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Last Updated: February 27, 2002
September 15, 2001: By Alex Marx

Dear all,

I apologize for the long delay in sending this, and once again for the lack of photographs. The reality of this tragedy is settling in. I live so near, it's a daily reality, I don't need CNN. (But I am fortunate, too. There are residents closer to ground zero who are now allowed home) I froze up because I needed to write; I became depressed and moody. I didn't allow myself to write and it made it worse. I finally forced myself tonight. The results are poor, but it broke the logjam. I will try to do better next time.

I can promise you that I have taken a lot more photos, not of ground zero, for not only can I not get back there, but I think we have been saturated by it. I have taken pictures of the effects of ground zero, the things that are people's turn to help, to grieve and to heal. Sometimes a picture is worth a couple of words, and I don't have to mangle grammar and syntax to say it.

But they are not attached. I hope to have them posted on a web site, along with this, this stream of consciousness... and, for those kind enough to permit, your thoughts and replies. Many wrote so much more eloquent and thoughtfully then the words that inspired them. Stay tuned.

I have added one small section dated 9.15.01. It is less a vivid account of events dark view of my state of mind. I promised not to do it again in my prior mailing, but there is less action I can report on.

I have done a lot of walking around the city and taking photos. I have two cameras so I don't forget. I have taken notes; I think I can give you a less self-serving narrative in days to come. But there are some issues I want to talk about. Bear with me, therapy isn't always fun...

I also reordered the entries with day one at the beginning and continuing chronologically down to the end. Makes more sense, but I can't promise that I didn't garble it up. Also ignore the entreaties to read it the other way. I still haven't edited it.

The next entry is dated 9.15.01



Itís funny how days past turn to dreams.

I am feeling as if none of our adventures really happened. It has been two days since we were last in and it weighs on me as if we are missing our opportunity to really help before this drama evolves into a well organized clean up. In other words, I think things are getting back to normal and that we are getting to accept this event as the normal. We are so saturated that it becomes the truth and accepted. Except we still are mourning and in pain. For many, I suppose, that is normalÖ

Additionally some more scum decided that looting and theft within the work area were, for them, ďgetting back to normal.Ē  In response they have tightened security. It was best that I stayed home last night. Though I sorely missed the opportunity I think our ability to perpetrate help is arrested.

After spending the night writing, I was exhausted from lack of sleep and regular meals. The phone rang and I thought it might be Layla but it was my 9-year-old niece calling to see if I was coming to the farm in Pennsylvania. It was 10 AM and that was a good 4 and a half hours sleep.

She has been worried about me since the initial attack and I have talked to her about it. But I am not sure what she understands or how much detail to give her. If we, as adults, cannot comprehend this how does a child?

I decided to go for a ride to PA, to get out of the city. I realized that leaving New York was not abandoning the effort or showing a lack of support. In fact, there is nothing more I or any of us can really do now. They have all they need, except heavy equipment, and although other bikers might consider my 6-cylinder motorcycle, it would be useless to the effort.

Besides Canal St. was now beginning to fill with the curious and the tourists. Things are getting back to normal...


Iím in a fogÖ

Yesterday, after our coffee, I headed up to the upper west side to finally have lunch/dinner with Milo. The first time on the subway in what seemed ages. It is quiet and subdued, strange for a Friday near rush hour. People are not talking; they are lost inside. The 50-yard stare.

I emerge at 59th Street and Columbus Circle, new construction, the south west corner of central park, the start of the upper west side. I walk up towards Lincoln Center.

Itís very different up here; thereís sunlight. There is sunlight downtown too. But SOHO is quiet, its narrow streets dark and deserted, isolated and protected, gateway to hell.

The streets are wider. Trees, clean, green, and rubbish free, parade up the median. People, normal people, walk, talk and seem to have purpose. Here you canít turn around and see the hole where the sky is now, where there was once stainless steel. You never could. So nothingís missing in this vista.

Even the acrid smoke canít afford to spoil the day up here. The clouds here are water vapor, not the mix of chemicals and death. Itís a dream come true. Like the old days, like Monday.

I feel like an alien. Like Iíve got a secret that they donít and I am dying to scream it out. Stores are open, people are shopping, and traffic and transport ply their trade.

