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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, February 26

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r / September 6, 2011 11:03 AM

I was in Chicago, at home and watching coverage in stunned silence with my best friend, who was visiting from out of town. We had plans to go to the Art Institute; instead, we watched TV for 7 straight hours.

By noon, she said, "They're going to blame Osama bin Laden for this." I remember replying, "Who is Osama bin Laden?"

It was such a horrible day--to see the towers get hit (and collapse) live, and trying to understand the unraveling of information that followed.

Andrew Huff / September 6, 2011 12:35 PM

I was home, off work from the day job. My mom called and woke me up to tell me to turn on the TV. I spent most of the day (and weeks after) watching the news both on TV and online (mostly on MetaFilter). A couple friends came over, and we all watched together.

By late afternoon we were so exhausted and numb from the news that we decided to go watch a movie. We ended up seeing "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." I barely remember it.

Anon / September 6, 2011 1:57 PM

Oh who cares. It's not even Friday and I'm sick of the 9/11 stuff. It was a horrible event, but stuff like that happens all over the world and we're the only country that wallows in the pathos.

David / September 6, 2011 3:01 PM

I spent my entire day alternating between watching television coverage and listening to a friend pontificate that it was the work of anti-globalization forces. Neither of those things was particularly helpful.

And to the "Anon" who took the time to tell us to all get over ourselves, and that "stuff like that happens all over the world," I'd like to ask, where, exactly? And when? Pardon me for forgetting all the other past instances where the death of three thousand people was televised live across the entire country. And then please pardon me for thinking you're an uncaring asshole.

Emily / September 6, 2011 4:22 PM

I worked at the Board of Trade, so by the second plane we were all evacuating the building. There wasn't a panic yet, but it was very surreal.
The brown line was packed and cell coverage was starting to overload, so people were just annoyed. I went home and spent the day with friends as we watched and worried...and were amazed how the newscasters could talk for hours about nothing. Literally.

gg / September 6, 2011 5:17 PM

I was getting ready for work, listening to NPR, when there was a report that "apparently a plane has hit the World Trade Center." But that was all they had at the time. So I turned on the TV for more details and watched Katie Couric ask eye witnesses about what they saw. She was skeptical when one lady said it was a commercial jet and not a little plane. Then the second plane hit live on TV. Fun times.

I went to work like normal, which was surreal. But I couldn't focus on work, so I remember trying to read the New York Times online and not being able to get on because their servers were crashing. Downtown Chicago was eerily quiet when I got off work. Most people must have gotten off early, and those who didn't were just... quiet.

Spook / September 6, 2011 7:52 PM


Dave is totally right. Those Americans were the only ones to die televised live. Too bad
the; 800,000 men, women, and children slaughtered
in Rwandan, 400,000 Darfurians, 5 million Vietnamese, the tens of thousands "units" of "collateral damage" from our dirty little wars in Central and South America didn't have the cameras of CNN, NBC, ABC, FOX news, etc. Because if they did than maybe their deaths would have been worth more. Some red white blue ribbons, pins, buttons, etc.

Hey David, mind if I call you Dave? ten years ago I was with a bunch of regular "Good Americans" such as yourself who didn't realize that this was just blow back from 200 plus years of American foreign policy.

And how has it impacted my life? Ziltch!

Yea all my NPR friends said that because of 911
Americans would get more reflective and concerned with our history and the world around us. And I said we would be pulling the same old crap( Libya really) and being the same old ignorant arrogant s.o.b.s that we've always been.

fluffy / September 6, 2011 9:24 PM

Working at the Options Exchange Building, going up the elevator when some guy said 'you haven't heard yet?..' and told me about the 2 planes crashing. I checked in with my boss who told me I didn't have to work and to go get a drink at a bar. He was so flippant about it. I was trying to get a hold of my brother because my Mom had flown out of JFK that morning headed to Germany. It was weird how empty downtown Chicago got, except for the dumbasses who stood outside the Options Exchange bldg looking up at the sky. My brother in law works in Manhattan and was one of those people who had to walk to Brooklyn and stay at a friend's house. I was relieved my sister had quit her job working for the Dept of Labor in NY because her office was in one of the towers.
Watching it on tv, I did think about other countries and how the US hadn't been attacked before. We get so used to hearing about wars or terrorists in other countries but until it happens in the US, it doesn't really affect us.
I can only compare it to feeling like you're in a bad earthquake. You have no control of how bad it can get, you feel totally vulnerable and you just want it to be over with. I hope I never feel like that again.

Mucky Fingers / September 7, 2011 11:31 AM

I'm with Anon and Spook on this one. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is just more marketing to sell stories because in the human mind "10" is such a psychologically satisfying number.

