29 September 2011

Agribusiness uncowed by suffering

Recently the researchers who astonished us by unveiling Dolly the sheep announced yet another remarkable conjuring trick.  Using genetic engineering, they will, they claim, be able to breed cows, which secrete blood products into their milk.

Human blood components in cows' milk is revolutionary.  Had they announced, on the other hand, that the cows were secreting their own blood products, no one who has had any contact with the dairy industry would have turned a hair.  The Ministry of Agriculture permits what it calls a "somatic cell count" of 400,000 per millilitre of milk.  This has yet to be reliably translated into volumes, but a rough estimate suggests that possibly 1 per cent, maybe more, of a legal pint of milk is not milk, but a "suspension of somatic cells" known to the lay public as pus.

Even the most determined meat-eater could scarcely remain oblivious to the hereof intensive pig and chicken farming in Britain, but dairy cattle tend to be presented as the most fortunate of farm animals, left to graze blithely in the fields, slaughtered only when they become too old.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The dairy farm is now the scene of the most monstrous of all the routine abominations perpetrated by modern intensive agriculture.

Blood and pus are significant components of the milk we drink because mastitis (a cripplingly painful inflammation of the udder) is rampaging through the dairy herd: between 30 and 35 cases per hundred cows are recorded every year.  About 30 per cent of the dairy cows in Britain are lame, partly as a result of laminitis. This would feel according to a leading cattle vet - like "crushing all your fingernails in the door then standing on your fingertips".  Agony is the resting state of the modern dairy cow.


Both mastitis and laminitis result from the extraordinary stresses placed on the cow by the pursuit of ever higher milk production.  The modern milker’s enormous udders are frequently crushed when the cow lies down in the concrete cubicles where they are kept for the winter; are damaged by milking machines; or are exposed to infection when the animals are processed too quickly.  Udders now get so big that they push the cows’ hind legs outwards, straining  the outside of the foot.  The damage is exacerbated by acidosis, caused by too much milk-stimulating food.

As a result of these and other torments, most dairy cows have to be culled at five or six years of age - about one-fifth of their natural life span.  Antibiotic use is irresponsible even by agricultural standards: the biochemist Dr Alan Long reports that antibiotics are now being substituted on some farms for antiseptic, massively increasing the chances that dangerous bacteria will become resistant to drugs.

All this is necessary, milk producers tell us, because they have to raise production levels in order to become more competitive.  Yet Britain suffers from an over-production crisis so severe that the European Union has established a quota system, limiting the amount of milk each farmer is allowed to produce (and, incidentally, forcing the poorest people in the land to subsidise some of the richest every time they buy a pint of milk).  So instead of increasing overall production, dairy farmers are now seeking to boost their voluptuous profits 'by reducing the number of cows required to meet their quota.  The latest monstrous object of desire is the "10 tonne" cow - an animal which can produce 10 tonnes of milk a year, or 80 litres every milking day, almost twice the current average yield.

British farmers might soon be able to do still better.  Bovine somatotropin (BST), an artificial hormone which stimulates milk production, has been banned by the EU.  Acting on behalf of Monsanto, the manufacturer, the United States has asked the World Trade Organisation to rule that the ban is an unfair barrier to trade.  Monsanto managed, at first, to disguise the results of the clinical trials it commissioned, but when independent researchers succeeded in getting hold of its data, they found that BST increases the rate of udder cell infection by 20 per cent.

Insulin Growth Factor in the milk of hormone-treated cows may also affect human health.

Incapable of resisting anything put in front of me, I've always regarded successful lacto-vegetarians as little short of holy.  But the demented business of modern farming now ensures that even they can no longer claim either to be avoiding animal tissues or reducing animal suffering.  In the wake of the BSE crisis, the intensive-live-stock industry shows little sign of responding to our concerns about animal welfare: it leaves us with no choice but to stop consuming its products.  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

George Monbiot

http://www.notmilk.com/lawbreakers.html

Towards a Digital Urbanism of Radical Difference

> In the Cities of the Future ... the peoples of the world will be empowered


The sea of information which surrounds us is more than a mere superficial addition: the physicality of buildings, streets, public squares, malls and habitats. The city of contemporary experience is a dense web of interconnecting fibres, cables and lines which overlay the physical infrastructure of offices, corridors, doors and alarms which make up our urban architecture.
Telecommunications are the networks of invisible wireless signals, satellite feeds and other unseen yet omnipresent systems of messaging in all its forms.