They know, but Ground Zero is as far from here as Mars is. Most here probably were exposed via CNN. Didnít see the hole, the flames, the horror. Donít smell it on a daily basis.

Not fair, they suffer too, you can see it, the gait is different, less aggressive, less self-assured. Theyíre off their cells. Theyíre quiet, mourning, isolated.

Like downtown.

I meet Milo, we hug, chat, look for lunch. Everything is open and we have choices. We are indecisive and pass the decision back and forth. He is curious about it all, I feel like I am veiled in gauze and have to fight to talk.

We settle on Greek. Place is empty, maybe two or three tables are occupied. Some with children. They talk about it too, and like children do, too loudly. The instinct is to be annoyed and curt, but the times call for us to change instinct and to understand. Hopefully, that lasts for a lifetime.

My first real meal in days. I order pasta with tomato sauce. My comfort food and not really a staple of Greek cuisine. Itís the first thing I order in Italy when I get there. Basic, back to earth, simple and rewarding. Safe.

We chat, my cell phone vibrates, I am rude and answer. Family, friends and strangers. Checking, thanking, complimenting. The gauze wraps a little tighter, I am overwhelmed and confused by it all.

We leave and walk further north. Food has made the gauze looser, we conference call a mutual friend on our cells. Itís bizarre in normal life, but this provides some levity.

We will visit my sister and family for a minute. Weíve talked since D-Day but not touched. The kids are normal, shy, sassy and independent. Love is evident but not emotive. Normal.

Off again, we walk back south. Itís early evening and more people circulate. The sun is still shining, unaware that we were expecting darkness; the clouds play as if nothing has changed. If I didnít know that that would change soon, I would have complained to headquarters.

Milo helps the economy and dives into Tower Records. I head south, stranger then ever. I connect through the cell to my dear friend Antonio. We havenít talked since D-Day. He needs help getting on-line; yesterdayís rain has drenched his mouse. He left the window open looking out at the unbalanced skyline. Strong enough to be weak inside. He mourns for his adopted country, New York is his ďEl DoradoĒ and the skyline is the fountain of youth. Except the biggest totem of all is now gone. The fountain of youth is lost again.

I donít want to be dealing with technology, but I donít want to be disconnected either. As I walk towards Columbus Circle again, I notice a small group of people standing outside a doorway holding candles. Which causes me to notice a lot of people holding candles.

At Columbus Circle, by the entrance to the park, with itís winged monument to the battleship Maine, stands a larger group, holding candles. A few police watch in peace.

The battleship Maine was blown up in an act of terror that led us into the Spanish American war. We won and our spoils were the ownership of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba.

Except they are not sure if it was really terrorism or just an accident.

It didnít matter to the press. War was good for business, and our honor was at stake. Teddy Roosevelt became a hero charging up San Juan Hill and then a president.

People died tooÖ

My complaint to headquarters seems to have been heeded and the sky is dark, the clouds melt into their surrounds. Itís 7 PM and two ladies try to hand me a candle that wonít light. I thank them and move on without.

Itís 7 PM and time for everyone to stop what they are doing, driving, shopping, moving and display solidarity. I see a patrol car blocking an intersection and the two policemen lighting a group of candles left on the sidewalk. I resist the urge to hug them.

A block down, on the other side of 8th Ave. is a firehouse. A large crowd bulges into the avenue. Normally they would be pins in the game of traffic and cabs would be the bowling balls. Now, traffic flows quietly around them.

This station has lost more men then in one minute then in a lifetime of service. Every fire station in NY has. Flowers, pictures, candles support the bulge and are contained by it.

A homeless man curses at a dark skinned cabbie. I miss the exchange, homeless probably mistaking the dark skin for a relative of the hijacker and telling where to go. The cabbie tells him to ďfuck off.Ē Normal. New YorkÖ

Back to SOHO and home. I desperately want to go back and help. I am in pain again, driven and pace the loft. Layla is being human, finding diversion, finding life again. I blast my cowardice, unwilling to risk the increased security, unwilling to do the act solo. Willing to help, no knowing how.

I write. I write in frenzy. Itís 4:00 AM! My Internet service is finally out, I canít mail out my peace, my piece. I find a solution. Itís 5 AM. I helped. I helped my self.

You helped.


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All Portions Copyright © 2001 Alex Marx