On that day

I posted this back on September 13, 2001, actually my first post on this weblog. In the eight long years since, a lot has changed — not all for the better, you could probably argue, and least of all some of the links below — but I do think it’s still worth remembering how it felt on that September morning and in the immediate wake of the September 11 attacks, those deaths. I wasn’t living in New York at the time — actually in Pennsylvania, not close but closer to where Flight 93 went down — but I have close family who was, and who were in the city at the time the World Trade Center buildings collapsed. I was lucky not to lose anyone that day, and the shock of it has faded, as it needed to, in the years since. In some ways, I’m glad that today is just another Friday. But, in some others, I think it’s worth remembering.

I still don’t want to write about this. I wasn’t there, and everything I want to say sounds painfully obvious and cliché. When I let myself think about it two nights ago, or yesterday morning, I just wanted to start crying or break something. Even now it’s incomprehensible. This is what I had once been planning to post. But for this…I just don’t have the words. So here’s what some other people have been saying.

Leslie Harpold (The Hoopla500): There’s a layer of dirt covering lower Manhattan. You’d think it’d be lumpy, or at least coarse, but no, it’s softer than sand. There are still four people in my life who work in the WTC that are unaccounted for. When are we supposed to decide to say goodbye, or should I keep expecting miracles? I would feel a lot better if someone would put me to work. I filled out the Red Cross volunteer forms with my whole skills inventory, and I’d be willing to do about anything that didn’t involve dead bodies. They’ve turned the Chelsea Ice rink complex into a makeshift morgue. Can you imagine? I really hope you can’t.

Paul Ford (Ftrain): They are turning away volunteers, turning away blood donors, because there are so many. I knew that would happen. That is why I want to live there, why I love it, why I have been pining for New York City and why I pine for it even as it is coated in ash, with papers swirling in the air. Not the buildings but the people, the bodies, the voices.

Sharon J. Cichelli (Phlebotomy): I’m thinking back to events on Monday evening and how easily we laughed. The memory seems strange, like, surely we weren’t laughing so easily, in light of what’s happened. But, of course, it hadn’t happened yet. My current feelings are casting a pall over the memories.

Robert Rummel-Hudson (Darn Tootin’): A lot of people, a staggering number of them, didn’t hug their kids tonight. They didn’t drive home from work and maybe give someone the finger for cutting them off, or stop at some little grubby store to buy beer or flowers to surprise someone waiting at home. They didn’t make passionate love to their lovers after the sun went down, the cool late summer breeze blowing through their bedroom windows. They are lying in rubble, or in pieces in what remains of a fuselage. Their unblinking eyes are filled with questions. And I can’t answer them. My anger and my fear and my sorrow aren’t enough.

Michael Moore (MichaelMoore.com): Will we ever get to the point that we realize we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn’t living in poverty so we can have nice running shoes? Let’s mourn, let’s grieve, and when it’s appropriate let’s examine our contribution to the unsafe world we live in. It doesn’t have to be like this…

Meg Hourihan (Megnut): 24 hours later, I’m heading back into the kitchen to finish up the dishes, to pick up the spatula that still sits in the sink where I dropped it. I’m going to wash my coffee press and brew that cup of coffee I never had yesterday. I’m going to try and find some semblance of normalcy in this very changed world.

Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times): My story is like so many stories. Thousands of innocent victims are dead, but we think first about those we love. What is new and frightening is that on Tuesday when the tragedy happened, we were all forced to think in these personal terms. The war was here.

My father (via e-mail): Our building is on the block from 14th. to 15th. Street. 14th. Street is quite a bit north of the WTC. Nonetheless the City has set it up as the line of demarcation for what is certainly a battle zone. The subways are running — but 14th. Street is the last stop in Manhattan on the downtown trip to Brooklyn. The power is mostly out in the lower Manhattan financial district. There was a Marriot Hotel still burning when I cam in this morning — but the smoke seems to be mostly white (steam from water) now and less black. Sirens abound. There are virtually no other cars — but the LIRR worked fine this morning. Every once in awhile a military jet roars overhead. It’s hard to imagine how it will ever get back to anything like normal — but I guess it will in time.

Wednesday various

  • Patton Oswalt on the joy of failure:

    I never want to get to a point where I feel like I’m done. Or like I got it. You always want to have that, “Oh shit, this wall just collapsed, and there’s a whole room behind it to explore.”

    I posted a quote from the interview just the other day, but I think the whole thing’s worth checking out, even if you’re not immediately familiar with Oswalt’s comedy or acting. I also like what he says about the internet:

    We haven’t seen it yet, but there’s going to be a generation that comes up where the new trend will be complete anonymity. It’ll be cool to have never posted anything online, never commented, never opened a webpage or a MySpace, never Twittered. I think everyone in the future is going to be allowed to be obscure for 15 minutes. You’ll have 15 minutes where no one is watching you, and then you’ll be shoved back onto your reality show. I think Andy Warhol got it wrong.

