With United 93 coming out today, I thought it would be appropriate to post a trio of video clips of the 9/11 attacks (specifically, the World Trade Center attack) that I don’t believe I had seen before until I found them on YouTube last night. I might have seen the first one before, but the second and third ones, I definitely hadn’t. All three are worth watching, if only to remember the true horror of that day and the true nature of the threat we face — a threat which is not, contrary to an IM conversation I had the other day with a liberal commenter on his blog who shall remain nameless unless he wishes to identify himself, invented or exaggerated or trumped up by the Bush Administration to scare us*, but which in fact is frighteningly real and ever-present. If you don’t occasionally watch video clips like these (or movies like United 93), it’s easy to allow the shock and horror of 9/11 to recede into the backgrounds of our memories, and be replaced by a sort of dull sense of anger and sadness. But if you watch these clips, that becomes impossible… absolutely impossible. And I think that’s a good thing.
The first clip, as I said, I might have seen before; I’m not certain. At any rate, it’s quite similar to a whole bunch of other amateur videos of the WTC attack, taken from miles away (e.g., from New Jersey or Brooklyn), that we all saw endlessly replayed in the immediate aftermath — and then endlessly not replayed in the years since. Regardless, it is stirring and horrifying because of what it shows and because of the memories it brings back. You listen to the cameraman and his wife/girlfriend talking as the attack happens (warning: there is a lot of profanity), and you remember how you felt when first saw what had happened. Among other things, it’s a reminder of how incredible it seemed that we were actually being attacked: “Oh, Jesus Christ, is that what that means?” the woman asks, 40 seconds after the second plane hit. “Yeah. That was a f***ing attack,” the man responds, a statement that now seems obvious but at that moment seemed completely unbelieveable.
The second clip is labeled on YouTube as “never before seen video,” and I believe that must be accurate, because I know I’ve never seen it before, and it’s such amazingly good footage that I’m certain it would have been one of the most frequently replayed videos of the second WTC plane crash if the media had gotten a hold of it in the attack’s immediate aftermath. What makes it amazing, in contrast to other footage of the attacks, is how sterile it is: the camera is obviously sitting on a tripod or something similar, and there are no people within earshot of the camera, so all you can hear are the sounds of the explosion and the distant sirens, and the view of the crash is totally unflinching — literally. There is no startled flinch, no abrupt camera movement: the camera simply stares directly at the South Tower, totally and literally unmoved, as it is blown up by terrorists. The total lack of any visible or audible human reaction whatsoever makes the video positively eerie. It could be a great Hollywood special effect, if only it wasn’t so horrifyingly real.
The third and final clip (also here) is, without question, the hardest to watch. It brings back the awful feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach all day on September 11, 2001. Why? Because it’s the exact opposite of the second clip — it’s anything but “sterile.” It shows the South Tower collasing, and it was shot somewhere in southern Manhattan, but outside the immediate surrounding area of the WTC, at street level. As a result, you can hear the raw human emotions of literally dozens or hundreds of people, all reacting simultaneously to the same incomprehensible, inconceiveable sight: the collapse of one of the 110-story World Trade Center towers. What sets this video apart from so many other videos of the tower collapses is that it was obviously shot from a considerable distance, so the primary reaction of people all around isn’t immediate fear for their lives, like the folks right near Ground Zero who had to run like hell to escape the dust cloud. The people in this video were, in that particular moment, physically safe. So the emotion you’re primarily hearing isn’t fear; it’s a combination of utter shock, horror, revulsion, and inexpressible sadness. These people knew they were actually watching countless human lives snuffed out before their eyes. What stands out most is one male voice, apparently coming from a guy standing somewhere behind the cameraman. He is completely overcome, saying “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” over and over again. If this video doesn’t make you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut, you’re not human.
What makes all three videos even more horrifying, if that’s possible, is the realization that there are people in this world who could watch them and be happy about what they’re seeing. People so evil, this ghastly carnage would actually make them smile, laugh, and even praise God. That is the enemy we face — and we must never forget it until they are utterly defeated.
