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6:50 AM: Thursday, September 13, 2001
 
Saratoga Springs, NY
 


I spent yesterday in front of the television and reading the New York Times and NY post. I am going to drive back to Iowa for a week or so to spend some time with Sasha. She is out there while her whole family is dealing with the siutation in NYC.

It will be good for me to be back there for a while.. I have some things that I can take care of. This means that my Itineary will be a little out of wack.. When the trip resumes I will head to the northwest first and will circle around.. Hopefully I will make it back to the southeast where Iwas supposed to visit this week

Below is a detailed recolection of my trip out of New York City on Tuesday, September 11.


8:30-11:40 AM Tuesday, September 11, 2001

 
NYC to Boston on I-95
 


I stayed at Maya's house last night after getting dinner with her at EAR Bar around the block. For some reason even after staying up to two or three writing a bunch of updates, I woke up at 6:50 am with out an alarm going off.

I got up, logged on to Temporama, posted my new updates and then decided to get a headstart on my way to Boston. I picked up a large coffee at the deli around her block on the corner of Greenwich and Spring and got myself into my car. At first I thought that I would cut across Canal and drive across the Manhattan Bridge to the BQE but I thought that rush-hour traffic would take forever, So I took the westside highway north to I-95 and headed east. It was a smart choice.

I never listen to radio stations above the low nineties, I'm an NPR junkie, except when I get 20 miles from NYC, then I start to listen to Hot 97 and Jammin' 105. I don't know why but they just seem to be the icons of NYC radio to me. This morning however I found WNYC on the AM dial and drank my coffee while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on I-95 east in the Bronx.

That is when I heard that there was an explosion at the World Trade Center.. An explosion in one of the towers maybe. No not an explosion, there was an eyewitness from the WNYC office in lower Manhattan. The caller worked for WNYC and saw a commercial airliner fly into tower one. "That there was smoke coming out of the building. A fire on the 70th floor or so"

At this point I was just to the edge of the Bronx, the traffic started to move pretty well and while I listened to WNYC they cut back to regular NPR programming for a minute. NPR was running some human-interest commentary on dog walking or something. I couldn’t believe that WNYC reverted back to the national feed.

I turned the Radio to 1010 WINS, the all AM News Station in NYC, and they were talking to an eyewitness too… The guy was saying that the plane made a straight line for the building an took no evasive action. I thought he was a typical New York Nutso.. I was trying to figure out if there was some sort of problem at air traffic control…

Sasha was supposed to be on a plane to NYC today so I immediately called her in Iowa and told her to turn on CNN and tell me what was happening. I turned the radio back to WNYC and now the national feed was running live coverage of the crash. I wished they would get the first eyewitness from the WNYC staff back on the line.. I told Sasha what I knew and realized that the last thing you should do when someone is supposed to get on a plane in a few hours is call them when you hear about a crash. But I knew that her dad's office was across the street from the WTC so I thought that she should know.

The traffic opened up.. I was now driving 75 MPH east on I-95 and talking to Sasha about her afternoon fight, when she dropped the phone and started sobbing. I could hear the "Oh my God's" of the CNN news anchors in the background of Sasha's house in Iowa City.. I was ten miles away and heard the explosion on a cell phone call to Iowa City.. Sasha picked up the phone crying and told me that a second plane just rammed into tower two.. A second plane, and commercial airliner? I started to feel sick.. I slowed down and looked out my window at other cars and trucks on the road, wondering if they knew what I knew. I was still being passed and then I saw the bumper to bumper inbound traffic beginning to make way for a few emergency vehicles.

I told Sasha that I would call her back. My cell phone minutes are way over the limit so I kept thinking that I should keep the conversation short,, I'm sure that Sprint PCS will be making a lot of money in the coming days.. I alone will be sending them a few hundred dollars for the phone calls that I made today.. $0.25 a minute, or any part there of.

I continued to listen to 1010 WINS and WNYC and started to hear reports of people jumping out of the buildings. Men in suits holding their briefcases. A couple holing hands, three, then four then something like ten total. The building that WNYC was in was being evacuated so, they cut once again to the national feed, their FM transmitter was on WTC tower one so the signal went dead but the AM was still broadcasting.

