Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I Won't Visit The World Trade Center "Memorial"

From SoHo World Trade Center 9-11-14
On September 11, 2014, walking home from dinner I turned right  onto Wooster St. in the heart of SoHo. The new World Trade Center marked the sad occasion with the vaporous blue twin beams.

Ground Zero is about a mile away as the crow flies. SoHo is arguably one of  the world's largest unroofed high end, retail malls. Befuddled tourists, street vendors purveying everything from junk and knockoffs, to really fancy stuff, and of course we locals crowd the narrow streets by day. But at night Wooster Street stretching north-south from Canal to Houston, is quiet. Parking spaces abound.

Friends come to visit, shop and sometimes, flop. Like everyone else from out  of town, WTC is almost always number  one on their bucket list. But not for me. Staying away is for me not about avoiding the reminder that for six months after 9-11, we were still  picking soot from the cats' fur and still finding dust patches in neglected corners. Or that on the evening  of 9-11 everything south of Houston was a military encampment because no one knew what might come next.

What my boycott is about is the commercialization of WTC, especially the Memorial Museum that in the name of 9-11 hawks key fobs, coffee mugs,  emblazoned hoodies, phony cop and firefighter gear and other mindless tchotchkes. Tasteless, crude and not a symbol of tragedy but an ensign of the politicization, political wrangling- and so sadly the divided survivor lobby. After 13 years the raw wound gives way to a maybe well intended  but hopelessly inept attempt to memorialize.

No one consulted me professionally. But had they I would have counseled against anything but the simplest, commercial free representation possible. Maybe a museum; maybe not. But making a grand souvenir stand out of 3,000 dead is sacrilegious. 

And I'm a non-believer.