And I'll bet most of your time was spent down there scuffing around for those monogrammed towels from your collapsed bunker/fuckpad.
On Saturday, 'round about five o'clock, I was puttering around the house, cleaning up to the strains of my “Jazzy Moments” playlist on the computer. Just diggin' on the grooves, kinda spring-boarding off the Max Roach post from earlier in the day.
I had the house to myself, as my wife was out headed to Wall Street to her job to nab her laptop. She'd left it there for an overnight online tech upgrade, and needed it for a little cursory work from home the next week when she'd be out on vacation. I was gathering up stray shoes tucked under the couch's edge and listening to Nat “King” Cole croon “A Little Bit Independent” with the King Cole Trio when my celly rang.
Saw it was Mrs. LM's number and answered it quickly.
“Turn on New York One (The local all-news cable channel) NOW! Something's going on down here! There's a fire!”
“What? Where?”, I asked. “In the subway? What?”
“No!, she nearly screamed. “It's the building! The bank building they're tearing down! It's big! Turn on the news and find out what's going on!”
“How about you getting the fuck out of there?”, I blurted, as she has a tendency to freeze when panicked. “You need to not be lingering down there if shit's jumping off.”
“Oh my God, I can't believe this!”, she moaned. “This fucking area is cursed.”
“Honey, get the hell outta there! Did you get your computer?”
“No! The upgrade didn't take, so I have to wait until Monday! Oh, man, look at this...”
By this time I had NY1 on and they were in the thick of coverage of what she was seeing in person—a seven-alarm inferno was roasting what was left of the already damaged, and in-the-process-of-being-demolished Deutsche Bank building that sat across from the fallen World Trade Center. Those falling towers had ripped huge gashes in the bank tower, and human remains were scattered all over and throughout the sundered husk of a building. Mold and all manner of pestilence had invaded it post 9-11, and now—at long last the city was taking the blighted behemoth down, floor-by-floor. From my wife's office window two measly blocks east, she could see the thing shrinking day after day as it was being dismantled. But on this day, she stood there, near Chase Plaza, looking at flames gorging on the partially stripped tower, with bits of flaming debris falling down in spastic, windblown paths.
And for her, it was 9-11 all over again. Ugly, gray billows of smoke pouring from the flaming open wound of the building—just like that day almost six years (It has been that long—six years, people.) ago.
The news report was tense, but encouraging. It wasn't a terror attack. It was a simple, but still, amazingly destructive fire. Later, we would learn that that this building, that my wife and her co-horts in the area called “The Widow” (as it was the closest, high-rise survivor of 9-11's carnage) would claim two more firemen's lives in that haunted zone. I told her to stay east. Fuck the computer. Fuck work. Get on the 2 train and get home—NOW! I intentionally kept her on the phone until her signal faded as she entered the Wall St. station, just to make sure she was getting the hell away from that snake-bitten area.
Now, it was me who was tense, as I waited for her to get off the train near home and call me. She did, after about 45 minutes or so, but she was quite shaken on the phone, and even moreso after she got home about five minutes after that. It didn't help, with September 11th being right around the corner, and the day being eerily reminiscent of the day six years ago—cloudless and temperate. Cheery climate for tourists, but an oddly unsettling reminder for those of us who were here that day.
And her neck craned upward, watching flames and smoke gouting from a just-across-the-street, high-rise?
I had to settle her down. Made her a drink. Distracted her. And turned off the TV. It took awhile, but she cooled out, and eventually took a long nap—one strong drink and a rich meal—broiled salmon, put her away until about 10 p.m. As she slept, I checked the news, and heard about the two firemen who died. I wasn't gonna let her hear about that that night.
So in those quiet hours, I let my mind drift a little. Thinking about September 11th then, and the September 11th coming. I looked in on the wife, curled up in the sofa's corner. I took her empty tumbler away, and sat down at the computer, exhaling.
And in my wan clicking around, I remembered something that made my blood boil when I saw it a day or so before. So I searched for it again. Found it...and my blood went from hot, to dangerously corrosive upon reading it.
And I Landed on the Moon, Too
"I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers ... I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them.
Time Rudy spent there as mayor:
The link within, from TPM got to the nitty-gritty, lying bullshittery from Rudy.
From the NY Times:
A complete record of Mr. Giuliani’s exposure to the site is not available for the chaotic six days after the attack, when he was a frequent visitor. But an exhaustively detailed account from his mayoral archive, revised after the events to account for last-minute changes on scheduled stops, does exist for the period of Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001. It shows he was there for a total of 29 hours in those three months, often for short periods or to visit locations adjacent to the rubble. In that same period, many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts.
