When I read on Yahoo! News about new pictures released by the FBI from the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, I had to look into it.
WARNING: Both the FBI Website and the Yahoo! story have images that can be disturbing and/or triggering.
Washington (AFP) – Never-seen photographs from the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon released by the FBI this week show the massive devastation that faced first responders.
Twenty-seven pictures from that day depict the crushed walls, blazing fires and eviscerated interiors of the seat of the US Department of Defense.
American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles International Airport slammed into the Pentagon’s western wall, killing all 64 people on the plane, including the five hijackers, and 125 on the ground.
One poignant shot shows an American flag tangled in concrete-and-rebar wreckage being cleared by a tractor.
As people who visit this site often know, I just released a new edition of my play, The 9/11 Project, meant as both memento of that day and my memorial to all those who lost their lives because of that attack – in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, and in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Would it be too much to call 9/11 the defining event of the early 21st century?
Perhaps, in that other events of the last decade, like the “Great Recession” of 2008, or the election of Barack Obama – and Donald Trump – can be seen as coming from movements and forces in play long before that September morning.
But that moment – and how America chose to respond to it – defined so much of what came after. We went to war supposedly to overthrow governments we accused of developing weapons of mass destruction, of harboring and supporting terrorists; to find how terrorism flourishes in the absence of governments willing and able to keep order. What was meant to be a quick demonstration of American power and resolve became what is now “The Long War.”
Drone strikes and expanded Government surveillance powers have become a point of controversy – are they unfortunate but necessary tools to fight terrorism, or a betrayal of American core values (or are they both?) Even the fear of Muslims and the feeling America has somehow become weaker as it became more inclusive that played such a part in the last election – it all goes back to that September morning.
I began work on what would become The 9/11 Project shortly after the attacks first as a way of dealing with my feelings of shock and grief. From over a hundred songs that would come over the next ten years I selected thirty-three to at first become a three-part album; but the songs suggested a story – or more accurately, a story of stories, stories of ordinary Americans living and fighting in that roller-coaster of a decade – that would become a three-act musical play, and now this latest iteration. As always, my “mission” with this Project is to inspire Americans to spare some thought, to care what those who go to war go through on their behalf, beyond the usual patriotism and platitudes.
In this latest edition I cut the songs to three but kept all the emotional impact. It’s meant to be easier for school, college, smaller professional and amateur groups to produce. Later this year I want to offer a compete soundtrack for the 9/11 Project.
My current goal is to reach out to theater groups across the country, looking to find some that would help me finally bring this story to the stage. The 9/11 Project is currently for sale here and on Amazon; but if you’re with a legitimate theater group, please contact me for more information.
NOTE: The 9/11 Project script does not come with either production or photocopy rights. For those, you will need to contact me.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled history, LOL.
This. Definitely This. This has to be passed.
Five years ago—and yes, it took that long to pass it—Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to offer Government assistance to 9/11 first responders suffering from health problems, including over 1100 people suffering with cancer.
Who’d have thought breathing powdered building would be hazardous to your health?
The Zadroga Act—named after an NYPD detective who died of respiratory illness contracted at Ground Zero—is due to expire next month, leaving up to 33,000 9/11 survivors left to their own resources to combat lifelong health consequences from working at Ground Zero. Stewart, surviving 9/11 first responders, and their supporters are calling on Congress to renew the Zadroga Act permanently, so people already suffering from and who will develop health problems from working at Ground Zero will have access to Federal help.
“I’m embarrassed,” Stewart says in the Guardian article. “I’m embarrassed for our country. I’m embarrassed for New York, I’m embarrassed that you, after serving so selflessly with such heroism, have to come down here and convince people to do what’s right for the illnesses and difficulties that you suffered because of your heroism and because of your selflessness.”
James Briordy, a retired marine engineer with the FDNY who now suffers from respiratory problems, warns “If this fund is not permanent then the sicknesses that are increasing now, the deaths from them are going to increase dramatically.”
It is believed since 9/11, at least 85 NYPD officers and 130 FDNY firefighters have died from illnesses brought on by breathing toxic dust raised when the Towers collapsed.
Guys, this one’s for you.
NEW! YORK!! CITY!!!
