There was an afterglow, a lingering light, a feeling before the crush when the world tightened and the future we now suffer was sealed. I reach back to those days in between with such naked nostalgia I can hardly understand it. It is something more than hindsight, it is the physicality of the images, the simplicity of purpose, my purpose too, the complete lack of irony, a kind of innocence. Some call this period after September 11 a period of unity when America came together. But that’s political speak designed to manipulate and force us into narrow visions and proscribed postures. When I hear politicians say those words, I see all the predictable colors and shapes. I see the beginning of the deceit. Rather for me, the 26 days between September 11 and October 7, the first strike in our wars of retribution, was marked by a quiet gentle grief, serious, sensual, not at all morbid, haunting and beautiful like a Chopin prelude.
Perhaps because I wasn’t in New York on the deadly day, because I was 3000 miles away with migrant farmers hunched over in fields, oblivious to the world changing events, concerned only with the number of cucumbers they would pick that day, that upon my return, I cared less about photographing the pile, the scene of the crime, the ground zero media mecca, and worked instead around the less obvious edges. I saw not, or I refused to photograph, the bombastic chest thumping of George Bush and the surrounding blood lust. I couldn’t bear to believe this was how the script would play. Rather, I floated through a city unmoored, its arrogance deflated, where even on Wall Street, the Masters of the Universe, felt sincere, human, even compassionate. I went across the river, and in a scrap yard found a make shift cemetery, a mountain of tangled metal, where workers disassembled the remains of the twin towers. I loved those towers. I remember when they were built. My sister was married on the top of one of them. I remember being drunk and crawling under the table to get to her chair to kiss her.