I was almost to Connecticut when I saw a giant Black Grey cloud in the crystal clear sky in my rear view mirror.. Driving along I wondered what was going on, I heard that four planes had been hi-jacked and that one of the planes was from Boston, where I was on my way too. I saw a rest area ahead and decided that I would stop for a minute and see if there was a TV in there. As I pulled into the rest area I head the eyewitnesses on the radio scream another round of "Oh my gods" and then the line went dead.. The radio host announced that the tower one had collapsed in on itself.

I slammed on my breaks and skidded to a stop from 50 mile an hour or so, and felt like I was going to vomit. I knew that there were at least 10 NYFD ladder crews hoofing it up to the stairs trying to help the people on the top floors much less that there were usually 50,000 people in those buildings. I was going to apply to an Art Residency Program, which provide studios to artists on the top floors of the WTC. With the gallery season just beginning in NYC I'm sure that there were artists working in their studios when the planes hit bellow.

I left my car running and my car unlocked and ran into the service plaza asking if they had a TV. There were people who didn't know what was happening.. Which is not surprising b/c as I scanned the channels looking for news in my car, the shock jocks were still doing bathroom humor jokes and Christian radio still had their pre-programmed soul saving and assorted advertisements running, Somehow the adds for Clearer Skin with a Special European crŹme was making me really angry.. Thousands of people were presumed dead and Clear Channel Communications didn't want to lose the ad revenues during their lucrative morning drive-time shows. How could anybody be listening to Bob Seger singing "Old Time Rock and Roll" when there were people falling to their death?

Inside I found a group of people huddled around a 4 inch black and white TV with only slight reception.. All I could see was figures running around in a cloud of ash, only I didn't know it was ash b/c I thought that it was the poor reception on the travel TV. I stood and watched for a while and talked to people who where similarly shaken. I left the building and decided that I should fill up my gas tank even though I had 1/2 a tank left. I guess I wanted to fill up before the prices went crazy. (I felt bad for thinking like that). I continued to drive and heard that the second tower fell.

I was ten blocks from there this morning and woke up without an alarm at 6:50. I couldn't help but think what I would have done if I heard the first crash. Knowing me I would have run down town to take photographs and see what the hell was going on. I passed into Rhode Island and started to hear that all flights in the US were being grounded and that the Pentagon may have been hit.. There was an NPR report from the Pentagon Correspondent asking the Military about their response to the Bombings and then in the background, I heard a faint recorded evacuation announcement… It was like hearing the television in Sasha's house in Iowa.. Quiet like a whisper but so clear and understandable.

As I continued east I started to hear reports about Boston and that two of the planes where Hi-jacked out of Logan airport. I was on my way to Boston to do an artist talk at the visual arts program at MIT. How the hell was I supposed to talk about this project when people where dying in NYC and DC? How could anybody sit and listen to me talk about my salt shaker in Portland, Maine? My project seemed so completely inconsequential.. Amanda is in a Nurse Midwifery program at Columbia. She is probably still on call at Columbia Hospital, helping the victims from this terrible attack. While I'm driving 80 miles an hour towards Boston so that I can visit the guy who bought my matchbook collection. How can I even think about continuing this project?

As I drove into Rhode Island I finally lost the signal of 1010 WINS, no more on the street live coverage, I started to scan the AM dial in search of New England's news radio. I encountered three or four Christian radio stations who still hadn't interrupted their pre- recorded soul saving preachers with the news of the attack. I thought of the born again Christian woman that I used to work with who would not listen to any radio that was not run by evangelical Christians. She was probably sitting somewhere listening to some pre recorded preacher and assorted Christian business advertisements oblivious to the fact the thousands of people could use her prayers.. Consolidation of the media markets mean that most radio station don't have a news room.. So canned god gets played while the world burns..

And if that wasn't enough I turned the dial to 990 AM which is a station out of Boston. I heard the commentator talk about exposure to this horrible disaster. I thought that he was on the line with someone who was trapped in his or her building near the WTC. But as he continued I started to feel nauseous for a third time. Al Scheneski the host of "Financial Times" on the Renaissance Radio network was not talking to an eyewitness, no he was talking about the exposure of your stock portfolio to this horrible disaster. He warned his now vomiting or hell bound listeners that they should "think before you make your move, before you jump" Think before they jump to any financial decisions. That hopefully his listeners had diversified portfolios, investments in Oil future could be extremely profitable when the markets re-opened. That there could be a surge I renewable energy product stocks and healthcare companies.

