I took this picture what seems a thousand years ago, when I was still a lad and my father was working on the 72nd floor of the Empire State Building. (You could actually just walk over and open the widows like they were the little sliver of a bathroom window in your apartment.) At the time it was just a bad photograph. Not quite perfectly exposed, not quite perfectly framed. A couple of buildings and a shroud of thick fog. Fwap! Onto the pile. But now? Well, with that whole “buildings in heaven” look it got going on perhaps it’s found a new relevance?
Recently something dawned on me. I came out of my office and turned south toward the N/R station. I happened to look up and saw the emptiness which terminated the pinpoint of a horizon, where, as it so happens, the towers used to be. It struck me, looking up casually and unthinking, that what I really wanted to see were those towers. It wasn’t a sad moment, I didn’t crash knee-down on the pavement and (damn them!) launch into a Heston-worthy soliloquy. I simply looked up and realized for the first time, that long after all the sadness and shock and directionless anger, after the promises and grand plans and presentations that what I would most fondly like to see were those two towers again. My opinion suddenly formed solidly on what should be built on that ground.
A few months ago I had to go down to the court building to throw my name into the jury-duty hat, and afterward walking by the site of “ground zero” I was dismayed to see what, after nearly 5 years, all the glitzy competitions, heated debate, and ponderously heavy rhetoric had wrought… exactly nothing. “Ground zero,” suddenly a doubly fitting name, was ground that contained zero. It was a huge fucking hole in the ground; that’s it. I don’t know whether those of you living outside of the Tri-State area realize that. With all that has been said and all that has been done in the reverent name of 9/11, the actual site, the “holy ground” which evidently just radiates with meaning and power, is still, 5 years later, a dirt hole. It seems that in “this post 9/11 world” symbolism and rhetoric are all that can be built-up, with passionate gusto, tall and strong.
When I say what I really want to see when looking south are those towers I mean it literally. You know what I don’t really want to see? A hideous fucking monstrosity, covered in prisms, couched in forgettable hackneyed concept, birthed from the piteous wombs of politics, greed, and compromise.
Message to George Pataki- You and your “Legacy” can suck cock. I can only take heart that your utter failure will impede your using our tragedy to bolster a presidential bid (like a certain Mayor, who everyone seems to forget was widely despised by those he governed before events allowed him to don the hero-mask… oh wait… it’s 2006… that’s a Presidential pedigree today isn’t it?)
Message to Larry A. Silverstein- Kill yourself. Seriously. You are a Scumbag. I’d rather tongue-kiss a lipless leper crack-addict than even look at you.
Message to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation- Fire yourselves.
Message to George W. Bush, his cabinet members, and the sycophantic House and Senate- Get the term “9/11” out of your filthy fucking mouths. I don’t want to hear another tangential argument given weight by your use of September 11th as ballast until the “ground zero” of those events is afforded the same weight, in physical reality, as it is in your “stirring” words.
You know that primary construction on the original Twin Towers only took about 5 years? That means that if our leaders were not so full-of-shit, if our business-men were not so totally devoid of social conscience, and our citizens were not so listless, that we New Yorkers could look south and see, if not this September then one very soon, two reassuringly familiar (albeit structurally improved) towers rising to fill the empty spaces? How “right” would that feel? As things stand symbolism is threatening to usurp reality completely. If the incompetence continues much longer the symbol itself might be threatened with transformation. Anyone who says “Think of 9-11” will be saying “Think of how utterly full-of-shit we are.”
This is another photograph I took years ago. For some reason this image of a classic (Milton Glaser designed) “I heart N Y” coffee cup substituted with the word “V O I D” had a vitality and meaning to me. I made the cup and shot a whole role of it. I think I even had a t-shirt. Today, if I’m being honest, I have no idea what it meant to me exactly, or why it resonated. But again, as with the “towers in heaven” image, it seems to have found a new relevance, resonating for more obvious reasons. It’s an accidental protest image I suppose and I would like to offer it to you.
If anyone out there finds themselves similarly dismayed and upset by the void which still occupies what is ostensibly one of our countries most important sites, one which seems to symbolically initial all manner of political blank-check, then take it and use it.
Here is another:
Fuck it. What else is there for me to say? I’m tired.