3,000 innocent people died - but it pales in comparison to the death, illness & injustice that much of the rest of the world has to deal with every day.

In the eyes of many outside our borders, the tragedy and suffering because of 9/11 can largely be viewed as Welcome to my world, motherfucker.

mary s. / September 7, 2011 3:52 PM

i was a junior in high school at the time, totally untuned in to the rest of the world. it was one of the only days i ever turned the news on before heading to school (probably trying to check out the weather) and saw the second plane crash. i really did not understand what was going on, but it made me realize how big my world had just gotten (small town girl realizes there's a world outside her own!)

beyond being scared for my family members that not only live in NYC, but my aunt worked blocks from the WTC, it did affect me in that it was the first time i willingly picked up a newspaper.

JP / September 7, 2011 4:46 PM

September Wedding, a 9/11 story

Peter / September 8, 2011 10:30 AM

I was at my office when I first heard about the planes. We rigged up a small TV in the conference room to watch the news. I ended up meeting a friend later that night at the corner bar where we decided to join the Marines, only to be dissuaded by one of our friend's brothers who had recently completed his service in the corps.

Looking back, its pretty clear that the tragedy brought me out of the fog of academic thinking. The moral equivalence and cultural relativism that were (and still are) the pillars of a degreed education were useless in providing guidance in understanding and inept in providing context to the tragedy. The self-flagellation that followed was, and continues to be, embarrassing (remember the Time magazine cover - Why do they hate us?).

RFC / September 8, 2011 10:42 AM

It made me realize one thing. No matter what happens, no matter what scale, some cool guy will remind everyone that people elsewhere are dealing with some situation that’s a much bigger deal, civil war, starvation, etc and that cool guy would rather spend his time at the gastro pub worry about that bigger situation, cause he’s cooler than you, you ignorant self centered American.

vise77 / September 8, 2011 11:14 AM

I was "lucky" enough to be a reporter for a somewhat sizable newspaper at the time, in an area where the FBI would soon target in search of links to the 9/11 terrorists. I think I managed to get a few hours of sleep that week. It was the most intense work experience of my life.

After about a week, I could decompress, and then a bunch of delayed emotions hit me, which was also pretty damn intense--it was a mix of (non Cheney type) patriotism, sadness, grief, regret (that we didn't see this, about our actions, etc) and anxiety about what would come next, both in other attacks and the wisdom of our own responses.

Anyway, RFC, you are right: I've found that most cooler-than-thou types really care little about the poor brown and black people they talk about so much. The cooler-than-thou types just like being cool. That sometimes they are right is about as meaningful as the blind squirrel finding the acorn and all that.

Spook / September 8, 2011 2:05 PM

See I knew General Macarthur would be making his daily comment inspections.

p.s. Yo Mucky, you ripped like those Heads on The Lyricist Lounge CD.

Except, for the fact that they actually refer to the patriotic flag & pen wearers, and the 3rd grade deep" thinkers" who think " they hate us cause of our freedom" crowd, not as motherfuckers, but Goat Fuckers

Yea I think we are gonna be spending alot of time in their world, but of course it's a world we made.Or as our Brotha Bob Marley sang in TrenchTown Rock, "Big Fist sprat now, Don't call no cop, you reap what you sow"

vise77 / September 8, 2011 2:10 PM

Free drinks at the dive of your choice for the first person who can translate this into English:

"Except, for the fact that they actually refer to the patriotic flag & pen wearers, and the 3rd grade deep" thinkers" who think " they hate us cause of our freedom" crowd, not as motherfuckers, but Goat Fuckers"

amyc / September 8, 2011 2:45 PM

I'm not particularly cool, I've never been to a gastropub, and I have no idea what Spook is talking about, but I don't really see the point of this annual wallow. Not just here on GB, but everywhere.

The attacks were horrible and tragic. I would pay good money to get those images scrubbed out of my brain forever. But considering all the horrors done in our name since -- hundreds of thousands killed, maimed, or tortured in a decade of misguided retaliation -- I find the "I watched it on TV and it made me sad" stories just kind of gross.

vise77 / September 8, 2011 2:51 PM

" ...but I don't really see the point of this annual wallow."

I agree, and I'm with you to a large extent--and the media can be such shameless whores, along with politicians and other circus performers-- but I also think it is basic human nature to want to look back, to reflect, to take a breath and consider (or, as well, to wallow in the nostalgic muck). For better or worse, nearly all Americans feel connected to 9.11, much like an earlier generation did to the JFK shooting, etc.

