Sunday, September 11, 2011


There are probably a million different ways in which New Yorkers - and, beyond my local area, Americans - dealt with the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, ranging in volume and visibility from spending the day alone in a quiet, dark room to going out and absolutely painting the town.  There are no right or wrong responses.  Personally, mine ran closer to the former: a day of quiet, solemn reflection.  What follows is a list of things I've thought about today concerning the anniversary of the attacks, in no particular order.  Attempts to arrange them into a cohesive essay simply didn't seem to work out; whatever else you can say about the history of this day, it certainly does not lend itself to linear, cohesive thought.

Regarding all this talk of no longer using the phrase "Ground Zero" to describe the former World Trade Center site: that is not a determination to be made by a politician or a special interest group.  Once the land is finally fully redeveloped and once again functioning as a vital social and business center, I'd imagine that the "ground zero" terminology will naturally depart the local vernacular.  As long as it still exists mostly as a crater, an open wound in lower Manhattan, I can't imagine what else we should rightly call it.

Regarding the omission of first responders from the official Manhattan tribute, I don't really know what to say.  The reason that I'm sure Bloomberg, et al can't officially utter in public probably runs something along the lines of "but what do we do if, god forbid, something happens and so many of our trained response personnel are all in one place?  What if, given those circumstances, that very place becomes a prime target?"  On the other hand, I am 100% in agreement with the idea that the first responders belong there first and foremost, certainly miles ahead of the normal parade of bloviating politicians.  I don't have a good armchair answer for you; clearly, Mayor of New York is not likely to be part of my future career path.

The law enforcement personnel and firemen and -women currently at work, dealing with the endless cavalcade of false alarms this weekend have my undying respect and sympathy.  I cannot imagine how quickly "well, I just saw one of them Muslim lookin' guys driving a rent-a-truck so he must be a terrorist" gets old, especially given that the rest of the world, with its normal weekend incidence of crime and fires, just keeps on spinning like nothing ever happened.

I downloaded the new Anthrax album, and had originally planned a review of it for this space.  It seemed a great, flippant concept: Here's the new Anthrax!  They didn't change their name!  Fuck you, terrorists!  When I woke up this morning, however, I just wasn't in the mood to listen to any music at all.  Now, well into the evening, I still feel that way.  On the other hand, I still like the idea, so we'll review Worship Music tomorrow, the day after.  Can I get some horns up from the congregation?

Speaking of the congregation, this is the single day of the year when I'm at my most comfortable with atheism.  Generally speaking, I identify as an agnostic.  I'm certain that organized religion is absolutely not for me, but I'm uncomfortable with atheism as well, simply because both claim to know, with certainty, the unknowable.  On this day, however, I have a lot of trouble believing in a god that either sanctioned the attacks (in the extremist Muslim view of things), or was content to sit back and let them happen (in the less-extremist Judeo-Christian model).  I've no interest in pissing on the parade of those whose faith helps them through something like this, especially not today.  Speaking solely for myself, I can find no reason to have faith in a god who was cool with 9/11, even if just by way of silent consent.

This is a day of conflict, and internal conflict at that.  Looking back on what I've written so far, I can't get over how many times I've either used the phrase "on the other hand" or inferred it.  That phrase is a cliché, as is "there are no easy answers."  Neither of those turns of phrase became clichés by being useless.

Napping on the couch next to me as I write this is my family's Labradoodle, Casey.  At just shy of four years old, he doesn't have any clue why today is different from any other Sunday.  He does seem to sense the tension of the day, and has made with lots of extra cuteness, cuddles and kisses as a result.  I don't know that it's the "best" response - honestly, I'll stick with the idea that there are no wrong responses - but it's one that I like a whole lot.

Ten years ago, when the attacks occurred, I didn't yet even know many of the most important people in my life right now, including my fiancée, Rhea.  I had far less stories to tell, and had yet to tell a single one of them in a public forum such as this.  Most of what seemed important at the time turned out to be little more than a dress rehearsal, a dry run-through before the real show started.  I sit here amazed by what has happened between then and now, my heart warmed by humanity's ability to constantly turn the bottom into the beginning.

Lastly, this is the video for "People Who Died", a 1980 single by the Jim Carroll Band.  Mr. Carroll, a man whose work has long been a great inspiration to me, died two years ago today.  Somehow, it seems just plain wrong that any sort of New York icon, as he certainly was, should have to be stuck with a date beginning "9/11" on their tombstone.  Were he still alive, Mr. Carroll would have gladly told you that this song, probably his biggest "hit" as a musician, was written as a celebration of lives rather than a mourning for passings, and it is in that spirit that I present it here. 

I'll see you all tomorrow on this blog, when the big, beautiful world keeps on keeping on.

1 comment:

  1. It's always hard to remember that there was a time in my life when I didn't know you yet. I'm glad we met - you make tough days less tough. Smooch.