Today Alex and I spent a good hour reading NYT coverage from 2001 and just kind of gaping at it
I don’t much like contemporary 9/11 coverage because (with the exception of the 9/11 glossary NYMag did last year, which was sheer perfection) it’s mostly the same themes over and over again — tragic day, changed the very fabric of our nation, defined a whole generation in good and not-so-good ways
But I think what most of that stuff fails to get at is how absolutely horrifying 9/11 really was — I think it barely scratches the surface on what must have been apocalyptic levels of terror in lower Manhattan that day.
The New York Times put a kicker on their front-page article on Sept. 12, 2001: “A Creeping Horror.” I read that story for the first time a few years afterward — it’s basically an on-the-ground account of what was going on in the streets and in the towers before they collapsed — and it was like a punch to the gut. It’s got this visceral quality about it that’s very specific to that day — not the kind of thing you even try to replicate. It’s not what we talk about when we talk about 9/11 because, frankly, we don’t like to think about it. It’s too much.
I was trying to make some sort of big sweeping statement here tying all these loose thoughts together, but the fact of the matter is that loose thoughts are all I really have about 9/11. It’s too big and too complicated and too important for anything else, I guess. Long story short: Go read this story. It’s worth it. I promise.