Thousands of human beings were trapped and presumed dead in the ruble of the WTC building and AL was talking about a way to maximize your stock portfolio.. This was at about 10:30 am.. 300 NYFD men where presumed dead.. And this fucking asshole was advising speculation on the market.. Think before you jump? Did he see the footage of fund managers jumping to their death with their briefcases in their hands?

I was wishing that I wasn't an atheist so that I could pray to god that this guy would burn in hell for his blatant disregard for human life.. In-between his broadcast a peppy voice came on to tell us about the exceptional sales and service of "Ferties Key-shop" "Did you lock you keys in your house?…….."

Yeah well you wouldn’t expect Renaissance Radio to forgo drive time ad revenues would you? Maybe you could put your money into Conglomerate Media Stocks. See, when companies don't take human lives into accout (Tobacco Stocks etc) it means that they could be a good financial risk because they put profits first.

Well I can only hope that when the market does re-open that the first victim of the impending sell off bankrupts the Fuckers at Renaissance Radio.. And as for Al Scheneski, if I do get some religion on this trip I will most certainly pray that you go where you belong. I hope too hope that your portfolio puts you into bankrupcy.. Then maybe you'd think abut the victims of this terrible disaster rather than you opportunity to profit.

I can't write anymore.. I made it to Boston.. Then decided that I should postpone my trip for a little while… I'm going to drive back to Iowa to hangout with Sasha and see if I can resume my trip in a week or so.. I guess I will be heading to the Northwest if I go at all..


11:55 PM: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

 
Saratoga Springs, NY
 


I was just out of the Bronx when I heard about the first attack on the Trade Center Building.. I drove all the way to Boston and decided that I should postpone my travels for a few days.. I'm at my folks house in Saratoga, waiting to hear from many of my friends in NY City... Maya, Trey, and Bekah are OK..

11:00 PM: Monday, September 10, 2001
 
Ear Bar, NYC
 


I'm back in NYC for one more day.. I'm not sure if I will ever get out of the northeast. I originally intended to get to Philadelphia by Saturday and start my track south. But then I was asked to talk to a group of students in Boston, and since I skipped Boston on my way from Maine to New York, I decided to back track a little..

I wonder if I am wearing out my welcome at Maya's? Although she always says that I can stay as long as I like, I'm not sure her if roommates feel the same way. Maya is one of my closest friends.. She is so great to talk to about he stupid idea that I seem to always come up with. She was pretty supportive of my plan to sell off everything that I owned and has even let me auction off time with her to total strangers.

She bought my ice cube trays and my ice cubes.. The are sitting in the double zip lock bag I sent them in.. apparently the bag was a little leaky when it arrived at her office.. They were fine when I mailed them, but I guess them must have melted between Iowa and New York City. Maya also bought my yes stamp and I sent her my tiffany flask from my brothers wedding.

When I called her today asking if I could stay at her house, she was wearing the AMLFS T-shirt that I gave her for Christmas. We went out to dinner at EAR bar which is called that b/c the neon sign has always been broken so BAR reads EAR… Its been in this neighborhood forever, and even after the stock market crashes and all the luxury condos and their occupants go belly up, it will likely remain.


2:00 PM: Monday, September 10, 2001

 
Tom's Diner, Brooklyn NY
 


I'm at Trey's house again in Brooklyn.. His street is back to normal. Last weekend there were six shots fired on his block, right where my car was parked and is parked now.

I went to the legendary "Tom's Diner" today which is just around the corner from Treys house.. I had a cup of coffee, a Grilled Rueben with fries and a Tom's famous "Lime Cherry Ricky" It was pretty damn good..

If my dad were with me he would declare that it was the best lunch that he ever had. I'm trying to avoid the family tendency to superlatate..

10:00 PM: Sunday, September 9, 2001

 
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania
 


Ashley and Mike are roommates in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. Mike works for a dot com style job and after the first two rounds of lay off he still has a job. Ashley works as a trainer for market research data collectors, she trains people to knock on our doors and somehow convince us that what we really want to do it watch at Fanta Soda commercial and answer a few questions about it.

