Had enough of bad news? Yeah, me too. Luckily a quick glance at the BBC site shows signs that things are not only returning to normal, but everything is positively delightful. [via marcia by way of metafilter].
Archive for September, 2001
I’ve decided to spruce up my security. The thieves may come again, but they ain’t taking my PC…
It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Apart from the obvious, our flat has been burgled (as regular readers will know), one of my best friends was dumped by his long-term girlfriend a week before they were due to move in together, my flatmate’s Aunt died, somebody else I know broke almost every bone in his body when hit by a joyrider being chased by the poilce, another friend contracted malaria, and a small firm I know well was rocked when a staff member committed suicide last weekend. I’ve been saving up my thoughts about New York and may or not unleash some form of rambling diatribe at some point, but right now I just want to return to whatever passes for normality these days. Shit, if David Letterman can, I sure as hell can give it a go. I’m off down the pub. Here’s some cute cats.
Another New York story: Kelly is 32 and has a 3 year old son. She is originally from Long Island, but has lived most of her adult life in New York City. She works as a freelance photogragher while studying for her degree and lives on First Avenue and First street… less than 1 mile from where the world trade center stood.
“Right before I went to start my emails for the day I heard thunder. Thinking to myself, no… thunder was the night before, oh I guess it was just the neighbor upstairs.
I wish it was.
I had been hearing sirens, lots of them, but here in NY, they become the background noise. Now today, 23 hours later… they are the only noise. We don’t hear the usual trucks and busses. Even the Hell’s Angels’ motorcycles are quiet… we do hear jets flying. I really don’t like to hear them.
After learning of the evil that was done, by way of phone call from a friend, my first inclination was to grab my camera and go for a walk. At first I wasn’t sure if everyone on the street knew. Within a block I could tell. The expression on all of our faces. Everyone. Sombre.
It was a few blocks before I saw more than smoke. Seeing our city’s most known landmark with a big black hole in it was more than anyone wanted to see. Just unbelievable… unimaginable… I took some pictures.
As I walked west and downtown, I began to see the mass exodus. I continued to walk against the flow of the river. The vibe on the street was intense. We would occasionally get bits of news from other people with radios. We heard the news as each tower collasped. I walked down to Canal Street. I saw some tears along the way, and worked hard to hold back my own.
Canal Street shops were closing if they weren’t already… at this point I knew I should get some more film, before everyone was closed… while changing films, my camera decided not to rewind the entire roll. So most of my shots of the towers are gone. Just as well. It is not like I really want to remember all this.
I decided Canal Street was as far as I needed to go. I saw a (detective?) car whiz by with inches of debris billowing off of it. I saw a man with an inch or two of debris dust on his head, and dust all over his body. Walking up town. Then I saw a woman. Looking the same. Shocked.
I went back to the same spot that provided a clear view of the towering inferno… thinking I could re-get the shots lost to the light… it took me a moment to realize, the towers are gone. I cant see them anymore.
Time to go home, get the stroller, and go get my child and hug him until I can’t anymore.”
This is important. It’s been blogged everywhere, and with very good reason: “He really believes Islam would beat the West. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he’s got a billion soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that’s a billion people with nothing left to lose; that’s even better from Bin Laden’s point of view. He’s probably wrong — in the end the West would win, whatever that would mean — but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours”. Absolutely 100% required reading.
Several year’s ago my friend Veronica moved to Manhattan. On Tuesday she was the first of the small number of people I know on the Island I tried to contact, and she responded almost immediately. She’d just been up on the roof of her apartment in The East Village to look at the devastation, and sounded terrified and bewildered. Then, on Friday, I received another email, which I’ve reproduced below (with Veronica’s permision). I think it tells a positive story.
NY is certainly a city under siege, but with such a high uniformed presence comes some sense of security… The National Guard have been in since Tuesday afternoon and have closed all blocks below 14th street (where I live). I went out to the deli opposite yesterday morning and there is no milk, water, bread or papers. Coastguards are going up and down the East River outside and the only sound is that of police helicopters, military jets and sirens. The weather is really warm and the sky and Rivers are a brilliant blue. There are thousands of people on the streets but is is ominously quiet, phone line and e-mail connections are intermittent.
I think Tuesday was so shocking for everyone but people immediately came together — I went to the nearest hospital just 2 hours after it had happened and already there were hundreds of people lining up to give blood — people have slowed down, becoming much more patient and tolerant of each other, as everyone is now working towards the common goal of making it all better. The real heroes of this all are the Service people especially the firemen and nurses. It’s humbling. They are desperate for experienced volunteer nurses and firecrew, it makes you feel ashamed you have no training to offer.
An addendum: I have just arrived in work — it took some 2 hours to travel across town and up 60 blocks, as 14th street is lined by the police force and National Guard keeping everything clear for the emergency workers. It’s full of buses, emergency vehicles and Salvation Army trucks unloading food donations from some of the finest restaurants and food shops. However, emerging from the underground at 79th street on the Upper West Side is like landing in another country — it’s full of people bustling about shopping, yapping, hailing cabs, pushing infront of people — the Upper West Side definitely does not reflect the people I live alongside, and respect, downtown… I can’t wait to leave work and return downtown to where everyone has become United.
Keep safe everyone, and thank you for your good wishes, which I will channel on to the thousands of service people trying to right a wrong.
“There’s this big hole in the landscape that we’re accustomed to reading like braille. When disoriented in lower Manhattan, everyone turns skyward and used the WTC as a point of reference, it’s the biggest thing we know that’s always in the same place, visible from everywhere.” Leslie Harpold at Fray.