Aside from watching the ADL put its organizational foot in its mouth, and noticing a group of Real American protesters a few months ago debriefing or organizing or something near Century 21, I haven't much been following the "Ground Zero Mosque" debacle. Part of why I'm not (italicized to prevent enraged commenters from raging) opposed to the project is the usual - religious tolerance, etc., etc. But it also comes from knowing that part of town very well. I went to high school just north of what were then the Twin Towers, and just spent a year living on the southern tip of Manhattan. I'm as familiar as anyone with lower Manhattan both pre- and post-. And... Park Place is not Ground Zero. It doesn't face Ground Zero, and it isn't part of the fuzzy border of what was, last I checked, the pit, the place where tourists smile for photographs. Once you reach Park Place going north, you're in that Fulton Street, J&R, vendors-selling-random-crap-from-storefronts-they-can-for-some-mysterious-reason-afford neighborhood, just as it begins transitioning into the new-ish south-of-Chambers Tribeca extension, with its "Kaffe," its Whole Foods mall, and its cellulite-free power-moms. It's a city of microneighborhoods, and while the 9/11 attacks physically impacted a greater geographical area than is currently fenced off (I remember a thick cloud of dust and bizarre smell even uptown), the space that's currently understood by tourists and locals alike as Ground Zero is the border surrounding the fenced-off area. Outside that space, and I mean right outside that space, life goes on. Century 21 marks down Calvin Klein bras, Whole Foods marks up organic moisturizer. All of lower Manhattan is not in a permanent state of mourning. It would be fine by me if people were more respectful of the site itself - again, by not grinning for photos in front of the pit - but it is in no one's interest - and on no one's agenda - to shut down the island south of Chambers. I can't help but think that much of the rabble-rousing about the proposed mosque is coming from people with an entirely different conception of space, who aren't picturing the density of activity in the relevant area. I somehow picture Abe Foxman not having too much trouble with this, but Sarah Palin? If her on-the-ground knowledge of lower Manhattan is what mine is of Wasilla (and no, sitcoms about NY don't get the point across), then there's a good chance anything she's heard in terms of yards or blocks doesn't add up to how the area is actually experienced.