Sunday, September 11, 2011
The Tower of Learning
It may as well ten minutes. Or 100 years. Time is stagnant. Time flies.
Everything changed. Somethings changed. Nothing changed.
I was lucky enough to be in, and work beneath, the towers. I was humbled enough to see what was left three weeks after that day. I was enthralled at seeing the beams of light months later. I get excited when my friend/ex-coworker John, sends me a picture a month from his office in the World Financial Center, which overlooks the building and memorial site, to show the progress.
As change goes, sure there are the little things we get annoyed at like full-body scans at airports, carry fewer liquids and well.....you know really not tons else, especially when you consider had those been in place in 2001, some folks might not have made it through Logan, National and Newark and made it onto those planes (seriously, you should see what never gets caught). I have to remember that when I have to get a pat down and take off my belt.
And yeah, when buying a house, for some reason I need to show my passport and SSN card to secure financing. The G-men don't want money laundering by buying unique fixer-uppers, I guess.
What has changed is the political landscape. National and International. All of it fairly obvious and divisive. The littlest issues have become ugly, territorial and downright mean. They probably always were, but no one even attempts to hide them much anymore. It's quite sad. The first ones to say to not politicize 9/11 are always the first one to do so. Holier than thou, and full of shit.
It is tough to watch all the tv specials about that day. There are tons of them, most of them rehashes and not very good at that. Then of course, some are just painful. There is only so much of that one can take in without being overwhelmed, and it don't take much.
I am a reader of events like this. I can't help it. I've talked about these things before. Most of these articles, books and tv specials try to be respectful while hyping things that should not be hyped. The days leading up to each anniversary is overkill. It just is. There are like three exceptions that I feel should be pointed out.
Ric Burns' Center of the World. It became part 8 of an already released 7 part PBS series on New York that aired about the time of 9/11. With new footage, it was released after the DVD release. One entire episode dedicated to two buildings. From design to demise, it is quite a moving few hours. It can be purchased without the other seven disks.
9/11. Shown shortly after the events, it was two French filmmakers who happened to be doing a documentary on a fire station - which ended up being the first rescue unit after the first plane hit. No other film is so inside the action and shows such heartache, hope, despair and downright gut wrenching video and emotion. It is a very very difficult film to watch and yet they do it so well. Especially considering that was not what they set out to create.
102 Minutes. You know how the story goes. You know how the story ends. And yet two New York Times writers take you from the time the first plane hitting to the second tower falling - and I was on the fucking edge of my seat the entire time. That is how good of a job they did chronicling that time frame. A hard read, and yet one I'd highly suggest.
And yes, most of these take into account the people who survived or the people who were documented on the way out of the buildings who did not. Everyone talks mostly about the rescue workers. I feel for them - I do. But I focus on the ones that no one talks about. The ones on the planes (not necessarily Flight 93). I think about the people on the floors who never had a chance and probably knew nothing of what happened. I think about the people above the impact zones, who had no chance and did know.
I think of Kit Faragher, whom I knew in grade school, with who was in the WTC for a day meeting on one of the floors above the impact zone.
It's important not to forget, but I don't want to linger, which seems to be the easy thing to do.
These days, I'd much rather see/hear stories of moving forward. I like the ones about designing and building of the memorial. I love the story about the lone tree saved from the WTC site. I'd rather play with the interactive map with multiple 360 degree cameras that show the entire site along with it's renaissance and parts of lower Manhattan (scroll down to find the link if you choose).
....and I like the newer logo.
Writing on a decade gone by was harder than I imagined. Not in emotion, but in focus. Where does one start or stop?
The tv doesn't allow you to not watch - like it was 10 years ago. You have to force yourself to stop or you just don't. Or can't.
I would like to think in those days after the attacks, we would have pulled together as a nation. That first month was great - and it just fell apart. We are more politically and religiously intolerant. We hate more easily. At least it seems to me. And that came quickly after. And 10 years in history is a blip. A nanosecond. Does the aftermath mean anything - in the big picture, that is?
I would venture to guess 'yes', but by the time that is decided, I'll be long gone. Much like the towers.
Song by: Rufus Wainwright