'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Wednesday, September 11, 2002 ]


1. Where were you?
Since people will, no doubt, be talking today about where they were when it happened, I quickly mention that I was, as always, at work, at the other branch.

My manager walked in and asked me if I'd heard about the World Trade Center.

When he said a plane hit the building, I thought it was a little plane, like one of those private things.

We all figured it was an accident.

This was at about 8:30 am.

The second plane hit, and when we discussed the possibility that it was an attack, one of my co-workers said: "Two planes and they hit both towers. Do the math."

2. Wear one or bear one. Your choice.
My manager (different manager) just walked in and asked me if I wanted a flag pin.

"Or are you boycotting?" she said. Not in a judgemental way, she's just checking.

Boycotting? No. I am not boycotting.

"Okay. Did you want a flag?"

Uh...no. I'm wearing red and blue. That's two of the three.

"Okay," she says, and heads back upstairs.

3. Seth.
My friend Seth lives in Boston.

When I heard that's where the planes came from, I sent him an email to see if he was okay.

We communicated for most of the day via email.

After mentioning the worry of witnessing some kind of attack first hand (the bank's right across the street from the Capitol building), I wrote:

I said to my manager, "I don't think they're thinking: Okay, first the pentagon, then the trade center, then...Madison!"

Then he said: "Well, where was Oklahoma City?"

Seth wrote back:
We sort of have the same thing here. They've shut down the financial district and evacuated federal buildings and schools. We haven't heard any threats, but with at least two of the planes hijacked out of our airport, you get a little worried.

You know what I just noticed? There are no planes in the sky. No helicopters--no nothing. I don't know if you get a lot of air traffic in Madison but this is eerie.

4. A paranoid is simply someone in possesion of all the facts.
Looking back on those emails, I was pretty paranoid at the time.

I was pretty sure that Dubya had something to do with 9/11, then.

(Just my typing of that sentence, I'm sure, got this site red flagged.)

Now, I'm just aggrivated at the stupidity of how this whole thing has been handled--it's all designed to keep this going as long as humanly possible.

"Cold War II," as Scott Feiner put it.

So I don't think Dubya did this.

He exploited it, but he didn't do it.

Besides, a conspiracy is just too interesting.

Rob's Law Of Probability, and you can quote me, is that the most boring answer is usually the solution.

But, as I said to my friend Matt, back in September, 2001: These days, there's no such thing as paranoia.

"Or rational thought," he added.

Or as Seth said: "Sometimes you'd like Dan Rather to just go apeshit. Has there ever been a better time?"

5. The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
As I type this, a chorus on the tv playing in the lobby is singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

As wrong as it is, I can't help thinking:

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Of the burning of the school
We have tortured every teacher
We have broken every rule
We have marched down to the principal
To tell him he's a fool
The school is burning down.

6. Turn and face the strain.
The other day, I heard a person on the radio comment that one year ago, we were all talking about how the world had changed.

The point was that we really hadn't changed all that much.

I remember there was a worry about--well, not a worry, really, so much as a statement: Reflexive irony is dead.

To which I say:


There were days without irony, but it came back--it just became too much strain to hold it any more.

Now, I have a love/hate relationship with irony.

A sense of irony is a terriffic quality to have, but some people just have too much of it, to the extent that nothing is ever taken seriously.

That said, there are a few things we also take way too seriously.

One prominent director--I think it was Altman--called action movies to task after 9/11, saying that the movies taught whoever did this how to do it.

This is an arguement that's been going on for a while--even P.T. Anderson jumped in--about how movies promote violence, and how they give people ideas.

I've talked about this before, but what I haven't mentioned is the underlying arrogance of that statement. What you're basically saying is: "Watching these things makes you violent. Not me, of course, because I am smart and most people are not, hence, we need to baby-proof the nation."

If you read American Psycho and see it as a how-to manual for how to live your life, well, jeez, aren't you already there?

I went to see the movie "The One" with Steve Van Haren, and when Jet Li kicked a guy into the air, then grabbed him, pulled him in front of the gunfire flying at him, and then discarded the still-alive-but-barely shmoe by tossing him to the ground, I cheered loud, yelling:

Movie violence, it's good to have you back.

7. Work.
For those of you reading this at home because you were scared to go to work, just so you know, I'm typing this at work.

I just realized that as I write this, I am behind bullet-proof glass.

Oh, actually, maybe it's bullet-resistant glass.

The difference is that bullet-proof means that the "glass" itself is bullet-proof. Bullet-resistant means that it's regular glass with bullet-proof coating on it.

Anyway, I'm probably safe.

I can see the sky.

That's nice.

I just realized now, that I almost never look at the sky any more.

It really is a beautiful day.

posted by Rob on 9:03 AM | link



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