Despite technological changes in the digital revolution, private capital and its urban industries have remained largely undifferentiated in form since the nineteenth-century era of the weaving loom, steam engine and the child labour factory. Those in economic and political power have sought to coerce others to see the world as it appears, through them, as an uneven and skewed office, workplace and shopfront, where freedom from drudgery and boredom is just out of reach, forever a mirage of what could be possible or latent in desire itself. This is Guy Debord's perception of the society of the spectacle, further reinforced by the diffusion of media into every nook and cranny of global consciousness.


> Computer and Internet access will be available to all people everywhere. The Net will be publicly owned as open to everyone, as the sky, public parks and the right to breathe.


Amidst the development and access to digital urbanism, work and its social relations have been transformed. The new global digital technologies offer a dislocated relation to hierarchical forms of work - a decentralised sense of what one is doing at one's terminal in relation to what others are doing. The sense of place has expanded to include readily available communication with workers, artists, creative people, activists and owners in all parts of the world. The idea of the 'global village' can be expanded upon from its initial place in corporate rhetoric to include the very real totality of persons engaged in some kind of telecommunications from country to country, city to city, town to town, room to room, regardless of the content of these messages, and within this, as independent culture and service providers have flourished, alternatives to the system of exploitation, as it has stood before, have emerged.


> In the Cities of the Future, there will be equal, affordable Net access for all

The needs of societies must be identified by the people, for the people, above and beyond those of the corporate balance sheet. As the sea of what science fiction writer Bruce Sterling calls "Dead Media" fills with the obsolete machines of countless offices - often only slightly 'out of date' pentiums, 486 computers, laptops and peripherals - the technologically innovative and progressive connect under-served people to the Internet, its ideas, sites, CD-ROMs and other formats. So rich is the potential of this technoculture and its valuing of techno-detritus that not only working machines can be assembled from corporate flotsam, but these machines can be put online for people who genuinely need them, and inexpensive, even worker or community-owned servers can be linked to create non-profit networks for literacy, communications, learning and social development, art and education.

> Technology and its methods will flourish for the Public


Archimedia suggests that new free-form networks with some of the qualities of 'cities' are being made out in the digital landscape. Computers require only the physical space, electricity and communication links which enable them to be turned on, and used. A cast-off machine can hide under a counter in a space no bigger than a drawer, and yet serve web pages, software and material with the entire world. A refurbished laptop can run alone, in a back room or a hidden place - all that is needed is a phone line and an Internet account. Each web site or user located at an address acts as a citizen in a network of communication which is the urban architecture of the cybercity; spaces devoid of corporate control and the functionalism of traditional work.


> The Net will be a rallying point for communities - not a marketplace for exploitation

Increasingly mediated by the complex conditions of a globally digitised system/economy of commerce and governance, cities are increasingly becoming rife with spaces in which corporate profit is being designed through specific architectural devices such as franchise, food courts, mini-malls, main streets, atrium malls, mixed-used apartment mall complexes, theme parks and secured commercial development, or what Saskia Sassen generously refers to as "economic chains".


These new types of corporate-industrial-entertainment conglomerations which have appeared in the global cities of the late 20th and early 21st century are backed by the increased use and exploitation of the privatised multinational web-based economy. Those unconnected or uninterested must pay the price of an often externally imposed set of social relations, which, for the most part, are bent on destroying public spaces both real and virtual and which are promoting cities and spaces in countries all over the world through the spectacle of the privatised global marketplace.


> Networks >>.............................


Thinkers, artists, and activists refusing to cede to the expected initiatives of capitalism are carving out new and progressive forms of media usage. These are the public media initiatives created by the programmers, graphics people, musicians, culture jammers and libertarians who have adapted the refuse of the media Spectacle and who have turned it back upon itself. These are also the community-based activists and educators who are supplying underserved communities with ways to learn and build their networks. This is the philosophy of 'DIY' - of community cooperation and ownership, at the heart of public life in many parts of the world.


But as privatised networks and computers are 'obsoleting' urban spaces as we once knew them, there are also networks and computers manned to create meaningful online spaces and viable social spaces in their place. Where computers and networks proliferate, very often so do economic and social and cultural systems. If we view connection itself as the basis for participation in hybrid urban life, perhaps digital communication begins to fulfill its utopian promise as a kind of social adhesive, one which assures differentiation even within some global hegemony of technological expansion.


There is already an emerging kind of global culture of connectivity such as nongovernment organisations, alternative mediamakers, human rights groups, and other nonprofit, people-based thinkers and institutions which are openly filling the void which profit's vacuum - corporate capital and its architecture - has robbed from social and civic life. Consider for a moment the significant international media events brought about recently by public rejection (and violence towards) the global chains Starbucks and MacDonalds, or the widely viewed movements to reject mall-culture and genetically modified foods in numerous cities: Seattle, Washington, Philadelphia, Melbourne, Prague, London, Genoa.