Mike / September 8, 2011 3:00 PM

I'll be traveling this weekend and won't turn on a TV ... so, alas, I'll miss the big "A Nation Mourns" pity party.

Spook / September 8, 2011 3:45 PM

Vice Vicey,

Let me break it down for you. Like Tyson use to do, way back when, in the day.

Like Ms Springer,( Lord rest her sweat Soul) use to do, with them unstable elements, on the periodic table, in High School Chemistry, yo!

Like I use to do, wayyyyy back in my B Boy- Pop Locking- Tick Tocking- Electric Boogaloo, days when a young Spook was breaking bad with that Mad Mad Crew on the number two train.

Sorry to digress, Vicey. But you know how I do.

O.k., pull up a world map on your computer, and drop that base line.

On your map, you will see,( even with your on trained eye) that surrounding America are a Majority People, (Blacks, Browns, Yellows) who America because of Good Germans, Like yourself ( ooooopppps sorry I meant Good Americans) have colonized, raped, pillaged, and plundered for over 200 years, so that, yall, could watch all snugly in your rockers (, Seinfiled,( how ever the F*ck he spells it) Monday Night Foot Ball, Sex in the City, the Cubs, etc, etc, while being morally superior as a Ronald Reagan Disney World Nation.

Well Vicey. The "Par-tay" is over. And at our door is a bill that we cannot pay, cause we broke and spent the like Byzantine Empire when Rome fell to the Turks.

Now the Majority people are finally in a position to exact violent revenge or revenge served cold ( economic dominance i.e. China, India, South America,etc.

Because you ask?
Because people like you. Hollow/shallow patriot, and third grade thinkers who wear red white and blue flags and pens( made in China) on your lapels. People like you. Who went around screaming that 9/11 was caused by "savages" who "hated us because of our freedoms!". Instead of being propelled into deep and painful socratic soul reflecting (that causes one to experience the intellectual vertigo) need to intellectually "die"and be "reborn" as in a maturation of the Soul.

Now my cyber roadie, MC Mucky Fingers said that the majority people call people like you "mother fuckers". I respectfully disagreed. My travels in the Middle East have proven that they call people like you Goat Fuckers, because they have too much respect for their mothers. And they consider worst people those that take indecent liberties with goats. It's also a common term for white Americans.

David / September 8, 2011 4:13 PM

I'm sorry, perhaps I have a fundamental misunderstanding of the term "break it down."

I always thought it meant "to clarify" or "deconstruct." Apparently it's merely the gateway to more meaningless gibberish.

I'm sure you'll come back with more pointlessly incomprehensible protests (featuring the Spook hallmarks of needless capitalization, errant commas and lack of anything resembling proper sentence structure), but I put as much stock in them as your claim that you've actually traveled overseas. Which is to say, none.

Congrats at being a certified Internet Thug. And as everybody knows, there's no harder thuggin' in the world than Internet Thuggin'. Keep up the good work!

vise77 / September 8, 2011 4:22 PM

"Good Germans"

Comparing me a Nazi or an enabler of the Holocaust and countless other atrocities? You can burn in hell. Seriously. That is even more offensive that your little brain could ever know, even if you likely think this Spook act as some kind of performance art. Rip my ideas to shreds, that's fine and welcomed, but you are an irredeemable scumbag for going there. I sincerely hope you pull that shit in the real world, on someone much less in control of his emotions than am I.

Spook / September 8, 2011 8:59 PM

A'hoy There!

His holy Visorness from atop his the Mountain of Privilege doth, take, umbrage!!!!!

Ohh unhand me! You've clearly not read the book or at least even taken the time to google, The Good German. And you are even worse. You stupid, self centered, supercilious ugly American wretch. You and your kind have always been the problem! And, No! It is YOU that are being judged, on this earth, around the world as all the rest of ""little Eichmanns"- such as yourself- to use the brilliant term coined by Dr. Ward LeRoy Churchill.

And I guess we deserve to be judged and condemned right with you, for not checking your unbridled arrogance. Again, The Congo Cables, Vietnam, Grenada , 9/11, We never learn. I hope you at least realized that you've had your day.

Spook / September 8, 2011 9:32 PM

Dave; you are no Plato so don't apologize cause you don't have the critical analysis to self reflect on a higher level.

Oh yes indeed, I do enjoy to play, but not with you because your candle is out. And you can't put stock in any thing when you have none. Stock cannot be earned in a deep dark cave where you and your friends exist. But I will say this. When I was on one of my recent travels a month ago, I found myself sitting alone with a bunch of economically hard scrambled locals at a lean to bar in a dusty town far off the beaten track, that a sophomoric American bumpkin like yourself wouldn't have the HART to drink at. One of the men asked me where I was from and I told him Canada.