At the beginning of the summer Mike started to arrive at work at 10:30/11:00 in hopes that he would be the next to be laid off.. Most of his friends spent the summer at the beach while collecting unemployment, whereas Mike had to go into work and do the jobs of 27 people. Mike bought a variety of food products from me, including a vadalia onion, a box of Chysathimum beverage (still unknown) and a can of vienna sauseges containing the mysterious ingredient, mechanically separated chicken.

Mike and Ashley are planning to release the sausages back into their natural habitat. One night this week they are planning to return my can of sausages back to the appropriate aisle in their local supper market.. They've been trying to figure out the best store to infiltrate.. Apparently the company that makes the meat snacks tried to re-invent the brand last year so the labels have been completely changed.. There is no expiration date on these things so new label or old they will still taste the same for the next 200 years.

I think that Ashley and Mike have been the most active participants in the project thus far. Ashley bought my "Great Old Box" and at first was sending me post cards from where she took the box, but more recently she has been filling it up with the intentions of sending the box filled with stuff from her travels back to me!.. She has taken the box with her all over the place London, Sweden, Oklahoma, Boston, the box has traveled to more countries than I have.

Chester Springs and Naperville might as well be the same place.. Everywhere you look there is a new beige and stucco shopping plaza with a super market, an Olive Garden, an Old Country Buffet, a Subway, an Applebee's "neighborhood" grill, not to mention one of every fast food place that the world has to offer…

They took me to the only restaurant in a 25-mile radius that wasn't owned by a national food service company. Imagine growing up in a place where your idea of a neighborhood grill was created by a food service committee at the parent company headquarters. Imagine ordering "Chicken Scampi" at the Olive Garden.. Scampi means fish… Not Garlic and Olive Oil…Imagine having pictures available for every item on the menu…

Mike bought his house out here on the recommendation of the recruiter at the Dot Com that he works for.. He would have much rather moved into the central city of Philadelphia, but the recruiter steered him as far away as possible.. Mike would rather eat at restaurants that don’t have pictures on the menu.. The Recruiter at the Dot Com was the first guy to be laid off…

Mike and Ashley are roommates, in the traditional sense.. They are not dating each other they have lived with each other in North Carolina, Maine, and Pennsylvania, and they might be moving to Oregon together. They met five years ago in a flame war on the internet… I think that it may have had something to do with the sport rivalry between North Carolina and U-Mass but … they corresponded so much that eventually they moved to the same place.

They were not the least bit phased with the idea of meeting up with me on my trip… In fact they have offered to host another Internet guest from the ongoing project "Let-Me-Stay-For-A-Day.Com"


12:00 PM Sunday, September 9, 2001

 
Philly Art Museum, Pennsylvania
 


One of the first things that I do when I move to a city is try to come up with a list of about 48 hours of activities (2 days or so). So that when you have out of town guest visiting you can show them the best of the best where you live…

Apparently Melissa feels the same way b/c since the moment that I arrived she has been dragging me all over Philadelphia.. She even came out to Chester Springs with me to visit Mike and Ashley and convinced us to go bowling.. Ashley bought a bowling shirt from me and let me wear it while bowling.. It didn't help my game very much, neither did the blue laws of rural Pennsylvania which prohibits the sale of alcohol on Sunday.. Beer and bowling are quite a match.

Melissa took me to the Philadelphia art museum, and I made a B-line for the Duchamp collection.. I took a high level art history workshop on Duchamp and it was interesting to see all the work that we talked about that semester.. I almost like the reproductions better than the originals, and with Duchamp who knows if any of the stuff on the walls is original?

But sadly the real highlight of the visit to the Museum was the seven bus loads of contestants and their handlers from the Miss America contest.. Apparently they were on a little cultural fieldtrip.. Melissa and I were sneaking around the museum trying to see what state was written on their name badges.. We started to handicap the field and suddenly we were placing bets on which contestant had the best chances of winning. We have a $5 dollar bet to win.. I picked Miss Iowa, and she picked Miss North Carolina, I think…

I made it my goal to track down Miss Iowa and get my photograph taken with her… But I had a hard time asking the contestants to pose with me.. It must be weird to have people constantly asking you to take photographs with them.. But when we found Iowa, she was so happy to have someone want to take her photograph, most people in Philly and New Jersey wanted to photograph their own state's contestants, just as I wanted mine.

