|9:15 - both towers on fire|
|Tower 2 starts to crumble. The top 1/3 toppled to the east (left), then, with a soft roar, the building pulverized underneath it, dropping straight down. It looked like footage of a demolition.||Tower 2 collapses. From his 25th floor balcony my friend Paul saw people jumping from the top of the building right before it fell.|
|At this point the fire in Tower 1, which had previously looked like a ragged bite out of the east side, has spread horizontally all the way across.|
|Tower 1 collapses. Just as with Tower 2, the top crumbled off first.||Tower 1 going. It's not visible from the photos, everything happened too quickly. But the corner beams split off the building in all directions like a banana peel.|
|Both towers gone|
September 11 Journal9am - We were out walking the dog and dozens of people were standing still on Broadway looking south at the sky. The towers had just been hit, and were on fire. We walked west to Mercer, then to Greene. People stood in the streets. Others were walking toward us from downtown. Radios played out windows. I kept thinking, "This is just like that movie ARMAGEDDON." And I hadn't even see it.
10am - Got home and went up to the roof, where our neighbors were congregated. Shortly after, we saw Tower 2, then Tower 1 collapse.
11am - Radios have been calling retired police officers to duty. All bridges and tunnels have been sealed. In the streets thousands people are walking north, ankles and feet covered in grey ash. We're a block above Canal Street. The mayor has asked everyone below Canal Street to head north.
12 noon - Packed day packs and headed out with the dog. Left a big bowl of food, 2 bowls of water and the filled bathtub for the cat. Just as a precaution. Of course we hope to be back home soon. I just hope the cat doesn't eat it all this afternoon. We walked north on Lafayette with our upstairs neighbors, T. and B., and their dog. Along the way we saw cars covered with that grey ash. B. thinks it's asbestos dust or insulation from the buildings. Outside the Bowery Mission a table distributed cups of water, and chairs were set out on the sidewalk, for anyone who needed to sit and rest. On Astor Place I saw a dazed-looking Asian girl with grey dust covering her sandals and her red polished toenails. At Grace Church School parents were picking up kids, and teachers were standing on the steps. The curious thing is that some people were walking south, and others seemed to be proceeding normally with their day as though they hadn't heard. An elderly couple excitedly discussed bathroom fixtures in a store window, oblivious to the steady determined flow of people fleeing downtown, while a block away, at the corner of 23rd Street and Park Avenue, Special Forces troops in camouflage and machine guns directed traffic.
We parted from T. and B. at 34th Street. They were going to T.'s brother's on 37th Street. J. didn't feel that was far north enough, so we kept going. The Empire State Building was also cordoned off and guarded. Madison Square Garden and Port Authority, same. We ended up on 10th Avenue. Passed two homeless guys sleeping on the sidewalk on the same block of 38th Street. Lots of businesses along the way were closed and closing, including every Korean restaurant on 35th Street. It took us a while just to find a place to buy a Coke, but strangely, a store in the garment district that appeared to sell only sewing needles remained open.
2pm - The dog is 11 years old; by this time he was very tired. We finally managed to find a cab that would take us uptown to 113th Street, to my friend J.'s apartment. The driver was a Pakistani-American Muslim. His wife and son had just given blood in Queens; he was very worried about possible anti-Muslim violence in coming days.
9pm - After resting at J.'s, glued the entiret time to the TV, we found another cab and are now in Washington Heights, at our friends S. and K.'s, because they are the furthest north of anyone we know in Manhattan. Minutes ago, the police commissioner just announced that they have apprehended a van filled with explosives at the foot of the George Washington Bridge on the New Jersey side. We are only 3 blocks north of the GWB here, but feel relatively safe, given the distance and the tight police watch on the bridge. I'm glad we left home. I heard from someone who lives near Houston Street that her apartment is enveloped in smoke. That's 5 blocks above our apartment. I imagine our place is the same or worse. Downtown is sealed from 14th Street on down, which is a full mile north of our apartment, so we won't be able to get home for at least another day. I have a job interview tomorrow morning. I assume it's off. And J. says her husband is stuck in New Jersey, after spending hours trying to get home.
