Magic Jewball

all signs point to no

 

9/11, briefly

Filed under : New York City
On September 10, 2006
At 12:55 am
Comments : 11

I guess a lot of people will talk about 9/11 this week but I just want to mention this thing I saw in the NY Times today. It wasn’t actually today’s Times, it’s just that Saturday, because I can’t watch TV or use the computer, I end up reading the entire week’s worth of newspapers that I didn’t have time to get to all week. Except the sports sections; I read those all on the correct day.

So this was Thursday’s paper and I was just really skimming but I saw this caption under a picture illustrating an article with the headline, “Old New Yorkers, Newer Ones, and the Line Etched by Sept. 11.” I could tell this was one of those articles I didn’t even need to skim because the whole story was told in the headline and the article was bound to just be a lot of examples fleshing it out. But I gather this was a picture of one of the “newer ones” because the caption quotes this woman as saying, “I’m amazed because it was such a big event, and people never mention it.”

Well, duh, if you had been here, you would have seen that we talked about it quite a lot in the immediate aftermath. “Where were you, what did you do, when did you hear, were you there, what was it like, did you lose anyone, aren’t things different, what’s going to happen now, how could it happen, ack, I can’t hear planes overhead anymore.” You pretty much know how everyone feels about everything now, we’ve had five years, after all. There’s nothing much to talk about now, except for what’s happening now, like memorials and bag searches.

Maybe, Deenah Vollmer, the “newer one,” hasn’t discovered that if you live here longer than five years you realize that New York is constantly moving on. Did you love that club? It’s gone. How about that restaurant? Nope, it’s a Starbucks now (yeah, I was talking about the one at Astor Place). I’m not excited about a big memorial, really. I think more commerce at the site, to know that New York plows on, is the best tribute. Actually, I don’t even know what’s going on with the memorials, I don’t really pay attention to the news about it. It’s just that, NY is quite a different place these days, to my mind. I don’t need a memorial, I’m here every day. Daily life itself is a memorial. And as for observances on the day, well, I don’t need those either, although I understand people who lost loved ones do. But for me, life was a certain way before, it’s different now, and the day itself is not all that important to me. Maybe for future generations.

But sorry, Deenah, yes, it was big, but everyone I know is all talked out and is getting on with things. Welcome to New York.

 

Matthew Sweet – Nothing Lasts

 

11 Comments for this post

 
Sarpon says

Maybe new New Yorkers are more like non-New Yorkers. Correct me if this is wrong, but I don’t think New Yorkers had tremendous affection for the World Trade Center before September 11, 2001. It was a big office building. It wasn’t the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium or the Empire State Building, which are not only tourist destinations that — apart from the stadium — many New Yorkers will proudly claim never to have been to, but are symbols of New York. It wasn’t even the Chrysler Building. It was ugly. If it hadn’t been tall it would have been blown off as just another Bauhuas block of windows in a city full of them.

People died in the Pentagon. The Pentagon has been rebuilt. Does anyone ask whether Washingtonians have recovered, whether Washington will ever be the same? No, because the Pentagon does not = DC, or America. Non New York may think the WTC = New York, but I don’t think New York ever did.

 
KP says

I won’t even pretend to know what it must have felt like for those people who actually were in NYC when this happened. Living in such close proximity to NYC, I do know people who lost family and friends in the attacks, but I also can not imagine what they went through. I think it is one of those things we grapple with trying to understand since it is so beyond most people’s scope of thinking, but we never shall.

 
Becca says

Sarpon, I don’t think it has anything to do with the building itself, really. I think the scope of things in NY was far greater than in DC, plus it affected an entire neighborhood as well as the city. It’s apples and oranges, but I don’t recall images of Washingtonians walking home miles in their bare feet or running as fireballs rolled behind them. Is there even an actual neighborhood with homes and businesses around the Pentagon? If there is, then it was never covered in the media. Also, just a portion of the Pentagon was knocked down; it was probably a no-brainer when/how to rebuild.

