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To completely pretend this week isn't somehow special was ludicrous, but we're paying our respects with silence.

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It is September 11 as I write this. It is impossible to escape the awful sadness of that day. There is an enormous range of possible discussion. The Chronicle has really opted out of participating. This is out of respect; certainly the event is getting sufficient media attention.

Without denying the appropriateness of the many public displays of grief, this is really a private time. The event, so stunning in its implications, most notably affected us all personally. This is a time for meditation. Has your world changed? How? Has the world changed? How? Has it not changed?

Although in almost no way do the consequences of the event inform my daily life, except during air travel, I feel overwhelmed by that day. The core event raises obvious and disturbing issues. There is no way to get over the sheer inhumanity and vileness of the event.

There is also the government response. Billions that couldn't be found for education or health care suddenly appeared in what turned into a Keystone Cops security scenario. Much ado about nothing. Somewhere I heard the other day some official bragging about how in the last year they had confiscated 25,000 box cutters. They also got my wife's nail scissors. In my life I've never watched a barn door so tightly secured after the horses had fled. The barn may be empty, but it is secure.

Regardless of what you think of our country's invasion of Afghanistan (and don't think for a moment we're toward the end of that story -- we've just left the beginning), the current posturing toward Iraq has to be disturbing. Cynically, I expect my country to invade before the November elections. May I be wrong.

I can't shake watching the second plane fly into the World Trade Center. Not just the horrific tragedy but the hardheartedness of the terrorists overwhelms me. How can killing innocent people serve God? Anywhere, any time, by anyone.

Many assert that U.S. foreign policy was a cause of this action. It is really deeper than that. This is about a war of the past trying to deny and destroy the present. The terrorist mantra is certainty over the unknown future, religious fundamental fanaticism over personal freedom, and an overly sanitized version of the historic past coupled with a fearful passion for the future afterlife.

So I've told the staff they can't write about September 11, and I have. Truth is, I thought we had to say something, just not too much. To completely pretend this week isn't somehow special was ludicrous, but we're paying our respects with silence and our constant affection for the ongoing comedy of life.

A screening of The Truth About Charlie, Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme's (The Silence of the Lambs) new film, will be presented at the Paramount on October 9 by the Austin Film Festival and the Austin Film Society. Demme will be here to introduce the film and do a question-and-answer session afterward. Demme is an old friend to Austin, having regularly visited during the early Eighties. He loved the music and the film scenes. In preparing to shoot Stop Making Sense (one of the best concert films ever), Demme filmed the Talking Heads' Texas tour on Super-8, with several local filmmakers working for him. He shot in Austin (a great show), Dallas, and Houston.

I've seen The Truth About Charlie and loved it. Which means over the next few weeks I'll probably mention it again, but here's a heads-up about the screening. Tickets are reasonably priced: $15 for an orchestra seat -- which includes the party afterward; $10 for a mezzanine or balcony seat. The event benefits both AFF and AFS, with members of both getting a discounted ticket. Tickets are available through Star Tickets or at the Paramount. end story

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