Some thoughts on 9/11 ten years on

9/11. Is there any other one-off event that is known throughout the western world by its date?

Of course, if it had happened anywhere else, it would have been called 11/9.

But it didn’t happen anywhere else. Only the USA is big, brave, brash, bold and independent enough that it would buck the trend and stick with its own measurements and date format — perhaps the same qualities that have also made it such a symbol of freedom, democracy, enterprise and globalisation (and imperialism?) that in turn made it such a target for the terrorists.

Other places, other cities and countries have been attacked since by terrorists, but none with such force. Nor has any other single attack any incurred such a response.

I was watching a programme on SBS2 the other night on the World Trade Center: the building of it, the Frenchman who walked between the towers on a rope, its effect on the city, and its eventual destruction. The footage of the day replayed now is as horrific as it was when it happened.

A friend of a friend, who I don’t know, lost a sister in the WTC. I hope all those directly touched by this anniversary, and its aftermath, are doing okay this week.

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden is a good example of a moral issue that for me is more grey than black and white.

I would like to think that I would never wish anybody dead, nor be glad at hearing of someone’s demise.

But if ever I were to waver on that, it would be for someone who caused the deaths of thousands of people.

There are questions over the operation of course. At first they seemed to be claiming that he was armed, and used a woman as a human shield. Now they’re saying he was unarmed… but reaching for a gun?

The compound was described in some reports as a “mansion”. Gotta say it doesn’t look much like a mansion to me.

The future

I think we all know it doesn’t mean the end for al-Qaeda of course, nor for global terrorism.

But as some commentators have said, perhaps other events are overtaking them. Perhaps we can hope that the democracy movement and protests in Egypt and elsewhere will continue to spread, bringing change to the Middle East that makes extremists obsolete and/or marginalised, as most of them are in democracies around the world?

MX

Have to pity MX. The biggest story of the week, and it was breaking just as they were going to press. Normally they have their stories written by midday, but this was emerging at about 12:30pm, and wasn’t confirmed until about an hour later.

Credit to them though; they managed to re-do their front page (though I saw some copies without the OBL story). However they obviously got the page done before the detail was confirmed, as it referred to bin Laden’s death being a week earlier, using a bomb, citing Fox News’s “multiple sources”.

MX: bin Laden dead

Whoops. I suppose in that situation you just have to do what you can.

Who are you?

When I was younger I used to focus on a fairly narrow range of music, heavily influenced by what my peers had introduced me to.

One day circa 1988 Raoul brought over a VHS tape of some band he liked called The Who. It was a compilation called Who’s Better Who’s Best. I remember I sat and watched and was particularly awestruck by the final song on the tape: Won’t Get Fooled Again.

At the end, the lasers swirl around, the keyboard goes mad, Moon goes crazy on the drums, Townshend leaps through the air with his guitar ready to play the final notes, and Daltrey lets out a guttural scream of rage before sounding the warning to all of us: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

Those of us who are miffed at Rudd’s position on climate change would do well to remember that.

The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again
(Still from the multi-angle feature from the movie “The Kids Are Alright” Special Edition DVD)

I subsequently bought the CD of the same name, and it went on high rotation. At the time a lot of my meagre income went on CDs, and I started buying up their albums as I found them. At the time, many weren’t generally available… I ended up with an imported copies of some.

By about the mid-90s I had just about everything there was to be had, and knew most of the songs off-by-heart. I ended up writing a spoof of The Who’s rock opera Tommy, called Pommy for the then-fledgling Toxic Custard list, based on the pretend heavy metal band Megabogue, an idea of Raoul’s from years before.

I look around at the poverty-stricken nation
Take a walk to the Army of Salvation
Smile and grin at the free food all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like Brian May
Then I get on my knees and pray..
We don’t get soup again!

At uni, some of my friends had similarly one-track minds when it came to music: Brian S was (and still is) a rabid Church fan; Peter B was known for loving Queen. The other one in our tight-knit group, Stuart H, to his credit, seemed to have a much wider musical taste, as I recall it.

My tastes eventually got wider too, and while my CD collection has pretty much stopped growing these days, the music in it is much more diverse. But while some older CDs have been cleared out, all of those Who discs are still in it — towards the end of the A-Z sorted shelves, you’ll find an awful lot of Ws.

Given they’re a band that peaked in the early-70s, and two of the original quartet have passed on, one could certainly argue that they’re past it. Over the years I played the discs less and less.

Then came September 11th, 2001.

Out of the terrorist attacks, came the Concert for New York City. I caught some of it on late-night TV. The Who performed four songs to an emotional crowd of NYC police and fire-fighters and their families. It got me all enthused again. Okay, so they were past their peak, but still rocking.

To my surprise, those songs are still ingrained in my brain. Who Are You, Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, and Won’t Get Fooled Again.

They did play here in 2004, but I didn’t feel inclined to go. It was after bassist John Entwistle had died, and as Raoul commented at the time, “Who’s left?”

But I still love the music.

In March this year however they’re playing the Grand Prix. And this time around, I thought bugger it, I’m going.

$99 for general admission, with Grand Prix admission included. Not that I’m that interested in car racing.

Then I saw premium tickets were available, at slightly exorbitant prices. And I thought bugger it, if I’m going, and realistically this may be the only time I’ll ever see them live, I’m going to do it properly.

So I splurged. $175 for a guaranteed spot near the front. A Christmas treat to myself.

It’s certainly the most expensive single concert ticket I’ve ever bought. I’m looking forward to it. I expect to go hoarse singing along.

WTC

I was just about to go to bed last night when my sister e-mailed me:

Tue 11/09/2001 23:16 "Heard about the World Trade Centre!!!! logon to the new (sic), quick!"

I did so. You probably know the rest. Now almost 24 hours later, it’s still a little hard to digest.

Rest assured, anyone reading from the States: The shockwaves from this are being felt around the western world. People here are talking about nothing else. We are truly shocked by this news. You are not alone.