    I’ve read mixed reviews of Oswalt’s new movie, Big Fan, but I’ve heard a couple of really intelligent interviews with him and director Robert D. Siegel, so I’m eager to check it out.

  • Fox rebooting Fantastic Four. This seems to be the new thinking in Hollywood: if your last attempt was a financial or critical failure — and the 2007 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer movie was arguably a little of both — don’t even wait, just re-boot the whole thing. Studios used to wait a respectable few years, time enough to slink away and let the shame and stink of failure dissipate, but that’s happening less and less. Eight years separate the abject failure of Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin and Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the franchise with Batman Begins, for instance, while only five years separate Ang Lee’s Hulk and Edward Norton’s (not so incredible) version. The gap is narrowing — and with the recently proposed Battlestar Galatica re-reboot and this Fantastic Four news, the gap seems to be disappearing altogether. As Gerry Canavan jokes, “In the future franchises will be rebooted before the first film even comes out.”

    Still, I guess one way of looking at this is that Hollywood is now committed to remaking movie franchises over and over again, no matter how many times it takes, until, finally, they don’t suck.

    Although, as the AV Club points out, this may just be fallout from the recent Disney acquisition of Marvel:

    Before Marvel settled down with Disney, it had tumultuous affairs with several other studios. With Sony, for instance, it had a baby called the Spider-Man series. And Marvel’s time with Fox produced several offspring, including film series based around the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four. By the terms of that arrangement, Fox has the rights to make movies around those characters (plus Fantastic Four hanger-on the Silver Surfer) in perpetuity so long as it doesn’t stop making them.

    This too-soon reboot, then, might not go anywhere or even be expected to go anywhere. It may just be a ploy to hold on to some rights that would otherwise revert to the Mouse.

  • Speaking of the Disney/Marvel merger, while I think it’s too soon to know for sure what (if anything) this will mean for the future of Marvel, I tend to agree with Mark Evanier’s take:

    This isn’t about publishing. Disney didn’t say, “Gee, it would be great to own a comic book company!” They could have started fifty comic book companies for four billion clams. This is about characters and properties which can be exploited in many forms. The publishing of comic books may or may not always be one of them…..[T]he future of Spider-Man has very little to do with the Spider-Man comic book. That hasn’t mattered for a long time.

    And while I tried my own hand at some Marvel/Disney mashups two days ago, I think I prefer these more artistic ones. [via]

  • I worry that some future journalism students will see this story and wonder, “what’s the big deal with paying your sources?” [via]
  • And finally, some terrific photographs of the same spots in New York City, composited into a single shot based on similarity. It’s a neat trick. [via]

Friday various

  • I haven’t yet been to Manhattan’s new High Line park, but now I see what I’ve been missing:

    Some guests at The Standard Hotel have stripped off to frolic naked in front of their rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows, which are easily viewed from the newly-opened elevated High Line park.

    I particularly like how the hotel promises “to ‘remind guests of the transparency’ of the windows.” Who knew windows were transparent?!

  • In all the talk about saving Reading Rainbow, which is going off the air after 26 years, I’ve been sort of amazed that no one’s remarked on one simple thing: the show actually went off the air three years ago. At least, that’s when Burton quit, disappointed with the direction the show’s news owners wanted to take it. New episodes haven’t been made since 2006. It’s disappointing there isn’t money in anybody’s pockets to keep repeats on the air — it really was a terrific program — but it’s also a little disingenuous (or only half the story) to call this the show’s end.
  • If you’re really feeling nostalgic for PBS children’s programming, why not check out the original pitch for Sesame Street?
  • I didn’t find TinEye particularly useful myself, but I do kind of like the idea of a “reverse search engine.” [via]
  • And finally, Warren Ellis on the smallness of the future:

    I miss vast, mad underground bases as much as the next person, possibly more, because deep down I feel like I always should have been a James Bond villain – but I adore the fact that the Jet Propulsion Lab appears to control the Mars rovers from a Portakabin somewhere outside Pasadena. And there’s great appeal in the notion that today’s architecture students will be faced with problems involving not great stupid boondoggles like Olympic stadia that in six years’ time will be nothing more than receptacles for the foaming, incandescent urine of meths-drinking tramps, but instead will be asked for solutions to concepts like the intron depot. From rust-prone compression rings and precast concrete sections for a tumour of idiocy, to atomic-scale cathedral stations for organising the blood-borne trajectories of rot-proof buckytube bullet-trains. This is beautiful to me.