The ramp up to today began several weeks ago when the made-for-TV movies and documentaries of all scales began showing up to pay respects and remember the terrible tragedy that occurred a decade ago.
In some ways, I hate admitting it, but the hype has left me feeling a little cynical about the anniversary. The infighting between those who were there and survived, the families of those who didn’t, the responders and pit workers, people like me who were here for it but not directly a part of and everyone else who watched it unfold glued to their TVs miles away is intolerable and quite frankly disenfranchising for me. Then again, last year’s ninth anniv didn’t leave me in much better of a mood.
Back when this all went down, I was a young music marketer fortunate enough to be working for an amazing independent company based out of Hudson County, NJ. Our offices overlooked midtown in a renovated building that housed a number of music enedvours. It was totally the experience I hoped for when I graduated several years earlier as I loved my work, I loved my coworkers and clients and I loved the music I was tasked with marketing.
Sometimes, it’s amazing how quickly things change. I witness some of the devastation on my ride into work with a clear view of the impact of the second plane. By the time I arrived at the office we watched in horror from our vantage point of the buildings burning across the river just south of our building. It was surreal. It was unreal. The next day, as communications slowly came back up, I took to my keyboard to tell all the programmers across the US and Canada and all our clients in our weekly newsletter. As you can imagine, I was a lot less jaded then, thankfully.
I remember all to vividly the day. And the next, and the next. I remember the candlelight vigils and impromptu memorials popping up all over, flags flying out of every window, the Clear Channel “ban” on certain songs (Drowning Pool’s Let the Bodies Hit the Floor still always comes to mind in reference), neighbors gathering on the corner yet saying next to nothing, the lighting of the twin beams of light from the pit and watching from above the Meadowlands swamps. There was a smell and that lingering ash in the air and a grayness about things that was eerie reaffirming that something incredible indeed occurred every time you thought your life was kind of, sort of getting back to normal.
The CMJ Music Marathon that year was interesting, to say the least. Major swaths of town were still closed, there were all kinds of transportation restrictions into Manhattan and the mood was hardly the celebratory debauchery of the music industry’s entitlement I’d grown to know and love. It was replaced with donation plates at venues for the local firehouses and those displaced from their apartments near the site, more solemn dinner gatherings that preceded significantly less shows per evening to run around between and constant reminders that the world around us had irreversibly changed as the only tourists left on the island seemed to be those who had come in specifically for the event.
Everyone banned together to get through and put their social, philosophical and other differences aside to be reminded we were all citizens together at that moment. Brother’s and Sister’s united not just by our Union of States but by our common bond as humans to be affected by something so enormous.
If I had but one hope for today it would be that we set aside our differences again. End the partisanship, the racism and religious hatred, the infighting between the affected, etc. that has dominated the better part of the last decade of recovery and turn back to what initially got us through those moments following the impact. It might be unimaginatively utopian to wish for something like that, but in light of everything else, it’s the last hope I have for the City I love and Nation I live in.