The Best City in the World

I apologize for not blogging until now. I’ll get to that.

The World Trade Center has loomed large in my life for the past year. See, I live right here. That red star in the center of the map is where my apartment is. And the site of the World Trade Center is just southwest of that big black dot. (Yeah — where the blank space is. Eerily and presciently, Yahoo! Maps has always represented it with a blank space.)

Whenever I walk out of my apartment building and look to the right, I can see it looming across the river. Monolithic twins. From where I live, they’re enormous. Whenever I walk to the PATH station — in other words, whenever I go anywhere — they’re right there. During the day they gleam silver; at night, they light up the sky. They’re my connection to New York; they’re the only buildings in Manhattan’s financial district tall enough to be seen over the buildings in Jersey City. Whenever I hate the fact that I live in Jersey City, I can walk outside and look at the Twin Towers, and they reassure me that Manhattan is just a stone’s throw away. The World Trade Center is reassuring; it anchors me to New York, psychologically.

Even when you’re in Manhattan it anchors you. If you get off the subway and don’t know what direction you’re facing, you just look for the World Trade Center and you know you’re facing south.

The World Trade Center doesn’t just anchor me to the city psychologically. In order to get into Manhattan from home, I take the PATH train. It’s a four-minute walk from my apartment to the Grove Street station, and from there, there are two PATH lines into Manhattan. If you look at this map, you can see that one goes to Christopher Street, 9th Street, 14th Street, 23rd Street, and 33rd Street, and that the other goes to the World Trade Center. I travel both lines with equal frequency. It’s great to take the World Trade Center train, because it’s only a seven-minute ride, and when I get off there, I can hop onto the 1, 2, 3, 9, A, C, E, N, or R train, which take me almost anywhere.

At the end of every workday, I take the World Trade Center-bound train home, even though I get off before the last stop.

When I’m coming home from Manhattan on a Friday or Saturday night, I often prefer to take the subway down to the World Trade Center and take the train home from there, because it’s usually quiet and practically empty, while the other line is always filled with drunk loud people on the way back to Hoboken and takes forever.

There are tons of shops on the lower level of the World Trade Center, too. Because it’s so close, I’m there all the time. It contains my closest big bookstore — a Borders. I’ve been there a lot. There’s also a Gap and a J. Crew and a Sbarro’s and a Warner Brothers Store and a little cell phone kiosk. There’s a Duane Reade drugstore that’s open 24 hours; it’s a great place to pick up some random toiletry or candy bar while I’m waiting for the next train home.

In fact, I was just at the World Trade Center on Monday. Since I have two weeks off, I’d decided to take a walking tour of Brooklyn Heights. I took the train to the World Trade Center, bought a banana at a food shop right there in the mall, and then I hopped on the 2/3 to go to Borough Hall in Brooklyn. Such a convenient trip.

In the evening, on the way home, I stopped at the Gap at the World Trade Center because I really needed a new t-shirt. I rifled through a pile of them. I went into the fitting room and tried on several. And I finally wound up buying one. That receipt at the top of this entry is my souvenir. This is kind of weird, but I sort of feel like I saved the t-shirt from a horrible experience. I know, that sounds really bizarre.

All this writing and I haven’t even described my day.

After coming home from my tour of Brooklyn Heights on Monday, I planned to go back into Manhattan that night and hang out at a bar or club. So I logged into the New York City chatrooms and asked what there is to do on Monday nights. I wound up chatting with this guy for a little bit, and he was kinda cute, and eventually we decided to meet up. M just moved to New York a week ago from San Francisco and hasn’t started his new job yet, so, like me, he had nothing to do the next day. Therefore, we could stay up as late as we wanted. I changed, showered, took the PATH up to 9th Street and met him there.

The odd thing is that M lives off Sixth Avenue and 10th Street in lower Manhattan, on the very same block as my therapist’s office. That’s kind of bizarre, huh? I always have therapy on Tuesday nights, so this would be great — I could hook up with the guy on Monday night, and then on Tuesday night I could go back to the same block and my therapist could help me work through the guilt.

We went to his apartment. We talked for a while. M was a nice guy and seemed intelligent. And eventually stuff happened. Oh BOY did stuff happen. It was… amazing. It was the best sex I’d had in ages. We made out for three whole hours. It was amazing, amazing, amazing.

