Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sept.11 Memories

The New York Times is doing personal remembrances of reporters and photographers from Sept.11 today and this one in particular caught my attention. I thought I was the only one who, when witnessing an event, thought of it in newspaper reporting terms. But no, of course not. Here's a particular telling sequence from Joyce Wadler:

....I haven’t been reporting since I started moving west but there is a middle-aged guy standing next to me, staring at the tower, and I figure I have to ask him some questions. He says his girlfriend is in the building, on the 105th floor.

“I hope she’s dead, I just hope she’s not suffering,” he says.

He’s not crying, he’s not showing any emotion, which I figure means he’s in shock, he’s just staring at the building. I try, in between asking him what he does for a living and how to spell his name when he’s worrying about whether the woman he’s living with is dead, to give him some hope. I tell him that we don’t know, maybe there is a back stairway that we can’t see and she made it out. I tell him to think about the Triangle fire — there were survivors there, weren’t there? — which sounds idiotic to me the moment it comes out of my mouth.

“We don’t know, she could be O.K., she might have made it out,” I’m saying, and as I’m saying it, the building comes down.

It comes down in slow motion, in two waves. First the top half collapses, then there’s a pause, then the second half comes down and there is a huge cloud of dust. I look at it and think it is the greatest contrapuntal to a line of journalistic bull ever; “Oh, no, there’s nothing to worry about” and as you’re saying it, the building comes down.

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