Zero: Went downtown for the

: Went downtown for the first time in sometime to have lunch with a long-lost friend I used to work with at Chicago Today (the paper that had no tomorrow), a guy who’s as wry as a seeded loaf. He found me here.

He works a few blocks from the World Trade Center and so, of course, after we caught up on everything else, we compared notes of that day. And then I walked to the World Financial Center ferry to head to Jersey. I was no terror tourist. I had a destination.

But I walked by the Century 21 store, where I was standing that day when the second jet hit. And I walked past the boarded-up Millenium Hotel; behind the boards, I could still see the damned dust, thick even now, like ghost shit sticking and dripping over the word “Millenium.”

I had to walk a long way around the hole to get to the river, and along the way, as I stood by the busy highway with trucks rumbling, I looked down at the site and it suddenly struck me. The scene — the site, the sound, the smell — all reminded me of Berlin’s Postsdamer Platz after the Wall fall.

Potsdamer Platz was the very center of Berlin, packed with people and life until it was destroyed in the war and then surrounded by the Wall and turned into the no man’s land with landmines and barbed wire and concrete and death.

Then, after the Wall, it became the biggest construction project in the world. Berlin is still rebuilding it. You can see panoramas of the site from soon after the Wall fell until now at Cityscope.

Berlin did not try to recapture the old Potsdamer Platz. Instead, they tried to fill it with a new view of life, with Sony Center and other aggressively modern office complexes and apartment houses and theaters and malls and restaurants: life.

What I have always liked about Berlin is that its scars are still evident; they don’t try to hide their history or their pain. But once past that, they live.

In attitude, at least, Potsdamer Platz not only reminds me of Ground Zero today but it’s a model of what the World Trade Center can become tomorrow.