For weeks prior to 9/11, I had been counseling my friends in the PR and advertising profession that anyone who tried to pitch a story or run an ad tied to the tragedy of 9/11 was stomping through a minefield with lead boots.
I was wrong.
I watched a remembrance special sponsored by State Farm, and prior to the start of the afterwards commercial-free event, I saw this short video, directed by Spike Lee:
All I can say is, I couldn't have made a better message about how resilient the city is, how it has worked to recover from that day, and what it is about New York that makes it unique and special. If you can watch this an not feel at least a little tightness in your chest, I feel sorry for you.
If you're interested in some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, here's two short videos for you:
Photo (c) 2010 Darren Drevik. All Rights Reserved.
New York City has had 48 hours to digest the news that Osama Bin Laden, the man who masterminded the greatest horror in this city’s history, is dead.
To describe the initial reaction Sunday night as an outpouring of celebration and happiness would be an error. Yes, there were those who spontaneously gathered at Ground Zero and Times Square to celebrate that one of the most evil men in history had been brought to justice at the hands of President Obama and the Navy Seals. But the overall reaction of the city’s residents has been much more tempered.
Tempered. This is a city that has been tempered over the past 10 years. You don’t travel far in Manhattan without seeing reminders of that horrible day. Firehouses still hang the helmets of those who died trying to save others. When you ask firefighters how long they’ve been with NYFD, the most common answer is nine years – when the department had to go on a hiring binge to replace the 343 firefighters killed that day. You see pictures of loved ones lost in restaurants where their parents still work. You hear stories from co-workers of what they were doing that day. Policemen in New York -- 23 NYPD officers and 37 Port Authority officers died -- receive the type of deference and respect other major-city law enforcement officers don't enjoy.
Osama Bin Laden is dead. But so are the 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001. While his death provides a modicum of closure, it provides little comfort to those wives whose husbands still aren’t coming home, to the children who still know their parents as photographs rather than people.
New Yorkers understand that. So while the city seems relieved and slightly pleased that the man who caused this is dead, there will be no ticker tape parades. In fact, the hope is that the President tomorrow when he visits Ground Zero doesn’t even mention Bin Laden’s name. Doing so, one newspaper editorialized this morning, would dishonor that hallowed ground.
There are the natural concerns about reprisals from single individuals who continue to suffer from the mental illness that the now-dead Saudi spread. But the people of this city are a stubborn and brusque lot. They will go about their business with a slightly heightened sense of awareness, but little fear. Being afraid hands the terrorists a victory; and people of New York are determined not to do that.
If you're over the age of 40, you remember. While I was too young to remember where I was the day JFK was shot, I know exactly where I was the night the world learned that a deranged nothing snuffed out the life of my generation's most strident poet.
Since I live across the street from The Dakota, the famed apartment building where John Lennon lived -- and at whose front gate he was killed -- it's going to be a sad day in the neighborhood. The TV crews were already staking out positions last night at the 72nd Street Gate to Central Park -- positioned right between the front gates to The Dakota and Strawberry Fields, the peace park created just across the way to commemorate John and the goal of world peace he always wished for.
Rather than focus too much on his death, I'm going to try to remember his life. John was, like me, a transplanted New Yorker, not a native. But he grew quickly to love this city, just as I'm quickly growing to love it. He loved its grittiness, its energy. He loved the anonymity that the streets afforded him. I love these things too, but also the city is a much friendlier place than its reputation affords it.
Peace? Not always. But you can find peace here if you search hard enough.
I've seen Paris. I've seen France. I've seen Brooklyn law students cavorting in their underpants?
In one of those tawdry stories that make tabloid editors at the New York Daily News and New York Post believe there's a God, clothing maker Diesel has created a firestorm of controversy here.
Apparently, they conned the Brooklyn Law School into letting them use their digs for a fashion photo shoot, only they ended up shooting pics of models cavorting in their underwear -- in some rather suggestive poses. This led to a weekend of jokes about "legal briefs" and "rigid rulings," etc.
Spent my first September 11 anniversary in New York yesterday, and it was a sobering experience on a number of levels.
First, I took my children the day before on a tour of the World Trade Center site and the Tribute WTC Visitors Center that's currently located on the Southeast corner of the site. Very sobering. I've been there before, but my son, who had never seen it, was struck by the sizet of the space, and when the size of the buildings were described to him, the enormity of the twin towers and how devastating the attacks were.
Next, we went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and were reminded looking back at the Manhattan skyline of how different it seems without those two towers perched near the southern tip. An outdated photograph on a display on the island showed what the view looked like prior to that awful day in 2001.
Saturday, we watched the ceremony that began at 8:46 a.m. on television, and the reading of the names was as lengthy and painful as it always is. Having the children of the dead read their parent's name and send words of love and loss is gut-wrenching.
Afterwards, there was a hate rally two blocks away, and I couldn't help but be struck at how those who insisted "my God is better and more important than your God" were thinking the same thoughts the hijackers did as they plunged their planes into the towers. I am constantly amazed at how we humans as a species can learn so little and be so blind.
Finally, we finished the day near midnight nearly 60 blocks away, taking in a awe-inspiring view of the city at the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, where I took the photograph at top of the twin beams of light that shine skyward every Sept. 11 night from the WTC site.
I wasn't in New York that day nine years ago. But as then-governor George Pataki said at the time, "Today, all Americans are New Yorkers."