New York @ 9/11

(( /conflux 2007/ --> [ @ 9/11 ] [ _one. ] [ _two. ] || [ found ] ))

september 25, 2007.

I went to New York for a week, and there participated in the fourth Conflux festival, dedicated to contemporary psychogeography. It was Rébus that drew my attention to this event. I thank him for that. He was ever so right: this was a great occasion to present the Found Tapes Exhibition, all while picking up tapes trashed in the streets of - mainly - Williamsburg (the part of Brooklyn NY where this year's Conflux festival was taking place).

[ Watch The Frontier of High Tech Art: Exploring Urban Art in Brooklyn, which is Andy Jordan's Wall Street Journal video-report on the Conflux festival ...]

The festival was on from the 13th until the 16th of september, but I decided to go somewhat earlier.
On tuesday september 11th.
I took an early flight.
American Airlines flight AA045 departed from the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at ten in the morning european time, and got me to John F. Kennedy International around noon NY time.visa
And yes, of course I picked that date - september 11th - on purpose.
There surely is no other single date in the world's history of the past, say fifty, years that has more - oh, oh, here I cannot resist a childish pun : - ... been laden ... with significance - political, economical, cultural, ideological, religious .... - in view and in the aftermath of the dramatic events that took place early in the morning of that same day six years ago.

Click the little black circle in the embedded flash object to the left ... Don't you find that when pronounced, there is something undeniably musical about the phrase : _ nine eleven _ ...? Would that be the reason why these two number-words in that precise order became the principal designator for the 2001 events, and close to a synonym of 'doom' ... ? _ "Nein et le(v)ven !" _ ... It is a linguistic, a cultural meme, that was quick to spread also to other than the anglophonic parts of our world. The events so profoundly marked the date, that the events became this particular date's denotation. Or would it be rather because, as Derrida observed in an interview with Giovanna Borradori five weeks after september 11th, 2001:"[...] we perhaps have no concept and no meaning available to us to name in any other way this 'thing' that has just happened, this supposed 'event'" ?

Maybe it was mere coincidence, but on my 9/11 American Airlines flight most of the seats in the Boeing 767 were not taken. There were not very many with me on this particular 9/11 flight to New York, apart from a large group of orthodox american jews who all the way, at seemingly random moments, whether the seatbelts sign was on or off, jumped up from their seats to lay tefillin: two black square leather boxes, made of the skin of kosher animals which contain biblical passages, hand-written by a scribe with certified kosher black ink, one of which the men fastened on their head, the other on their arm, with black leather straps. I had never come across this practice before and found it a most peculiar sight. Particularly, as you may imagine, inside of an airplane ...
Stewardesses were hard up urging the praying men to sit down again and fasten their seatbelts at times of turbulence.
As just so many Jack-in-the boxes, they kept on jumping - "Pop goes the Weasel!" - regardless ...

AA plane des pistes, mais

We departed from a sunny Paris. New York, though was heavily clouded. It even was drizzling when we landed at JFK. While I was on the AirTrain the drizzle became a cloudburst with pretty loud thunder. And lightning struck somewhere out over the water as I stood waiting for the A-train to Manhattan on the Howard Beach station platform.tettine Then I looked down on the track. There was a baby soother lying there. (Click the picture to enlarge.) You see, not so many things do change from one big city to the next ... Everywhere soothers pop from baby's lips, and end up in the streets, on platforms, and on train- and metro-tracks. And because I keep looking down on these tracks, this lost and lonely soother object became one of the very first things that I saw when I arrived in NY.
It probably is lying there still. Of course I did not bring my 'fishing-rod'. But then, who else will make an effort to lift it from that track?

It was the first time since 2001 that september 11th again was on a tuesday. It also was the first 9/11 anniversary that saw rain. I surfaced from the Chambers Street tube station in downtown Manhattan at about 1h30pm, and from there walked straight on to Ground Zero; to where used to be the WTC. (Click the pictures to enlarge.)

ground zero ground zero
ground zero ground zero

I had not expected to after six years still come upon what struck me foremost as a huge, a deep and open wound ... I had not expected to find this vast, fenced hole that still looked like a crater, confined by Vesey, West, Liberty and Church Street.
I slowly went around it, pulling my small wheeled suitcase along behind me.

