Last night, Times Square lay blanketed beneath an eerie hush, its crowd corralled into chairs on a red carpet, while the sounds of Puccini's "Tosca" echoed off the glassy towers. On the NASDAQ screen, on the Jumbotron, and MTV's big TV, the Metropolitan Opera broadcast their opening-night gala performance.
With no cars on Broadway, Times Square felt like a weird auditorium, oddly hollow, day-lit at night by countless TV screens flashing epileptically. Among the grinning M&Ms, the stretched-out supermodels in designer jeans, and guzzlers of Coca-Cola, there was soprano Karita Mattila and her heaving bosom, singing the aria "Vissi d'arte."
Over the Military Recruitment Station, where their own giant TV showed the bomb blasts of war as glorious temptations, Tosca begged for her lover's life to be spared, singing, "I lived for art, I lived for love, I never did harm to a living soul!"
On the sidewalks and in the streets, leaning against mailboxes and lampposts, sitting in those controversial chairs, people stayed still, gazing upwards in silence, hypnotized by the singer's voice. And her red dress.
Meanwhile, as the CNN ticker reminded us, more and more troops were being called to war.