Friday, September 11, 2009

No message, just some thoughts

I'm sure there will be many, many postings today talking about the events of eight years ago. Some will argue we're safer, others, not so much.

The truth is, I have no clue.

I was in my car, waiting to enter a parking lot in midtown Manhattan, listening to Howard Stern on 92.3 FM. Robin interrupted the bit and reported that an airplane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. There was speculation: was it a small plane? an accident?

I walked the few blocks to the office and spent most of the morning doing no work at all. Some people immediately left work. Others, like me, stuck around to see what would happen. Reports were unclear as to whether or not I'd be able to even drive out of the city.

We all huddled around televisions, watching the extraordinary jobs the local news reporters were doing reporting the story that would define a generation. It's worth remembering that, for many hours, the real, on-scene reporting wasn't coming from the network stars. It was the local stations - both radio and television - that carried the day. Even on music radio stations, formats immediately changed to all talk with no interruption. Howard stayed on the air for much of the day, if I recall correctly, and my other favorite station, 104.3 FM, also opened the phone lines, cut the commercials, and went to a surreal mix of call-in, reportage and talk.

Later I would learn of two people I knew who were killed that day. Suria Clarke, a former Edelman coworker who had just moved to eSpeed (part of Cantor Fitzgerald), and Danny Lewin, a former client, who was on American flight #11. (Some believe Danny was the "businessman" who, according to one flight attendant who was on the phone with someone on the ground, tried in vain to intervene.)

I suppose I ought to have a brilliant and memorable thought to close this. But I don't. And, perhaps that, in itself, is the message.

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