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Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

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My 9/11 Post
The Dynamism of a Dog on a Lead
So it's tenth anniversary of the events variously known as 9/11 or September 11th. I imagine there will be a million blog entries about "where were you when it happened?" much like an earlier generation would talk about where they were they heard JFK had been assassinated.

Here is mine. I was sharing a house with some folks at that point in 2001. On what was our Wednesday morning, I got up and one of my housemates had turned the TV on - most unusual. On it was a shot of the second plane hitting the second tower, looped to run over and over again. Someone was being interviewed in the foreground, and both him and the interviewer turned to watch the second plane exploding through the building.

I said "What movie is this from?" and my housemate said "It's not this is really happening." I said "Oh fuck, what's happened to the two buildings?". She replied "They've both collapsed."

Shit, I thought, there's going to be a war. And I was right.

I also knew straight away who would turn out to be responsible - the same group that bombed the same buildings in 1993.

There are a few things worth saying about the US response to the whole thing, or should I say Bush and Cheney's response, but that's a whole other post. Lets just say I was one of hundreds of thousands of marchers who protested the resulting wars.

I finally made it to New York in 2009. By that stage the site was little more than a huge building site. With some oddness, such as the whole row of crazy conspiracy theorists with card tables loaded with books making assertions, who had all lined up along one side of the site. The one visible piece of debris was the World Trade Center Cross, which was found in this state, apparently, in the ruins.

New York had a great impact on me, as I'm sure it does on most visitors. I spent most of my time on Manhattan Island, which is like about ten interesting cities all crammed together on one small island. People talk about it as the real capital of the world, grand I know, but it does seem to be a place where a lot of interesting people gravitate and a lot of interesting things go on.

And in other words, it represents some of the best things about the United States. The USA can be seen as many things. A credible case could be made for it being an imperialist military power, this is the nation which routinely has twelve carrier battle groups cruising the world's oceans, each of which is more powerful than most nations air-forces.

But when you're in New York, you can forget what is wrong with the United States, and remember that with the bad they have some very good. I hear Boston and San Francisco are also amazing cities.

So my point is this, of all the places in the the US to attack, why that city? The Pentagon and the White House I can understand, but why New York? A cosmopolitan, accepting place, much more interested in art and food than taking over the world. OK, so, that's probably not as true of Wall Street. But why that city? A place so full of migrants from other lands that something like 54 nationalities where represented in the thousands killed when the planes struck. Why that city? The place were so many novels and plays and painters got their first hearings. The home of Andy Warhol and Laurie Anderson and indeed the United Nations. A place I would happily live the rest of my life, if I had that option. But no, a number of fanatics had to hit that place of all places.

Ah well, they seem to be recovering. And one day I'll be there again, riding the subways up and down Manhattan, watching my wallet in Times Square, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge again. The city is still there.
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