I remember the World Trade Center

My mother once nearly fell off the top floor of the World Trade Center.

Back around 1973 or so, my parents were invited to visit the brand new yet-to-be-opened World Trade Center in NYC.  My father is a retired civil engineer and was part of a small group invited to tour the modern marvel.  I stayed with close friends during their trip.

My parents, with their tour group, elevatored to the top interior floor of the WTC, which was – what – 90-something?  As the guide reminded the team to be careful because the top floor was still under construction and the exterior walls were not yet installed, my photographer mother made a beeline for the edge and – I swear I’m not making this up – walked right up to the edge of the top floor, leaning out and snapping photos, before an engineer with a hard hat and a harness grabbed her and pulled her back inside, suggesting she step back before a random wind gust might blow her out of the building.  She did.  Thankfully both of my parents are still with me.  And my mother’s photos are amazing.

So at this moment in 2001, when I was on a work related phone call, my interest was captured by a television in the background showing the first World Trade Center already cascading smoke.  That’s when I saw the second plane hit the second tower on live television.

The events of that day are another story.  I may write about them later.  But that evening about 7 p.m. or so, I left my office at Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, to return to my apartment two blocks away. I found myself on Route 7, a road that is typically is one of the busiest in the nation, located near the DC beltway. On a typical weekday afternoon that area is jammed with multiple cars in multiple lanes heading in multiple directions. But not that evening.  I was literally the only car on the road.  It was so striking, I literally stopped my car, turned off the engine, and got out.  I walked out onto Route 7, and stood in front of my car, on Route 7. There was not a car in sight.  I was deliberately still, and held my breath to listen.  There was not a sound anywhere.  Not a sound of a car from the nearby DC beltway or from anywhere around.  Not a sound of a plane in the sky – and keep in mind, that location is near the flight paths of both Reagan and Dulles airports. But there was not a sound anywhere.  Not a child in the distance.  Absolutely nothing.  It was the eeriest experience.

That silence continued.

Three days later I kept a dinner appointment at the Chart House in Old Town Alexandria.  It was the first night I think anyone was emerging from their homes since 9/11, yet still there weren’t many of us out and about yet.  Flights were still grounded and remained that way for days.  Television was still in a weird all-news commercial-free mode that continued for about two weeks.  And at one point that evening, at the Chart House, the only sound I could hear outside was a single jet fighter that was slowly circling DC in a deliberate pattern, ordered temporarily to guard DC, as it slowly circled the DC region, over and over, 24 hours per day.  It was the only sound I could hear outside on a Friday night in September, a time when the DC area is generally bustling with activity, but not then.  Eerily quiet and somber.


B.B. King

I just heard this morning that legendary blues guitarist B.B. King is now being cared for by hospice in his home.

Here’s a great video of King performing with a number of other outstanding guitarists and celebrity musicians: Slash, Mick Hucknall (of Simply Red), Ron Wood (of the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck Group, and others), Derrick Trucks, and Susan Tedeschi – all jamming at the Royal Albert Hall, 2011. B.B. King was 85 at the time. His solo starts at about 5:40.


Best Super Bowl Show Ever: XXXVI and U2

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, and I’m sure the halftime performer – Katy Perry – will do a great job.

But I think it will be a long time before anyone outdoes the 2002 Super Bowl XXXVI halftime show featuring U2, which was – in the humble opinion of this author- the best Super Bowl show ever.

I think it’s fair to say it was the first major public nationally televised event after the September 11th attacks.

The first song is Beautiful Day, a celebration about simply being alive.

During the transition to the second song, you can hear U2’s lead singer Bono muttering something.  It’s a prayer from Psalm 51:15: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.”  What follows is a cry that – under other circumstances – would just be a typical rock star thing for Bono to do.  But in this context I think a great many viewers took it as a collective national (and perhaps international) cry of anguish, anger, hope, and catharsis. I know that was my sense at the time and I read comments and interviews with many, many others who took it the same way.

What follows is Where The Streets Have No Name, a song about Bono’s wish for a class-less society, where people are not judged as U2, who wrote the lyrics, perceived they were judged in their hometowns.  Locals knew the poor streets and the rich streets and formed opinions about townspeople based on where they lived.  The song expresses hope for a time when no such judgement would occur.

I read one article at the time in which Bono, lead singer for the Irish band, was said to have had a strong desire and sense of history that it was their role to encourage America at that time.

See below for the full video.

Doc Scantlin’s New Website

Well it’s about time …

The world received a unique and whimsically fun Christmas present this year: the newly revamped and remarkably hip new Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra website!  This is more than just a long-overdue celebration of what Forbes magazine calls the “world’s best band”, it’s filled with little surprises – such as the old timey radio featuring a bunch of Doc’s classic hits that – believe or not – have never been available before in any form of any kind, YouTube-ish or otherwise.

If you who is reading this are a living breathing entity who has any interest in living your life in an entertaining manner, then stop wasting any more time and check this out immediately, it’s a historic milestone of 21st century proportions.

Click here to read about the brilliant folks at Transmedia who are behind this technically creative masterpiece.

Click here for the press release!

Click here for the website itself!