Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stairway to Sirius: Ground Zero Blues

As much as anyone who wasn't actually in Manhattan that day, I was deeply traumatized by 9/11. Nearly every single one of my friends was in the city that day and the day before my best friend told me he had terminal cancer. My son's football coach was killed as was his friend's father. All told, seventeen people from my town died in the event. 

The aftermath was even worse. Countless funerals without hearses seemed to signal a new and disturbing future, and the minutiae of the day intruded on my reality paradigm, transforming synchronicity from a walkman to a widescreen-sized phenomenon. 

 The World Trade Center and its environs were part of my psychic landscape. My friend and his family lived on South End Ave, practically across the street. I was working in Soho a lot at the time so I was in and out of the WTC PATH station and the Logan's Run-like underground mall there all the time. For the years I'd been in New Jersey those buildings were a constant, I'd see them every day returning home from another symbolically fraught landmark - the Empire State Building - where I worked for 8 years. 

Since all my freelance work essentially dried up on 9/11 and I had a new computer with a then-blazingly fast 56K modem (broadband hadn't come to town yet) I spent most of my time on the Internet soaking up every detail I possibly could. As I saw all of the pictures taken Jerseyside of the pillars of ash and smoke, three buildings caught my eye. 

I'd been doing what Jake Kotzke brilliantly labeled "synchromysticism" for several years, so I was attuned to symbolism and my 17 years of experience on the streets of Manhattan trained my eye to spot mystical symbolism written into the landscape.