World Trade Center Updates: September 11 to September 22, 2001

UPDATE: Saturday, September 22, 7:30am (ET)

It’s been a week since we wrote last. It’s been a week of normalcy. Jeff went to work, Will went about his normal routine in his life now as an aspiring novelist. We are still surrounded by the tragedy, but as our Mayor and the President have both said, it’s time to move on and live our lives. This marks the end of our World Trade Center Disaster updates, although I’m sure we’ll still write about it from time to time over the coming weeks and months.

If you’re reading this from outside New York City, take it from a resident, the city is open and ready for you to visit. And we need you to visit. All cities that rely on tourism need you to get out and visit. If we don’t resume our lives our economy will be slammed worse than it already is. Don’t let that happen. Go out and see a play, travel, shop, eat in your favorite restaurant, see a movie, go to a hockey game, whatever. Don’t let the terrorists win by shutting down our country and our way of live.

Speaking of moving on, we were struck by the monologue that Jon Stewart gave on The Daily Show this past Monday. It was his first show back since the disaster. It’s quite moving and eloquent and was brought to our attention by a good friend in California. We share it here — with apologizes to Comedy Central for violating their copyright (we hope they’ll understand) — as our way of getting back to normal:

DATE: September 20, 2001

Good evening and welcome to “The Daily Show.” We are back. This is our first show since the tragedy in New York City. There is no other way really to start this show than to ask you at home the question that we’ve asked the audience here tonight and that we’ve asked everybody that we know here in New York since September 11th, and that is, “Are you okay?” We pray that you are and that your family is. I’m sorry to do this to you. It’s another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host. TV is nothing, if not redundant. So, I apologize for that. It’s something that unfortunately, we do for ourselves so that we can drain whatever abscess is in our hearts and move onto the business of making you laugh, which we really haven’t been able to do very effectively lately. Everyone’s checked in already, I know we’re late. I’m sure we’re getting in right under the wire before the cast of “Survivor” offers their insight into what to do in these situations.

They said to get back to work. There were no jobs available for a man in the fetal position under his desk crying, which I would have gladly taken. So I came back here. Tonight’s show is obviously not a regular show. We looked through the vaults, we found some clips that we thought might make you smile, which is really what’s necessary, I think, right about now. A lot of folks have asked me, “What are you going to do when you get back? What are you going to say?” I mean, what a terrible thing to have to do. I don’t see it as a burden at all. I see it as a privilege. I see it as a privilege and everyone here does see it that way. The show in general, we feel like is a privilege. Just even the idea that we can sit in the back of the country and make wise cracks, which is really what we do. We sit in the back and we throw spitballs, but never forgetting the fact that is a luxury in this country that allows us to do that. This is a country that allows for open satire, and I know that sounds basic and it sounds as though it goes without saying – but that’s really what this whole situation is about. It’s the difference between closed and open. It’s the difference between free and burden and we don’t take that for granted here by any stretch of the imagination and our show has changed. I don’t doubt that. What it’s become, I don’t know. “Subliminable” is not a punch line anymore. One day it will become that again, and Lord willing, it will become that again because that means we have ridden out the storm.

But the main reason that I wanted to speak tonight is not to tell you what the show is going to be. Not to tell you about all the incredibly brave people that are here in New York and in Washington and around the country. But we’ve had an unenduring pain here – an unendurable pain. I wanted to tell you why I grieve, but why I don’t despair…I’m sorry. Luckily we can edit this. One of my first memories is of Martin Luther King being shot. I was five and if you wonder if this feeling will pass…When I was five, he was shot. Here’s what I remember about it. I was in a school in Trenton. They shut the lights off and we got to sit under our desks and we thought that was really cool and they gave us cottage cheese, which was a cold lunch because there was rioting, but we didn’t know that. We just thought that “My god. We get to sit under our desks and eat cottage cheese.” That’s what I remember about it. That was a tremendous test of this country’s fabric and this country’s had many tests before that and after that.