At around 2:30 in the morning we fell asleep.

At around 10:00 the next morning, we woke up and had a little bit more fun. His air conditioner was on, but over it we heard some sirens and beeping coming from Sixth Avenue. It’s rare that I spend the night in Manhattan — let alone wake up there in the morning — so I figured it was just part of Manhattan life. We also heard what sounded like cheers. Since today was supposed to be New York’s mayoral primary, I figured there was a political rally or something. Then we heard what sounded like a woman’s scream. Yup, just another excited person in New York.

I decided to leave. I didn’t want to waste my vacation lying in bed. I planned to take the PATH home, take out my contacts (which I’d slept in), shower, change, come back into Manhattan to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or something, and visit my therapist in the evening. I put on my clothes and said goodbye to M. He seemed a bit disappointed when I said I was going to be on my way.

It was around 10:50 in the morning when I walked out of the building and walked toward Sixth Avenue. There were crowds of people walking by. I’m not usually in Manhattan at that time of day, but I didn’t think there were usually this many people walking along Sixth Avenue down here.

On a whim I decided to cross Sixth Avenue and then I turned south. I saw a huge mass of dark smoke at the south end of Sixth. Wow, a building is on fire, I thought. That must be why all these people are standing around staring south. Two women were staring at it and talking, and I went up to them and asked what building was on fire.

“The World Trade Center just collapsed,” one of them said to me. “It was a terrorist attack. Planes crashed into both towers and then they went down. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon.”

Holy fuck.

Now that I thought about it, it had seemed like something was missing.

I stared at the rising smoke, not realizing that if I’d been outside 20 minutes earlier, I probably would have seen the second tower collapse.

I went over to a van where people were gathered around and I listened to the radio with them for a while. They said that all transportation in and out of Manhattan was closed. Even the subways were shut down. Oh, so I’m stuck in Manhattan. Great.

I decided to go back to M’s building. I had his cellphone number, but the payphones weren’t working and I don’t have a cell. And when I got back to his building I couldn’t buzz his apartment, because there was no logical correspondence between the numeric keypad and any building residents.

So I did the next best thing. I walked over to my therapist’s building and buzzed her. I told her who it was and she let me up instantly. She was waiting for me when I got up the stairs. She must have thought I was in danger or something. But I just wanted to use her phone.

We went into her office. “Wow, this is highly unorthodox, isn’t it,” I said. There was a TV on, so we watched it for a little while, both in shock. Then I used her phone and called M — somehow managing to get through — and asked my therapist if our appointment that evening was still on. It was. Okay. I’ll just spend the day with M, I figured.

So I went back to M’s apartment. He’d already heard what had happened.

Shall I mention again that M just moved to New York a week ago?

We watched TV. He doesn’t have cable, and the local NBC and ABC affiliates had both been knocked out, so we watched CBS. CBS must have totally scored today.

With his cellphone I finally managed to get through to my mom in northern New Jersey, because knowing my mom, she’d be worried sick. My dad’s on business in San Francisco right now, so she’s alone. She said she’d left me two messages and had e-mailed me and had indeed been worried sick.

I told her I was in Manhattan.

“You’re in Manhattan?” she said weakly. “What the hell are you doing in Manhattan?”

Yeah, mom, like I knew the fucking World Trade Center was going to blow up today.

I lied and told her that I’d gone out with a few friends the night before and had crashed at a friend’s place in the city.

She wanted a contact number, so I gave her M’s cell number. (Um, that didn’t feel bizarre at all…) And she told me — well, basically ordered me — to call her later on.

I checked my e-mail on his laptop. Messages from various bloggers and other friends, asking if I was okay. I responded to every e-mail. I thought about blogging really quick, but I didn’t want the URL showing up in M’s Internet Explorer history.

I knew that one of my friends from college, Doug, worked in the World Trade Center. I have this very close group of friends from college — we’re like a family. He’s one of them. Most of us met up in June — but Doug couldn’t make it. And even though he lives and works in Manhattan, I haven’t seen him in over a year.

I hoped Doug was okay.

M and I decided to go out into the world and see what was going on.