When Giuliani first floated the toxic lie about his being down there "as often, if not more, than most of the workers”, the smackdown was immediate from the first responders who were there for ungodly lengths of time. They called bullshit on Rudy's braggadocious claim of heroism. But it was Atrios I remember, who said:
“I highly doubt Rudy! was really "sifting through toxic debris" 40 hours a week for a year, or even too close to those who were, but someone can go back and check the mayor's public schedule...”
Which is just what the Times did in the report noted above.
Now, why would the revelation of Rudy's less-than-mega-diligent time management in terms of Ground Zero presence set me off so?
Because I recall those days all too well, and how he abused the tragedy for self-aggrandizement and a cheap power-grab. And one aspect I recall verrrry well is the visuals. He was damn sure down there the day of—grandstanding more than a little bit. But I'll be damned if I can remember any images whatsoever of Giuliani anywhere near “The Pile” in the six days afterward. What I saw were repeated news conferences from his “Plan B/Non-Fuckbox” secondary bunker/command center, with his faithful co-ass-wrangler Bernie Kerik looking over his shoulder, brow furrowed with concern—or Viagra discomfort, you choose—but that's what I saw.
He wasn't anywhere near that carnage. My wife was. No thanks to Rudy's trying to hurry businesses and people back into the area, to give a semblance of normalcy in the face of the awesome disruption of everything within 1o blocks square. He and Christie Todd Whitman pushed hard to whitewash the EPA's report on the air quality in the area, assuring folks that all was well, when all was actually quite sickness inducing. Right down to Rudy's pet Negro, “Deputy” mayor Rudy Washington's getting sick shortly thereafter from the vile air. His stupid loyalty to his head-patting master, and standing in as Giuliani's on-site proxy may well cost him his life. It's already badly compromised it.
My wife, who spent much of the first day huddled in a building vestibule with five other people as ash, bits of the dead. and toxic, pulverized, building remains was forced in is in the 9-11 Health Registry, along with countless thousands of others. And she was back at work in a secondary location mere blocks away days later, when the city laid down rat traps every forty feet from the WTC remains down to the Battery, to combat the influx of death-sniffing vermin they knew would come. The pressure was immense on businesses in the area, and those businesses pressured their employees—of which Mrs. LM was one.
Rudy? Posing for photo-ops with Jacques Chirac, to burnish his bullshit, international tough-guy bona-fides, is where he was. NOT on that death-stuffed pile.
My friend D_____ was on the pile. He was there for days on end after 9-11. He worked for a volunteer ambulance corps that was tight with a firehouse down the block in Brooklyn. So when the time came to look for firefighters—his friends, “BOOM!”, homeboy was down there. Day after day after day after nightmare and death uncovering day. For eight-to-ten hour shifts. I wrote this about a week ago:
“My friend D______, from the volunteer ambulance corp, who called me, I remember him begging to use my company gym's shower after a horrific day, where he and his fellow pile-climbers stumbled across...indescribably awful human remains. He didn't want to wait until he got home to wash off, and the large alcohol wipes supplied at Ground Zero just weren't cutting it. He and I drank that night at Fanelli's Bar.We drank a lot—and D______ doesn't really drink, which told me that he'd seen something that he desperately wanted to forget that day. Not surprisingly, he didn't go back down there the next day. Or that Saturday, or Sunday. Monday? Yes. He was back. D______ didn't drink much until that night we hung out. But he does all the time, now. At least, the last time I saw him.
We really don't hang much any more.”
He was there for days on end. Four, five days a week for the first month—again, in eight-to-ten hour shifts. He bathed at my office several times, always asking to go in the back way, because he feared he smelled like death, and didn't want to freak anyone out as he came in.
A few times, he did smell like death. God only knows what he came across or found himself knee-deep in on those shitty days.
That guy, I remember being down there. Tearing through rebar, and steel, and what remained of the drywall to get at a lost someone, or a lost part of someone.
29 hours, Rudy? D_____ was down there for that long by the end of September 13th.
No pretty-boy photo ops for people like him. Who dealt with all the raw, and tangible worst that site had to offer. Touching the awfulness. Wading in it. Lifting it with their hands to get at grislier, uglier layers below. Because that's what the real heroes of that day did down there.
You, Rudy? On the pile? Doing the dirty work? As much the photo-whore as you are, there'd be a picture or two of that, wouldn't there? Not the ones of you up Cortlandt Street a ways, posing and pointing for the cameras like some armchair MacArthur in your nifty, baby blue NYPD windbreaker. In your mind, you were some sort of urban John Wayne in “Hellfighters”, swaggering about and fairly sweating heroism as you dove into the trouble yourself, fixing it and growling “I got this!”, as you lifted hunks and chunks of the fallen towers with your bare, hairy hands.
The reality is something else though.
