Time in a Bottle

The Kitsch Vendors of 9-11

It's the day after Labor Day, and there's a union rally in the park, thousands of people in union T-shirts waving banners and listening to luminaries like Mayor Bloomberg. (The unions stopped having their Labor Day celebrations on the actual day years ago; too many workers didn't want to cut short their three-day weekends for a parade.)

"How's business?" I ask the one vendor willing to talk to me, whose table a few feet from the Sphere is full of surprisingly elegant etched crystal paperweights. The paperweights at the front of the table are $10; the rest are $15. "These would be $75, $50, in a store!" he tells me. For $10, you get a skyline or a streetscape with the towers in full view; for $15 the choice is far larger—there are renderings of Marilyn Monroe and Christ and even Justice dressed as a woman, blindfolded and holding scales.

Flag-waving at St. Paul's Chapel, across from ground zero
photo: Jake Price
Flag-waving at St. Paul's Chapel, across from ground zero

"Business is terrible," the dealer laughs. "The tourists aren't down here because of the rally. And these union people, you can't sell them anything. They won't take out their money."

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