On the Road

On the Road: 2002

11 September

Here we are, one year later.

Where was I one year ago today? Back in Denver, Colorado, USA.

I had returned from the UK leg of the Elevation Tour on Sunday, 9 September, and phoned in too tired to work on 10 September.

Breaking from the domestic weekday morning routine, I didn't turn on the Today Show on 11 September. Instead, I put on ESPN. I remember it being the same stuff I had heard the night before, but I left it on and didn't do my morning "visit" with Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, and Al Roker.

So, oblivious to the world around me, I pulled into the parking garage at work, got out of my truck, and some fellow employee I had never even seen before (a new hire during my two-month absence?) walked by and said nobody would be getting any work done today.

It took quite a few moments for her explanation that the World Trade Center was collapsing to sink in fully.

I was at the World Trade Center in June and photographed it from the Hoboken harbor. Over the years I've spent a fair amount of time around the WTC. A lot of that time was spent standing in awe between the towers and trekking all over Manhattan, New Jersey, and Brooklyn to get nighttime pictures of that famous skyline. I even stood on the rooftop of one of the towers. During the Christmas holidays, the towers served as a "screen" for laser shows, etching messages like "Peace on Earth" into the night.

On 11 September 2001 I spent more than my share of time down on the conference room level at work, watching the cable news on the TV monitors. My job never seemed more inconsequential and that hollow feeling, mired in a company overrun by indifference, incompetence, and politics, never went away.

Those days immediately after were dark. After all, I am a New Yorker. Yeah, they used that as a rallying cry from coast to coast after the attacks, but I had already been saying it for an entire decade. An attack on Manhattan (or, more appropriately, "Matthattan") was an attack on Mattopia. After work it was time to go home and be glued to the TV as the news and the stories in the aftermath unfolded. Updating the Elevation Tour Diary no longer seemed significant.

The following Monday, at 2 a.m., a train pulled into Denver's Union Station. On board was a friend from New Jersey, desperately trying to make her way across the country after finding herself in California on a business trip the day the sky fell. There were no flights in or out. Trains became extremely popular over night.

And that train was something like six hours late. Nonetheless, I was there with a blanket, some candy, and some U2 Slane bootlegs. (As I referred to it, "soul food.")

Under the circumstances, it was all I could do. After all, we've got to carry each other.

One year later, I'm back in Europe, working (for a different company) in The Hague and following from afar what seems to be the decline of the American Empire.

Some took offense to the President not going to the UN Summit on Sustainable World Development in Johannesburg. Others are disturbed by his stance on Iraq.

In the marketplace, the euro is giving the U.S. dollar a run for its money. Corporate Bigwigs are finally being carted off to jail while innocent investors, looking to secure a better future for themselves legally, have found their efforts worth next to nothing after being defrauded by men dressed in expensive suits and ties (while those same men also took obscenely large paychecks for working "so hard").

If there is a bright side on the homefront, I'd say that it seems like more of us Americans are finally starting to take stock of what's important in life.

On the other hand, somewhere in Germany, a radical freak is so enamored by his hero, Osama Bin Laden, he wants to name his newborn son after him. The German government denied him the name, though. They've got laws against naming children names that people will find offensive or cause the child to be ridiculed. For example, nobody in Germany is allowed to name their child Adolf Hitler.

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