The reason I don’t despair is because this attack happened. It’s not a dream. But the aftermath of it, the recovery is a dream realized. And that is Martin Luther King’s dream. Whatever barriers we’ve put up are gone even if it’s momentary. We’re judging people by not the color of their skin but the content of their character. You know, all this talk about “These guys are criminal masterminds. They’ve gotten together and their extraordinary guile…and their wit and their skill.” It’s a lie. Any fool can blow something up. Any fool can destroy. But to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen and people from all over the country, literally, with buckets rebuilding. That’s extraordinary. That’s why we’ve already won. It’s light. It’s democracy. We’ve already won. They can’t shut that down. They live in chaos and chaos…it can’t sustain itself. It never could. It’s too easy and it’s too unsatisfying.

The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center and now it’s gone. They attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can’t beat that.

So we’re going to take a break and I’m going to stop slobbering on myself and on the desk. We’re going to get back to this. It’s gonna be fun and funny and it’s going to be the same as it was and I thank you. We’ll be right back.

UPDATE: Monday, September 17, 2001, 8:30pm (ET)
Says Jerry Falwell on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club on Thursday: “I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle…all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.'” You can read more about this from The Advocate and

Talk about outrageous at a time that this nation needs to be healing rather than creating more riffs. I (Jeff) don’t really have the words to say how despicable, hateful and ungodly I find these words. If you’d like to share your thoughts on the matter, do contact Falwell and tell him what you think of this sort of talk.

Besides that to spark our ire today, it was an okay day as things eased more back to a sense of normal.

UPDATE: Sunday, September 16, 2001, 9pm (ET)
Tonight we’ve added the box to the right so that you can contribute money to organizations serving the relief effort here in New York City. If you want to help, these are some excellent places to do it. We thank you for considering them.

The weekend has been a mixed bag. We’ve taken in some distractions — The Full Monty on Broadway Friday night, the film RockStar on Saturday and Jeff went solo to see the Off-Broadway show Tick, Tick…Boom (which, by the way, is NOT about bombs or war, but about the experience of turning 30 and not being sure about what you’re doing with your life — it was a show Jonathan Larson wrote before Rent).

We’ve also, basically, given up watching TV, except ever so briefly to check up on the transit situation, which has improved all weekend long (starting tomorrow there’ll only be minor disruptions in service, focusing only on the two lines that ran directly under the WTC). Coverage here has shifted into human interest stories and it’s more than a soul can bear to watch, especially since the entire city is a human interest story now. We are, just for the record, down to one network channel (CBS) as the New Jersey PBS station has returned to its regular programming instead of simulcasting our ABC station.

Walking around on Saturday was often quite sad. We were basically around an area from 3rd Street up to 23rd Street and between Park Avenue and the West Side Highway. Everywhere you look there are 8 1/2 x 11 fliers with someone’s picture on them with information about where they worked (Tower 1 or Tower 2 and what company and floor) and a phone number to call if you have any information about the person. These fliers are on buildings, phone booths, light poles and anywhere else they can be seen. They also cover the outside walls of St. Vincent’s Medical Cener, a hospital in The Village where most of the injured were taken. There are also shrines built in certain areas, one we saw was outside of an NYU building. Fire stations are also very sad, with running candlelight vigils and many flowers placed outside the stations (for those who don’t know the FDNY lost nearly 300 personnel in the collapse).

It’s also very odd to walk towards downtown, especially on Fifth, Sixth or Seventh Avenues and not see the towers. It, for a moment, especially coming out of the subway, makes you think you’re walking in the wrong direction, until you turn and see the Empire State Building and realize you were, in fact, walking South.

We shot some more pics this weekend of various things, including the way the skyline looks to us now. Check them out here.

UPDATE: Friday, September 14, 2001, 6am (ET)
The city is struggling to get to a sense of normalcy. You can see it in the smallest of places. Coming home on the train back on Sept 12 (Wednesday), there was a woman filling out invitations for her parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary Party that happens in October. I had to tell her how wonderful it was to see someone doing a task that was so incredibly normal.

More of the city is trying to open today as well. Schools from Canal Street to 14th Street reopen today. Subway service is working to stay as operational as it has been over the past two days, but there is more walking to be done than usual.

