From a 2001 story in New York magazine written a couple of weeks after the attacks, by David Carr:

# Everyone who comes after will never understand.
Not a new brand of New York provincialism but a cold fact. This is the place where the world seemed to end in a single morning. That day, as it was experienced here, was not televised.

# The jumpers will always be with us.
Faced with the most horrible of all human choices, the kind of riddle that grade-school children use to torture each other, many leaped rather than burn. And as the debris falling from the top anthropomorphized into human beings, people watching understood that for the time being, we were all beyond help. "I don't remember faces, just bodies jumping out," says Alexandra Rethore, a second-year analyst at Lehman Brothers. "And the girl next to me was hysterical. She kept saying, 'They're catching them, right?' I said, 'Yeah, they're catching them. Let's go.' " It was a noble act, a message to loved ones: "I'm gone but not lost. I'm still here. Find me."

18 Truths About the New New York (New York, 10-2001)

Worth reading today:
A Fortress City That Didn't Come to Be (NYT, 09-2009)
What Would 9-11 Be Like in the Age of Social Media? (LA Weekly, 09-2009)

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  1. The Carr piece is really excellent, and from my family in New York I have heard many of these same truths.

    New York Magazine online is doing a real disservice to the piece with that completely broken Polo ad, which crashed my browser and forced me to reload twice. Don’t ruin great writing with stupid advertisement.

  2. Oh gods, the jumpers, I haven’t thought of that in years…

    I remember, most, the confusion and panic. Explosions reported left and right and the panic those caused that there would be further attacks.

    Odd that no one talks about the jumpers anymore, and odder still that saying there were explosions, which were all over TV, now marks you as a nutter.

  3. #4

    Hearing explosions are not what would mark you as a nutter. Saying you heard explosive devices planted by the CIA or Five Jew Bankers is what would make you a nutter.

  4. I feel like every year Sept. 11th is an opportunity for Americans to mourn over our tragedy, and then immediately go back to ignoring the far greater tragedies that happen all the time in the world.

    A certain amount of self-centeredness is expected from a world power’s culture, but the rhetoric of “Worst Tragedy Ever” starts to get to me, considering that there’s a whole world of stuff like this going on all the time.

    Perhaps something to keep in mind today:

    Sept 11 attacks: ~3000 dead
    ’08 Burma Cyclone: ~4,000 dead
    Hussein’s Halabja Poison attack: ~5000 dead
    ’03 Iran Quake: ~26,000 dead
    Bosnian war: ~39,000 civilians dead
    ’04 Tsunami: ~300,000 dead
    Darfur: ~410,000 dead.

    While terrible, we should be thankful that this is the worst America has had to deal with in recent history.

  5. I feel like every year Sept. 11th is an opportunity for certain Americans to chastise other Americans for failing to properly acknowledge all of the victims of violence and disaster in the rest of the world before mourning over their tragedy.

  6. Does a similar video exist for when the buildings crumpled? I used to have it on my Tivo, saving it all those years, but then had a hard drive failure and lost it. I’ll never forget watching the building fall away, leaving just a little spike of smoke in its place.

  7. So, when would be a more appropriate time to mention the 700,000+ dead in Anonymous’ list? I know several Americans personally who think that the WTC disaster is more tragic than any other event in human history. September 11 should be an opportunity to mourn the needless dead everywhere. Unless you’re a regional chauvinist, that is.

  8. Amazing video – this was the first time that I’ve ever seen several of these angles/views.

    I can’t imagine that I’m the only person who cries a bit seeing this footage again.

    Thank god it’s 8 years behind us and counting…

  9. Dunno, Takeshi, do survivors of 9-11 inject their trauma into commemmorations of the Bosnian War? Your regional chauvinism is others’ hallowed ground.

  10. #11 posted by takeshi:

    Here’s a simple analogy.

    The brother of a friend of yours gets killed in a car accident. You go to the funeral. It’s all very sad. A few months later, a drunk driver plows into a minivan just outside of town, and kills five members of the Johnson family. A year later, on the same day that your friend’s brother was killed, he brings up the accident. He’s sad. You say, “You should be thankful only your brother was killed. Mr. Johnson lost his wife and children. Why don’t you mourn for his loss?”

    It’s a matter of tact, and deference to the sensibilities of others, and taking one day out of the year where you don’t make a point of demonstrating your superior, rational remove to the rest of us. Particularly those of us who were there, or who lost loved ones.

  11. I happen to know quite a few 9/11 survivors, and you’d be surprised what kinds of things they talk about in relation to the tragedy. Three of my friends and one member of my immediate family were killed that day, FYI.