*For the sake of accuracy, said liberal commenter’s exact words were: “Honestly, the conflict is several parts boogy man overblown by Bush.” The commenter went on to admit, “Not to say Al Qaeda is not a serious problem” — but when I said, “All it takes is one successful WMD attack to throw everything into chaos… all it takes is one successful attack. We have to succeed in stopping them every time,” the commenter replied, “Right, because McCarthy was so right… There really were 500 communists in the State Department… honestly, this is standard Republican scare the crap out of people sh*t where we are all at war.” I responded with a list of the various terrorist attacks that have already happened and concluded “WE ARE AT F***ING WAR,” to which the commenter replied “Yes Brendan, these things actually happened…. you know what, these things always happen. They have been happening since before the Persians thought about attacking Greece… to say that this is some kind of mass paradigm shift is crap. You deal with domestic issues with a police power and you deal with foreign issues in a lot of ways which does include but is not limited to the military.” So there, nobody can accuse me of misrepresenting anyone else’s words now.
Construction has finally begun on the “Freedom Tower” at Ground Zero.
A certain superhero is clearly slacking.
P.S. Here’s a view of where she was trapped.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, in Germany, a cat saved a baby’s life.
NEW YORK (April 13) - Rescuers used drills, miniature cameras, cat food and even a 1-pound raw fish in a desperate effort Wednesday to entice an 11-month old cat named Molly from behind the basement wall of a Greenwich Village delicatessen where she has been trapped for 12 days.
…[Mike] Pastore [field director of Animal Care & Control of New York City] led the rescue team trying to locate the peripatetic pussycat with a tiny video camera attached to a plumber’s snake. But the sound of the drill may have spooked Molly to retreat further into the maze under the front wall of the 19th-century brick building, which extends back about 40 feet from the sidewalk.
…Neighbors left cans of cat food on the steps, and Renato Migliorini, proprietor of Piccolo Angolo, an Italian restaurant at Hudson Street, delivered a whole fresh fish called a branzino.
…The fact that the building is landmarked by the city makes breaking into the walls a more delicate proposition, Pastore said…
…Molly is the resident mouser at Myers of Keswick, a popular West Village delicatessen catering to a specialized clientele with clotted creme, Scotch eggs and other British food products not available in American stores.
…At midday, three observers from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission showed up to make sure no serious structural damage occurs. The four-story building, dating from the mid-19th century, is in one of Gotham’s historic districts.
Go Molly! Come on Out, Molly!
Start spreading the news…
How odd (and unanticipated) it was in early January to find — after nine years of flirting with the possibility — myself a de facto citizen of the city that has been home to so many and for so long. After 34 years as a tourist in New York City, I suddenly and truly find myself OF New York City. I give directions on subway lines, bus lines, parkways, drives, and numbered streets and avenues (well, okay, this last only in one of the five boroughs, Manhattan), I drive uptown, downtown, all around unheralded and naturally, and I function as a guide and advisor to friends and relatives who are experiencing The City for the first (or tenth) time as out-of-towners.
This realization of my transformation first came to me on, of all dates, September 10th, 2001.
They got up to a foot of snow in New York City from a winter storm Tuesday and Wednesday…
I do like snow, but I gotta be honest… I’m not terribly broken up about having moved out of the city and missed the chance to trudge to work in that stuff.
In Connecticut, where they got 6 to 12 inches from what the local CBS affiliate is calling “Winter Storm Connor,” Mrs. Stone — my former newspaper adviser, computer teacher at the high school, and mother of my “honorary sister” Kim — says Newington was practically the only school district in the state to stay open Wednesday. Typical.
Meanwhile, here in Phoenix, it’s crystal-clear and 50 degrees at 9:30 PM, with a forecast high of 67 for tomorrow. :)
Here’s a better and earlier (though still blurry) shot of the gorgeous sunrise over Manhattan that I saw and Moblogged from New Jersey en route to D.C. on New Year’s Eve morning:
Almost makes you want to cry “Forth Eorlingas!,” doesn’t it? :)
More pictures of my week will probably be forthcoming soon. (I intend to test out iPhoto and some other Mac applications in the process of trying to get the pics online.) But you can already see wedding photos in the post below.
