Saturday, September 12, 2009
I was minding my own business this morning, being a paving-guy in the ancestral digs' driveway, when the Top of the Hour radio program change happened.
The new show's intro music was missing, so my ears perked up. Before I knew it, I was listening to the Audio of 9/11/2001.
My hands were a mess, the radio was on battery power so I couldn't turn it off...or unplug it right away. I'd been in a very chipper mood this morning, and that came to a screeching halt when I heard those radio calls from FDNY personnel bravely meeting their demise in the service of others...and the 911 calls from the frightened and doomed in the upper floors of the Twin Towers.
I may be just an "Old Softy", but I'm no wimp. I may get a little dewy-eyed watching a few scenes from "Casablanca", but nothing else opens my tear ducts like reliving 9/11 does.
I was in San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur on 9/11, on a fishing vacation. The Terrorist Attacks on NYC and the Pentagon, changed my travel plans for a few days, and an ensuing hurricane kept SturgeUrge and me on the dry for a few days, so there was more than enough time to watch the unfolding coverage of events back in the States.
The Time Share Condos that we stay in had some satellite TV from the States: CNN, ESPN, KOMO-TV ABC's Seattle Outpost, some off-brand satellite networks that show American TV Reruns, and a couple of Mexican Channels.
The difference in the coverage between the US Channels and Mexico's TV Channels couldn't be more stark. I knew the droning personalities on CNN by rote. At home I usually tuned them out pending a click of the remote. Boring and familiar, even in the extraordinary circumstances of the day.
On ABC, the Seattle local talking heads were interesting, but they were just on long enough to cover Seattle news, weather, and traffic before throwing it back to ABC Network's Peter Jennings, who I'd never acquired a taste for.
On Mexico City's News, things were very different. Everything was new, I don't speak Spanish. Oh, I get along fine at restaruants, bars and fishing boats, but watching breaking news in the Foreign Tongue is beyond my pitiful Spanish vocabulary...If a panga got in a wreck with a beer truck at a Fish Taco Stand, I'd get most of the story...beyond that, salsipueda?
So watching the Mexico City feed, between the flashy overly produced dance-number Bimbo Bread commercials, and the breaking the sound barrier Weather Chicas bumping and grinding the forecast, the video of Ground Zero and environs scrolled away.
On Mexican TV, the News Directors were doing business as usual. Telling the story, and trolling for viewers, just like TV in America. Or rather, just like American TV before the 9/11 attacks.
I gather that September 11th, 2001 was the day when TV News in America decided that the size of their audience was not as important as the feelings of said audience. American TV decided to husband American's sensibilities so as to protect us from bad or disturbing feelings caused by grisly images of Lower Manhattan's Worst Day. I'm talking about the jumpers.
You see, Mexican TV showed a couple of minutes of victims jumping from the Towers that morning, having chosen to jump over incineration. Unlike American TV, which chose to "sanitize" their "reporting" lest Americans "get the wrong idea" about what had happened, Mexican TV rolled the tape every half hour, for most of the next few days. I didn't get the wrong idea, even with the oppressive tropical weather from the nearby hurricane, those images chilled me to my core. More than one couple jumped hand in hand. The reaction shots of gape-jawed witnesses on the street were more than galvanizing. I get that lump in my throat just recalling them.
Save your Volunteering for 9/12. 9/11 is for remembrance. Never Forget.