We walked south along Sixth Avenue. The smoke was amazing — an enormous, thick, black, churning, rising mass. It looked like a volcano. We just kept staring as we walked along. Ambulances and police cars and random vehicles with lights on top kept rushing north along Sixth. Every few minutes there were a few more. The sirens kept coming. People were walking along, talking into their cellphones, walking their dogs. Some people were walking north — from the direction of the explosion — with facemasks hanging around their necks. A vehicle sped up Sixth Avenue covered in white debris, leaving some of it in a trail on the ground. A restaurant was passing out cups of water. We listened to another radio.

We continued walking south, getting closer. Finally we got to Canal Street, where police barriers kept the crowds from going any further. So we walked east along Canal, stopping at every intersection to gape at the dark smoke again. Unbelievable — where there used to be these enormous twin towers there was now smoke. Tons of people were walking around in shock, many talking into their cellphones. It was like a war zone, it was like Armageddon, I felt like I was in a movie.

A few more debris-covered vehicles zoomed by, leaving trails of smoke.

We got to the Manhattan Bridge, where there was a mass pedestrian exodus to Brooklyn. It looked like the New York Marathon in slow motion. We decided to walk across the bridge to get a better view. And the view was stunning. Thick black smoke rose in a plume from Manhattan’s financial district, into the sky, blowing all the way to Brooklyn, where it was whiter. The sun was covered in darkness. I looked up and it was an orange ball poking through the dark smoke.

We were about halfway across the bridge and decided to turn back. But the cops stopped us. One way only. Oh, shit. First I was stuck in Manhattan, and now I’m stuck in Brooklyn?

My mom’s gonna kill me.

When we got to Brooklyn the crowd was still walking. Cops everywhere. People giving out free water.

Fortunately the subway was finally running into Manhattan, so we found a station, hopped on, and got off at Union Square. Phew.

Everything was closed. Even the huge Virgin Megastore. We were starving, so we walked along 14th Street back to Sixth Avenue. Everything was closed, everything. Restaurants, stores — all closed — on a weekday afternoon in Manhattan.

Miraculously, French Roast was open and it was bustling. It’s a coffee shop/restaurant on Sixth and 11th. We ordered food. I ate a hamburger and fries. I thought, here are all these people hanging out eating lunch, and the World Trade Center blew up today.

Then it hit me that I had my college friend Doug’s home number in my wallet. In my wallet there’s this little scrap of paper on which I have random phone numbers scribbled down. His is one of them.

I borrowed M’s cellphone and called Doug’s apartment. His roommate, who’s also his friend, answered.

“Is… Doug there?” I said awkwardly.

It turned out he wasn’t there, and his roommate didn’t know his whereabouts.

According to the roommate, Doug had gone to work that morning.

I asked if he knew what floor Doug worked on.

It turns out he worked on the 100th floor of the first tower to be hit. The tower was about 110 stories tall.

Doug worked above where the plane hit.

The roommate had talked to Doug’s mother. Apparently, after the plane hit, Doug called his mother to tell her that he was in the building and couldn’t get out. He also called his girlfriend, apparently.

It was 4:30 in the afternoon and the roommate hadn’t heard from Doug at all.

That’s all I know.

I left my number in case he learned anything more.

M and I finished eating. We talked about our bizarre day. He said he was glad I’d come back, because he’d hoped to see me again.

“I guess this is what they call a bonding experience, huh?” I said.

Afterward we went back to his apartment. I answered more e-mails. I desperately, desperately, desperately wanted to blog, but I just couldn’t risk doing it on M’s computer.

At 6:30 I walked down the block and went to therapy. There were no cars on the streets. Just some people walking around. It was like a ghost town. Almost all the stores were closed.

Anyway, I already had plenty I hoped to talk about this week in therapy, and now, on top of that, Manhattan was a war zone. Let’s just say that there were no lulls in the conversation.

After therapy I went back to M’s place. We watched more TV. It turned out the PATH trains were running again. Hallelujah! I could get home!

First we watched the president on TV.

I know we’re all supposed to rally around the president at times like this, but the guy looked like a scared little kid and exuded no confidence. I wonder how scared shitless he was.

I have never missed Bill Clinton more than when I watched Bush speak tonight.

After he spoke, M walked me all the way back to the PATH train. I’d thought the Christopher Street station was open but I was mistaken. We had to walk all the way up to 33rd Street. We walked past St. Vincent’s Hospital, where there were tons of ambulances and medical personnel and blindingly bright lights.

