Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pictures And Prose For 9/11


Patricia McDonough, a professional photographer with a fisheye lens, made this picture from her apartment’s living room within minutes of the first airliner’s impact.Posted by Picasa

You are the light,
You are the refuge,
There is no place to take shelter but yourself.

---Inscription over the Buddha's ashes

Let us be poised, and wise, and our own, today.

---Ralph Waldo Emerson

The morning after the storm
the melons alone
know nothing of it.

---Sodo

You have to grit your teeth just to get through Garrison Keillor's gripping review this morning of a new book called Watching The World Change: The Stories Behind The Images Of 9/11. I'm trying to imagine what reading the book would be like. Here is Garrison, taking you through it~~~

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The New York Times
September 3, 2006
Bearing Witness
By GARRISON KEILLOR

It was a perfect late-summer day in New York, the sort of day when a person feels terribly lucky to be in the city. A man named Pavel Hlava was showing his brother Josef around town and raised his video camera toward the World Trade Center just in time to catch a bright object flashing in the sky and then a puff of smoke from the north face of the north tower. A French filmmaker, Jules Naudet, who was making a documentary about firefighters, was with a fire truck responding to a gas leak at Lispenard and Church Streets downtown when he heard the roar of a jet engine and raised his camera to catch the plane too. And so did two Webcams from an apartment window in Brooklyn. It was 8:46 a.m. on the 11th of September, 2001. At 8:49 a.m., CNN went live with a shot of the towers from a camera on the West Side. The second plane hit the south tower at 9:03, and by that time dozens of cameras were on the scene, aiming upward.

In his apartment at Broadway and Franklin Street, Lyle Owerko heard the first explosion, grabbed a Canon EOS 3 with a 400-millimeter zoom lens, dashed downstairs and around the corner to Chambers Street. “Life was still oddly normal,” he tells David Friend. “People stood buying bagels and coffee [from] corner street vendors.” Tom Flynn, a CBS News producer, was reading the morning paper on his deck in the West Village when “a plane went over the trees in my garden. It was low, it was loud, and it was determined. It was not right. It seemed to be revving up. Then there was a pop, like the sound of a softball hitting a glove.” He said to his wife, “We’re under attack,” and jumped on his bike and headed downtown. At the trade center, he found a Merrill Lynch employee, Eddie Remy, shooting video, and signed him up for CBS. By the time the south tower collapsed, shortly before 10 a.m., there were hundreds of photographers on the scene, some on assignment, some freelancers, most of them amateurs. Grant Peterson, shooting for Brides magazine in his studio near Broome Street and Broadway, turned his 4-by-5 view camera toward the burning towers. A woman named Kelly Price bought disposable cameras at a bodega and was taking pictures of the fires when the south tower pancaked to the ground. She raced down Broadway, running for her life, stopped at Pine Street and took a picture of the advancing Niagara of dust and debris and a man running ahead of it. He is holding a camera in his right hand and glancing over his left shoulder.

Friend, who was director of photography at the old Life magazine, writes: “As the morning crept on, New Yorkers poured into the streets, many to help, many in flight, all of them aghast. Out, too, came their cameras. Men and women by the hundreds, then thousands — bystanders with point-and-shoots, TV news teams, photojournalists by the score — felt compelled to snap history, fiery and cruel against the blue. People photographed from windows and parapets and landings. They photographed as they fled: in cars, across bridges, up avenues blanketed in drifts of ash and dust. They even photographed the images on their television sets as they watched the world changing, right there on the screen.” And soon thereafter, rescue workers in dusty yellow slickers started showing up at the Time & Life Building in Midtown trying to sell pictures they had taken.

A brief review can’t do justice to “Watching the World Change,” a lucid, thoughtful and wide-ranging book. In truth, Friend’s excellent writing conveys more of the truth of the day than photographs can. The picture of the three firemen raising an American flag over the ruins, which became an icon of 9/11, is not nearly so gripping as the story he tells of the exploitation of the picture, the feelings of the photographer, Thomas Franklin, and the stoical refusal of the three firemen to be lionized (though they did approve plans for a bronze statue of themselves, 18 feet tall on a 12-foot marble pedestal).

