My 9-11 Story

Re-post.  Originally posted it last year on this date.

I was in my car when it happened, on my way to Milledgeville, Georgia from Charleston, South Carolina.  I sat in misery as I drove down a backwoods highway.  I was 34-years-old, and I hated my job.  Worse than that, I couldn’t remember a job I liked since I quit my gig as a dishwasher in a hospital at the age of seventeen. I had lived an entire lifetime since dreading the concept of waking up on a weekday and dressing for a job that would slowly suck the life out of me.   Professional fulfillment was something that eluded me so thoroughly I was convinced that I was hardwired to hate working.  Not the physical effort just the emotional investment.

Howard Stern was on the radio.  He is the one who told me what happened that morning, and because of that I am indelibly linked to the shock jock.  I like Howard.  It’s not his fart jokes and sophomoric ramblings about the female form that draws me to his show.  It’s his pure unadulterated love for his job.  It was a feeling I couldn’t relate to at the time.  As foreign as the concept was to me, I still longed for it and Howard exuded it.  You could hear it in the timber of his voice.  And it wasn’t just him. It was everyone in the studio with him.  They all loved their jobs.  Listening to them, I was sucked into their world and for the time I listened, I enjoyed a workday morning.

That morning they were talking about Pamela Anderson.  Howard had gone to a club with her, and she kissed him.  The crew was stunned and envious.  They wanted every detail, and Howard was more than happy to oblige.  He let the facts drip out in masterful story-like fashion.  My mouth agape, I gripped the steering wheel tighter and bent in closer to the radio.   He was teasing everyone with insignificant side-bars mixed in with outrageous claims, and then there was a misplaced pause.  I can still hear the void left by that pause.

“What is that?” Howard asked.  “One of the towers is on fire.”  The confusion crackled through the dying signal on my radio.  I slowed down to hold onto the signal for as long as I could.  I wanted him to get back to the story.  But scattered details came in about the fire.  “It was a small plane.”  Someone said.  “I don’t know how that doesn’t happen more often,” someone else said.  They talked about the air traffic around Manhattan.  The planes fly much too low.  Another misplaced pause.

“The other building’s on fire,” Howard said calmly but puzzled.  A panicked voice followed from someone else in the room.  “It was another plane!  Another plane flew into the other building!”  My heart pounded against my chest.  The static on the radio began to drown out their voices.  I fiddled with the tuner.  I couldn’t lose the signal.  Not now.  Just before I went completely beyond the signals range, I thought I heard the question, “Are we under attack?”

I looked at the car to my left on Highway 95.  The driver was stooped over and fiddling with his radio, too.  The driver of the car in front of me was doing the same.  I sat back, breathed deeply and spotted a sign for a state of Georgia visitor’s center.  From my frequent trips along this road, doing a job I hated, I knew the visitor’s center had a lounge with a TV.

The parking area for the visitor’s center was crowded.  Cars, RVs, trucks, motorcycles, nearly took up every square inch of pavement.  I squeezed my car into a spot near the back of the lot and parked.  I gave the radio one last try before I exited.  Nothing.  Not even a local station.  Outside of the car, I noticed that the air was unusually still.  Something was missing.  When I turned to the highway, I realized what it was.  There were no cars passing the visitor’s center.  The hum of rubber passing over the road was notably absent, as notable as Howard’s first misplaced pause.  The void had returned.  Looking back, the day was filled with eerily quiet moments.   Pauses that didn’t belong caused by an avalanche of confusion and anger and fear.

I walked into the visitor’s center, looked to the right and was amazed to see no one standing inside.  Given the number of cars in the parking lot, the place should have been packed with people.  I turned to my left and quickly unraveled the mystery.  Everyone had jammed themselves into the lounge.  A sea of people stood staring up at the TV.  Not a word was exchanged between anyone in the crowd.  They watched in silence as smoke billowed from the World Trade Center buildings.   Occasionally, I heard sniffles and stifled wails.  A scan of the room revealed a lot of tears and strained gazes.

Finally, someone next to me answered the question asked by the unidentified person on the radio.  “We’re under attack.”

Me hating my job suddenly seemed like such a small and insignificant thing.

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Artie Lange

A Very Funny Guy

I’m saddened by the news that comedian Artie Lange attempted to commit suicide this past week.  His brand of humor isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever had the opportunity to listen to him on the radio (he’s a member of the Howard Stern show), you know that he is a sweetheart  of a guy that would give you the shirt of his back to help you out.  He’s got his demons – more than most.  I hope he can exorcise them and get back on his feet.

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Misplaced Pauses – My 9-11 Story

Originally, I had planned to do my regular Freaky Search Friday post, but as I was putting it together, I wrote “Freaky Search Friday –September 11, 2009 Edition,” and the date smacked me in the face.  I suddenly didn’t feel like putting something goofy on the blog today.  The thought of posting nothing occurred to me, but that would be too easy.  I am not one to write tribute pieces just because I don’t have the talent and sensitivity for it.  So, I’m left with just sharing with you what that day was like for me.  I was hundreds of miles away, but like most Americans, it still had a huge impact on me.  As they say, this is my story.

