Sunday, September 14, 2008

Matt's Pilgrimage To Ground Zero

BUSTER: Okay, so are you gonna tell me why you got up so early on Thursday? And why you got back so late? And why you didn't go to bed until Friday morning? Were you...were you out there...feeding some other cat????

MATT: No! Don't worry. You're the only cat for me, Buster.

BUSTER: Then would yah feed me NOW, please? The big hand and little hand say I'm hungry!

MATT: Sure, but let me answer your questions first.

BUSTER: *sigh*

MATT: You know about 9-11, right?

BUSTER: Yeah, even I know about that. Very sad, yes. And that's why you blog, right?

MATT: Yes. And do you remember me telling you I was on vacation at the time? And that by the mere flip of a coin I flew out west instead of NYC?

BUSTER: Yes, and you would have visited the WTC, too. You just don't know which day it would have been. told me all that. But you flew back home on the 10th, right?

MATT: Yeah, because could only get me a flight back home then. I was trying for the 11th or 12th. It was the last time I flew on a plane.

BUSTER: Okay, so what?

MATT: So I dodged a bullet, that's what. But most of all, my country was attacked! So 9-11 is a big deal to me. And that's where I was.

BUSTER: Where? NYC? WTC? You're nuts!

MATT: They got it cleaned up. And they're starting to rebuild...but it's very slow going.

BUSTER: So what happened there?

MATT: Well, I drove up to Carteret and parked the car. Then I hopped the Jersey Transit Bus into Midtown Manhattan and caught the E train down to Ground Zero. But when I got there no one could get in to see the commemoration except dignitaries, victims' family members, or the press.

BUSTER: Couldn't you claw your way up a tree or the side of one of them tall buildings I saw on TV? That's what I would have done.

MATT: Then I should've taken you with me.

BUSTER: So what did you do?

MATT: Well, I drove all that way after getting up at 2:30am to report on the events for my blog. I felt I had to do...something. So I went to the desk where they gave out press passes and asked for one. After all, I am a blogger who reports news along with commentary, and I was there to cover the event. So why not?

BUSTER: And they gave you one??? Just like that? No strip search?

MATT: Yep! Of course they asked for credentials, first.

BUSTER: But you don't have any!

MATT: My blog is my credential. Fortunately one of them was armed with a Blackberry and visited St. Blogustine. Since my name and picture matched the ones on my blog, they let me in. Oh, and my not being a crackpot helped a lot.

BUSTER: Yeah (laughing), but do they know about THIS blog?

MATT: You mean my blog about a cat who talks? No, I didn't think it was a good time to mention that.

BUSTER: Smart move.

MATT: So they gave me a press pass to wear around my neck and I was escorted inside.

BUSTER: Inside?

MATT: Past the barriers. Past the obstructing trees that hid the events from the masses. All the way to the grandstand in the rear where the press was herded. We were not allowed to venture forth, though some did. But I got several good pictures during the event. I expected McCain and Obama to say a few words or even get on stage, but they never appeared.

BUSTER: Where were they?

MATT: Down in the pit meeting with other victims' family members. There were quite a lot of them.

BUSTER: So how was it?

MATT: Very depressing, very emotionally draining. Lots of crying, even after 7 years. Something was taken from all of us, but none more than from the family members. It was hard to watch at times.

BUSTER: So what did you do after that?

MATT: After taps was played I walked out the way I came in and followed the herd.

BUSTER: Ooh. Not a good move. Last time I did that I wound up at a shelter for 11 months!

MATT: I stopped in my tracks when I saw St. Paul's Chapel. Figured I would go inside and check it out. Lots of people there praying, so I joined them. Then they had a service full of politically correct prayers about diversity and other liberal chantings, so I left. Plus, the guy in the balcony with the video camera seemed rather intrusive.

BUSTER: No doubt.

MATT: So I walked around to the rear of the Chapel and found the crackpot, wingnut Bush-haters with their printed tee-shirts and signs making the wildest accusations you could imagine. Also found singing Christians and a prayer station, who by the way seemed much more in tune with God than anyone running that Chapel, IMHO.

BUSTER: So you took more pictures...

MATT: Yes, then I hopped the train back up to Midtown.

BUSTER: Did you see anyone you recognized?

MATT: Well, now that you mention it. While I was waiting to be escorted into the press area, I almost tripped over some lady who was kneeling to take pictures of the singing Mennonites. I was going to say something to her but several people squeezed between us, and then I was ushered out. Turns out that was Urban Infidel, who found plenty of things to photograph on the outside. Also thought I saw Pam from Atlas Shrugs, too. But she didn't look quite the same, so I couldn't be sure enough to walk up to her and say hello.

BUSTER: Too bad. So you hopped the train...

MATT: Yeah, up to Midtown. Wanted to go up to the NewsCorp building to see if I might spot anyone I recognize. Then I saw this painted on a firehouse door on 8th St..


MATT: THEN I took a very crowded, jam-packed, sweaty bus back to my car and drove home.

BUSTER: And you were up til 5:30am fiddling about with downloading, uploading, organizing, posting, etc...?

MATT: Yep. Was up for 27 hours. Haven't done that since college. Still feel like crap.

BUSTER: No doubt.

1 comment:

USpace said...

Real cool tribute, nice angle. And wow, you saw Urban Infidel and maybe Pamela, what a treat, they're amazing.

Now, for my flashback: I was getting ready to get ready for work; Howard was on the radio, the TV's sound was muted.

I finally looked up and saw the tower with smoke pouring out of it and said "what the...", and then turned the sound on and just then my sister called and we watched and talked about it for a few minutes until the 2nd plane hit.
We were both "Oh my God..."

For the next week or more my nabes was like a demilitarized zone or something, only official traffic allowed. Lots of firetrucks and buses filled with fireman and rescue workers streamed through the neighborhood on their way down to Ground Zero.

Thankfully I lost no one, but know many people who did, including a friend at work who had joined us from Cantor Fitzgerald after being there for 10 years. He lost over 100 friends and acquaintances, including 3 of his best friends who I had met at a birthday party at a club about 6 months before.

They loved the nickname I had given him.

A friend of mine called his wife at home and said "Go and get a few hundred dollars out of an ATM, quick!" She finally had to go way uptown to find one that still had cash in it. But on the way back to their apartment she ran into many upper-class Mommies out on the streets (with their husbands still on their way home from work, hopefully) with their little kids and no way to get cash, and all of them crying and scared, and so little by little she gave away all her money to these scared and crying young Mothers.

So many stories, maybe I'll recount more next year.

We must not let people forget, and we must never refuse to recognize evil.

we will NOT forget
you 9/11 victims
will get justice
painful truth -
9/11 should be our
wakeup call
get Bin Laden -
we just need big SWAT team
and search warrant

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
there is no good or evil

every thing's relative
don't judge a terrorist

All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
Help Halt Terrorism Today!
We will NEVER forget!