Photography is meant to convey reality, but some realities were judged unbearable. Jules Naudet arrived at the north tower with the men of Engine 7, Ladder 1, his camera running. He saw a screaming woman who was burning in an inferno of aviation fuel that had poured down an elevator shaft and decided, “I didn’t think anyone should have to see this.” An Associated Press photograph of a dark-skinned man falling through the air, upside down, his arms at his sides, one leg lifted, was printed in some newspapers; most considered it too graphic. The Daily News, after debate among the editors, published a picture of a severed hand lying in the street — “You can’t do the story without doing the story,” said the editor, Edward Kosner. French television, but not American, showed “scenes of plummeting people . . . one after another. Some tumbled. Some held hands, jumping in pairs, or three and four at a time.” Owerko, shooting the burning north tower, heard the crowd around him let out a long gasp: “I looked up to see an object descending from the tower. I recognized it to be a person and stood frozen as the body flipped and turned in a slow, tragic ballet, down to the courtyard. People screamed and cried. I watched in shock as another human shape began falling to earth. . . . I clicked away. . . . I wasn’t photographing death, it seemed to me. I felt, instead, that I was preserving the last moment of these individuals’ conscious existence.”

We saw photographs that week of buildings burning, stunned onlookers, dust-covered firemen. Very few pictures conveyed the fact that people just like us, our fellow passengers on the subway, suddenly found themselves in a mortal predicament and many died horribly. We who weren’t downtown that morning tried to comprehend the horror. The most electrifying picture I remember from that week was a snapshot by a Port Authority employee, John Labriola, descending with other office workers in a stairwell of the north tower. A handsome young fireman is ascending the stairs, his eyes open wide, perspiring, hauling gear. All week one had seen distant images of fire and smoke, but here was a shot from inside a building about to collapse, and you looked at the fireman and thought, “My God, that man is about to be crushed to death.” (In fact, he escaped with a minute to spare, Friend reports.)

But mainly a cool decorum prevailed. We were shown pictures of this and not of that, allowed to see this and not look over there. The mainstream media seized upon inspirational and patriotic images, such as the picture of the three firemen; thus began a sort of mythification of the day into which George W. Bush and Rudolph Giuliani entered, bearing spears and shields. Photography assisted in that. Photography couldn’t convey the failure of national defense and intelligence, or the failure of the city of New York, even after the 1993 bombing of the trade center, to coordinate police and fire communications, a failure that cost many lives that morning, or certain tragic choices in the design of the towers. You need prose reporting for that. And in the end the images become common and one turns to words to find the reality. “The one conclusion I came to on 9/11 is that people in the stairwell . . . really were in ‘a state of grace.’ They helped each other. They didn’t panic,” Labriola says. “Most people are basically good. I knew this, with certainty, because I had gone through the crucible. What a great example people left: be selfless, help the person around you and get through it.”
Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of “A Prairie Home Companion” and the author of 16 books. He is the editor, most recently, of an anthology titled “Good Poems for Hard Times.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/03/books/review/Keillor.t.html?8bu&emc=bu

4 comments:

sparkle said...

Thanks jazzolog for keeping me up dated with what's going on in the world. Thanks for taking the time to share always*

jazzolog said...

"A friend of mine [Cyrus Nowrasteh] out in California has produced and filmed — I think it’s a two-part mini-series on 9/11 that ABC is going to run in prime-time over two nights, close to or on 9/11. It’s sort of surprising that ABC’s picked it up, to me. I’ve had a lot of people tell me about it, my friends told me about it…And from what I have been told, the film really zeros in on the shortcomings of the Clinton administration in doing anything about militant Islamofascism or terrorism during its administration. It cites failures of Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and Sandy Burglar."