At least 10 people are dead in the Staten Island Ferry crash, and that number is expected to rise as more people are pulled out of the water and the boat, and perhaps as some seriously injured people die. Indeed, some reports already put it at 14. Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports about whether the ferry’s captain committed, or attempted, suicide after the crash. CNN reports:
A Coast Guard official said the 310-foot-long ferry, which can carry as many as 6,000 passengers, struck the pier as it tried to dock.
[Ferry passenger and CNN producer Rose] Arce described the damaged boat’s approach to the St. George Ferry Terminal as erratic. “The boat wasn’t running the straight course it usually does,” she said.
She said high winds caused large waves in New York harbor, and both vessels had trouble navigating a straight line between lower Manhattan and Staten Island.
She said she was standing on the observation deck of her ferry along with tourists taking in the view of the New York skyline.
“It was very, very hard to keep your balance while standing up,” she said. “In fact, people were holding on to the side of the boat.”
Arce said it was clear the ferry was having trouble docking. A city official said the high winds may have been a factor in the accident.
As of 3 p.m., winds at New York’s LaGuardia Airport were measured at 31 mph with gusts up to 43 mph, the official said.
MSNBC says Mayor Bloomberg left the Red Sox-Yankees game to go to the scene.
UPDATE: The New York Times reports:
A witness, Andre Lelong, 42, said he had gone to Staten Island to sightsee and was standing on the pier when he saw the ferry come in.
“It was approaching at a 45-degree angle, and did not seem to be slowing down.” Mr. Lelong said. … “It was like a movie,” he said. “It hit the dock and took the entire right-hand forward side of the boat off.”
A passenger, Luis Melendez, said in an interview with the cable news channel NY1 that the boat was traveling unusually fast, “about the same speed as it would in the middle of the harbor.” He said that after the impact, the boat turned around and docked on the side that was not damaged, and that people went ashore from the top deck.
Sounds like this is more than just the wind. Either a mechanical failure, or… something else. (I’m betting mechanical failure.)
The aerial views of New York City that I saw yesterday afternoon, taking off from LaGuardia en route to Philadelphia, were downright incredible.
Remind me to fly out of LaGuardia more often! The airborne sightseeing opportunities are totally worth it. I got a bunch more great pictures. Check ‘em out:
The best thing about New York is, with the subway, you don’t have to worry about who’s the designated driver. :) I’m home. Way to go, Sox!
I have adjusted the Jobs & the City webcam’s field of view, so that instead of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, it shows the Chrysler Building and the United Nations building:
At least, I think that dark, monolithic-looking building at right is the U.N. building. It looks different than one normally pictures it — it looks much taller than it is wide, which isn’t true of the U.N. — but I think that’s just because we can barely see its wide east-west face from this angle. The north-south face, which we see dead-on, is indeed quite narrow; the east-west face is much wider, but looks narrow from this perspective because of our angle.
I figure that building must be the U.N., since it’s a tall building on the East Side that appears to be around the same distance north as the Chrysler Building (both are on 42nd Street).
Anyway, since the General Assembly is meeting there and such, I figure it would be a good place to point the webcam. Too bad we can’t see the enormous, security-induced East Side traffic jams from this distance… :)
The Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park was great fun. Here are a few photo highlights:
Three wizards: Saruman, Gandalf, and Radagast? No, not really… but the wizard on the right is the very same guy who got made fun of on national television by Late Night With Conan O’Brien’s insult comic dog, Triumph, at the Star Wars premiere!
Bagpipers! (Click here for a sound clip.)
Finally, my photos of Thursday’s September 11 anniversary commemorations in New York City are online. Here are a few of my favorites:
In that last photo, note the planet Mars to the left of the Tribute in Light beams.
I also have a pair of new audio files online: bells1.wav, a recording of the St. Peter’s Church memorial bell ringing, and bells2.wav, a much louder recording of me ringing the bell. (Members of the public were lining up to ring it.)
And, of course, you can view all my audio-posts and photo-posts from my cell phone, blogged during the day as the events unfolded, in my 9/11/03 blog category.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s my full, 103-picture photo album: