Shouting into the Storm Rantings, ramblings, observations and musings from the insipid to the sublime

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 :::
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

I suppose I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger to not write something today. A little free-form riffing seems in order, but be warned: There won't be any misty-eyed remembrances or declarations of unity here. Anger, sarcasm and cynicism will most likely rule the day. Let's see what we can come up with.

First, a link to my friend Paul's blog, Paul's Boutique. Paul and I met back in '98 through the Blues Traveler mailing list. Along with Dave Mallick, we caught a bunch of shows in Boston and points across New England. I'm very pleased to have kept in touch with him over the years. I was particularly happy to hear he was nowhere near lower Manhattan last year. He was one of the first people I sent a "Are you and yours OK?" email to. Enjoy Paul's writing on today.

I live about a mile from the Pentagon. Last year, I could smell the smoke in my living room. I could see the smoke plume from our parking lot. I worked a few blocks from the White House. While not directly in middle of things, I was certainly on the first cut of rough, to coin a golfing term. Things I remember about that day? Not being able to get a phone line to call my folks to tell them I had been running late for work, and therefore never made it to the bus station at the Pentagon. Being relieved to get through to my friend Rick, who in turn got in touch with my folks. Being oddly touched when friends from Boston started to call(an extra nod to Bill for being the first to check in). Some people checked in I never would have imagined would pick up the phone. And, like all things with life, some people disappointed me. A former friend who used to live in the same building as me not two weeks before didn't drop so much as an email. My surrogate little sister, too wrapped up in her own concerns, never called. I had to call her cell phone at 7 o'clock that night, only to find out her and a friend were driving to NYC. Her actual brother, living 9,000 miles away in Kyoto, Japan, managed to not only drop an email, but to call. It was 1 AM or so out there, he was drunk on gin, and devastated that someone would do this to "My People". I remember helping him try to locate his friend who lives in midtown NYC. There was my friend Joe, whose sister works as a contractor to the Pentagon. No one knew where she was until mid-afternoon.

I went to the candlelight vigil at the Lincoln Memorial. I was on edge walking the streets of DC, where Army jeeps with .50 calibur weapons sat on the street corners. The grounds around the White House were blocked off. The National Mall, a place so full of activity in the evenings, was utterly abandoned. I was angry, begrudgingly patriotic, and scared.


I don't buy into today being this giant production "WE WILL NEVER FORGET." How can we? Almost every press briefing from the White House mentions The Evil Ones and the Tehrists(as Dubya would pronounce it). Everything has been In the Shadow in "As we dedicate this new Starbucks, in the Shadow of 9/11...." So most of the events today seem a little, well, unnecessary and underwhelming. Or not the events themselves as the media coverage of them. I walked into my bank today, and had to endure CNN replaying the towers collapsing. In the lobby of my building, there is a TV with Fox News on, showing a roll call of teary-eyed widows. Who benefits? Who suddenly feels better after watching this?

Two more points that rub me wrong with all of this. The idea of Uniting America. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't think most people in Nebraska were deeply affected by this. No one is targeting grain silos in the Plain states. The attacks were on, and originated from, east coast cities. Other major targets are west coast cities. I don't have much rational thought and backing on this. It's just a gut reaction.

Finally - "This Will Change Everything." The attacks have changed very little. Americans have been forced to be more aware the rest of the planet. Many of those suddenly opening their eyes, though, are viewing the world through Red, White and Blue. "They hate our freedom." No, they hate our foreign policy. They hate our leaders. They hate the perceived wrongs we have done to their culture. We got to see people in Afghanistan act like free people for roughly a week. Men cutting their beards, people playing music and dancing. And then? The country is falling back towards the in-fighting and unrest that has marked it for decades. Israel and Palestine are still trying to eradicate each other off of the map, dragging each other's allies into the muck with them. Saudi Arabia continues to tell Washington one thing, and terrorist groups another. Americans still wave Old Glory in the morning breeze, but aren't registered to vote, much less able to display it properly. We watch crappy Fox programming like "American Idol". Our corporations still screw anyone they have to in order to make a profit. We tolerate narrow-minded pundits like Ann Coulter on the right and Michael Moore on the left. We talk about reducing dependencies on foreign oil, but then drive gas guzzling SUVs, and ridicule Sen. John Kerry and his fuel efficiency bill. We still walk over the homeless on the street, yell at the pedestrian moving to slowly in the crosswalk, and gab on our cell phones at the baseball game.

I'm sorry, what has changed again?

::: posted by Chris at 3:21 PM

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Rantings, ramblings, observations and musings from the insipid to the sublime

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