II - The Fall
I spent Sunday in Central Park, people enjoying themselves. Monday was the first day of school. I photographed Amanda, and later LA and Amanda going to school, the principal of Friends Seminary greeting students. I did images of kids in a pool on our roof, and that evening some images of midtown at night.
On Tuesday morning I got a call from Stephen Wilkes who said, “My assistant was downtown and he said a small plane had hit the World Trade Center!” I thought, those guys are always flying up the Hudson River. Damn them for flying so low.
I was on the first floor side hall of my building and went up to the sixth floor to see and get a camera.
As I opened the window I saw the huge gash in the one tower and at that exact moment there was a gigantic, obscene flower of fire erupting from the second tower.
What the hell was it? Could it be that the flames from the first tower ignited the second one? A gas leak? It was, of course, the moment that the second plane slammed into the second tower.
I went to the roof. LA joined me and my friend Hale came over. At one point I was shooting, and crying, and then I was sobbing uncontrollably. LA poked me in the ribs and said, “Keep shooting. This is history.” And of course, it was and I did.
I turned to Hale and said, “How in hell are they going to get up there to put the fire out. He kept looking at the burning towers and said very quietly, “They can’t.”
There was a crew of workers putting up a new building across the street from ours, each like a statue, frozen in place, in shock.
When both towers went down in ash and smoke, I looked uptown and was struck by the clear, blue sky, not a cloud.
To this day, 20 years later, whenever we have a beautiful crisp day with clear skies, bright sun, I am immediately brought back to September 11.
I went out and started photographing. A man covered in ash, the flag at Cooper Union already at half mast, everyone stunned, in shock, crying, trying to comfort one another.
The next day, eerie silence, empty streets, checkpoints, the flames still burning– visible day and night –proliferation of flags, memorials, and signs of all kinds.
There is a Chinese curse that says: May you live in interesting times.