New York World Trade Center is Gone

What the hell just happened?

When it happened, we were at the movies. Typical really.

We were watching a late screening of the film The Tailor of Panama. We were enjoying the film. It’s a satire about disreputable spies who make up stories about rebels in order to get money from a gullible US military. I particularly liked the end of the film, the part where the US decides to launch a military action to avenge the death of the leader of a non-existent rebellion.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the real world, a jumbo jet slammed into the side of the New York World Trade Center’s north tower. By the time we got home that evening, a second plane had crashed into the south tower.

Within a few minutes, a good friend, Morten, rang us to tell us that terrorists had smashed jumbo jets into the Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon. Given the film we’d just seen, and the fact that he’s a bit of a prankster, we assumed he was joking. Then we turned on the television and saw the images, and watched slack-jawed as each tower collapsed in on themselves. We channel-surfed till 4am.

The second plane crashes into the south tower

A street level image of the second plane

I can’t believe the images. It’s like a badly-written big-budget over-the-top disaster movie. But it’s real.

We kept asking questions. How many have died? Will there be another attack? How will the US react? Will they over react? How do they declare war on an unknown or stateless enemy? Will we have to postpone or cancel our overseas trip for fear of being part of a giant missile?

I’ve always wanted to live and work in New York as it seems to me to be the centre of the Western world. Now all of a sudden, Australia is looking nice and safe.

Trivia: I wonder if the Hip Hop band The Coup will change or withdraw the cover of their album Party Music – it shows them blowing up the twin towers of the World Trade Centre with a remote device. It’s an image that was cheeky yesterday. Kind of chilling today. Even the apparent height of each of their phoney detonations is almost the same as the plane impacts. I presume it’s meant to fit in with their anti-establishment image – their publicity blurb for the album reads “Over throwing the system has never been so much fun!”.

UPDATE: The publicity link above no longer works, doubtless someone at GirlieAction noticed something odd happening with their server load. Pulling the image was probably the right thing to do I guess. The Coup have expressed regret and will be redesigning the cover. You can still see the full version of the cover here (small), or here (large).

Most of the online news services couldn’t cope with the load placed on them as people checked for the latest news on the disaster. The BBC news site stayed up mostly (images were often broken), and slashdot also stayed up and provided links to mirrored versions of news stories, as well as linking to images and videos taken by slashdotters and others on the ground.

I have a horrible feeling that one day in the future we’ll look back on Tuesday 11 September 2001 as the start of a new period of insecurity and diminished freedom. I really hope I’m wrong.

The New York skyline the way it was