11:40 PM Saturday, September 8, 2001
 
My Favorite Hat, Philadelphia
 


The Friendly Lounge is around the corner from Melissa's house. It has red boomerang Formica tables, a well stocked jukebox, $2 Yinglings, and two other people at the bar on a Saturday night… I'm not sure where everyone is? This place is incredible and its empty.. We walked by the worst of worst on South Street a few blocks away and the bars were packed.

We convinced the folks at John's to scrape up some water ice for us even though they were closed. Water Ice is distinctly Philly.. Its sort of like Italian ice but softer, and it comes in flavors like chocolate which seemed a little weird to me.. I had Lemon Cherry and it was the perfect combination to get the cheese whiz flavor of the Pat and Gino's Philly cheese steaks that we consumed an hour earlier.

The Pat and Gino's cheese steak rivalry goes back to the 1960's, Although Pat is the undisputed originator of the Philly cheese steak sandwich, Gino sells as many each week.. There are certain types of people who only eat at Gino's and they differ greatly from those at Pats.. They may look the same on the surface but deep down the patrons of the two landmarks are incompatible.. Melissa has lived in Philly for three years and had never even tasted a cheese steak from either place…

So we went down, split up and got one of each, tonight the line at Pat's was twice as long….. I went to Gino's and then met Melissa in line at Pat's… It felt a little weird to be standing in line at Pat's with a Gino's cheese steak in my hand.. But I was able to coach Melissa, so that she could order right… "I'll have a Whiz, Wit" which translates to "I would like a Cheese Steak with Cheese Whiz, and grilled onions" Whiz, Wit.

Well.. Here is what we concluded.. Pat's has better bread, Gino's has better meat.. The solution.. Get a roll at Pats.. Bring it across to Gino's and ask for a "Whiz Wit Wit Pat Hoag"

Melissa bought my favorite hat.. She bought it with the intention of giving it back to me if I ever came to visit. When I arrived I had to make a decision about what to do? I just sold off everything and now she wants to give something back to me.. Well not to get into the details of the decision, but as I write this the sweaty boy smelling hat is sitting on my sweaty boy head…


3:30 AM Saturday, September 8, 2001

 
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
 


Trey had a party tonight for his girlfriend's birthday.. Bekah DJ'd, and half of the folks I went to college with passed through the house at some point this evening. Robin and Benj showed up.. I'm not sure if Robin is OK with the fact that I sold the ring that she gave me. I tried to tell here about Emily Click, but the subject seemed to get changed. Emily wanted to give the ring back to me but I avoided talking about the ring until my last minutes in Columbus.. And it seemed so well taken care of that……

For some reason I thought that it would be a good idea for me to invite Sarah to trey's party. Sarah bought the green shirt that my friend Saori gave me. I had never met Sarah and here I was inviting her to a private birthday party, as if meeting someone that you bought something from on Ebay wasn't strange enough.. I ended up driving her home relatively early after trying to have a conversation with her in a 105 degree kitchen filled with my old friends from college.. Not a good way to have a dialogue about my project…

The last thing that I want this project to turn into is a glorified booze cruise.. I hope that every entry doesn't sound like I'm half in the bag at 3 am. I drove Sarah home and we talked for a while in the car. She just finished a graduate program in intermedia at NYU. We both make artist books, work in video and use Director to make work. I promise all of the other people that I will be visiting that I will not try and meet you in a place that is not conducive to meaningful discussion.. It is hard to talk about much when you are knee deep in beer.

The craziest thing happened when I drove Sarah home.. She lived about 20 blocks away and we must have sat in the car and talked for ten minutes or so before I left. When I got back to Trey's street the whole block was roped off w/ police tape and there had to be 20 cop cars and two or three emergency vehicles on the street. Apparently in the 20 minute that I was dropping Sarah off, a fight broke out on Trey's block and six shots were fired injuring one.. The fight took place right where my car had been parked.




Temporama