It's because of people like you that so many of my American friends feel less safe to travel abroad. I have another friend who says he's from Nigeria when he is really from New York.
This is something that didn't happen pre 9/11 by the way.
I know you don't get that on your vacations to Vegas or Iowa. Now you and I are done, at least until you do what most cyber cowards do, slime back up under a new moniker.

P.S Oh yes. I am a internet thug to you and your type. So hide yourselves because you know from what you write and what I write that you cannot compete with me.

Andrew Huff / September 8, 2011 11:16 PM

Folks, let's take a step back here. The personal attacks need to stop (and I'm looking at you in particular, Spook) or I'm going to have to start breaking out the banhammer. Nobody wants that, least of all me. So let's be civil to each other.

mary s. / September 9, 2011 8:39 AM

thank you andrew.

Spook / September 9, 2011 10:02 AM

And I am speaking directly to you Andrew.

I will say what I feel. And every thing I have said above is based either on current political fact, history, or political literature, clearly evident and backed up in my previous posts.

So you do what ever you need to do. In fact I welcome your "banhammer". But I will not dumb down because my speech is "foreign" to what you generally read.

Andrew Huff / September 9, 2011 10:18 AM

Spook, it's not about being "foreign," whatever that means, it's about being respectful. You are not the only person who is being abusive in this thread, but you are egging it on by responding and escalating the negativity.

Overall, everyone needs to chill out and be nicer to each other here.

David / September 9, 2011 10:20 AM

Lord, this is insanity.

One of the things I remember most vividly from 9/11/01 was the sense that we could set aside the things that make us different and try to come together where we could make a positive difference.

A lot has happened in the ten years since, but the thing that saddens me most is this increasingly vicious willingness to point at someone else and say, "See, THAT is what's wrong with America, not me or what I'm doing."

I've done it too, so I can't say I'm blameless. But this back-and-forth here has at least helped remind me to try to concentrate on places where we can come together, instead of concentrating on places where we are so very far apart.

Spook / September 9, 2011 11:14 AM

Editor Huff.

This conversation to me and my contributions are not frivolous cocktail circuit banter.

It's serious to me, especially during these times. But let's cut to the cheese. I know what you consider "egging on". The term of "Good German" was a novel by Joseph Kanon. Written In the same vain as Eli Wiesel's "Night" and Hanna Arendt's "The Banality of Evil".

These works were written ( and of course mostly ignored) as cautionary tales for today and tomorrow. Especially to Americans about the real costs and dangers of being anti historical, and culturally and spiritually narcissistic. "Little Eichmanns" was coined during 9/11( how à propos)in an academic setting by professor
Dr. Ward Churchill following in the foot prints of the two scholars listed above. Again, serious serious work and meaningful reflection.

How can you call my use of these terms "egging on"? Now if you were to say,... Yo Spook, Gapers Block is more about light hearted conservational banter and repartee. I would say.... I got Andrew. My bad. Because I'm reasonable.

But you didn't. Of course you still have time do so and you need to if such is the case. I am able to differentiate forums and respect them.

But I'm insulted that you think, that I'm playing games here, talking just to talk.
Again I take these conversations deeply, which is why I use the terms that I do. And frankly, you should be respect and appreciate that some one is willing to and enjoys brining real progressive scholarship to bear and I'm not going to apologize for doing so- unless I have the wrong forum. That's what education is for, to apply it in future applications in real life settings. At least that's what the Jesuits think

Jason / September 9, 2011 12:35 PM

I was at home (I worked 2nd shift, at the time).

It hasn't impacted my life. Though, I guess it has made air-travel a royal pain in the ass.

I apologize in advance if I offend anyone with this statement, but it happened, it was horrible and we really need to let it go already.

something / September 9, 2011 8:57 PM

I wasn't born in this country, I chose to move here. I never thought something like 911 would happen in the safe US. That's why I moved here- But it did.
Sometimes, It's hard to believe that it actually happened. That is why people make a big deal out of it. WHen you know people that were there and had to breathe the nasty smoke in, people that worked in the buildings, it shocks you. It's normal to grieve and it doesn't stop after 9.9 years. I worked for a company that worked with AON on a daily basis- they lost a lot of people. The company I work for lost 2 people in 9/11. One day you can email them, the next day they can't find remains. For some of us, it's important to remember - there's still anger over how these people had families and their lives were fucked because of this. It was violent and unprecedented. I'm not ashamed that I'm still affected by it.
For those who weren't, maybe you live a nice secluded life where you don't want to or have to think about it. Not everyone is that lucky. I just wonder- how can you be so jaded when this is something that doesn't or isn't supposed to happen in this country? So many people move to the US to escape war or destruction. It was shocking and it still is And the fear of it happening again is something prior generations never had to think about.

