The morning brings a strange sense of anticipation and dread as I reach across the table for an open beer. I have lived many Sundays, this particular one included, yet not once in my life has a legitimate sense of fear made my cells quiver.
Today is my birthday and I am 27 years old though the world would hesitate for me to celebrate.
Odd birthday for a radical, no? Like Mark Twain and the Haley Bop comet I feel a weird entanglement with the more famous aspects of this date. Even we who remain disgusted with the response by our government this particular day pause quietly in still moments, send our consciousness back in time to mull where we were and what we did.
Doubly so for me: No, I don’t think a plane brought down those towers. Yes, I’ve seen building 7.
9/11 is to me perhaps one of the few instances of a widespread psychic event, something that no longer resides just in the world but in the heads of all those that were alive when it happened, cocooned in a blanket of emotional meaning and personal history.
I once knew someone, a hardcore conservative, who was way deep into the Inside Job crowd yet consistently voted Republican.
“I’m having trouble understanding this,” I asked as I cornered him one day. “You are the one telling me that elements within our own government killed thousands of people to trick us into fighting a non-stop war across the globe. This government is literally a nest of mass murderers.” He shook his head, a solid agreement with everything I said like some local country judge taking in all the details of a case he’s already decided on.
“So why exactly do you support those wars then, if you know they’re false? Why, why support the government at all? Why support that fucking flag which you yourself say has feasted on its own people out of greed for blood?”
His face became a mirror for some pitched battle within him, cheek muscles seizing and lips twisting. As intensely as it was fought it cooled, his face returning to the stillness of the Indian River on a summer day.
“Well,” he winced, “I can’t say for sure it was the whole government. I think some rogue elements may have pulled it off.”
Which reminded me of a story.
Philadelphia Don “Little Nicky” Scarfo wanted a fellow gangster by the name of Salvatore Testa whacked. He selected Joe Pugnitore, Testa’s best friend, to do the deed.
Pugnitore had known Testa for quite a while, had eaten with his family, knew his mother. He didn’t want to play the part of reaper but knew to refuse such an order was to be marked for death himself. He went back to “Little Nicky” Scarfo saying he’d help lure Testa to his death, but that he refused to pull the trigger.
Scarfo laughed and remarked “What the fuck’s the difference?”
Either way we cut it, even if 9/11 was some horrible act of terrorism and any of the myriad wars we’ve unleashed across the planet had some slice of justice to it the resulting chaos and bloodshed that has marked this century because of it is perhaps too heavy to even conceptualize. Just try to imagine all the ghosts out there with an ax to grind.
It gets really weird when you go back and think about what life used to be back in the 90’s. Oh sure, we were a bloodthirsty Empire then but it wasn’t nearly what it was like now. To be a soldier meant mostly paid trips around the world with some free fucking college thrown in.
Now our televisions parade images of young men with half a skull missing, drooling on their wives as their children beam with pride about how they help daddy tie his shoes in the morning.
Like so many other times The Event swallows everything around it, a psychical black hole that demands meaning. Each year, rather than let it fade, we engage in pomp and circumstance to feed our version of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec war-god who demanded fresh hearts torn out of chests; well-meaning human beings indoctrinate themselves with hatred towards people they’ve never met and never had a problem with.
It’s terrorism when they kill innocents, it’s collateral damage when we do it.
America must remain strong.
We’ve got to win this war against an intangible concept.
I won’t have any part of it. I stay away from the sickening civic religion. I have enough on my mind.
27 years old. It seems almost impossible. I am dreading the big 3-0 that looms ever nearer, beckoning with gnarled hands towards a chair deemed “safe and easy living.” My great fear is that somewhere along the way I’ll lose my vitality, won’t be able to throw myself into the grinder or have some crazy ass adventure explode in front of me. You check your self for signs of age like campers look for ticks, analyzing thoughts and behaviors.
Am I still me? Will I be when my body begins to wither? For now I run and jump like a spring deer. What winters lie ahead?
The New York Times reports others struggle with such an association:
“Some people born on Sept. 11 deflect attention with the European calendar format: day before month. Obstetricians report women due to deliver on Sept. 11 who insist on scheduling an earlier C-section to avoid saddling their child with a tainted birthday.”
Give me a fucking break.
I spent last night in what I hope is an omen for future events: I got drunk on 100 proof whiskey and read the letters of a young Hunter S. Thompson struggling to make it. I feel a kinship there. I’ve only been writing for…what? Two-ish years? What victories I have claimed don’t seem nearly enough. Now my muscles tense and stretch like I’m on the final corners of a track race. The new year demands new things, new efforts. Already I’ve got a pack of schemes and ideas to peddle to publishers and editors as well as expansions to my Conjure. I intend to be in an even better place next year.
For whatever reason I am fated to match my self against this “holiday,” to review success and failures as the images of people falling out of massive burning buildings roll across my internal movie screen.
On a day that demands everyone look backwards I am fanatically focused on the future. There is never enough time. Our would be leaders demand we make time stand still and stay rooted in the past, that we “never forget” corpses long since rotted and steel long since melted down and sold while they design the future.
Rebel. Move forward. Stay hungry and keep fighting; break the arms of any in DC that cry “truce” for pageantry and State religion. Let the Dead bury the Dead.
The future, the world, belongs to ones that will seize it. Let’s make sure it’s you and me.
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