Wow. This last post took a good month to post! What was it John Lennon said in Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans?” We’ve been getting a new campaign ready to raise awareness for and funds to complete the 9/11 Project, which these last 3 posts tie into.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!
Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46
In this third act, The God Files [DECLASSIFIED] a major theme here is faith. Faith, not just in the religious sense, but in the general sense of trust. Unfortunately, people are often manipulated with their faith, and find their faith broken as a result:
- Governments break the faith of their people when they use lies and deception to accomplish political goals;
- Worse, they fail to accomplish even the good they would do because they believe their own lies;
- A leader arises, promising a break with the past; then, once elected, continues with policies indistinguishable from his predecessor;
- People you trust your very soul with are do the unspeakable to innocent children.
When faith—trust—is broken, how do you re-establish it? And in what? In whom?
You could, as my character Lawson did, choose not to have faith in anything anymore. That path leads to madness and self-destruction. I am convinced the epidemic of suicide among War on Terror veterans and others comes from the experience of broken and shattered faith; and not finding anything else, no matter how small or unimportant it may seem to others, to believe in.
Some rediscover their faith through God or a religious community. Others find this through their family, a spouse, or even a friend–people they can trust, have faith in, to love and support them no matter how difficult the road ahead. The words “I love you” can save lives.
I had completed the songs and scores by 2012. I had intended to release the 9/11 Project as a three-CD trilogy, complete with collectible tin cover and full-color illustrated lyrics booklet. I concerned myself with acquiring the capital to record and produce this album–which I estimated at $60,000—and market the Project as best I was able while I worked on capital, and other projects.
Working on a different project—which would become Black on Black–I discovered this ingenious book, which I recommend to all aspiring fiction authors, whether you’re writing screenplays, stage plays, novels or even short stories: How to Write a Movie in 21 Days: The Inner Movie Method by Viki King, (available on Amazon for $6.77 + shipping) as (I originally conceived Black on Black as a movie screenplay—one I will produce—before adapting it into a novel.)
The heart of the “Inner Movie Method” is a way to visualize your characters and story even before you start writing. Once I began writing Black on Black, the process quickly turned from one where I dictating what was happening to my characters to one where my characters were dictating to me what they were doing and why—where I was watching my own movie in my head and just writing down what was happening.
Naturally, my completed script was by no means finished and needed editing—and editing again (thanks Tony!)—but it was there! Furthermore, when I revisited the 9/11 Project I found the same thing happening again: characters were emerging from my songs, telling me their names, telling me their stories—singing my own songs back to me: Joey, Marcus, Thomas, Darrell and Rodger; Adam, Muhammed, James and Leroy; President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Karl Rove; Condoleeza Rice and General Colin Powell; Sgt. Smith and Cpl. Harris; Brian and Javier; Father Murphy and “Joey Too;” Erick and Lawson; Calvin, Julie and Jeffrey; Rachel, Christy, Edward and Alex–even Saddam Hussein! I saw all these personalities weave their narratives—and my music–into a history looking back on the tumultuous decade from September 11, 2001 through May 2, 2011 to today, that brings the 9/11 decade into focus.
Thus the 9/11 Project takes on its current form. I point out current, not final form. A good story can be told many ways: look at all the Oscar-winning movies, Tony-Award winning plays and musicals adapted from bestselling novels!
OK, so ends my 911 at 13 mini-trilogy. I hope it was worth the wait. I promise you, once The 9/11 Project his theaters, that it will have been worth the wait!
Yesterday I began our remembrance of 9/11, 13 years ago with my and Tony’s memories of September 11, a post called Shock and Awe. Today, I want to talk about what happened afterwards, the wars and the people who willingly went off to fight them for us.
Like the rest of America on 9/12 I was pissed off and ready to kick ass. And at the time most of the rest of the world wanted to join us. Al-Qaida and affiliated groups had terrorized and murdered people around the world; bin Laden made it abundantly clear he hated not just the “Great Satan” but every nation and people that rejected his idea of “real Islam,” including his own people, the Saudi Arabians, who kicked his ass out years ago. When Colin Powell appeared before the UN with evidence Saddam Hussein—a man known to have used chemical weapons* against his own people—was developing biological and nuclear weapons, for many that just proved it was high time to clean house across the Middle East.
