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Nine Eleven Eighteen

All systems eventually fail. Whether mechanical, biological or theoretical, they all work until terminated or replaced by a new system. I always liked Neil Young’s music because he burns with a passion that realizes he’s burning up the very thing that sustains him. And he’s pie-in-the-sky enough to think we’ll all soon be driving ’82 Mercedes Coupes fueled with leftover vegetable oil from local eateries.

It feels like a long time ago, finally. Not sure what it takes for this to happen .. there is no formula that guarantees 18 years will feel like 18 years. I was with a woman September 11, 2001, and we laughed as Sandy Berger reported from CNN amid collapsing buildings and chaos. Berger was Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor, but on that day we focused on his name (as though it were spelled ‘Burger’) and quipped “don’t want to be playing ketchup” and “lettuce begin.” Maybe it was just black humor in the face of a blacker reality; our version of Janice Sopranos’ “another toothpick.” But when I tried to be sincere the following morning with a sober World Trade Center photo post, I was put in my place by another old friend who told me how we’d run roughshod on the rest of the world too long and this was our comeuppance. So I took the post down and figured “fuck it” .. because sometimes “fuck it” works best of all.

Not too long ago I was taking a long walk around Manhattan and pointed myself in the direction of the Freedom Tower (which, in a flagrant example of modern-day irony, has been rebranded ‘ONE World Trade Center’ with the emphasis on singular unity.) I hadn’t seen the memorial in person and, in a rare instance of having my cynical core shook, it took my breath away. I’d read about it and subconsciously half-knew what to expect. Then there it was .. this huge inverted space with all this water and all these names. I didn’t think about the ‘whys’ or the time that had passed in between. I just thought about the people. And it made me temporarily numb — enough so to black out the freelance tour guides and Chinese dudes selling self-published ‘DAY OF DISASTER’ photo books. I wandered away lost in thought until, in a matter of yards, I stumbled upon the exact replica of the first, massive, inverted water memorial. TWIN towers. TWO of these things came all the way down with all of those people inside. Thank God for O’Hara’s Pub down there, with its hot day Coors Light and all of its mismatched sensibilities. Sometimes it’s all you can do.

All systems indeed fail. That we’re a closed-ended experiment doesn’t make the experiment any less beautiful or wondrous. In the eighteen years that have passed I’ve met some good people and lost some others. Nothing adds up any better than it did back then and, if anything, I’m more annoyed with people who claim otherwise; claim to have it figured out or have a line on religion, common sense or sticking to the right diet. Bush II is gone and seen in almost folksy terms next to the crazy shit-show that now plays daily. Hope and Change is worth 50 million, on the corporate lecture circuit, and dropping huge bucks on a Hamptons beach bungalow. But that shit is too easy .. getting jaded about how it all should work .. trying to defend some system like it might be the right one and stop religious kooks from flying airplanes into buildings. All it ever does is keep rocketing forward while remaining in the present. And that’s probably good enough.

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