I was in my car when it happened, on my way to Milledgeville, Georgia from Charleston, South Carolina.  I sat in misery as I drove down a backwoods highway.  I was 34-years-old, and I hated my job.  Worse than that, I couldn’t remember a job I liked since I quit my gig as a dishwasher in a hospital at the age of seventeen. I had lived an entire lifetime since dreading the concept of waking up on a weekday and dressing for a job that would slowly suck the life out of me.   Professional fulfillment was something that eluded me so thoroughly I was convinced that I was hardwired to hate working.  Not the physical effort just the emotional investment.

Howard Stern was on the radio.  He is the one who told me what happened that morning, and because of that I am indelibly linked to the shock jock.  I like Howard.  It’s not his fart jokes and sophomoric ramblings about the female form that draws me to his show.  It’s his pure unadulterated love for his job.  It was a feeling I couldn’t relate to at the time.  As foreign as the concept was to me, I still longed for it and Howard exuded it.  You could hear it in the timber of his voice.  And it wasn’t just him. It was everyone in the studio with him.  They all loved their jobs.  Listening to them, I was sucked into their world and for the time I listened, I enjoyed a workday morning.

That morning they were talking about Pamela Anderson.  Howard had gone to a club with her, and she kissed him.  The crew was stunned and envious.  They wanted every detail, and Howard was more than happy to oblige.  He let the facts drip out in masterful story-like fashion.  My mouth agape, I gripped the steering wheel tighter and bent in closer to the radio.   He was teasing everyone with insignificant side-bars mixed in with outrageous claims, and then there was a misplaced pause.  I can still hear the void left by that pause.

“What is that?” Howard asked.  “One of the towers is on fire.”  The confusion crackled through the dying signal on my radio.  I slowed down to hold onto the signal for as long as I could.  I wanted him to get back to the story.  But scattered details came in about the fire.  “It was a small plane.”  Someone said.  “I don’t know how that doesn’t happen more often,” someone else said.  They talked about the air traffic around Manhattan.  The planes fly much too low.  Another misplaced pause.

“The other building’s on fire,” Howard said calmly but puzzled.  A panicked voice followed from someone else in the room.  “It was another plane!  Another plane flew into the other building!”  My heart pounded against my chest.  The static on the radio began to drown out their voices.  I fiddled with the tuner.  I couldn’t lose the signal.  Not now.  Just before I went completely beyond the signals range, I thought I heard the question, “Are we under attack?”

I looked at the car to my left on Highway 95.  The driver was stooped over and fiddling with his radio, too.  The driver of the car in front of me was doing the same.  I sat back, breathed deeply and spotted a sign for a state of Georgia visitor’s center.  From my frequent trips along this road, doing a job I hated, I knew the visitor’s center had a lounge with a TV.

The parking area for the visitor’s center was crowded.  Cars, RVs, trucks, motorcycles, nearly took up every square inch of pavement.  I squeezed my car into a spot near the back of the lot and parked.  I gave the radio one last try before I exited.  Nothing.  Not even a local station.  Outside of the car, I noticed that the air was unusually still.  Something was missing.  When I turned to the highway, I realized what it was.  There were no cars passing the visitor’s center.  The hum of rubber passing over the road was notably absent, as notable as Howard’s first misplaced pause.  The void had returned.  Looking back, the day was filled with eerily quiet moments.   Pauses that didn’t belong caused by an avalanche of confusion and anger and fear.

I walked into the visitor’s center, looked to the right and was amazed to see no one standing inside.  Given the number of cars in the parking lot, the place should have been packed with people.  I turned to my left and quickly unraveled the mystery.  Everyone had jammed themselves into the lounge.  A sea of people stood staring up at the TV.  Not a word was exchanged between anyone in the crowd.  They watched in silence as smoke billowed from the World Trade Center buildings.   Occasionally, I heard sniffles and stifled wails.  A scan of the room revealed a lot of tears and strained gazes.

Finally, someone next to me answered the question asked by the unidentified person on the radio.  “We’re under attack.”

Me hating my job suddenly seemed like such a small and insignificant thing.

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I’m turning hippie on Saturday

Dont make me get all Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on you!

Don't make me get all Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on you!

