tasting, with the two of them.

Tuesday morning in NYC was gorgeous.  I got up at 6am, threw on some running shorts, and jogged in Central Park.  At 8:30, we were enjoying breakfast in Midtown and reviewing the Powerpoint slides for our 11am meeting on Broad Street downtown.  Just a week earlier, we had a choice of 8:30 or 11am for the meeting and our banker chose 11am.  Around 9am, my cell phone rang.  Normally, I donít answer it in meetings, but I peeked at the caller id and saw that it was SAW Sharon.  I answered and we went through an interesting conversation.

SAW:  Where are you?
WW:    New York City.
SAW:  I know that.  Where are you?
WW:  New York City.
SAW:  Where in New York?
WW:  53rd Street.
SAW:  Where?
WW:  In our hotel.
SAW:  What floor are you on?
WW:  1st floor, having breakfast.
SAW:  Donít go up.  A plane just crashed in the WTC and they think it may have accidentally been routed there by air traffic control.
WW:  Thatís ridiculous.  Itís so gorgeous, youíd have to be blind to hit the WTC.
SAW:  Oh my God!  Another one just hit it.  You have to get out of there!
WW:  Another plane hit the WTC?
SAW:  Yes, it just hit the other tower.  Katie Couric said itís unreal.
WW:  Let me call you back.

Well, everyone in the world knows the rest of the story.  I called our banker and his secretary said he was staring out the window and would get back to me.  I didnít hear from him until Wednesday.  By 5pm, Midtown was deserted.  There was no transportation out of there and there were few options for entertainment.  Our hotel closed its 6th and 7th Avenue entrances and required room cards for entry on the side street.  I walked into the middle of 7th Avenue at 6pm on Tuesday and at 9am on Wednesday and took pictures of the empty street both times.  Iíve never seen NYC that deserted, even on a Sunday morning.

We asked the concierge for dinner recommendations.  He recommended the Red Eye Grill on Seventh Avenue, a few blocks from our hotel.  We walked over.  Surprisingly, the restaurant was fairly crowded.  Seafood, particularly Dancing Shrimp, was the featured specialty.  We found a few items to our liking.  The wine list was admirable, but quite frankly, I canít remember what we ordered other than it was a big red.   Somehow, the Wino priority was lacking.  I would recommend the Red Eye Grill to anyone visiting New York and looking for seafood.  Also, there was a jazz group performing that night and the restaurant has live jazz six nights a week.  Their jazz group was about the only entertainment that night as all the Broadway shows cancelled their performances.

I was able to catch a train back to Baltimore on Wednesday.  I could only get an unreserved train, but Mike Wallace of 60 minutes headed out of town with his groupies and armed guards on the reserved train.  We stood on the train until Philadelphia.   We also stood on the train in Penn Station for 45 minutes because some sicko called in a bomb threat to the Newark train station.  I enjoyed my conversations with my fellow passengers although the topic was the destruction and what we thought Americaís reaction would be.

I couldnít catch a plane flight to the Southwest where my latest project takes me until Monday.  The airport was empty.  During the three hours I waited at the gate, most of the other flights had a max of 20 passengers.  My flight had about 75 which was half of normal capacity.  All week long, most of the flights had less than half of normal capacity.  The airlinesí request of Congress is legitimate unless we want to go back to the days of $800 flights to anywhere.

So what are we to do, Wino Wally?  I donít have the answers, but I know this, Americans will fight back.  My stocks are in the crapper, but I donít care, I invested for the long run.  Iím fortunate to still have my job, my wife, and my children.  The best thing we can do to honor the victims is to forge ahead.  It isnít that easy, but doing so brings us back to the vibrancy that was and is America.  Iíll bring back a column with the white wine winners soon.  Iíll bring back columns with items of decadence that only a true Wino can appreciate.  Iíll bring back columns with stories of restaurants, golf courses, cigars, and other forms of Wino type entertainment that true Winos can appreciate.  Iíll also provide insight to my weekly 3,600 mile roundtrips by air.  Coming home means a little bit more now than it did before.  Hug your spouse, your kids, and your parents whenever you get the chance.

Baltimore, MD

P.S.  Take your kids to see Cal Ripken between now and October 6th if you can.


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