    Of course, I knew that I couldn’t ask a simple question without having some dimwit tell me how callous I was being. The fact is: some Americans only recognize the tragedy of 9/11 on this day, and refuse to acknowledge every other tragedy, every day.

    Peace in the Middle East.

  12. I’m not one of those Americans.

    Also, while I may think you’re behaving in tactless manner, you’ll note I didn’t call you an idiot. Way to persuade, there.

    Peace in the world, you regional chauvinist.

  13. @ IWood:

    So, you’re saying that 9/11 is analogous to someone’s brother dying in a car accident? I’m not going to get into a shit-eating contest with you, because I’m sure you’d win.

    I am very sorry for your loss, but to assume that I didn’t lose people close to me that day merely because I take the position I do, and by simultaneously taking the opposite position, you demonstrate a severe misunderstanding of compassion.

  14. Incidentally, my first response was for Tdawwg. You were so certain that I had no personal stake in what I was saying that you even chastised me on behalf of 9/11 survivors everywhere.

    You stay classy, too, OK?

  15. Iwood,

    The problem with your analogy is that an incident such as that causes people to reflect on the cause of the accident. They discuss reasons why drinking can lead to tragedy.

    However in the case of 9/11, any discussion about the cause of the attacks is reduced to “they just hated our way of life”.

    A public forum is not the place for private discussion. The level of consideration needed for how particular individuals will react to certain comments is not as high. Especially when for 364 days of the year, the topic is left unmentioned.

  16. “Callous” is your word, Takeshi. My main point was to object to your legislating of my or others’ grief, politics, sympathies, etc. “Dimwit,” another word you unfortunately used, is both inaccurate and rude. Let’s not fight, OK?

  17. I’d like to apologize to Tdawwg. This is a topic of some emotional gravity, and IWood is right about one thing: I should never resort to name-calling. As someone who has lost people close to me, I tend to react viscerally to this “us against them” bullshit.

  18. Takeshi, I was about to say much the same thing.

    Every year, I vow to not get drawn into any discussions online about this day, every year I do anyway, and every year it doesn’t go well. I think this is a subject that demonstrates the limits of texted conversation: there are no emotional cues. I suspect that, were you and I to meet, the conversation would be quite different.

    I sympathize, apologize, and withdraw.

  19. @ Tdawwg:

    OK, I just read #21, and with all due respect I think that perhaps you’re missing my point. What you’re doing is every bit as much an attempted “legislation” of my and others’ grief, etc., particularly those who disagree with you.

    I appreciate this opportunity to discuss our differences, and I am sorry for reacting poorly. However, no one has the right to tell anyone that they can’t observe 9/11 in any way they see fit. Even if that prohibits us from claiming it as our own, it is a symbol of injustice everywhere. They don’t just hate us for our freedom.

  20. Dawwg, I had nothing but admiration for
    your link–I mean, I LOVE Ecclesiastes and spent a worthwhile muddled year doing exegesis in Scotland.

    Sadly, yer link is Sirach, from the septuagint, and thus as an American I must reject your apology.

  21. I’m French married to an American. Love the U.S. Was in Paris when 9/11 happened. Remember everyone’s heart sinking at the TV footage of the WTC collapsing.

    French daily Le Monde headlined “Nous sommes tous américains,” and that’s how we all felt: we were all Americans then. I also remember the following days, when all European public transport would stop for a minute in commemoration of the victims. Very powerful and insightful. Affected all of us.

    Eight years on, let’s hope the current U.S. administration will be able to play that global empathy to its, and the world’s advantage against the dark forces that keep creeping up.

    Yet, we cannot be prisoners of he past: repeat/graphic/dramatic footage of what happened, fear mongering, dangerous amalgams and unnecessary conflicts only fuel those nihilist forces we seek to tame.

  22. Folks, the bickering about numbers and callousness and American perspectives and…stop. Just stop.

    John Donne put it simply and put it best.

    “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    Go call your mom, hug your kids, smile at your neighbor, give you cat a treat, feed the fish a little bit extra, tip your servers freely and give more kindness than you get.

    It’s a short ride, and it can end any old time in any number of horrible, sad or comic ways. Make it a good one.

  23. Please don’t tell other people how they should or shouldn’t mourn.

    That’s just rude. Really, really rude. Not to mention mean spirited.

  24. I can’t watch that video, i just can’t. i have watched most of the videos xeni has posted about horrid conditions in 3rd world countries and war, but i can’t get my self to watch this. I saw it when it happened, i was ten years old and i saw men and women jump from the building to their doom. it’s just too sad.