This Saturday I am joining the world of Transcendental Meditation or for the truly hip, TM. By Tuesday I should be fully enlightened and living in the now. In short, I’ll be way cooler. So, in my last days as a… “normal,” I have a list of things I want to do before I become too ultra-modish to care. They are as follows:

1. Prove beyond a shadow of doubt that The Beatles are better than The Stones

2. Buy a second guitar that I also will never learn how to play

3. Eat my weight in vanilla pudding

4. Call a talk radio show, tell the host I’m a first time caller and have nothing else to say

5. Vow to run a marathon this year

6. Break vow to run a marathon his year

7. Prove the existence of Bigfoot while denying the existence of Ashton Kutcher

8. Continue to pretend that I have never watched a single episode of “The Real Housewives of Orange County”

9. Save Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse

10. Try to convince Eliza Dushku that I saved Dollhouse

11. Keep every list I make to 10 items

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Castaways – A Terrifying Romp with Some Horrifying Cryptids

 

Missing Links Enjoy Human Buffet!

Missing Links Enjoy Human Buffet!

I spent a lot of time in airports and airplanes last week which means I got to catch up on some reading.  I’m not one of those guys that can whip out the laptop in a public place and crank out some pages (and don’t get me started on the people who feel it necessary to include me in on their cell phone conversation by talking like they’re in a crowded stadium.  Use your inside voice, people).  I always cross my fingers that I have a good book to read during all this downtime.  There’s nothing worse than finding yourself with four hours to kill, and the book you’re reading sucks out loud..  

 

Fortunately, I had a great book, Castaways.  I was first introduced to author Brian Keene with his book The Rising – an apocalyptic story with a twist, intelligent zombies.  It is an edge-of-your-seat gore fest that has you wincing and squirming and wanting more.  The follow-ups, City of the Dead and Dead Sea  have more gore and squirm-appeal (although the zombies go back to mindless flesh eaters in DS).  Keene has established himself as a master of the zombie genre.

Castaways is not a zombie book, but it is a shudder-a-second thrill ride.  Imagine the TV show Survivor with a bunch of carnivorous missing-links running around making meals out of the contestants, and you have the premise of this superb horror novel.   A warning to parents who visit this blog looking for young adult novels for their kids, this is not for young adults.  There are explicit rape scenes, and graphic passages of people being eaten.  This is not for the faint of heart or for the kiddies.  I’m not a fan of books with rape scenes as a rule, but if there is such a thing as approaching that sort of thing with great care and sensitivity, Keene does it.  Rape is horrific, and no one should ever have to go through it.  I found myself hurting for the women who were subject to it in the book.  In fact as I was reading this portion of the book to myself, a relative asked me why I was so angry.  Apparently I had a noticeable scowl.  As a storyteller, it would have been dishonest of Keene to leave it out. 

Cryptohiles will recognize the cryptids in this book (a cryptid is an unknown animal), or the cryptid they most closely resemble, I should say.  It is the Orang Pendek.  They are short bipedal apes that have been seen but not scientifically documented on the island of Sumatra.   Keene gives a great non-intrusive history of the urban myth that is surrounding these animals. Granted, he gives them a viciousness that as far as I know has never been reported before, but given the behavior of Travis the chimp in Connecticut a few weeks ago, it is highly plausible.  I am a crypto-nerd, and I have to say I loved this element of the story. 

This book will also speak to one seemingly unreachable group that seemingly rarely visits the literary world, The Howard Stern fans.  If you know the show, you know the on-air brainless duo of Richard and Sal. They make an extremely satisfying cameo in this book.  Spoiler Alert – Their appearance is satisfying because they both get eaten by the short bipeds.  Richard is a dumb loveable hick on the show and in the book, and you do feel kind of bad when he gets torn to shreds, but I found myself relishing Sal’s delicious end.  Yea, Orang Pendeks! 

If you are a horror fan, crypto fan, or Howard Stern fan, you will thoroughly enjoy this book.  Keene has a great fast paced writing style with gritty, realistic dialogue that hooks you in and keeps you turning the page.  Every thumb up (including the freakish third thumb that I keep in a jar by my nightstand)!

Howard Stern Marries Beth Ostrosky

The King and Queen of all Media

The King and Queen of All Media

For those of you who have been searching and asking, yes Howard Stern did get married.  He married long time girl friend Beth Ostrosky on Friday night in Manhattan.   The bride is registered at happyweddingbliss.com, but according to the news story: They asked for donations to The Wildlife Rescue Center of The Hamptons, a wildlife rescue, housing and rehabilitation organization, where according to a spokesman thousands of dollars have already been raised as a result of the wedding.

Howard Stern to Wed This Weekend – Not!

For those of you who care, the rumor is that Howard Stern is getting hitched to long time gal pal Beth Ostrosky this weekend at his Hampton estate. The source is Perez, but I can’t bring myself to link to his site from mine. A coworker just gave me the news. Before you poo-poo Howard Stern, I actually got a great book recommendation from his show once. Fred Norris read and highly endorsed Philip Roth’s Plot Against America. I picked the book up and he was 100% right.

When you get past the shock jock stuff, Howard is a great interviewer with a highly educated crew in and out of the studio.

Amended Monday, May 19 – This item was just what I said, a rumor. Never trust Perez as a source.