No idea if September 11, 2001 was the worst day of my life. Or if it was September 12.
Was it the day the Towers were struck by two jumbo jets, the Pentagon attacked by another, and a fourth plane went down in a field in Shanksville, Pa.?
Or was it a day later, when internet service was restored and I found out a good friend and his girlfriend were on United 175? And heard the countless number of stories of near misses and, sadly, direct hits.
I have no idea.
No idea whether the smell of dry wall, the sound of fighter jets circling at low altitude, or loud, sudden, unpredictable thuds give me the most agita.
No idea if, twice a day, I'll catch a look at the digital clock at exactly 9:11. Or 8:46. Or 9:03.
No idea if I will spontaneously and automatically start sobbing when my iPod will play U2's "Walk On," Bob Dylan's "Forever Young," or JFK's inaugural speech when its on random shuffle on the drive to work.
I have no idea how to react, feel, deal, cope, accept, and move on from September 11, 2001.
Any previous attempts have been fruitless.
No idea if I have moved on from that day.
Have I adapted? I assume so.
All this week, I have tried to block out much of the revisiting, rehashing, and replaying of that horrible day.
It is everywhere on the news right now. The utter convenience of the news cycle. But it is more than that for me. It has been everyday for me. It has been everyday with me. Every single day for the last decade.
Shortly after the attacks and collapse of the Towers, Grand Central Station was an introduction into the post-terror world. Every square inch of wall space was filled with flyers, asking our fellow citizens if they have seen their loved ones.
Beloved daughters. Dear sons. Loving husbands. Mothers of three. Frat brothers. Big sisters.
Flyers with smiling faces on the photos, stats with the individual's height, weight, hair color, eye color, all posted by grieving, soon-to-be widows, soon-to-be orphaned children, sad relatives, desperate friends. They had phone numbers and email addresses. Too many to process.
And in the cruelest irony, quite often, the phones didn't ring. Verizon's wires were severed when the Towers went down. And the internet suffered as well. Information, like most everything in New York City, was at a shell-shocked standstill.
Was then. Am now.
The shots of the planes hitting the buildings. CNN had an angle. NBC had another angle. CBS had two angles. The tragedy taking on the instructions of a shampoo bottle: approach, impact, repeat.
The still images of Fr. Mychal Judge being carried from the rubble. The somber face of FDNY Commissioner Thomas Van Essen, standing behind the podium shortly afterward, knowing not what the exact body count would be, but knowing it would be unfathomable.
The seemingly endless video streams of the towers collapsing, people running, diving and screaming for their lives, the haunting pulses of the FDNY's personal beacons. It was all too much to understand, let alone constantly view or eventually accept.
The television reports of the funerals. Twenty, 30, 40 a day it seemed. Cruel stories of police pulling license plates from cars parked at commuter lots, whose drivers would never return. A seemingly incessant stream of bagpipers playing "Rising of the Moon" or "Amazing Grace." Haunting, yet, becoming all too familiar.
How the honor guard for the found fallen at the WTC site would hastily assemble. Six or seven rescue workers would carry their comrade to the surface, covered in an American flag, as all around them put down their shovel to honor as he or she passed.
A few weeks after the 11th, I had to work a night football game in Jersey City, N.J. After the game, I drove to an industrial park across the Hudson from lower Manhattan. Guards were at the gate, but I asked them if I could drive to the edge of the park and just look over to the other side.
They were great. They understood. One guard rode with me, not because he didn't trust me - which at that time was quite noble and uncharacteristic - but because he wanted to go down there too.
He got out of the car, wished me well, waved, and walked away. I sat still and sobbed.
I cried inside. I cried out. I asked the single-word question that had been posed over and over that week: Why?
The first seven days or so were absolutely numbing. The next seven slightly better. The next seven somewhat functional. And so on and so forth.
A month or so later, ironically enough, I visited New York City for an escape. A U2 concert. Mind you, I'd seen three of their shows in June. But this one was going to be different.
U2 had played shows throughout their career when terror struck their home in Ireland. They had spoken out through song, when senseless killings made them ask, introspectively, how long must they sing those songs?
