Woke Up This Morning At 11:11

I’m not sure how I feel about all these September 11th films.

The trailer for “Flight 93” debuted in theaters a few weeks ago. People were having a tough time with it around the New York City. They felt ambushed, scared, traumatized all over again. We rolled it out on the site a few weeks ago, and we’ve already been pitched on ideas for “World Trade Center,” Oliver Stone’s contribution to the ouvre. So the dialogue had already begun around the office.

In general, it seems like those of us who witnessed the whole thing first hand — the sirens, the smoke, the smell — are keeping the whole thing at arm’s length. Angelinos, in contrast, seem to have no difficulty with it. Why would they? It was just another sunny day in La La Land.

My friend James is a big deal Hollywood agent. He called me on September 12th to see if I was ok. He was pretty shaken up, and pretty pissed off at his colleague¹s apathy. He told me how sad he was driving into work. He ran into another agent in the lobby who said something like, “Whassup, dude? Beautiful day, huh?” And James was like, “What’s wrong with you, man?” With all these September 11th films, I’m kind of wondering the same thing.

I was living in Hell’s Kitchen on the morning of September 11, 2001. I heard the first report on the radio. I was on my way to the post office to drop 300 “Crash Site” post cards into the mail. I watched the smoke rise from the Twin Towers from the top of 56th Street, still thinking it was an accident involving a small plane. On the NR they were announcing “a police investigation at the World Trade Center.” When I climbed out of the subway to find 14th Street crowded with pedestrians, eyes aloft, mouths agape, I knew something was up. I took off my headphones and heard Bob Edwards speak the word “terrorism.” Then I watched the first tower fall in silent slow motion. I stumbled over to my office on 8th Street where we watched the second tower fall, then fled uptown, clinging to the West Side Highway the entire way. ‘Worse comes to worse,’ I figured, ‘I can swim for it.’

I’ve felt a little territorial about the whole thing ever since, like September 11th was ours alone. If you weren’t here, you’ll never know. And all the flags and yellow ribbons and “Never Again” bumper
stickers I see in the Midwest only make it worse.

I mean, I know it was an attack on America, and on the American Dream (or whatever). But the fact it, Ground Zero was (and is) fifty blocks from where I’m calling. It’s my neighborhood, not yours.

That GWB twisted the whole thing into an attack on Iraq, man, that just makes it even worse.

But let’s not go there. Let’s stick with Hollywood and give Washington, D.C., a pass.

For now.

So… Hollywood wants in. I get it. It was a dramatic day, to be sure. Let’s be honest: it looked like a Hollywood blockbuster to begin with (Planes flying into skyscrapers? Who, besides Industrial Light & Magic would have thought that one up?). It’s ripe for storytelling.

For me, though, it’s too soon. Maybe it will always be too soon. I dunno. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

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