Finally we got to the station, and we hugged and said we’d hang out again. He told me to call him. And I think I will.

I went down to the PATH train. Eventually it started moving. We zoomed past the closed stations — 23rd Street, 14th Street, 9th Street, Christopher Street — all eerily empty.

When the train got to New Jersey I felt myself exhaling. I’d never been so relieved to get back to New Jersey.

When the train got to my station, I walked up the stairs, got outside, and stared at the spot across the river where the enormous World Trade Center used to be.

There was darkness.

All these things have happened today and I can’t process it. Even if I break it down into smaller events I can’t process it. If one U.S. commercial flight had been hijacked, that would have been horrific enough. But four commercial flights were hijacked today. And two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. And the World Trade Center was destroyed. And a plane crashed into the Pentagon. And a plane crashed outside Pittsburgh. And every single commercial flight in the entire nation has been grounded for the first time in history. And Major League Baseball has been shut down. And the Emmys have been cancelled. And Broadway was dark tonight.

And Borders Bookstore, and all those books that I’ve browsed through, and all those t-shirts that I rifled through at the Gap yesterday — they’re all gone.

And one of my favorite ways of getting into Manhattan — with all its connecting subway lines — doesn’t exist anymore.

And my friend Doug is probably dead.

It’s been a crazy, crazy day. I can’t fully process any of this. I’m sure none of you can, either.

But in a perverse, voyeuristic way, I feel really lucky to have been in Manhattan today. The whole world was watching, and I was less than a mile from the scene. I’m going to remember this day for the rest of my life. Like that even needs to be said.

This was one of those rare days when Manhattan felt like a small town. A crazy, eccentric, shell-shocked town, but a small one nonetheless. Everyone on their cellphones. Everyone walking across the bridge. Everyone gathered around radios. Everyone staring at the smoke.

I’m a New Yorker by birth. I was born in Manhattan and spent the first three years of my life in Queens. And you know what?

New York is the best fucking city in the world.

I love this place. And if those assholes think they’re going to scare us — they’re not. We’re tough as nails and we’re not going to take it. We’re going to keep on loving our city and living in our city like crazy — partying our asses off and dancing the night away and going to museums and going to lectures and hailing cabs and checking people out on the street and bragging about how we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world.

They think they can scare us? Hah. They think they can demoralize us?

Then they don’t understand New Yorkers —

or Americans —

or human beings —

at all.

36 thoughts on “The Best City in the World

  1. Thank you for blogging… after your Holden Caulfield night the other night, I was nervous that you hadn’t checked in.

    So glad you’re safe. So glad you wrote this. Hearing your experience of this tragedy helps us all process it a little more. It helps.

    Take great care — all of us.


  2. I’m glad you’re okay…especially now that you’ve told us that you were essentially at “Ground Zero.”

    I think your account of this tragedy is one of the most touching I have read. My condolences on the likely loss of your friend Doug.

  3. when you hadn’t updated i was concerned- glad you are okay, and thanks for an amazing post- none of it makes sense- 14 hours of news watching, the same footage over and over, and then new horrible footage, ugh. ugh. ugh.

    glad you and other nyc bloggers are okay-

  4. the incredible thing about these blogs, all being written yesterday and today, is that they’re first person accounts of a tragedy that will be immortal — they’re like books being written, or maybe the whole internet collection of them in one large book in progress. everything’s been astounding in the past couple days; this is just one more detail. but yours is a beautiful contribution.

  5. You do realize that all you have to do is go to “Options” and “Clear Internet History” and the blog address is gone, right?

    I’m not a regular reader– I happened to surf in on your blog just a few days ago. I came back today because I knew you lived in NYC and wanted to see if you were all right.

  6. Thanks for this first person account. Like so many other folks, I’m feeling the need to connect with what’s happened, and your story helped.

    As those of us near DC deal with our portion of this tragedy, our hearts go out to all those in and around Manhattan.

  7. I’m one of those people who was just hearing/watching as the tragic events unfolded yesterday. It wasn’t until reading your account and several other bloggers from NY today that I really felt that this was real. Instead of seeing it through the eyes of reporters, I saw it through the eyes of people this event actually touched. I can’t explain it…but I am for the fact that you lost a friend in this.

  8. Sweetie, I am so relieved to hear you’re safe and so moved by your recounting of your experience. Consider yourself warmly and tightly hugged from a friend far away and take good care of those close to you.