The return to Madison Square Garden for the band that sang their own brand of Irish rebel songs was for healing purposes, like so many of their country's troubadours before them. When they came out for their encore…playing "One," it was like a prayer service.
Then they dropped ceiling-to-floor screens at MSG and scrolled through the names of those who perished during the playing of "Walk On."
And as those names scrolled through that night in New York, in stops along the way in that leg of the tour, and finally at halftime of the Patriots first Super Bowl win, the message was clear: Never Forget.
And now, 10 years later, those two words may define our generation. Never Forget.
Never let your guard down. Never take your liberties for granted. Never take your loved ones for granted. Never allow for complacency. Never let this happen again.
The days will pass and we will mark the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the 15th anniversary, 20, 30, 50, and so on. It will all, I'm sure, bring all of us back to that day.
Have I accepted that September 11, 2001 was the absolute life-altering moment in my life?
TLBR goes all Lazarus on you - rising from the dead - on the day the world learned that one of its historically most evil denizens was shot dead.
Excuse my rambling nonsense here, because over a 15 minute span this morning, I've gone from "America, Shampoo YEAH!" to sobbing over my Honey Nut Cheerios, to laughing at the Osama bin Hiding joke from the "Black Gallagher" skit from the Chappelle's Show.
When I got the news this a.m. by listening to Dennis & Callahan, I went directly to Twitter and was greeted by photos of college students on campuses all across the country, storming the Quad in jubilation.
Those college kids were, maybe, nine or 10 years old on 9/11/01. They may not have been born on 2/26/93 - the date of the first attempt to bomb the World Trade Center towers.
Regardless, the news of the death of Osama bin Laden brought back horrible, horrible memories of a singular day and several numb weeks to follow.
Horrible memories, things I still can't handle. Things I'll never forget. Things that people will never know.
I love airshows - particularly the Navy's Blue Angels - but I still have trouble hearing the screech and roar of an F-16. It was the soundtrack of the skies in the NYC metro area after 9/11. It was both reassuring and disconcerting at the same time. It was the introduction of the new American Renaissance - the Life of Fear - that we were all so horribly introduced to that morning.
In the summer of 2009, my fiancee and I attended a wedding in NYC and stayed at the Millennium Hilton. Our luxury room opened up to a front-row view of the Ground Zero construction site.
I didn't want to look at first. Then I couldn't stop looking. I didn't want to cry. Then I couldn't stop the tears.
I didn't want to be sad. So I didn't stop smiling. I find strength in Ground Zero, the resiliency of the citizens of New York City, the survivors, the widows, the families and friends of the fallen. When I get the opportunity to visit NYC, I make every effort to get down to lower Manhattan and pay tribute in my own personal way.
Today's news brings back all of those sights, sounds, and smells - crippling at the time. I don't like to think back that that day. But I can't ever forget.
A lot of innocent people died that day. Too many U.S. Soldiers have died in the days to follow. One bullet in one guy's head doesn't cure any of that.
A Celebration of Life: May 10, 2005-August 5, 2010"I drank WHAT?"
Famous last words.
How about famous first words?
"Call me Ishmael."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
"This is the first post to my new blog. I'm starting this thing because it's better than doing nothing all day."
Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - the first day of Throws Left, Bats Right.
And today - Thursday, August 5 - is the last day of the entity known as TLBR.
Some folks called it Tilber. In fact, Tilber even called a few folks.
TLBR was part psychiatrist, comedic outlet, forum, inside joke, late-night activity, work day distraction, ode, tribute, slice and dice, and overall a life-changing experience.
Truthfully, I started writing (literally) when I went down to Australia in April of 2005. My Mom talked me into it. Handed me a leather-bound journal and convinced me to finally use my "talents" for writing.
So I did. Took the damned thing everywhere. And if you read the Oz Blog portion of TLBR, it's evident. But I took the thing EVERYWHERE. Trust me, when you're peeing and writing (and spraying off target as a result), people look at you funny.
But since that the three-week chronicle of visiting a beautiful place and reuniting with a beautiful girl, lots of things have happened - and most of them were typed into TLBR for some sort of historical account.