If you’ll forgive the aside, I sometimes can’t believe my ears when I hear people say Iraq was better off under Saddam Hussein. Really? Yeah, we made a lot of mistakes in Iraq—the WMDs Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove had Powell swear Saddam had turned out to be a mirage; once Saddam was out of the way they thought they could “democratize” Iraq quick and cheap—when history proves freedom is never won quickly or cheaply. By Obama’s election America wanted out of Iraq because—as politicians never seem to learn—Americans fucking hate being lied to. But to say Iraq was better off under a murderous thug like Hussein because then they wouldn’t have to worry about other murderous thugs—you might as well tell me we were better off under the British because at least we’d have national health insurance!
I never had the honor to serve in the US military. I wanted to join up after 9/11, but I’m too old. But I could still honor those who have served and do serve, and that is a major theme of the 9/11 Project: to capture, as much as I could, the thoughts and feelings of the people who left family, friends, and comfortable lives “Stateside” to go places most people can’t find on a map, and have to do things most people don’t want to even think about. Many of the songs in This Means War—and in the Project as a whole–explore that reality: “Suicide Bomber,” “There Will Always be a War,” and “War is Madness.”
In other songs like “My God vs. Your God,” “Plastic Jesus” and “God is Good” I wanted to explore how religion, which for many people is a source of faith and hope in a world where bad things happen to good people, is so frequently twisted to whip otherwise rational, compassionate people up like rabid animals—and I do NOT just mean Islam; Christians have a long history of using the Bible to justify the anti-Christian.
Of course, it’s not all negative: when I put the 9/11 Project together, I had my friends Kyle Douglas and Tony over to my house to shoot some music videos of selected songs. One of these was “Don’t Forget a Soldier.”
I’ve had people—veterans—calling me at 3:00 in the morning to tell me it was “fucking awesome.” Before the sun even rose, he made my day. 🙂
You wouldn’t know it listening to it, but that song was born of anger. I was once in Washington DC, visiting the National Archives, where the Constitution is stored. I step outside and see a man in a wheelchair holding a cardboard sign.
Scrawled on it were the words “Vietnam Vet—Please Help.”
I was furious. Not at the vet—but that in the midst of the wealthiest, most bountiful society ever, in its very heart, in the shadow of the building housing its foundational documents; that someone who was willing to put on a uniform and swear to “preserve, protect and defend” our people and those documents could end up on the streets, begging, of no more apparent value than the other trash in the gutter.
I also wanted to celebrate in This Means War the election of 2008, and the Inauguration in 2009, of Barack Hussein Obama as our 44th President—after an election that saw the highest voter turnout in recent memory.
Not only is Obama our first President of African-American descent, but the first President of (admitted) mixed-race descent, the first President from the newest state in our Union: Hawaii, and only the seventh President with a foreign-born parent (the last was Herbert Hoover, in 1929!)
You know, though he was re-elected in 2012, and continues to enjoy higher approval ratings than Congress, neither Tony nor I can remember a President ever facing such virulent criticism as Obama. While this level of bile is, unfortunately, not unprecedented in American politics, we think most of it comes from fear of what Obama represents: a changing face of America.
For most of its history, the “face” of America was defined by European immigrants and their children; oftentimes new waves of immigrants would be met with discrimination and scorn, but would quickly melt seamlessly into the features of earlier generations. Now, in the 21st century, increased interracial marriage, establishment of African Americans, and increasing numbers of non-European immigrants promise to change America’s “look” and “sound” even as they themselves assimilate. Obama is the first “official” mixed-race President—and will certainly not be the last.
But Tony and I are like, even if America’s “face” and even her “voice” change in the future due to changing demographics, her heart will always be the same, for it’s that heart that continues to inspire us and others worldwide.
Wow. Another long one. Okay I will conclude this next post, I promise. Besides, I want to talk more about how what started as an album grew—again almost of its own accord—into a full-on musical play, and one that’s going to knock your socks off!
OK, peace everybody.
*After chemical weapons were first used on a large scale in WWI, their effects on people were judged so horrible—even more than bullets or bombs—their use and possession were banned by international treaty.