  9. I totally agree with you. I too have never missed Bill Clinton more than when I watched Bush speak last night.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions with us. May God keep you and yours safe.

  10. Hey Jeff –

    Like everyone else, I’m so glad you’re ok. I had checked your blog a couple of times yesterday to catch your slant on what happened, knowing how visible the towers….were….from Jersey City. It simply never dawned on me that you were in Manhattan. Since much of my family is from Staten Island, I was waiting throughout the day to hear if every one was OK. So far, all are. Lots of near misses too…peole who were supposed to go to meetings at the towers but cancelled the last minute..people who work there but ran late yesterday and watched their jobs and places of work collapse from Weehauken, people who filmed a commercial at the towers on Monday.

    Things like the death of innocence and the waking of the sleeping giant runs thru my head, but I know I am still numb when I can sit here in my cubicle and cry over your telling of what your day was yesterday.

    I miss my home in Jersey today. I miss the people I grew up with. I keep thinking of the atrium at the towers with the palm trees and how beautiful it was and how fucking hard it is to use tha past tense.

    I’m glad you’re ok. I’m so glad you wrote. And I’m so glad you’ve opened it up for comment again. fuck the people who upset you a month ago. Come to San Francisco and stay when you want. I’d be proud to be your host.


  11. thanks for the account jeff-

    glad you are safe-

    im stranded in san diego and feel so disconnected -your wonderful prose makes it feel more real–im anxious to get home to jersey city and new york

  12. I just happened across your blog and your post was wonderful. It’s heartening to know that New York will continue to be New York, with all of it’s wonder and culture and spirit. The people who did this will not succeed: they will not break you. I’ve never felt as connected to my countrymen as I do now. Stay strong. My thoughts are with you and all of the people of your city- the Best City in the World. For everyone in the US, continue to Be.

    Tim in Alabama

  13. Thankfully Bill isn’t here grandstanding again. Unfortunately, the only lesson he ever taught was that it was only ever about him. George did as he was only responsible for a president. To suggest otherwise is not only inappropriate but stupid as well.

    Glad to hear you are okay.

  14. You and Bill Clinton need to get together. Your whole account of the situation was as self-centered as Bill Clinton is. Do you think the American people care how long you and whoever had sex the night before the major financial and defense organizations for the United States of America where attacked and destroyed by terrorists. Those people you were casually walking around and observing were your fellow New Yorkers. Did you bother to offer any one of them an extended hand or a word of comfort. You believe you lost a friend in that disaster, but your glad you have your receipt from the “GAP,” whoopee, there are GAPS all over the United States. Have you even wondered about the sales person who sold you that T-shirt? Maybe your the last person that he/she saw. Continue your therapy, please! You obviously need it. And, if you think President Bush was scared; I guess you’ve never seen a really PISSED OFF TEXAN. That was not fear in his eyes, it was shear ANGER and PASSION. He is the leader of the country so he has to maintain a civil appearance in addressing the people of the United States. Mr. Bill Clinton on the other hand would have found a way to use this disaster as a way of promoting himself. Remember over the last eight years, Ol’ Bill is the one who relaxed our security, who cut our Military defenses, who allowed these people to come to our country and get training or whatever they felt they needed. Do you really think that the people behind these attacks did not relish in the attention Mr. Clinton lavished on them, and the fact that he told the American people that we are at PEACE, I’ve taken care of it. Well, he sure did, didn’t he. Took care of it so well that they waltzed in and destroyed and killed how many?? of your fellow New Yorkers. I too have friends in New York. I have heard from some of them, but yearn and fear what may have happened to many of them. What a ridiculous account that you portrayed in your personal story. You should be ashamed not only of your story, but for not extending your help, condolences or even a kind word to those who you were walking with that had just survived one of the most horrendous events they may ever experience. Glad you got your receipt though. Maybe someday, with enough therapy, you’ll look at your Souvenir and realize you didn’t help one sole, but by God you survived and made it back to Jersey. Of course, realize that you only lost one friend and a beautiful skyline to look at; but many people have lost their lives, and many more have lost not only friends, but also family members and loved ones. Oh well, you got laid and you have your receipt! Think about it!