Shechemist / September 10, 2011 8:57 PM

I was at work, and found out online the first plane hit. When the second plane hit, everyone stopped working and was glued to whatever media source they had including little headphone radios.

I rememeber realizing that normal everyday folks were on those planes and that feeling of horror still knots my stomach for some reason.

As for how it changed my life, we have pretty much given up on air travel. The security is little more then phrenology(sp?) and not worth the hassle barring a family emergency. We drive or plan on taking amtrax. There is no reason that my kids should have to submit to bullshit pat downs or alpha emitting scans cuz grandpa is dying and we need to spend time with him while we can.

It has also changed our economy. We spend money as a nation on crap that isn't making us safer, is physically and mentally harming a large swath of a generation of young men and women, and is not improving foreign relations. Money that could have gone to improve communities through economic development, population health improvements ( here and abroad) and education. There are times I wonder if the bullshit with derivative mortgages and the housing crash might not have happened if we weren't so focused on shit like fake national security measures. I know it sounds crazy. There are so many distraction and people are easily motivated by fear.

shechemist / September 10, 2011 11:36 PM

I also feel I should add I have never seen footage of the towers collapsing. At the time I was one of those assholes that didn't have a TV. I am still one of those assholes that watches very little TV out side of Sprout, PBS kids shows or a few mindless things that I Tivo.

Justin / September 11, 2011 3:59 PM

9/11 set me on course to study how we receive, process, and act on information. I'm talking about something specific here. Because I'm not a strict materialist in either the scientific or the Marxist senses of the word, neither cognitive science nor socio-political economics made much sense as a point of focus. I won't contend that a chemical imbalance or a lack of resources for survival can't lay the groundwork for antisocial behavior. But I doubt that either condition, on its own, is enough to make us think killing other people is ever an okay thing. Even at our most psychotic we seem to maintain some small amount of self-respect and rationality. It takes a certain flavor of epistemology and a certain blend of rhetoric to help us divide the world into things worth protecting and things worth destroying.

What made sense to study was the point at which the ideas that appeared to fuel the attack overlapped the ideas given to justify the U.S.'s response. Theology was the common denominator. What we think God is and what we think God wants and expects of us are questions from which a whole hell of a lot follows. These are enormous questions, all tied up with the meaning and value of life. Our answers may be more or less informed, but whatever they are, the logic that produces them is always deeply personal and self-referencing. And lacking any independent means of verification, it's guesswork, pro-God and anti-God. Needless to say, before death there is no final knowing here.

While I'm sympathetic to those atheists who want to put all this religious nonsense behind us, I'll fight the sentiment to the end. If theology is a disease like breast cancer or Parkinson's, it's stupid to argue that the way out of the problem is to ignore it or wish it away. (Because ignoring the problem totally helped us beat breast cancer and Parkinson's.) No, mature, progressive human beings sponsor their coworkers and relatives to run/walk non-competitive races and bid on fancy shoes to fund research. There is nothing scientific or rational in anti-religious screed. A pet peeve; I digress.

Two wrecked skyscrapers, a hole in the Pentagon, and a long black mark in a Pennsylvania field were almost enough to convince me it was time to get serious about how and why we come to understand "what it all means" and what that meaning (or lack of meaning) leads us to think is good and right for us to do. Almost, I said. It took the wording of President Bush's speech that night to put me over the edge.

After a few unbelievably intense and sometimes tragic years, I entered grad school at the UofC, fought my way through it ("Where fun comes to die"), and emerged convinced that there isn't a functioning person in America immune to that squishy solution of philosophy and psychology that is theology. We don't have to like it, and we sure don't have to support whatever happens to be the "Christian" political issue of the day.

But we do ourselves and our neighbors wrong the minute we think we're smarter and stronger than all that Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed voodoo. Theology is a language like any other: when people talk, for instance, about "what Jesus has done" for them, they're describing actual life experiences in a specialized language. It's deep, personal stuff, with profound social implications. I think we ought to hear them out.

That's how 9/11 has impacted my life. I'm less of an intellectual bigot than I was. I've been reading Lincoln and Montaigne. I think they have an awful lot to tell us about where we are, right now.

For what it's worth, I actually agree with some of Spook's points. So did an old guy at the NYC hostel I stayed at in '06 -- when I told him I was off to see Ground Zero, he said, "Financial capital of the world. That's what they was aiming' at, those bastids."

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