  25. I had a launch of my post-apocalyptic zine today but it was a coincidence that it was 9/11. I wanted it to be a part of national disaster preparedness month (sept) and a friday, and today was available, no one else wanted the date. However Sept was not post-apocalyptic. Everything that happened after…Iraq War casualties on both sides..torture victims…loss of liberties…change from budget surplus to trillions in debt…that was closer to post-apocalyptic.

  26. desiredusername wrote:

    However Sept was not post-apocalyptic. Everything that happened after…Iraq War casualties on both sides..torture victims…loss of liberties…change from budget surplus to trillions in debt…that was closer to post-apocalyptic.

    Yes, an apocalypse would be the necessary antecedent of the post-apocalyptic.

  27. as some lunatic in a bedsheet once said:
    “My message is the practice of compassion, love and kindness. These things are very useful in our daily life, and also for the whole of human society these practices can be very important.

    “Basically, universal responsibility is the feeling for other people’s suffering just as we feel our own. It is the realization that even our own enemy is motivated by the quest for happiness. We must recognize that all beings want the same thing we want. This is the way to achieve a true understanding, unfettered by artificial consideration.

    “At the heart of Buddhist philosophy is the notion of compassion for others. It should be noted that the compassion encouraged by Mahayana Buddhism is not the usual love one has for friends or family. The love being advocated here is the kind one can have even for another who has done one harm. Developing a kind heart does not always involve any of the sentimental religiosity normally associated with it. It is not just for people who believe in religions; it is for everyone who considers himself or herself to be a member of the human family, and thus sees things in accordingly large terms.

    “The rationale for universal compassion is based on the same principle of spiritual democracy. It is the recognition of the fact that every living being has an equal right to and desire for happiness. The true acceptance of the principle of democracy requires that we think and act in terms of the common good. Compassion and universal responsibility require a commitment to personal sacrifice and the neglect of egotistical desires.

    “I believe our every-day experience confirms that a self-centred attitude towards problems can be destructive not only towards society, but to the individual as well. Selfishness does not solve problems for us, it multiplies them. Accepting responsibility and maintaining respect for other will leave all concerned at peace. This is the essence of Mahayana Buddhism.”

  28. “IRAQ SAYS IT SHOT DOWN US SPY PLANE” 9/1/01 @5:41 in the video. FOX NEWS, bottom of the screen when the second tower is hit. Let us pray.

  29. h ys, rmmbr wtchng ths. t ws s wsm! Btfl ftg f mrcns plmmtng t thr dths. bsltly wndrfl! Whn r w gng t hv sch smnl mmnt gn? lghd my rs ff! Cn’t wt fr ths t hppn gn!

  30. Let’s see, old enough to clearly remember events of eight years ago, yet still embarrassingly juvenile.

    I’m guessing 12, maybe 13?

  31. Ave, Avram. I was alluding to (though not addressing) the author of the puerile comment currently numbered 40 and posted at 10:52 AM this day.

    I felt (and feel) that the comment deserved an answer. I was confident that content of my response combined with its proximity to the comment that provoked it would make my aim sufficiently clear.

    Seeing nothing in the original posting and nothing else in the comment thread that could be taken for embarrassing juvenility served only to bolster that confidence.

    Your query has shaken that confidence somewhat and I do apologize to anyone else who took offense.

    I must say, however, that I would be gobsmacked to learn that my meager response could be considered anywhere near as offensive as the callow celebration of mass-murder that I take comment number 40 to be.

  32. Thanks, Takuan.

    Glad that I correctly understood the gist of your own comment. Would not presume to drag you into it myself. Domo, Captchamancer.

  33. Last week there was a documentary on Channel 4 (UK TV) called “102 Minutes that changed America”. It was a real-time montage of camcorder footage from New Yorkers as the events unfolded. It was incredibly moving. You can probably find a torrent of it.

    Before seeing that film, I only really remembered a few shots of the towers collapsing and the reports after the event. All the talk always seemed a disproportionate response, when a hundred times more people died in Darfur or the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, or Tsunamis, etc.

    Unfortunately, seeing is believing. Events like the Tsunamis and wars become statistics. The destruction caused by the 9/11 attack can be seen from a hundred different angles, and you can see the fear and confusion in a thousand faces and look into the faces of firefighters who will go into a building thatthey won’t come out of.

    Perhaps if the Rwandan villagers all had camcorders, the genocide would have been better reported. I just can’t comprehend 400,000 people being killed. Until recently I couldn’t comprehend 4,000.

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