You've never been a “dirty your hands” guy as long as we've known you. Much as you pretend to be. Grunt work? You didn't do shit. The most you moved was dust as you walked through the streets, making sure to give that cameraman room to get the Goddamn shot. And let's be real—the only thing you “lifted” down there that day was probably your fuck-buddy Judi's skirt, to cop a clumsy, furtive feel while the cameras reloaded.
You've been a ”pretender” as long as you've been prominent on the NY scene. For many of us, our first memory of Rudy Giuliani—Tough Guy™, was a pretty silly, and laughable incident of dress-up. From NYPD Confidential:
“And in 1986, Giuliani dressed up in a Hell's Angel biker's black leather vest, and with his then-pal U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, stood on a Washington Heights street corner with 30 heavily armed undercover cops and a van full of reporters and bought $ 20 worth of crack vials. Nobody made any arrests, and both he and D'Amato were roundly criticized.”
And from the Village Voice:
(The bike club has long been a target of the law. In 1994, the government tried, unsuccessfully, to confiscate the East 3rd Street building, insisting that drugs were being manufactured and sold on the site. And as long ago as 1986, U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani and Senator Al D'Amato used the Angels as a symbol of the seedy underworld of drug dealers, dressing up in the gang's colors to stage an undercover crack buy for the press.)
Ohhh how I wish I could find a picture of that laughable moment of lunacy and hubris, but alas....local news story as it was in 1985, pics are hard to nab these days. I'm sure some enterprising news tape operator will unearth it, like they did with the police riot footage—but my God, you had to see it. Rudy, his then friend, Sen. Al D'Amato, and Judge Benjamin Barr pulled that sillyfuck stunt for the cameras looking to all the world like stiff bumpkins who fell down a laundry chute at a costume shop, and stood up in the cart at the bottom wearing whatever they landed in.
But “ooooooooh!”, he swore he was tough! And was all “Lookit me! I'm dressed up like something special!”
And now the picture comes into clearer focus. Rudy's issue—if you wanna go all psychological about it, is about discomfort in his own skin. A deep, internal self-loathing that he masks by constantly resorting to costume—to be something different—anything else but the horrid, anti-social little man that stares back at him in the mirror every fucking day.
To-day I shall be a motorcycle tough!
Tomorrow, I shall be a diamond-draped diva!
On Sunday I shall be a leggy showgirl!
Next week I will be a fierce, welfare-hating Masai Chieftain!
His whole schtick is based on costume and artifice. Play acting and puffery. And then, having fixed his superficial exterior, turning that internal self-loathing outward.
On wives. Peers. Subordinates. Minorities. Those who would dare question him.
And if he can't actually. physically wrap himself in the shell of something other than his uncomfortable self—he'll fucking cloak himself in it via lies, as he did with his quickly discounted “Tales From The Pile”.
But understand what we're dealing with here—once and for all. An anti-social lout. A selfish prick. A fabulist, A delusionary. A lying sack of shit who will say anything to either hurt someone else, or make himself look good.
Said he was there at Ground Zero “as often, if not more, than most of the workers ...”.
Turns out he was there in documented time, around 29 hours.
My friend D________ was down there for days. Weeks when you add it all up.
My wife and her friends—trapped that day in the death-clogged air, are again, in the Health Registry, should their health fail like this woman's did.
9-11, and what one did while down there in the days following is nothing to be bullshitting about. Especially if the bullshit can be so quickly exposed as the grand-standing poseur-ity that it is. People died down there—and are continuing to die down there as of this weekend. And too many are permanently scarred by the events of that day, and the after-events, like my wife, who I basically had to sedate on Saturday night.
When she saw the news the following day, and heard about the firefighters who died the night before, she lapsed into a kind of quiet melancholy. There's been a lot of talk from her since, about 9-11. What she's going to do that day. And what she's not. Most of her co-workers aren't going in. Some years they have, some years they haven't. But the Deutsche Bank building fire has taken all the taste out of their mouths for being in the area next month when the day rolls around. No thanks.
It's nothing to play-act about. It's serious business. Not some fucking diorama.
A commenter on the ABC News story on Rudy's “gaffe” said this:
”Giuliani says he's like a 9/11 firefighter. Romney says his kids are like soldiers.
Are these the Republican frontrunners?!?”
Posted by: Marilyn | Aug 10, 2007 4:07:32 PM
Yes Marilyn. They are. And they are cowards as well. Preening, posing cowards. Chicken-hawks...and chicken-shits. Courting a mean bitch named Karma, as they make light of people who've given their lives. Given. Their. Lives.
I'm not gonna sit around and wish ill will on bastards like Rudy. But he's generated enough evil in the past, and felt the karmic cockpunch before. You think he'd learn. “Sigh.”
Made the wife that drink to settle her nerves on Saturday. I didn't have one, m'self.
I'll just save my sippin' for the right moment.