Firefighters, policemen, rescue-workers and other commemorators gathered in and around bars in the streets near the former WTC for drinks and a snack. The official commemoration earlier that day - also for the first time - had not been at Ground Zero, but in the nearby Zuccotti Park.WTC Path Still, there were a great many that flocked around the entrance to the WTC Path Station on Church Street. Visitors attentively passed along the fence that held the long list of those that perished six years ago, adorned with flowers, messages, photographs, objects. There were solitary mourners that lit candles and shed tears. There were vendors selling a large range of tacky-wacky 9/11 souvenirs: flags, picture books, mugs, t-shirts, twin tower statuettes and shiny holographic images of the 'now they're here, and now they're gone' sort. There was a guy dressed like a cowboy that walked a donkey. Several men and women sang songs at the top of their voices, always with a patriotic and/or christian religious content, tapping their feet, clapping their hands or strumming along on acoustic guitars. Also most of these had a definite 'texan' look, with the hats and the boots and the leather jacket. There were young (ex?) soldiers, Afghanistan veterans, who showed their private pictures to all cameras that would watch them, and told their story, to all microphones there to hear.
Every now and then some family member of a victim was allowed to pass through to the other side the fence. Only these could enter and make their way down the ramp into the pit.

A man in his early thirties wearing a shirt with a drawing of the smoking twin towers under the word 'INVESTIGATE', kept arguing with a team from a brazilian television channel, who tried to record a news item on the other side of Church Street. He wanted to go before their camera in order to explain what really happened six years ago ...
"I don't interfere with you, don't you interfere with me," the desperate brazilian news correspondent exclaimed, who continuously got interrupted. "We're filming in portuguese. Do you speak portuguese? You do not even understand what I am saying! Can't you let me do my job, and find other people to harass ...?"
"But you got to tell your people the truth," the man insisted. "We are fighting an info war, man! Information war is what's going on! I know that 9/11 was an inside job, and if I wanna say it out loud, by the first amendment I have a right to do so anywhere I *fucking* want to ... I'm a free american citizen!"
Meanwhile a couple of hundred like-minded advocates of one - or some, or all - of the many 9/11 conspiracy theories, gathered on the corner of Church and Vesey. There were speeches, people chanted "Freedom, freedom!", there were more speeches, but it was mostly a massive "9/11 was an inside job" that resounded, accompanied by the ever present, far and near, bursts of sirens mixed with the occasional deep roaring honk-honk of passing trucks. The yelling - as surely must have been intended - seemed to roll out around the corner all over and into the Ground Zero hole.

[ "Wankel/Evenwicht" is the title of the 38th Raudio Podcast. It is a piece in four parts, all taken from ookoi's live streaming contribution to the "TodaysArt Placard" in The Hague (the Netherlands), on the evening of september 21st. In this podcast's final section the attentive listener may discern bits and pieces from the dictaphone recordings that I made while walking around Ground Zero ... Play it loud! ( Download or listen sono ...) ]

inside job See all those conspiracy demonstrators looking like they are waving their arms?
(Click the picture to enlarge.)
But no, they are not waving. It's just that they are all filming or taking photographs, with a camera or cell phone held high above their head ... There can hardly have been anyone around there that tuesday afternoon, that was not somehow someway recording something...

I kept hanging around Ground Zero for near to three hours. It was quite an experience. I guess I learned a thing or two; though maybe nothing that would be easy to put into words. I also felt like a tourist, and as if mistakably set back six hours. When I finally - reluctantly - decided it was high time I caught the Path train to the other side of the river, it should have been way after midnight.
There hung a black umbrella somewhere in the Ground Zero fence next to the station entrance. Dropped by one, and put up by someone other. I had seen it hanging there all the while that I was around.
It began to rain again.
I took the umbrella.

- next : Psycho/Geo/Conflux in Brooklyn, NY __i -

tags: New York, 9/11

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