On the morning of the 9/11, I was staring at lower Manhattan trying to wrap my mind about the improbable idea that a jumbo jet was lodged in 1 World Trade Center. Scorched trading papers were blowing all over South Brooklyn when the sound of a huge engine redlining, struggling like it was about to blow up, began to dominate. It was all sound. Eventually the slowest moving "black" airborn object I've ever seen came arcing over my head and flew back towards Manhattan. I assumed it was a survlliance plane. It turned out to be United Airlines Flight 175. When it hit the South Tower, I almost jumped out of my skin, backing quickly, instinctively against a wall. My first thought was whatever is happening, I'm way too close. My second thought was Osama Bin Ladin. And I'm no genius.
The fireball caused by the strike of UA175 was so vibrant and immediate it was like I was watching a movie. My eyes felt untrustworthy and I even asked a Jamaican dude standing next to me, "Did I just see that?" I wasn't prepared to process what had happened. No one is. Watching those buildings tumble with the naked eye was beyond surreal. The dust and debris quickly followed a sound like Godzilla tearfully roaring across New York Harbor. At the time I didn't have a TV, so for weeks I would have nothing with which to compare my almost psychedelic experience.
That evening as I was sitting by the radio staring at the hole in the sky and breathing in the wretched stench Stephen Schubert suggested we go see the site for ourselves. I jumped on my bike and rode over the Brooklyn Bridge towards the site as nervous as I've ever been. On the nights of the 11th and 12th of September 2001, we spent probably 16 hours exploring, and trying to help in the area around Lower Manhattan. You could go anywhere at that time. It was a like Romero movie, pulverized debris, fires, and a host of zombied emergency workers. But mostly abandonment. Quiet. Ghastly. No reporters, no sightseers, no homeless. We drank beer and wandered, wondering innocently how all the buildings could have fallen down so completely. It seemed even a movie couldn't have come off that perfect. People are still wondering. Me? I still can't wrap my head around any of it.
Schubert always contended mischief was afoot but today he's dead, the towers that so dominated this City are gone, and Osama too, has vanished like a puff of devilish smoke. At times, I dream of Schubert laying in wait for Osama Bin Ladin in some otherworldly way station ready to rip his turban off and lay a "flying ham sandwich" on the so-called Sheik. The thought of his hairy ass flying through the air and knocking that tower of a muslim phony on his is one of the few things that makes the memories bearable.
The most incredibly personal footage of 9/11 you'll ever see is here. You should watch it. Again and again. ~ What We Saw.
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