---Rush Limbaugh
http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_083006/content/coming_soon.LogIn.html
(as you can see the link is a login page unless you're a Rush regular; I guess I won't
register for his brand of spam, thank you)

I'm getting heads up from all sides about the coming ABC 2 night miniseries on "events" leading to 9/11. The Republican pre-election onslaught is in full swing. One thing Bush certainly will be remembered for is hiring entertainment professionals to sell his "foreign policy." Some always are available as close as his Cabinet. That cheerleading background certainly set him up to be President---every bit as much as representing 20-muleteam Boraxo and GE did for Reagan. Anyway, sites are telling us to pester ABC for this...and even cancel the show. Well, it worked for the Right Wing against CBS plans to show the wonderful Reagan bioflick (available on DVD...and you really should see it!). My long distance company (Working Assets) is among those sites...and here's their take on coming distractions~~~

ABC: Tell the Truth About 9/11

Contributed by Working Assets


On September 10th and 11th, ABC -- which is owned by Disney -- is planning to air a "docu-drama" called "Path to 9/11," which is being billed as "an objective telling of the events of 9/11." In fact, the film was written by an unabashed conservative who twists the facts to blame President Clinton.

In fact, the list of counterterrorism initiatives undertaken by the Clinton administration is lengthy and comprehensive. Regrettably, the record shows that most of these efforts were watered down or abandoned by the Bush administration when they came into office. History will also record that President Bush was the one who received -- and while on vacation, chose to ignore -- a Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6, 2001 entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US."

ABC's new six-hour film was apparently screened in advance only to conservative bloggers and journalists -- and received extensive praise from none other than Rush Limbaugh. ABC is advertising the film as being "based on the 9/11 Commission report" -- yet also admits that it's a "docu-drama," in which writers and producers are free to invent and distort facts. Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has already completely refuted one of the key scenes of the movie.

It's simply stunning to think that as this fall's election approaches, a major television network would devote six hours of prime-time programming to air such a slanted and inaccurate program. There is simply no way that a conservative writer, with an anti-Clinton axe to grind, should be allowed to use public airwaves to broadcast a gross distortion of the truth -- especially on the anniversary of the worst day in our history.

http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=21317&afccode=n69hdl

jazzolog said...

Here we are on 9/11 plus 5, and I still find myself in conversations about the whole thing being an inside job. I said to my friend the other evening that I continue to require a legal brief on these ideas. If you still have questions about physics and architecture and explosions, Popular Mechanics not only has posted its rebuttal to these ideas...but expanded it into a book~~~

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1227842.html and several web pages following.

Every columnist seems to have something to say or remember about the tragedy today. Two that stand out for me are some disturbing thoughts from Christopher Hitchens

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008926

and something typically moving from Jimmy Breslin~~~

http://www.calendarlive.com/books/cl-bk-breslin10sep10,0,5980855.story?coll=cl-books-features

jazzolog said...

"I am in between stories. The old one is gone, and the new one is just beginning to take shape. When we already have a story we are heavily identified with, whether we appear to like this story or not, it is difficult to stay awake, to watch our thoughts and feelings without letting them dictate our actions. A clear story about who we are makes it hard to wait and let our actions arise from the deep and open emptiness of experiencing who we are right now, makes it difficult to allow actions to arise that may be inconsistent with how our story says we should move."

~Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Quote is taken from page 168 of: The Call: Discovering Why You Are Here

Nine/eleven 5 has come and gone, and most Americans are doing what we seem to do best: pack it up, put it (whatever "it" is) behind us & move on 'til next year. I probably would be too, except that my situation at work is changing critically and radically. At my age (pushing 67---ooomph) the most radical thing I would like to be doing is sitting home in retirement, catching up on Dickens and Dostoevsky I haven't read yet. But times have changed...and politicians and billionaires have changed them...and retirement is a very risky business for the average Joe, so I stay on the job---trying to still look young enough to be there. Currently I can't just hide out somewhere, and I'm facing harder work than almost anytime in my life...but that's another story, and kinda personal. The point is I didn't get around to following some links about 9/11 from some friends until this morning...and their powerful importance compels me to share.