As an aside, I have been to all the places you mentioned but had never been to the WTC. It was an office building; the others were places that had actual activities. And based on the number of postcards stores already had on hand of it, I do actually think it was a symbol of the city.

KP, this is true. And I actually only know one person who lost someone and one person who escaped, which either means I’m really lucky or that I have no friends. Or both.

 
Sarpon says

DC isn’t quite as jammed together as New York but the Pentagon is not out in the sticks. There are other many other buildings nearby and my impression of DC was that it is mixed use, with office buildings and apartment buildings all over the place, but I don’t know how many people live near the Pentagon itself. The difference, of course, is that the horrific aftermath in NY came from some 220 stories of collapsing skyscrapers.

But what I meant was, out here in non-New York, the coverage was first about the buildings being gne, then about the heroic “first responders” and only then some coverage of what people were were dealing with trying to get back into their homes, get back to work, and back to their normal lives. Out here in non-New York, the impression one would get is that the biggest blow the city suffered was the loss of the buildings themselves and the biggest question thereafter was whether or not to re-build. And I don’t think that’s the way it was at all. I think the loss of the buildings meant something, but not what it would have had they been more emblemic.

Or maybe it’s just that I never liked them. I like art deco.

 
KP says

I also believe that the WTC was a symbol of the city. So many visited it and took pictures with it in the background, even people from NYC.

And I may be incorret in my interpretation, but wasn’t one of the reasons it was targeted was because it was indeed considered a symbol of America?

P.S. I’m your friend Bec. I am the one who comes to your fair city to shop, eat, and ogle hot guys with you so the terrorists don’t win….remember?

 
Becca says

I disagree, Sarpon, in that I think the buildings were extremely symbolic, and as KP said, this was part of the reason they were hit.

However, I’m not sure the change in the nature of the city is something that can really be described in a news segment. That’s the part I’m talking about in my post, not the loss of a building (or several). I don’t think DC as a city, for whatever reason (someone in DC can perhaps speak more to it), was changed in the same way.

KP, oh right, thanks. See you in a few weeks!

 
Sarpon says

They were most certainly symbolic to Al Queda of American international commerce. That’s why they were targeted both times. I’ve just never thought of them as being symbolic of New York, in and of themselves. But I can accept that as my own prejudice against the towers as big, boring buildings. Even so, I still feel a shock when I see a movie or TV show from before 2001 with a shot of the skyline and THERE THEY ARE.

By the way, one of my cousins was on the 68th floor in the scond tower. She climbed down the stairs over bodies, walked home barefoot to Christopher Street and will never get over it. But then, she was never the type to get over anything.

 
KP says

The skyline of NYC is without question symbolic, even in NY. The towers were the focal point of that and their absence is now painfully obvious.
I have no idea were you live Sarpon, but where I live there indeed was endless coverage regarding the people in and around the buildings and the area in general, so much so that it was almost unbearable to watch. But watch we did, and I don’t think any of us will ever be the same.

 
RN says

I hear you Becca.

Althought the OKC bombing was on a much smaller scale, we have also moved on.

 
Vicki, Florida says

Growing up in NYC, I felt the same way Sarpon, that the buildings were boring and gray. I had much more affinity for the Empire State and the Chrysler building. I had never been the to the Twins, but my dad thought they were great, probably because he watched them being built. I am in FLA now, but it was heartwrenching to watch everything play out. I did feel guilty about my prior feelings about the Towers, but in reality, unless the sunset hit them the right way, they were boring and gray.

 
penguindeb says

I have not read all of the comments yet – my apologies but i did read this entry Bec. and i wanted to say you expressed pretty much how i felt. People here in LV ask me about it and if i am doing anything/watching any tributes etc. I tell them no. i purposely did not read one article or watch one tv program about that day. I dont need to. what are they going to tell me that i dont already know? (i am not talking the politics of it- but the emotions, feelings, etc).

I just agree with you. there is before 9/11 and there is after. there are reminders every single day in NYC whether you are talking about it or not. whether it be your own personal memories, or walking by the fire house on 46th street lined with memorial plaques. or waiting on security lines everywhere.

its just there.