  15. You miss the damn point, George. You really want to appreciate the tragedy of this? Read every one of the personal acocunts being written of what was going on and what the reaction was. Jeff is being honest, god bless him, about how the scene was set. To really appreciate this all, we also have to know about what happened to people who weren’t right there, who were just as affected by the fear and the confusion. It’s easy to be selfless when you didn’t have to figure out where to run.

  16. Picking up on george’s comment that your account of the situation is self centred…. so what? Any personal account of the situation is self centred, surely. I’m far more interested in reading what went through your mind, and how this affects you than I am in reading a mis-spelled tirade…

  17. i, also was really touched by your post…and i am very glad that you’re allowing comments–please don’t be disheartened by “george”! as alan said, all accounts are self-centered and that’s what makes them real! of all the things i’ve read and heard, yours really hit home the best (worst?)

    prayers for you and your friends!

  18. Talk about putting the “mental” in judgmental! I’ll bet this George character is one of those types that claims he would react differently to circumstances portrayed in horror and action films. You know how people say, “How stupid, I would never go in that room” or “Why don’t they just…” Well, it’s easy to say those things from a comfortable chair in a theater or at home. George, why don’t you get back to Jeff when everything you know has been pulled out from under you without warning and you respond with a clear head and a calculated plan.

  19. oh good lord.

    george accuses you of not helping one “sole”… now what was a salt-water fish doing flopping around on a deserted street?

    i know, it was cheap. i needed some levity.

    all the things george bashes you for are personal details that inform your writing, and humanize this whole sorry mess in a way that is touching, immediate, and real. i, for one, am an unabashed fan.

  20. Thank you Sparky, Alan, Cheryl, Lacityboy, and of course PJ for your comments to my, what did you call it Alan; mis-spelled tirade… Check the dictionary, Alan, misspelled is one word. And, I will apologize PJ for misspelling “soul”. I do know the difference. Do you really think I meant a fish. Oh yes, Alan and Cheryl, I am fully aware that a personal account of any situation is self-centered. I was merely implying that is that all he could come up with. People around the whole United States could give you a personal account of what they were doing the night before and what was going on during the time of the attack!!!! “Oh Good Grief Charlie Brown, what were you doing!” By the way Sparky and Lacityboy, I wasn’t sitting in an easy chair trying to figure out where to run; and yes, I have had to respond without warning and I have had everything that I know pulled out from underneath me. I live in Oklahoma City, and I did experience both the bombing on the Murrah Building, April 19, 1995 and the horrific tornado, May 3, 1999. Both of these incidents, I know, do not compare to what has happened in New York City, D.C. or Pennsylvania. But I do know the helplessness, the fear, the vulnerability that you feel in a major disaster. I am fortunate that I was not a victim of either one of those; but, I lost so many friends, family and loved ones in both. I do know the pain that these individual in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania are suffering. I do know that no one cares what happened the day before; what matters is what will happen tomorrow. So, is Jeff safe now? Are you safe? Are you willing to stand up for your country and lose the “Rose Colored Glasses” that you are all living behind. Self-centeredness and appreciating how the scene was set, Sparky, is not going to help resolve the issues that the United States is facing. This is real, people!!! Get a clue!!! Judgmental, Lacityboy, well I guess it might be. But, of all people that could have given a real account of what terror was going on in the Heart of New York, your friend Jeff portrayed it as a normal; here I am in Manhattan, wish I could get back to New Jersey Day. Oh well, I had a great time the night before and I have a souvenir from the World Trade Center (The GAP, no less). Oh, and I will apologize now if there are any misspelled (Alan) words in these comments. Far be it from me, I am not perfect. I am, however, remorseful, caring, and understanding of what we as AMERICAN people are going through and what we are facing. I hope that you all are.

  21. George, my way of processing these events is to write my way through them, to describe them as I’ve experienced them. That’s what my website is all about. This is my personal journal. It’s my diary of my life, of my experiences and perceptions. I don’t know how familiar you are with blogs or online journals, but the whole point of one of these things is to write about one’s life and one’s experiences. It just so happens that lately my life has intersected with some horrible events. Do you actually think I’m not angry? Have you even bothered to read any of my subsequent entries? I write here every day. Go up to the top and click on “home” or “blog archives” and you’ll see what I mean.

    Before any of this happened, I had a regular core of people who’d read my blog every day, because they wanted to know about what was going on in my life. As with everything else I write here, I wrote this entry for me and also for them. I didn’t know that a ton of other people were going to find this entry and read it as well.