But we are all safe, and in touch.
I hope you and all your loved ones are well tonight. Our thoughts go to the ones who are lost, and their families.
September 11, 2001
The Sukkah & the World Trade CenterIn just a few weeks, the Jewish community will celebrate the harvest festival by building "sukkot."
What is a "sukkah"? Just a fragile hut with a leafy roof, the most vulnerable of houses. Vulnerable in time, where it lasts for only a week each year. Vulnerable in space, where its roof must be not only leafy but leaky -- letting in the starlight, and gusts of wind and rain.
In the evening prayers , we plead with God -- "Ufros alenu sukkat shlomekha" -- "Spread over all of us Your sukkah of shalom."
Why a sukkah?-- Why does the prayer plead to God for a "sukkah of shalom" rather than God's "tent" or "house" or "palace" of peace?
Precisely because the sukkah is so vulnerable.
For much of our lives we try to achieve peace and safety by building with steel and concrete and toughness. Pyramids, air raid shelters, Pentagons, World Trade Centers. Hardening what might be targets and, like Pharaoh, hardening our hearts against what is foreign to us.
But the sukkah comes to remind us: We are in truth all vulnerable. If "a hard rain gonna fall," it will fall on all of us.
Americans have felt invulnerable. The oceans, our wealth, our military power have made up what seemed an invulnerable shield. We may have begun feeling uncomfortable in the nuclear age, but no harm came to us. Yet yesterday the ancient truth came home: We all live in a sukkah.
Not only the targets of attack but also the instruments of attack were among our proudest possessions: the sleek transcontinental airliners. They availed us nothing. Worse than nothing.
Even the greatest oceans do not shield us; even the mightiest buildings do not shield us; even the wealthiest balance sheets and the most powerful weapons do not shield us.
There are only wispy walls and leaky roofs between us. The planet is in fact one interwoven web of life. I MUST love my neighbor as I do myself, because my neighbor and myself are interwoven. If I hate my neighbor, the hatred will recoil upon me.
What is the lesson, when we learn that we -- all of us -- live in a sukkah? How do we make such a vulnerable house into a place of shalom, of peace and security and harmony and wholeness?
The lesson is that only a world where we all recognize our vulnerability can become a world where all communities feel responsible to all other communities. And only such a world can prevent such acts of rage and murder.
If I treat my neighbor's pain and grief as foreign, I will end up suffering when my neighbor's pain and grief curdle into rage.
But if I realize that in simple fact the walls between us are full of holes, I can reach through them in compassion and connection.
Suspicion about the perpetrators of this act of infamy has fallen upon some groups that espouse a tortured version of Islam. Whether or not this turns out to be so, America must open its heart and mind to the pain and grief of those in the Arab and Muslim worlds who feel excluded, denied, unheard, disempowered, defeated.
This does not mean ignoring or forgiving whoever wrought such bloodiness. They must be found and brought to trial, without killing still more innocents and wrecking still more the fragile "sukkot" of lawfulness. Their violence must be halted, their rage must be calmed -- and the pain behind them must be heard and addressed.
Of course not every demand becomes legitimate, just because it is an expression of pain. But we must open the ears of our hearts to ask: Have we had a hand in creating the pain? Can we act to lighten it?
Instead of entering upon a "war of civilizations," we must pursue a planetary peace.
Rabbi Waskow is Director of the Shalom Center
Chomsky on Osama Bin Laden & WTC
Q: Why do you think these attacks happened?
...from the first chapter of Herman Mellville's Moby-Dick:
my going on this whaling voyage formed part of the grand programme of Providence
that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief interlude
and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part
of the bill must have run something like this:
'Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States.
September 1, 1939
by W. H. AudenI sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Into this neutral
Faces along the bar
The windiest militant
From the conservative
All I have is a voice