There is a pre 9/11
and a post 9/11 America.
After that day a new lexicon came into being. The Patriot Act, warrantless wire
tapping, GITMO, and the Department of Homeland Security were birthed in this
moment of our “great national derangement.”
In all, the national surveillance apparatus was turned inward on the American people in ways that were unprecedented.
For example, as The Washington Post documented in its series Top Secret America, the 30,000 or so employees who listen in and monitor emails and phone conversations, do so both largely out of sight, and out of mind, of the average citizen. And that is the trick is it not? Power is an abstraction until you encounter it personally.
I love animals. I am the guy who has a special voice for when he meets a new doggie friend. As one of my friends observed, while she gets all excited for babies, I could care less, as I immediately focus in on our canine friends. I am the guy who saves old bread for birds. I keep it in a plastic bag, a partial concession to my OCD (there is something fulfilling about watching the bread pile up), so that once or twice a month I can feed the pigeons that wait by the 'L' stop mocking the humans who are forced to rush to and fro in our middling work-a-day routines.
But my real joy is the fantasy of raising a bird army that I could use to conquer the world. For that I need geese and seagulls. I go to Navy Pier in order to recruit them.
Over the course of several years, I have gotten pretty good at making friends with the geese. I imagine they know me as "He the human with the tasty garlic bread and barbecue potato chips." My bird foot soldiers are pretty cool. The geese will eat out of my hand. They even follow me when I go to sit down on the benches near
I would soon discover that this hobby and habit of feeding birds at Navy Pier, in a city deep in the throngs of NATO fever, can be a “suspicious” and dangerous thing.