September 11, 2014
When the twin towers fell, I was thinking about Barbarella. When something horrific comes upon me, I immediately turn to a pleasant thought, or to be honest, an escape. There is always that moment in time when you don’t know what’s happening, and you are on the computer or watching television, and you’re not getting news, but just the raw feelings of anxiety, fear, and numbness of watching the jet hitting the building over and over again. It becomes pornography after while, and I just prefer the Eros of Barbarella than seeing a death machine hitting a skyscraper. To have used that jet, not as a missile, but as a spacecraft going to another galaxy for the purpose of having sex with Barbarella. That is the purpose of machinery, to give and receive pleasure not death.
I had to go to work that morning and it was strange, because I worked at a bookstore, and there were a lot of customers that day. I think they wanted to be with other people, and somehow a bookstore fits the location and the need when those want to make contact with others. I remember a customer coming in and asking if we had books on the al-Qaeda. I never heard of them, and it took me awhile to get the correct spelling of the name to see if there were any books in print on that subject matter. Then shortly another customer came in and wonders if we had any books on Osama bin Laden. Again, a name that I never heard of. What was interesting is that a lot of people were either freaking out, or trying to comprehend what happened and what does that exactly mean in their lives. One thing I do remember was that the Sheriff’s department closed off traffic to the West Hollywood City Hall. I thought to myself of “why would anyone want to attack the city hall of West Hollywood?” Nevertheless, I think everyone who saw a plane in the sky thought it may be a missile of death.
The cultural significance was when Salman Rushdie came into the store to shop, and this maybe two or three days after September 11. He just wrote a book called “Fury” and he consented to sign the stock for our store. He was friendly, and very disturbed about the attack. One thing he said that made an impression on me, was that his novel (“Fury”) is totally not important anymore. He stated that his novel was the old New York, and now the attacks happened, his version of New York doesn’t exist anymore. He was likewise left stranded, because he couldn’t fly back to his home in New York City. At the time, I read a lot of observations by New York writers and all of them were interesting. The one that stays in my mind is a column in the Guardian newspaper, written by Jay McInerney, where he comments on the “before and after,” and although it is a stock statement or cliché, it is also totally understandable. For me, my fear for the then future would be how the U.S. would react to the crisis. Sadly, and not surprisingly, they did everything wrong. Not only Iraq, but our policies in dealing with the international world as well as the terribleness that is happening in the States. The terrorists sent us a box and the U.S. opened that box without any hesitation. All the evil things came out, and no one will never ever be able to box up the ingredients of pain. The other thing that stayed in my mind was that our best selling title at the bookstore that month was "Zagat Los Angeles 2001."
Somewhere down the line we traded our fantasies for despair and horror. We could have gone on the Barbarella route - to explore space and bodies, but instead we now have a world that is not enjoyable or aesthetically pleasing. Just dread, misery, poverty, and a century (the 21st) that will be my last...