Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the billboards are all leering

This is going up a day later than I wanted.

Yesterday, as anyone within the sound of a television or radio knows, was the fifth anniversary of September 11, a series of syllables that have been soundbitten and talking pointed by all sides ever since that day. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course. We should never forget what that day was like--not that we had any choice. (As an aside, it will make me very sad when think of a future where inevitably someone far, far younger than I will ask what life was like before those words meant more than a date, before our country waged war without end and shaped its foreign and domestic policy based on the paralyzing fear and rage that day inspires.)

And yet, it's difficult to capture what that day was really like, not that we really want to do that either. But I think the repetition of the numbers, the politi-speak reduction of the day into broad terms of what 'we' lost (when those who do the speaking can never really fathom the true loss that day, the loss felt by friends, loved ones and family members of the thousands who lost their lives) tends to gloss over the real horror of the day. The renewed realization that anything, no matter how horrible can indeed happen, and at any time to anybody. Beirut was no longer on the other side of the world on the 6 p.m. news; it was in the middle of one of our post cards. And there was nothing you, or anyone else, could do.

"Moya," by Godspeed You Black Emperor!

I won't be so reductive to think that the above song actually sounds like 9/11--even the actual sounds of that day barely sound real, how could an instrumental from two years prior capture it? And yet this song, all ten minutes of it, captures many sides of the damned day. The heartwrenching loss, the disbelief. The bravery and terror and tragedy and hope. Such unbelievable pain and sadness buried in these Canadian cellos, contrabasses and guitars.

The glib response to Godspeed is that they're the houseband for the apocalpyse, but I disagree. Godspeed is the houseband for struggle, sure, but not between the grand forces of good and evil. For me they score the truly epic internal struggle, the battle waged while processing those heavy-hitting marquee emotions rattled off above. Which route will you choose?

I've been fighting the urge to get political here (for some reason), but I don't think I can. Everything changed that day, just like any talking suit from either side will remind you, but not all at the hands of strangers and menacing mugshots from passenger dossiers. Everything changed in that fear is our country's--indeed, the world's--response, its main export. The only real lesson that has been gained from five years ago is the feeling that it could happen again at any moment. Did any number of invasions change that? Is that the best legacy we could come up with, the sound of terror inside our heads playing on an endless loop? Listen to this song closely...it's not just a song of mourning. There's a flicker of hope, of getting through the struggle no matter how dark. It's faint, but very very real.

Buy the "Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada" from Amazon


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