Tonight we are going to a show. We’re not sure what yet, but we are going… we have to get out and do something that’s just plan normal and distracting to what’s been going on this week. We were to see Stevie Nicks tonight at Radio City. Understandably, that has been canceled because it would’ve been difficult for her crew to get into the city to setup. And this weekend, which is slated to be a beautiful fall weekend (Sunny with temps in the upper 60s/low 70s) we plan to be outside, either in Prospect Park in Brooklyn or Central Park in Manhattan.

Rest assured, friends, that we continue to be fine, at least as fine as we can be under the circumstances. We’ll post more over the weekend as well.

UPDATE: Wednesday, September 12, 2001, 9:40pm (ET)
The first full day after the attack has past and NYC is amazingly calm. We’ve heard no stories of people in the city being unruly in anyway. Jeff had to go to work this morning and the commute was truly odd. The reaction of people going over the Manhattan Bridge this morning and seeing the hole in the skyline first hand was nothing short of bizzare. Many gasps, some weeping. The ride back home was equally amazing for this evening the sun was setting through the smoke and dust creating a spectacular and beautiful sunset, which was very unsettling.

New Yorkers are struggling to get back to normal. As the day went on more and more of the city came back to life. The movie theatre across from Jeff’s office had lines all day as people needed to escape from the reality of the past 24 hours. Broadway theatres are scheduled to resume tomorrow and schools will reopen for most of the city.

Times Square was a virtual ghost town this morning. Jeff shot some pictures on the way to work this morning. You can see those here.

Thanks to everyone who has sent us well wishes. It is great to hear from our friends across the country. We will continue to post updates here in addition to responding to e-mails. Also, our phone service is nearly back to normal, very few disruptions today.

Below are the past couple of updates, just to keep the running dialgoue.

UPDATE: Wednesday, September 12, 2001, 8:30am (ET)
Quite the surreal morning. Not totally sure what images are on TV nationwide as we’ve been reduced to only two channels: ABC and CBS (when the South Tower went down, most of the over-the-air TV went with it). NYC is very quiet this morning. Jeff has been asked to go into work for a while this morning and will be heading off soon as things try to have some sense of normalcy.

Will’s pictures from yesterday are now online here.

May we all have a safe and peaceful day.

UPDATE: Tuesday, September 11, 2001, 10pm (ET):
Happy to report that Jeff actually got home. Subways began running, mainly out of Manhattan around 2:30. After a 40-50 block walk to get to a subway that would get him home, he arrived safely in Brooklyn around 4:45. We went out for a quite dinner and have relaxed at home this evening to recover from the day’s events.

It is very disconcerting to ride on the subways that go over bridges and see the empty skyline where the WTC once stood. It was there when Jeff went into Manhattan at 6am and to find it gone on the way home was truly odd.

Tonight, smoke continues to billow up from the rubble and most of that is passing over our neighborhood, leaving in it’s wake a fairly foul smell.

We do want to share an item from our Guestbook. It was marked as private, so we aren’t sharing the person’s name or e-mail address. It is from someone in German:

Dear Will,
dear Jeff,
you don’t know me, but I visit your page from time to time to see what’s going on in NY.
Today I saw this indescribable crime they did to your town, your people, your country.
I saw it in german TV, very short after it happend, at a customer I visited.
We were shocked, sat there and looked to the pictures of that nightmare again and again.
Now that I’m back home I will send you and your land, but especially to the families of the victims all sympathy from me and my contry. People here bring flowers to your embassy and light candles.
I’m glad that you are obviously not hurt!
No one knows what the next days will bring, so please pray with me for peace.
And excuse my maybe-not-so-perfect english. But in moment I’m full of rage because of that senseless and absurd murder.

Quite moving to receive that kind of message from a total stranger. Thank you for visiting and sharing that with us, we hope you don’t mind us posting in here for more of our visitors to see.

We will post again soon. As mentioned in our previous post, Will did shoot some photos this morning. We will get those out of the camera and up tomorrow. We are still linking up to the dramatic photos shot by a friend of one of Jeff’s co-workers. You can see those here.

Lastly, for those of you who may be trying to contact us, phone service is still wacky because of the volume of calls in and out of the city. Our cell phones and regular phones are in service, but it’s hard to make and receive calls. E-mail is the best if you’re trying to get in touch.

Again, please keep NYC in your thoughts, the coming days will be difficult for many.