2001. 15 years later.

Sep 09 2016




My future wife called me on the landline to tell me one of the WTC buildings was on fire. I was still in bed and she was going to class at Parsons. You could see the first tower burning from 12th and University. We lived with Sima and his future wife on Ave B close to 14th, above the bar Mona’s. The radio in my house was static when I turned it on.

The air already smelled like burnt metal when I opened the window. I got dressed quick and rode my Paramount over to University. I had a compulsion to get closer and closer to the WTC. As a kid those two buildings were such an identifier of the City. The idea that one could be burning down was surreal.

The second plane hit shortly after. You could hear it. I stopped at the sound, and then the explosion. Two maintenance men watched with me. They screamed and covered their eyes and bent over and spun around and looked at the ground and then back at the buildings and said “nnooooo” “oooooooh shit!” the same thing they would have done if they heard a really funny story. I started pedaling down again like a moth heading towards a light.

Stunned awe turned into panic and confusion.

Some cops were trying to stop people from moving down at Canal. Some were trying to stop people moving down from Chambers. Not many though. We were approaching an every man for themselves scenario and when you get down to it most cops aren’t heroes, they’re human beings like you or me- this situation wasn’t in any manual. My friend Jason, a co-worker at the Serv told me some shit about the cops at the Ferry to Staten Island. It’s his story, I can’t tell it, but it changed the way I looked at things. Self preservation and the desire to see the next day.

I just pedaled through. The street and the sidewalk were full. Car traffic was pretty much done. I took a picture once in awhile. When I got close, like real close… I don’t know. I saw a lot of stuff. I didn’t take pictures. I just looked. My camera seemed useless. I didn’t want to remember any of it, but I couldn’t stop looking.

The first tower fell and the cloud of smoke and dust moved through the streets, slow motion. “Run!” one of the remaining cops yelled. “Go!” she ordered. It was all slow motion and cinematic for a minute…I rode away from the cloud back up to Canal.

I stayed down there for a while and went down to the east side, financial district, like Water Street as all the fire trucks in the city descended on Lower Manhattan. There was no order now. People stared, people walked, or stood there covered in ash. Purple red brown blood caked into dry dirt on them. Some people just sat down on the sidewalk waiting for help that wouldn’t come.

I had work at 10:30am at Angelica Kitchen. I wasn’t sure there’d be work. People on the street were talking about war. We were being attacked. I’m not sure when but I turned around at some point and rode back to the East Village…