That account ends with me living with the aforementioned beautiful girl in the wonderful city of Pawtucket. It took a decade of wishing and and a solid three or four years of persistence (mild stalking), but here I am. And while there is a lot more living and experiences to enjoy, unfortunately, it won't be on TLBR.
A few events and trends have led me to this decision. First and foremost, time.
I said back in the beginning that the blog would be the enemy combatant of ennui. It was very successful in that venture. The blog would celebrate my muse, no matter how fleeing or flimsy. The blog would allow my inner thoughts to cruise on a seaside cabin with a balcony to the world of those who bookmarked the page and checked in every so often.
I can't thank you folks enough.
I never marketed the blog. I wanted it to be word of mouth, as it served as the mouth to many of the words and thoughts I never could possibly say. In some cases, it was the only way for me to say anything, because I was a few bottles of wine deep.
But now, I have neither the time nor the inspiration to blog on a regular basis. And if it can't be a regular thing, it can't be. It goes against the essence of what I wanted TLBR to be.
One thing I hate - almost more than anything in the world - is self-importance. Which is why this obituary for TLBR is so hard to write. I also loathe overly flowery and adjective-laden metaphors when describing stuff (see also: every press junket with actors talking about their latest movies).
I hate all that, yet, I find myself dipping the proverbial quill into the ink pot to write the same sorts of words.
TLBR meant so much to me - and hopefully all of you found some enjoyment from it - that it's hard to think that it will be no more.
Yet, when I really break it down to brass tacks, it's a celebration, bitches.
Not gonna lie, TLBR and the consequences surrounding it scare me.
Some dude - who works in the same field as me - got "outed" for his particular blog. Granted, he violated rule one in the TLBR Magnus von Magnussen Carta: don't shampoo where you eat.
(seriously, you're a compliance guy writing a blog about the NCAA and its rules? I found out - quickly - that you don't joke about the NCAA in a blog. They track your ass down and...well, I should probably stop right there. They're listening).
But that sort of thing, combined with the Jeffersonian moving-on-up-to-the-Associate AD-level makes me question whether or not I want to risk my deeluxe apartment in the sky for some throwaway comment on Lindsay Lohan, Rick Pitino, or how much I can't stand the Japanese pitching contingency for the Red Sox.
I finally got a piece of the pie. Don't need someone pooping on it.
When you tack on technology, TLBR didn't have a chance.
Facebook? Twitter? Four-square (still don't have a bleedin' clue what the hell that is)?
Folks are all over those applications. Reading 500-750 word entries, no matter how witty and brilliantly written (two things TLBR has been proud to never have been confused with...) just doesn't happen anymore.
I was more concerned with 140 character Tweets or 160 character texts. When I really had something to say, I'd BBM it.
And hell, if I had 10 free minutes at home on the couch with a few select beverages under my belt, I'm firing up Guitar Hero 5. Stuck on the last song - Rush's "Spirit of Radio" and cannot beat it, which is the 7th ring of Hell because there's probably only one or two bands I hate more than Rush and one or two songs that I hate more than "Spirit of Radio." I feel like my Wii is mocking me and the only way to win is to smash it with a didgeridoo, but then I lose like $300 bucks.
Talk about the circle of despair.
And that's what was great about TLBR. It was a forum for me to literally let the voices - the crowd of voices in my skull - have a semi-organized shouting match.
But I think I can confidently say that - maybe - I've outgrown TLBR.
I don't have nearly as much angst as I used to.
And while I'll always be bitter to my bones, it's not what fuels me anymore.
Gosh, the pressure...if this is the last post, it HAS to be the best one ever...right?
The site's not going anywhere - for now. I need to do a monster cut n' paste session, as to be able to save all the typing I did over the span of five good years.
I can't thank enough any and all of you who ever read TLBR and dropped a line, left a comment, or just quietly observed and chuckled at how screwed up things could get here.
I could get all Rodgers & Hammerstein on you, drop some "So Long, Farewell" but that's not my style.
No. Not showtunes. That's not how we're going out.
Or, I could leave you with one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel tunes: "Old Friends."
Old friends, old friends,
Sat on their parkbench like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
of the high shoes of the old friends
Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends
Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy
Old friends, memory brushes the same years,
Silently sharing the same fears
In keeping with old TLBR tradition, I have a bottle of red and my iTunes flowing.
But enough stalling. It's time to go.
I used to sign off the blog entries in varied messages - apres moi, le deluge; one; it is what it is; whatever is whatever; your humble and obedient servant; que sera, sera.
And in true TLBR and iTunes karma, the one song I thought of prior to writing this obituary just came on.
My one question regarding the LeBRO-ESP-N show tonight: will he inscribe a Lindsay Lohan-esque message on his middle finger nail to the cities and teams he has left in his egomaniacal wake?
Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated made a funny on Twitter: No matter what happens tonight, here's the biggest revelation: Greenwich has a Boys Club.
The legions of latchkey kids in Greenwich...all those sad-eyed youngsters who suffered through non-thoroughbred Polo ponies, Swedish automobiles, and a future filled with slumming it with Johhnie Walker Gold.
Since I'm feeding into the ESPN-fueled cosmic worm hole that is LeBronamania, let's actually talk basketball nuts and bolts.
The best team for LeBron to go to, in TLBR's opinion: the Bulls.
LeBron, as proven by the Championship of Me through the NBA free agency season, is all about himself. Can't see that playing well in Miami with two other NBA upper crustacians like D-Wade and Chris Bosh.
Can you imagine Erik Spoelstra with his dry-erase board, tie ballgame, 4th quarter, in Boston for game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals? Who gets the ball? Which of the other two pouts about it? Too many egos, just one ball. (besides, if you think Pat Riley is leaving that team to his former driver...so add another ego to the stew).
The Clippers are my 1B choice. LeBron in L.A. - huge. The Clippers lineup with Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman might be the most poised to win RIGHT AWAY for Bron-Bron.
And with ESPN's L.A. studios at night, the focus and volume of his highlights could be replayed ad nauseum throughout the day on SportsCenter and ESPNNews reruns.
But, using my East Coast bias, sometimes things on the West Coast get lost in the shuffle back here. The Clippers/Lakers - which would be quite a rivalry with Kobe and Bronnie in the City of Angels - would tip off at 10 p.m., best-case, and most NBA fans would be counting sheep at that time.
Also, let's not discount L.A. due to the China Syndrome. LeBron is huge in China. And the closer he is to the Red Giant - not to mention a sizable Chinese media contingency in L.A. - the easier that LBJ can truly go global.
But ultimately, the Bulls are where LeBron has the best chance to do it all.
Win immediately. Build a legacy, doing so in the shadows of Air Jordan. Relocate to a major city.
Chicago's roster is terrific and LeBron would compliment it very, very well. I don't think we've seen the talent-level of Derrick Rose yet. The world - and the league - is his oyster. To use ESPN parlance, D-Rose is NEXT.
The Bulls added a bull on the blocks in Carlos Boozer, plus there are serviceable players like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and a solid Hakim Warrick.
A few years ago when Chicago had the best player on the planet, they also had a great supporting cast from 2-12. The Bulls - right now - may mimic that right now.
Sorry Knicks, Cavs, and Nets fans. There's just not enough "there" there, no matter how many Jay-Z songs you can recite. (speaking of which, Hova, if you're paying Dwyane Wade, LeBron might be paying D-Rose.)
And besides, leave it to the Bulls to tear the heart out of Cavs fans. Again.
News flash: One of the best players in the NBA has made a lucrative, long-term decision on a contract with his current Midwestern-based team.
Well, don'tcha just wanna know who it is?
Go to ESPN.com and see who it is.
Wait for it...wait for it...wait for it...
Nope, not LeBron. Although, the news that he'll provide news is the new sports media version of the cosmic worm hole. ESPN is legitimately reporting that ESPN has learned - through independent sources - that ESPN will broadcast the LeBron James decision.
And it's not the other sideshow in the NBA free agent goat rodeo - D-Wade and Bosh - although that gets the headline photo.
It's Kevin Durant. Second-year player out of Texas. Reigning NBA scoring leader. He inked a nice extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder and will stay there - get this, with no opt-out - through the 2015-16 season.
He'll be 27 years old at the end of this deal, probably pretty rich (80 someodd million can buy you some pretty hefty ranchland in Oklahoma...), and then he can really cash in or do what many NBA stars do at that time in their careers: chase the ring.
