Loss And Survival When The Bottom Falls Out
Hi All ,
I was watching a documentary about 911 last night and I had a bit of an epiphany , I was in Ireland at the time because we were having a sort of a family reunion in Ballina, Co Mayo, my home town . My New York family and my Washington DC family were all driving to Dublin Airport to catch their flights to the US the next day , 12th Sept. My New York Brother worked in highrise construction and worked on the construction of the Towers . He knew how they had been constructed and how many people they could hold , his thoughts were that the numbers could be between 20 and 30 thousand people under that rubble pile. We knew other people who would frequent those buildings but there was just one person we knew who was actually in the first to fall . She was the Irish Niece of my Sister's roomate and we all ran into each other out partying in the Irish Pubs on Fordham Road near The Grand Concourse , Durty Nellies , The Wagon Wheel etc ... frequented by many Irish people who had fled the harsh economic conditions in Ireland back then . Emma ( not her real name ) had asthma and was at an immigration appointment way up in the upper floors. She was having trouble breathing and got to the big open Plaza area between the Towers probably with the help of he fellow escapees . She required oxygen and was being treated by Paramedics in the Plaza. Never imagining that the building would fall they were making sure she was good to go . Before she could get away that deep terrifying rumble began ( this terrifying noise can be heard as a French Film crew were in side the second tower making a documentary about the NYFD and the challenges they face in a city full of old highrises . ). Emma must have heard that earth shaking rumble sounding like a freight train approaching from the sky . The falling dust cloud might have obscured her view of the mountain coming down on her , millions of tons of steel and concrete powder destroyed , crushed and buried everything in it's path . Emma's smashed body was found eventually and she was returned home to Tuam in Ireland to be united with her shocked family . When I heard all the details gleaned from accounts by the few people who could run fast enough in the few seconds it took for that enormous structure to disappear from the cityscape of Manhattan . For those who have lived in NYC for any amount of time the city is definition of Living Life at the speed of sound , full of life where walking on the fast streets is like driving in The Grand Prix !!! Life on permanent fast forward where if you lose concentration you just might get run over by the oncoming People Traffic . A Brother in Ireland , Jody , had been to some Southern States and San Francisco where life is a little slower, When I walked the length of Manhattan from the South Street Seaport all the way to Central Park South and then further to the Museum of Natutral History Jody was almost dumstruck by the experience , Life played out in Fast Forward, the crowds of people had him mesmerized . When we got to Central Park we finally sat down to have a cold beer and after he caught his breath In NYC Speed is contageous it seems . Like when the normal highway speed is 55 but every car is sight doing 80 , you have to keep up or get run over !! Jody comes out with the funniest comments while at the same time being totally serious . He looked at me with a slightly purturbed questioning look ..." Jasus this is an awful busy place . What I'd like to know is where the F..K are all these people going and why the F..k are they all in such a mad rush to get there ?? They can't all be running late for an important appointment !!!?? ( Warning for first time visitors to Ireland , The F word and several others I cannot repeat here are just considered Punctuation in a normal conversation , mostly to add emphasis to what was being said . ) Looking down from above the surging crowd begins to look like an army of little Ants , each with a designated function in life . The Ants will give a little touch to each other as they pass , a bit like a high five probably confirming that they are all on the same page about their collective goal , a very important social connection, the Social Contract of the insect world is being maintained . In NYC people avoid eye contact at all costs , eye contact can be seen as a challenge as with many predatory animals . My strategy is to try and look two people ahead in order to figure out the distance you need to leave between me and the person directly in front of me . It's very much like Defensive Driving , this is Defensive Walking !!! As driving on a crowded but fast moving highway with wall to wall traffic if you lose concentration and even touch the car in front the whole conveyor belt of traffic comes to a complete stop , everyone gets annoyed because once the forward momentum is lost it can turn into a major traffic jam and people can pose a major threat to each other as Road Rage can enter the picture . Walking too close can lead to " heel to toe " contact which , if you are really unlucky may result in the loss of a shoe for the person ahead ...you do Not want to go there !! A bump , a glare followed by a quick " Sorry" delivered with a genuine uncomfortable grin / smile . NYC is one of the few places where you can ask a perfect stramger on the street ....if you can actually slow them down and ask for directions and they will stop and actually explain with patience your proposed route and maybe give you a shortcut. NYC natives really do have heart and will take a few minutes to help a stranger . When we first got to NY I was looking for the Social Security office to begin the process that each person " just off the boat " has to go through. We stopped a cop when they actually walked a beat and asked very politely if he could maybe point us in the right direction . This Cop , probably underpaid and overworked responded ...." ...what the F do I look like , a goddamned tourist guide , get outta heeea ..." . Welcome to America we thought !! that was late 70s , early 80's and if you ever wonder what NYC was like just find the movie " Taxi Driver " , that was 1979-80 NYC , a scary place . In recent , 10-15 years it has become a different world . I went to the 4th of July fireworks by myself a few years back and there must have been 2 Million people , no exaggeration . The whole length of the West Side was lined with too many people to count and I have never felt so safe as that night by myself with a few thousand bucks of camera equipment slung over my shoulder . People had some beers and the smell of the good Weed permeated the air . I did not see a single drunk person , no fights, no disruption just a huge party that had every color of the rainbow attending and enjoying the show . After midnight the grand finale had played out and then all the private fireworks began . When the last colors were evaporating into the night sky it was as if everyone just got the same memo at the same time . Moms Dads and Kids , singles like myself , Black, Puerto Rican, Dominican , Russian ...you name it they were there like the proverbial "Melting Pot " . Everyone picked up cans , bottles , portable barbecues , taking out what they had brought in and the slow march began cross town to get to the central hubs, Penn Station and Grand Central . This sea of humanity walked almost like a single unit , chatting , laughing , reliving the best of the magic show they had just seen . Lights turned red , everyone stopped , turned green , everyone walked . No smartass pushing through the crowd no nasty language when people were sometimes pushed into each other , just a grin and a nod , maybe a sorry and on they went . I took the Long Island Railroad back to Amityville without incident anxious to see my latest Fireworks photos , long exposure on tripod with the lovely streaks , all the classic shots and I was very happy with my decision to go to the city.
Just like any town , city or village there are some wrongheaded people who screw it up for the decent people and NYC is no different than our small Irish towns . The vast majority just want to live their lives , keep a roof over their heads , feed their families and lead peaceful lives , basically just decent, kind and generous people who only want to help their fellow US Residents . Some Europeans look down their noses at Americans and when I ask them if they have ever set foot in this country the answer is usually No and if they have been here they might have seen Las Vegas or New York for a week and in their minds and imagination they have Experienced America and are qualified to judge the entire country and population after a week or maybe two , Disneyland , the usual suspects . I always try to clarify their vision of America and straighten out some of their misconceptions and misperceptions . Politicians come and go as they do in Europe , fools and potential Psychopaths , convicted Pimps who organized and procured underage girls for the perverts who ran in his nasty circle ...Berlusconi of Italy would be that Pimp , convicted in a court of law of providing Children to ...to Who ...that apparently will never see the light of day . As opposed to the utter garbage spouted by the so called Q people ...these cases are and were real and not a figment of some sick imagination . My final word to these ignorant critics is ..the old saw , " people in glass houses should not throw stones " .
I love the possibilities of this country , I love it's potential , it's promise and generally it's people . All the country needs is sane leadership who will also love this country as much as This immigrant (Me) does .
This started out on a wider track but I will finish my thoughts from NYC or Washington DC ...flying there tomorrow for a family get together , it's been too long .
To be Continued ...I will get to the point eventually , sometimes my Stream of Consciousness takes over .
Mister Magoo ..Love and Peace to all the gang out there .