Catharsis

9/11 Reflections

Taken in Greenwich Village, New York City in May 2007.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write another 9-11 piece after my last post criticizing the conspiracy theorists standing at the gates, but following the news over the past weekend, I felt a few more words seem justified.

With our stop at Ground Zero, we reached the end of our tour of New York City back in October 2007. The pictures, poems, candles and other memorials for those that died certainly threw a dark curtain over our exciting day of touring this city. Leaving our group, my wife (then-girlfriend) and I decided to take the short subway ride to Greenwich Village.

One of the more famous hangouts for hipsters and bohemians, the Village was a pretty cool spot. Some neat looking shops, trendy restaurants, and funky bars all gave this neighbourhood a charm of its own. However, this isn’t what stuck with me.

Instead, it was a vacant, ugly lot surrounded with a rusty chain-link fence at the corner of 7th and Greenwich avenues.

Covering this fence were hundreds, possibly thousands, of brightly painted tiles, all conveying a message of remembrance and peace. Some had pictures of doves. Some American flags. Some just a silhouette of the World Trade Centre. They were sad and mournful, but not bitter.

I hope they brought some comfort to whoever it was that painted those tiles. I hope those tiles are still hanging there today.

Ultimately, I hope it is their message that endures and not the one that is grabbing too much attention.

A special place

The Ground Zero Memorial in New York City.

Taken at the Ground Zero Memorial in New York City in October 2007.

Walking up, it seems like any sort of construction site in a major city. Cranes, hard hats, and clatter.  Ugly wire fencing surrounds a giant gaping hole, a momentary pause in a city of endless structure.

But unless you’ve lived isolated in the bush for the past decade, you’ll know that this isn’t just a place of construction.

The memorial site at Ground Zero in New York is a strange mix: there are tourists and mourners, but also conspiracy theorists calling for the crowds to look for deep, dark motives and agendas behind the 9-11 attacks.

Now I have a fairly open regard for free speech, a trait honed from journalism school and working as a reporter. Yet, although you have the right to say something, does that mean you say it? Do you stand at a funeral and tell the mourners about the horrible person lying in the casket?

The wrong place. The wrong time.

I am not saying these people are not allowed to have or express their opinions. If you are interested, type “9-11 truth” into Google and read to your heart’s content. But seeing people with their placards, handing pamphlets while others reach for their tissues, just seems inappropriate.

New York is a huge city and any other spot would be a perfect place to peddle your political views. Obviously 9-11 has become shrouded in politics and has been used to justify some pretty questionable pursuits.

But at the actual site, the actual place where too many people died? Step back, and show a little respect.

This is a special place.

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The above photo was taken in October 2007.

Lining the sky

Looking back at Manhattan

Taken from Brooklyn Bridge.

I was listening to the radio early, early this morning and this story caught my ear. It seems some developers in New York are looking to grow a monster building right smack dab in the centre of Manhattan, near Penn station I believe. It’s slated to be 67 stories high, 1,190ft (363m) tall. Wow.

Yet, before any giant apes start salivating at the prospect of climbing this beast, the folks at the Empire State Building are looking to ruin the fun.

“It will take away from our skyline,” runs their argument, fearing the giant building could distract from a quintessential New York postcard view of, er, the Empire State Building.

A fair point. The city’s skyline is indeed stunning, an endless metropolitan expanse. It is a mix of the historical and modern. Would a new building desecrate this artificial scenery? Perhaps, but at the same time, when I think of New York, I think of a city that is constantly moving, growing.

In the end, the decision is best left up to New Yorkers. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

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Oh, as for the above photo? I travelled to New York in 2007 and took this shot standing on the Brooklyn Bridge.