But you never heard word one from the Durant camp. No press conferences, no board meetings, no pleas from the citizens of OKC, nothing. His agent negotiated the deal and they announced it on his Twitter page.
This is refreshing.
All this other dreck - spare me.
As for other sports figures behaving badly, spare me as well.
JaMarcus Russell got caught with purple drank? The sizz-urup? Hard to believe that a guy who sleepwalked throughout his entire NFL career (past tense) would have a problem with codeine.
Michael Vick at a party where there was a shooting? No one's "snitching?" Might be time for Ron Mexico to take a swim in the Gulf of Mexico.
And Bobby Gonzalez. Career suicide tried calling you last week, but apparently your cell phone has been disconnected.
¶ 12:59 PM0 Comments
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Back on the Attack
A shout-out from America's preeminent blogger and social media guru - during an event which was my unofficial beginning to the summer - has spun me back into writing form.
(It's been a month - and quite a month at that - but more on that later.)
And the summer kickoff event? Well, it was only the seminal event of the month of June...the NBA Draft.
From 1988-92, I used to literally watch the Draft on the phone with my boy Dave, and we'd compare our mock drafts. I got 19 right one year (take that, Ric Bucher...I was like 13 and kicking the draft's ass).
Back then, it was two kids on the phone. Now, I have my ESPN HD on, along with my NBA.com drafttracker, as well as a live video blog and a chat room.
And I'm blogging.
(Ohai, Big Blue Nation)
The World Cup.
What to say about a sport where you can literally win by not winning?
It's simple. Call it the "kiss-and-cry" phenomenon.
Every four years, the world stops to watch little 14-18 year old girls skate around a hockey rink, then sit in the kiss-and-cry seat, awaiting their scores from the judges.
Every four years, the FIFA World Cup is held on a massive stage and 32 countries - and then some - flock to the telly to follow a bunch of guys kicking the ball around for 90 minutes (plus some in case of "injury").
So if the world stops what it's doing for a few weeks - and literally, the world's GNP falls by 30% during the World Cup - then I'll give it my attention.
Soccer - should I clarify - *good* soccer is beautiful to watch. So is Olympic hockey, as we all saw. And the US/Algeria game was one for the ages.
Was it "the Miracle on fill-in-trite-phrase?" No. Hardly. Algeria didn't score during pool play. But it was dramatic, exciting, last-minute, and certainly karmatic, considering the US should have breezed thru if not for bad offsides calls.
So go USA, beat Ghana. And if not, good run. See you in 2014 in Rio.
Spent some time in Maui this month. Wow.
If you haven't been, go. Hawai'i is a special place.
I'm partial to Islands, being a(n) (Rhode) Islander - and actually living for some time on the island part of the Biggest Little.
Having oceans with mountain seascapes, fresh pineapple, Bikini Blond pale ale, and a fun concoction known as Hula Pie...mmmmm, Hula Pie.
Of course, the typical Rhode Island mentality wonders why you'd fly 12,500 miles for a beach...I say clamcake up.
My thoughts on the continuous BP disaster - I'm not calling it an "oil spill"
because that makes it sound as if it's past tense. Far from it. 35-60k barrels spilling into the Gulf of Mexico DAILY.
Everyone's at fault - BP, the rig company, the U.S. Government (not that having oil men in office for 12 years would ever lend toward lax policies on offshore, deep water drilling).
But, we here at TLBR believe that it's more important - and prudent - to fix the problem first, then figure out how not to have it happen again. Blame game? No time for that, as far as I'm concerned.
Not when there's supertankers worth of oil spilling into the gulf area.
Not when Louisiana and Mississippi fishermen, who were just getting back on their feet following Katrina and Ike, are going to lose their livelihoods...again.
Not when some of the finest beaches and areas that rely on their resort and tourism money are covered in sludge.
Not when there's no answers.
Find the answer, then worry about the questions.
That is all. Nice to be back. Hope to see all y'all soon.
¶ 10:29 PM0 Comments
A daily - or every-other-day - account of all there is in my head that's dying to get out, via my fingers.
(I vow to attack this endeavor with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.)