    Look at what you say:

    “I am fully aware that a personal account of any situation is self-centered. I was merely implying that is that all he could come up with.”

    “Self-centeredness and appreciating how the scene was set… is not going to help resolve the issues that the United States is facing.”

    “…of all people that could have given a real account of what terror was going on in the Heart of New York, your friend Jeff portrayed it as a normal; here I am in Manhattan, wish I could get back to New Jersey Day. Oh well, I had a great time the night before and I have a souvenir from the World Trade Center (The GAP, no less).”

    George, this is my website. I can’t emphasize this enough, George: this is not a newspaper. It is my personal journal. Please don’t tell me what to feel, and please don’t tell me how to write about what happens in my life.

    I appreciate your emotions — of course I’m angry like you are — but I don’t think you understand the point of my website. Thanks, George, and be safe.

  22. Tinman, I just wanted to tell you that I have found all your writings over the last week to be absolutely compelling. I continue to be amazed by the eloquence and passion in the writings of my fellow bloggers, and frustrated by my own inability to articulate anything (although I think that may change soon). The way you have responded to “George” has also been inspiring. Keep it up! You KNOW we want to hear what you have to say.

  23. George, could you please give us a goddamned break? Humor and lightheartedness helps us all cope. This isn’t a political forum, honey, this is a man’s personal feelings. Tinman bleeds red, white and blue like the rest of us (as he demonstrates in his closing), but he also has the complexity of emotions that makes him a decent writer.

    Lay off, for crying out loud.

  24. Dear Jeff,

    I read your response to my comments and I did go and read your accounts of the days that followed Sept. 11th. I will apologize to you and your blogger friends at this time. I did find that your following accounts of what you witnessed were extremely well written and sincere. They also, to me, hit more to the heart of the matter of what was surrounding you. Everyone in the United States is suffering from this great tragedy; but, I feel great anguish for those that are in the heart of the matter. I do encourage you to write what you see, and to some extent how you feel religiously, politically or sexually or whatever. And, I say that not in a deragatory manner. Many people will probably read your accounts. However, the account I first came across, struck a raw nerve with me. The link that I clicked on was “We are suppose to rally around the President, but he looked like a scared kid”. We can’t afford, at this point to start condemning or labeling the President of the United States. This action of terrorism as been a longtime coming and it is not the fault of one President, but of many. However I do feel personally (and I did say personally fellow readers) that President Clinton over the last eight years didn’t do anything to help the matter. But, at this point we have no choice to but to rally around the President at this time and support the efforts that he has set forth. I do agree with Jeff that the government in a whole (not merely the President of the United States) is responsible in part for the horrendous act that we are all facing now. And Jeff, I am sorry you did not find more solace in your religions celebration of a new year. I myself was raised as a Lutheran; but, I also find it hard to understand why God would let this happen to anyone. But, the reality is that this has been happening around the world in many countries and to many people of various religions. And if I may, Americans must stand proud and still pray that we as a Nation will over come our fears and prejudices; and we must unite as one people no matter what our religion, race, color or political beliefs. So again, I apoligize for being abrupt before. I am not a political monger, but a decent human being as I am sure you are. I realize now that you were probably writing out of feelings and fear. And to everyone else that commented on my response, if I offended you, I am sorry. Human reactions are just that human reactions.

  25. Thanks, George — I appreciate your taking the time to understand. Obviously this has been hard for everyone, and we’re all dealing with it in our own way.

    I just wanted to thank you for that last message. Again, I appreciate it.

  26. A note, 1/6/02:

    Upon rereading this entry, months later, I notice that I didn’t really process the tragedy that people suffered on September 11 until a day or two later. When I wrote this on the night of the events, I was just a camera and a tape recorder, trying to record the details of my day so I wouldn’t forget them.

    Also, this entry is the most-visited entry on my site. For several months I’d shut down the commenting function. But because new people are still reading this all the time, I’ve decided to allow new comments again.

  27. Hi,

    The world has had time to reflect and think about what happenened on 11th Sept. (or 9/11 as you peversely call it… that would be the 9th Nov. everywhere else!)

    I’ve been looking at and reading many accounts of that shocking day over the past few weeks and my sympathies are with you all.

