Tomorrow will be Monday, September 11th, 2006. Personally speaking, I'm not quite sure why five years is any more significant that four years or six years, but I've been told that's a question for the ages. In any event, here we are five years on after the events of September 11th, 2001. I have precious little to add to what I wrote last year (paraphrased and updated below), other than that I've never felt a greater contempt for the current administration and those who support it.
Being a native New Yorker, I feel compelled to address the anniversary of September 11th here, but honestly speaking, what can one really say to do it justice? It's been five years without any real semblance of closure. The "War on Terror", to paraphrase the New York Times Magazine, has lost its direction with no real fruition in sight. Recent events suggest that we are just as vulnerable and unprepared today as we were back then (regardless of how many times I've had to take my sneakers off before boarding a plane). I can't say I feel that there have really been great strides towards making this country safer. You may beg to differ, but hey....start your own weblog then.
I took a whole roll of film on the fateful day, but I'm not putting any of those pictures up here. With a single Google search, one can easily access pictures of the event from countless, horrific angles. And I could tell the story of where I was and what I was doing when it all happened, but there are millions of stories to that same effect out there. Mine isn't especially different. People seem to wear September 11th like a shiny badge on their lapel, and I find the people who are the most righteously indignant about it tend to live nowhere near New York City. These also tend to be the same sort of folks who invarialby denounced the entirety of New York City as a hotbed of immoral carnality and effete liberalism on September 10th, but I digress.
What strikes me the most about September 11th (I really don't like bandying the term "9/11" around, incidentally....why must everything been encapsulated into a soundbyte?), is that a friend of mine from high school died that day. His name was Mike Armstrong, and as clichéd as it sounds, he really was the nicest of possible people. Mike greeted all and sundry with a big smile and a kind word, from the most popular kids in school to the lowliest of hapless geeks (like...umm...myself). He had a remarkable ability to remember names and had the most inclusive, gregarious and thoughtful manner imaginable. Mike and I initially bonded over a mutual love of metal (we went to see AC/DC together at Madison Square Garden on the Flick of the Switch tour in 1983), but he swiftly became a friend and the perfect "goto" guy (as he was for many people). Mike was always available for help, advice or simply a joke. After everyone graduated, Mike remained the glue that held our class together, constantly organizing get-togethers. Mike would painstakingly seek out far-flung members of the class years after we'd all left high school just to remind them of upcoming class events. I still have the letter he sent me reminding me of our fifteenth reunion. That letter was dated September 11th, 2000. A year later, he would die in unimaginable circumstances.
Mike became a vice president of sales at Cantor Fitzgerald. His office was among the upper floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Since that day, some buddies of Mike's who owned a bar that Mike used to moonlight/bartend at in midtown opened up a new bar on 19th street and 1st Avenue, and named it in his honor. MJ Armstrong's. Go have a beer there and raise a toast to my friend. You can read more about Mike Armstrong here.
Michael Armstrong & me, circa 1983 (yes, that gormless dork in the down jacket and headphones is me).