music is life, music is breath, music is us

I never get used to this day…

Here we are, another year has passed. With my sporadic memory it is rare to find a day that I remember everything; from waking up to going to bed. 9/11/2001 is one of those days.

The world hasn’t gotten any safer since then, nor do we care about each other more since that point in history. People in the media and political spheres have always loved to exploit the loss of life to suit their ideology. It doesn’t matter if it is a liberal or a conservative, there is always a “9/11 proved to us” thinkpiece or rant somewhere that eventually leads to “we need to do X Y Z as a country.”

In all of these arguments, the loss of life of that day becomes a weapon somehow. Somehow we forget that thousands were massacred. So many were wrought with the questions and decisions nobody should have to make:

“Do I jump or get burned alive?”

“Will I get through to tell my family I love them one last time?”

“I don’t want to die, why do I have to die?”

Tragedy desensitizes us. I wrote this song for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 for the victims and their families. I didn’t write it to push a sociopolitical ideology. I didn’t write it to be patriotic. I didn’t write it for it to be used as a form of aggression.

I wrote it because a beautiful September day turned into the very definition of hell.

I wrote it to bring the human face of the victims back to our consciousness.

You want to talk to me about war, government surveillance, and every other issue that the aftermath of 9/11 brought? Fine, but talk to me about it tomorrow. This day is a sacred day to remember, to mourn, and to realize that human life is far more important than our stupid need to argue about everything.

I remember being in New York in Spring of 2007 for a high school orchestra competition, and at that time the memorial pool had yet to be built at the WTC site.

It looked like an empty construction zone.

As our bus drove past the site people in my high school band all clamored to take pictures like it was a fucking spectacle. People were smashed next to the windows so they could get a good picture. All I could manage to do was shake my head in disgust.

This was where people took their frantic last breaths, and people want a goddamn souvenir from it?

I was sitting next to my mom who took vacation time off work to come to New York with me, and we both looked at each other with the same disgusted reaction. My mom was nearly certain she had lost her best friend in that attack (thankfully she did not), so maybe that grounded us more. But it seems like we love pain as a society. I saw it in that bus, and I see it everyday I wake up. We have a sadistic need to see suffering as a form of entertainment. As Maynard James Keenan sings in Tool’s Vicarious:

“Eye on the TV
’cause tragedy thrills me.”

All I ask is that we deprogram ourselves from making tragedy a circus act. Remember that we are all stuck on this planet for an indeterminate amount of time, and every life is fragile and precious. As this song plays, remember the fragility of those that left this earth on a gorgeous East Coast morning where everything seemed OK until it wasn’t.


6 responses

  1. I wish I had a million Likes to give this post. So very well written, and bang on the money. Superb.

    People have always rubbernecked tragedy. I’m sure when Grog fell off a cliff and broke his leg and was left to die by the other cave men, they all went by to see what happened.

    Part of it is a fascination with gore (admitted or not), part of it is (hopefully) wondering if they can help in any way, and a big part of it is relief that it didn’t happen to them. But it’s safe, right, I mean, looking through that bus window is the same as looking at it on your TV – you don’t get any on you, that way. So people stare.

    I heard the same thing about bus tours through New Orleans after Katrina.

    My lovely wife and I toured NYC years after the attacks, and we went to Ground Zero. We didn’t buy any souvenirs, but we did leave something. In the museum by the site, downstairs they had a bunch of tables with pages and pencils, and you wrote down where you’re visiting from, and where you were and what you were doing when you learned of the attacks. So we didn’t take – we created. We left our piece of the story there, with respect for the victims’ families.

    Again, fantastic post. Thank you for this.

    September 11, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    • You’re welcome. I should have stayed off of social media today, but inevitably I saw posts like the ones I predicted. Everything from “Muslims need to die” to “fight terrorism because: 9/11” to “America did 9/11” to “America murders people all the time so why do we care?”

      If only all those people, of which there were so many could read this. I don’t know why death and carnage gets turned into something of a spectacle, especially by ideologues. Have they no soul?

      I acknowledge and condemn the political implications of 9/11, from the increased surveillance (aka civil rights violations) to bigotry to the failed war on terror that resulted in massive loss of life (soldiers and civilians alike).

      What I refuse to do is make individual lives a prop. A life is a life, whether it is in Gaza or it is in Chicago. Nobody gets that. Instead we devalue lives to serve our causes, or our own thirst for mayhem.

      I thank you for responding, I was in a moment of frustration when I wrote this because everything I predicted would happen did happen (and I knew for sure that it would).

      September 12, 2015 at 8:31 am

      • Oh believe me, I feel your frustration. I purposely didn’t post an anniversary post because of it, and I commend you for having the stones to fight through and speak your mind.

        I get called a misanthrope a lot, but when you add up the sum stupidity around us, I rarely feel I’m wrong.

        A life is a life, indeed, and most are so lazy with theirs, they let the little things become big things, and the big things become things that (usually negatively) affect other people. And then the cycle of WHY starts all over again. As if we don’t already know.

        I’m with you, brother.

        September 12, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    • Also, I hoped the song did something for you.

      September 12, 2015 at 8:39 am

      • It absolutely did. So stark and yet beautiful. All those dissonant chords. I found myself wishing the image at the top was a .gif, so I could watch the water move while I listened!

        Beautifully done. You should get an official commission for this to be an anniversary anthem. People would get it. I know they would!

        September 12, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      • thanks man, I’m glad

        September 13, 2015 at 7:36 am

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