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JWR 2.26 - Dark Days


I was just listening to Bob and Brain on Lazer.  They were talking sports and then, all of a sudden, they were talking about a plane hitting a World Trade Tower in NYC.  They were actually watching as the second plane hit.  They were shocked and exclaimed such into their microphones.  I sat there, early morning, at my desk trying to do the deposit.  They kept talking about it.  Speculation.  Confusion.  Anger.  Terror.


Buildings enveloped in smoke and fire.  People evacuating.  People running.  Planes inside the upper floors of skyscrapers.


Terrorism?  Terrorism.  It simply has to be.  There is no other explanation.


Later they were talking about yet another plane hitting the Pentagon.  Washington in flames, confusion, anger.


I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The other shoe turned out to be a fourth plane that crashed in a rural field in Pennsylvania.


My hands were a little unsteady as I anticipated a fifth shoe.  The fifth show has not dropped.  It seems rather safe, nearly thirteen hours after the first plane struck, that, for now at least, it’s over.


Back when the World Trade Towers were bombed in their underground parking garage in ‘93, I saw the news coverage, but it didn’t affect me.  It didn’t seem so important.


When the federal building in Oklahoma City was mostly destroyed and the hundred sixty people died, I can’t say it affected me too much either.  I always kept that to myself with all the tears and memorials and prayers gagging me.  We had a second of silence for each person that died on the year anniversary in school.  Right around the thirty second mark I started looking around, bored and irritated.


I’m not a fan of the news, but I’ve found myself wholly attracted to these act of violence and mayhem.  It’s struck me on a personal note.  The only thing I can think of is, when I heard what happened to the Trade Towers, a bit of panic but more disbelief set in.


I was in New York a couple years ago.  I visited the Statue of Liberty, I climbed up her skirt.  I hung out in Central Park on an Jones Beach looking at the chicks in thongs with annoying accents.  I saw a boring ass Yankees game.  I went to the Empire State Building.  And I went to the World Trade Center.  They let us up on the roof and I looked out and down on the magnificence that was and still is New York.  I look back and I think about the subway rides I took.  I think about the three-plus hours it took to go up and back down the Statue of Liberty.  I think about eating hot dogs and pizza while walking down the street.  I think about the vibe in the air on Fifth Avenue as the Puerto Rican Pride parade closed down one of the busiest streets in the world and everyone was so happy.  Now, mostly I think about standing on the roof of the 110-story building that is no longer there.


The video of the plane crashing into it seems so unreal.  Fake even, like some practical joke they have been covering nonstop.  It was a marvelous building and it had to contain so many good people.


Then, what, news about a third plane slamming into the Pentagon, the world’s largest office building, the Untied States’ primary military building.  More unbelievable is that a plane actually hit this five sided government stronghold.  What’s safe?


And, in truth, that’s the bottom line we are all asking: if the Pentagon can be crippled, what can’t?


I sat there all day long antsy and pissed.  Listening to AM radio like some shut-in huddled in my basement as the hurricane winds screamed overhead.  AM played in my car for the first time.  CNN was on the TV in my apartment for more than five seconds.


Granted, things have not changed much just yet.  They may.  A lot of businesses were closed down.  Regency Mall here in town was closed down at one o’clock.  Federal buildings were closed in every state.  Any place that would bring a large group of people together was effectively shut down.  Baseball games have been canceled for tonight.


What’s to change?


It’s my understanding that the weapons used to hijack the planes were knives and box cutters, X-Acto knives.  No reports of guns.  Perhaps I would think differently if I was there, but should not the passengers have reacted against the hijackers?  I mean, they’ve got knives and there’s only a few of them?  Force in numbers.  If you get stabbed, at least the motherfucker’s not stabbing the pilot, and maybe that will spur other passengers to put down the salted or roasted peanuts and get off their asses and Ray Lewis some hijackers.


Wow.  Terrorism.  I listened to President Bush’s short announcement this evening and was rather hoping for a more definitive statement of a course of action.  I suppose time is needed to find out who did this and then to find them.  This is Bush’s chance to show the people why he was elected.  Not for the tax relief, show us that you’re a bad man, not the man with whom to fuck.  He quoted Psalm 23.  He should have paraphrased it: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for I am the meanest son of a bitch in the valley.”


When Saddam Hussein used to give press conferences for his little friends, he spoke of bathing in a pool of American blood.  Bush should adopt not necessarily that exact kind of threat, but to make a threat, and then, of course, to back it up by carrying out the executions of the soon to be captured (praise Allah) himself.


The psychology of terrorism does not make total sense to me.  I get it in as much that it promotes terror and a sense of urgency and confusion and paranoia in the victims of said terrorism.


But, see, this is America.  And through all of the I have found a sense within me well up.  I see the people on the news who cry and I think how close I was to crying a few times today.  A sense of temporary helplessness and infancy has given way to more a sense of pride in me being American and the knowledge that, in the end, we will prevail.  Not because we are chosen or blessed, not because good triumphs over evil because they are relative terms, rather because time and again we have proven to be the crafty, ingenious dominant power in the world.


We like our khakis and Starbuck’s, but we like our freedom even more.  I know you’ll find as time goes on, we’ll begin to come together and band together in opposition to terrorism.  You’ll start to see people on planes getting off their asses.


My roommate doesn’t quite get it.  Forgive him, he’s Canadian.  But push us and we will push back.  You think we have all those bombs for the hell of it?  We will prove that we are not the initials of the Statue of Liberty.




Copyright © 2001 John Lemut