First off is a link to The Nation's web version from dear Carolyn Murphree, whose every email is welcome clarity for me. She got it, she says, from a son-in-law who's eager to share the truth about that "ABC 9/11 'fairy tale.'" http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060925/path_to_911

Last week, I think, I was catching up with some of the conspiracy theories about 9/11 and offered a couple links. Since then, Bob Sheak has been kind enough to dialogue with me about that tragedy and the ensuing "terrorist wars" around the world. Maybe Bob's achieved retirement but you'd never know it from his continued teaching about things sociological and anthropological (presuming anything our species does could be "logical"). On Monday he wrote back the following~~~

Re: Those Conspiracy Theories

Hey Richard,

I read over Hitchens' article and am unconvinced of his key points. http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008926 He seems to believe that there is a unified international terrorist force under the influence of bin Laden. Robert A. Pape may have the best data-base on suicide bombers. He argues that the groups that have employed them are not unified and often are engaged in "local" struggles against their own states. Some of them are secular like the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, which are responsible for 76 of the 315 suicide attacks from 1980 to 2001, or the Kurdish PPK's use against Turkey in their quest of an autonomous state of their own.

With respect to Al Qaeda, you might take a look at James Fallow's article in the current issue of the Atlantic on how much the organizational capacity of Al Qaeda has already been diminished. Fallow's sources also suggest that the overwhelming part of the "resistance" in Iraq is home-grown, and has nothing to do with al Qaeda. So I wonder whether "our first duty," as Hitchens says, is to create "solidarity" with "bin Laden's victims and targets." Pape finds that groups that employ suicide bombers along with other "terrorist" tactics often gain their inspiration and commitment from the foreign occupation of their countries. He writes, on page 247 of his book, "our objective should be to withdraw all American combat forces from the region expeditiously, while working with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf States to ensure that they maintain the critical infrastructure for a rapid return of US forces should they prove necessary." I am reminded of how US policy has been instrumental, indeed fundamental, to the creation and growth of al Qaeda. On this point, I would refer you to Robert Dreyfuss' book, Devil's Game: How the US Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

From reading Juan Cole's blog most days, I fear that the sectarian violence and factionalism in Iraq has taken on its own momentum and that, contrary to Pape, it will continue whether the US occupation continues or not. But, nonetheless, I think Hitchens' reference to "solidarity" against an international bin Laden movement is overstated, diversionary, and likely to produce the same counter-productive results as our policies have already generated.

Hitchens also argues that we and our allies must become more ruthless in our battles against the terrorists. This strikes me as outrageous. Has Israel's assault on Southern Lebanon made Israel more secure? Has it reduced the stature of Hezbollah? How could we have been more ruthless against Iraq, after years of sanctions, the destruction of much of the country's infrastructure, schools, and hospitals, the hundreds of thousands of deaths and causalities wrought by our air war and occupation, and the environmental devastation (including cluster bombs and depleted uranium shells) that will wreak its insidious harm for generations to come? How ruthless would Hitchens become? Would he support Bush's inclination to use nuclear weapons against Iran, a country whose population is far less sectarian than that or our "friend' Saudi Arabia.

Just one other point. I think that the enormous resources that we are expending in Iraq could be better spent on a massive program in support of renewable energy and conservation. Rather than becoming more ruthless in our foreign policy, we should become a leader in energy policy and take diplomatic efforts more seriously than we have. Ruthless is ultimately toothless.

Bob

A few minutes later he followed up with a link to Juan Cole's blog, which coincidentally was talking on this 9/11 precisely about the "war" with al-Qaeda~~~
http://www.juancole.com/2006/09/war-with-al-qaeda-war-with-al-qaeda.html

Tuesday he recommended a superb 9/11 article by Robert L. Borosage, entitled "Repealing The Bush Doctrine." Here's an actual strategy mapped out, something Bush opponents often are lacking. This article at TomPaine.com really is terrific, and take a look at that Apollo Alliance website he talks about!
http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/09/11/repealing_the_bush_doctrine.php

Thanks again for all that, Bob.

Finally, may I encourage you to take a look at William Rivers Pitt's essay yesterday at TruthOut about why he didn't watch ANY of the stuff on TV about 9/11? As usual this guy, whose writing just seems to get better and better, says it so often just the way I feel---and then goes ahead and does it too~~~
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/091206A.shtml

While you're there, send TruthOut a little money too...if you have any. Thanks for your time!