Monday, September 12, 2011

Nine Twelve

It's safe to assume that every New Yorker can remember in great detail where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001. I wonder how many can remember the following day, 9/12, beyond staring helplessly at a television screen. I can remember 4PM vividly.

I thought about this yesterday as I avoided at all costs, all of the televised events surrounding the 10th anniversary and the memorial services in downtown NYC, Washington, and Shanksville. After morning coffee, breakfast and the Times crossword, I turned on the stereo at 10:AM and never looked back. I listened to new records by Eric Clapton & Wynton Marsalis, Chris Isaak, The Horrible Crowes, Jonathan Wilson and Laura Marling. Old records by the Jim Jones Revue, Al Kooper, Emmylou Harris, Be Bop Deluxe, Nick Lowe, and Todd Rundgren. And a live bootleg of Prince.

While this music marathon filled the house, I watched the Eagles vs. the Rams, the Yankees vs. Los Angeles, and the Jets vs. Dallas, sound off, of course. I also checked email and Facebook where I knew I would not be able to avoid the talk and memories of 9/11/01. That's when it hit me.

At 4PM, on 9/12/01, I got up from the couch, where I had been sitting frozen in disbelief for the better part of 6 hours, and shouted out loud, "I can't take this anymore!" I shut the TV, and threw the remote across the room. I poured some whiskey and cracked open a beer, turned on the stereo and put on a Black Crowes bootleg I had brought home from my store a few days earlier. I screamed angrily at the CD player, as if it had anything to do with any of this. "Fuck this! I'm listening to music"

Something wasn't right with me. I couldn't bring myself to turn it up. It felt as if the world was watching me disrespect the entire country. After about 2 minutes into the first song, I shut the stereo off. I wasn't enjoying the music. I was furious. I felt my body tremble and I began to heat up. I threw the CD across the room and the case shattered into pieces. I turned the TV back on and sat down. I remained on the couch, pouring whiskey until I fell asleep sometime after 10PM. 9/12/01 was the first and last day I can remember not wanting to listen to music. The day before, I had been at my store. The music played as the day turned into nightmare.

Everyone has a story. Some need to deal with these events by wrapping every cell in their bodies around every newscast, tribute, and string-laden sad song. Others, want to move on. My friend Gene wrote a wonderful piece that I hope you all take the time to read.  It's HERE. It's what inspired me to write a few words here this morning.

Now, for me, it's time to move on.


Les said...

Thank you for sharing, Sal.

bglobe313 said...

Um, great stuff.

A very good piece with specific real details and feelings.

I've had those "even hate my rock and roll" times when I can't even get satisfaction or escape or relief from one single album among the hundreds I have or the hundreds of videos or the hundreds of books.

That day and the next few were very strange times.

The skies without airplanes were striking.

One thing my wife and I have noticed is that as on the first September 11th that day almost always is a beautiful clouldess day here in the Northeast U.S.

I still haven't fully come to grips with how 9/11 affected me. "Luckily" I have had subsequent crises that have allowed me to push it aside.


Fielding Melish said...

If we can't listen to our favorite music, the terrorists win...

Grey said...

Good piece, thanks for linking to it.

I'd been hoping to avoid all media and most people yesterday; however, as an emergency services worker, I had to show up for a 9/11 ceremony that had been worked into the local classic car show. I and several of my colleagues were not comfortable being there, but when the DJ played Edwin Starr's "War" right before the ceremony, we all caught each other's eyes and smiled. (I'm willing to bet the DJ caught some hell.)

Two things I remember about the day it happened: the sky was a cloudless blue, and I had to drive to Bridgeport to pick up some x-ray films. I remember standing on a busy city street full of cars, all with their windows down, and there should have been a cacophony of music coming out of them. There was nothing. Just the sound of tires on the road. It was eerie.

It was a week before I could listen to music again. It felt disrespectful somehow. But when I did ease back into it, it helped me to get up and move on - just like I knew it would.

Meanstreets said...

Sal, I think you should put " the ny times " down permanently....that would be a good start on this issue.......

bglobe313 said...

I just read the linked piece. It's very provocative in an understated way and I think in large part accurate about the nostalgia felt for that moment when at least on the surface we all came together.

Of course, it helped that a Republican was in the White House. Democrats were generally willing to cut Bush some slack. If something like this happened while a Democrat was in there, the right-wingers would be calling for impeachment. It's just the way "politics" works now. As a simple example, look at the flip-flop-flip of the right on "drill baby drill" to "why did Obama let that oil spill happen" to, well, "drill baby drill." Grow up.



Christine said...

I felt very emotional reading this piece, as well as Gene's, and I think the two of them combined sum up the state of the human heart at that time, and now.

For the last ten years, I avoided watching coverage of the 911 attacks. I avoided the tributes. I avoided the sadness. In fact, I don't really watch the news or read the news, except for what shows up on my Yahoo home page. I turned on the television to watch the Weather Channel, although, as my friend put it I could have just "stuck my head out the window." ;) However, it was channel 4 that came on, by accident, at the exact time Bush was finishing up his speech, and the reading of the names began. I immediately felt the sadness, and it felt disrespectful to turn it off. I kept saying to myself "SHIT, why didn't you just stick your head out the window?"

But, this is a music blog, and the relation of my story to music is that once Paul Simon sang "The Sounds of Silence," I cried enough for all the ten years I hadn't cried.

bglobe313 said...


Wonderful comments.