    I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but several years ago Manchester City Centre in England was destroyed by a bomb planted by IRA terrorists. I know. I was there. Incidentally, the IRA received a lot of its ‘public’ funding from NORAID – US organisations and individuals – at the time.

    I shall spare you from my views on the hypocrisy that the ‘war on terror’ brings as *nobody* deserves to die because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’d like to share my expereince of the Manchester bombing with you though.

    I was in the city centre on that day, after catching the bus to Picaddily Gardens from where I normally walked to UMIST where I was a student at the time. That particular day I had to buy a card for my Aunt’s birthday so I decided to nip into the card shop outside the Arndale Centre first.

    In Britain, we’re used to ‘bomb warnings’ (and I’d previously had to evacuate various stations, shops and town centres before – all of which were either hoaxes or were difused) so I didn’t think much of it. I could pick up a card on my way back from Uni. I was more worried about organising where me and my mates were going to meet for the Auld Enemy match.

    To pre-empt myself a bit… Maybe in Britain we were/are used to these things, or maybe nobody had a camera, but I didn’t see a single person standing there with a video or stills camera taking pictures – something that disgusts me about the WTC attacks. Generally, if somebody says ‘there’s a bomb’ you get the f**k out in a ‘it’s just another threat, they’re not serious, but you never know’ kind of way. That’s not to say that the IRA didn’t/dont’t(?) plant bombs. On the mainland (ie not Northern Ireland) they’ve spent the past 30 years killing innocent civillians in pubs, shopping centres and at memorial services. The IRA blew up or tried to blow up the City of London (the British Wall Street), Canary Warf (the tallest building in Britain), Hyde Park Barracks, pubs in London, Birmingham and other places, train stations, not to mention all manner of shops, cars and *individuals*. That’s just the mainland – in Northern Ireland itself, on average terrorist attacks killed one person per day (on both sides).

    Thankfully, many of the bomb threats were just that – threats. Living in Britain, you became used to the warnings, false or otherwise. On that sunny day, I decided that my Aunt’s card could wait until later. Just as well. I was near the bus station when I felt an enormous rush of air that really fucked up my eardrums. I can’t remember clearly, but I think I then heard the ‘bang’ before bits of shit started dropping around and onto me. Instinctively I dropped to the floor and shut my eyes, covering my ears, although it was probably a bit too late.

    Once the dust settled, it became clear what had happened. Alarm bells were ringing in the distance (although I suspect that they were actually right next door we just couldn’t hear them) and people were staggering out of the dust cloud with “fuck!” expressions on their faces. Communication was difficult as we were deaf to all but the loudest sounds.

    Everybody helped everybody else. “Are you OK, are you in one piece?” No fuss, no drama, no 24 hour international news feeds. Just another terrorist attack in Britain. I made it into Uni with, thankfully, nothing more than ringing ears and shock. I know people that didn’t that day.

    Did Britain declare ‘war on terrorism’ that day? Of course not. We’d been living with terrorism for the past 20+ years. More people have died during the ‘conflicts’ as the NI situation is known, than died in the WTC. I’m not trying to say that the terrorist attacks on the US aren’t – there is no adequate word for it – appaling tragedies.

    If you are a US citizen, I just ask you the following questions: Do you know about the Manchester bombing? Canary Wharf? The City bomb? The Birmingham Pub bombings? If the IRA had done the same thing in the States would the US have dropped bombs on Northern Ireland? Why did the 11th Sept attacks happen on US soil? What makes so many people in the world hate the USA?

    Alas, until you can find the answer to the last question, you too will have to live in the same climate of fear as the rest of the international community.

    Welcome to the world America. I wish it hadn’t happened like that, I really do. But I don’t think I’m the only person on the planet that isn’t surprised. It’s a tragedy that the Gap wasn’t open though. Nothing like a bit of perspective is there?



    PS. England did beat Scotland that day, thanks to a supreme piece of skill from Gazza. Life goes on.

    PPS If you call the world’s beautiful game ‘soccer’ then you can’t be all that surprised that people think that you’re a bit ‘isolationist’ can you?

  28. it was all a mess,just as i write this i hear on the radio “in a new york minute everything can change” theese are true words.. my first time looking into this site i find it very moving..its good the way all you people can share your thoughts and feelings.keep it up it makes things easier im sure. good to hear from people like you ……


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