Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Explosions in the Night and Other Happenings

There was what sounded like an explosion at three in the morning yesterday. I was having trouble sleeping anyway but succeeded in throwing water all over myself. Immediately after the bang, smoke started seeping in the windows--which were all open because maintenance is apparently trying to roast us alive and my apartment is absurdly hot--and there were sirens all over the damn place. From my roommate's window you could see smoke pouring out of an open manhole on the street. Occasionally there would be a sound like fireworks and sparks would come flying out.

There were two firetrucks worth of firemen trekking around the street and my apartment complex. A bit of a funny sight, because the only time I normally see firemen is in Key Foods. They park their truck on my street and there'll be six of them in the grocery store in their big fireman outfits trying to decide how much milk they need to buy because, "you know some jerk's going to have cereal in the morning and use more than his fair share."

It seems that the firemen decided it wasn't their responsibility because they called Con Ed and after talking to the men in the Con Ed truck, were on their way. The Con Ed men called a bigger Con Ed truck (Con Ed's version of S.W.A.T., my roommate says) and all the Con Ed employees proceeded to look very unhappy. I wasn't all that happy myself so I can't say I was too sympathetic to them. They'd been working on that part of the steet earlier in the year--complete with jackhammering at ridiculous hours, or course--so it's probably something they messed up themselves anyway.

Either way, I don't know what was wrong but they didn't finish fixing it until this evening.

On Sunday I went to see The Lives of Others. It was really very good. Better than I'd expected actually. I almost assumed it wouldn't have a satisfying ending and that's really not the case at all. Between this and Democracy, which I saw in London a couple years ago, one comes away quite impressed, in a disturbing manner, with the capability of the Stasi.


What was particularly interesting to me though was that, while one (Democracy) is based on actual historical fact and the other, to my knowledge, is not, both center on spies who grow fond--even admiring--of the men they spy upon. In Democracy, for all the spy's admiration for his subject, he is loyal to his job. It is only in the fictional story that the Stasi member is free to save his subject, betraying the Stasi for the sake of a man he has come to like and respect. And despite this betrayal--or should one say choice of loyalties?--he remains unexposed to his subject. He sacrifices his career as well for the sake of a man he has never spoken to. One difference between fiction and reality there?

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