Apart from the rejection of the WTO or the IMF is the full-on damage to the positioning of the global franchise within, especially, non-American cities. The recent terrorist attacks on the global conglomerate of the World Trade Center further bespeak a rejection of the dominating global economy. Meanwhile, rural activists, agriculturists, and scientists from non-western countries and individuals such as Vandana Shiva have used the new technologies to participate in a global discourse rejecting globalised capitalism. The growth of a mixed, multinational, non-Westernised media as global culture is apparent in the documents of these provocative and highly successful events.



Cultural and political movements have long demonstrated creative uses for both city space and the technologies of communication which cities have given rise to. For example, the mobile tool of the video Portapak sparked new media relations during the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in the United States and Europe, allowing the dissemination of information regarding social protest to reach a broader public. The international women's movement has benefited widely, also, from the accessibility of cameras. Today, the wireless phone, Internet, and laptops are powerful tools for anti-globalisation movements, as they facilitate the coordination of and the participation in protest action outside the gaze of the police and the interests of state and commercial power. The miniature tape recorder, the fax machine and the cell phone are put to use by the proletariat, the culture jammer, the writer and the activist across borders. Nothing more exotic than a phone line and an Internet account can link activists together from all over the world.


> Corporate Domination will cease ... The Net will not be censored!


The proliferation of security cameras and 'point-of-sale' systems mirrors the decentralisation and divided consciousness as yearned for by those in power. People must be both on display and watched at all times, according to this litany. The system of financial exchange which has installed shopping mall cultures into cities of the western world, and which has been busily installing shopping mall and theme park cultures into spaces of the non-western world, creates a climate of security and surveillance leading, in part, to an all out return to the ludicrous fear of the Other. This particular racist line of thinking earmarks the current paranoid trend towards the Patriot Laws being legislated by the George Bush Administration to curtail open usage of the Net, and to the endless parading of men and women of colour as the Number One global criminals in the post-September 11 globalised media spectacle.


Peppered with techno-detritus, and now rife with the ideology of an increasingly 'secured' western economy, urban spaces the world over are being occupied with stronger tools in an even more contentious landscape of intentions and values. The inequality of nations, peoples, genders and cultures has come into even sharper focus since the globalised distribution of the images of the Twin Towers falling and the ensuing presentation of an insular and debilitated Afghanistan. When one looks behind the blank facades of everwhitening 'Main Street' commercialised, corporatised thinking, one finds the back alleys of a critical, politicised culture calling for a diversified future of increased peace and global understanding; folks booting up and getting on with their hand-me-down 386s and 486s and pentiums, or running open-source operating systems and independent web servers. As the paranoid patrons of Western capitalism work towards devising stricter codes of law enforcement, surveillance and social control, rat-bag technophiles happily struggle to dismantle the apparatus of Western oppression.


Global media culture tends to be viewed as a one-way mainstream juggernaut, whose tentacles emanate from multinational corporate industry and spread to all corners of the globe. Note the recent aggressive merger initiatives by AOL to overtake international markets as the major Internet service provider. Cable television, satellite news, and giant telecommunications firms have largely succeeded in making the world itself a configured 'desktop" where filtered information and ideas relevant to the most powerful countries, companies, trends and ideas are the only ones allowed through. But with every branch office and with every commercial spin-off which accompanies the spread of media hegemony comes the potential for individual and community empowerment through media - the microcosmic building blocks of social and political change. The walls of oppression are only as high and thick as the belief in the oppression itself.


> Exploitation by one nation over another, by one class over another, by one sex over another, by one race over another, will be no more


The collision of physicality and virtuality in the global village of the Net gives rise to new types of architecture - hybrid forms - or a blend of physical space with the imagined spaces of the mind and minds of those connected via networks and software. Similarly the spaces of cities are affected by the new distribution of cyber-identity and cyber-imagination within the real distribution of access, power, gender, education, language, population, use and function. As William J. Mitchell has observed in City of Bits, the arrival of automatic telling machines eventually gave rise to the gradual erosion/distortion of the very idea of the bank - a large building in a city which holds money and keeps it safe for customers.


Money itself has assisted in the collapsing necessity of the local bank by becoming increasingly detached from its real world referents - cash, cheques etc. It has been the networks rather than the automatic machines at the end of them that people use for their finances, leading to the free flow of capital at all levels, and hence banks can be 'anywhere' as long as they are connected to the banking network. Decentralised, de-physicalised and cut adrift from the domain of fixity, banks now operate largely as token 'start points' and 'end points' in the global system of circulating capital which, as McKenzie Wark dryly noted, "like rust, never sleeps". The metaphor of dispersed and mobilised capital is an apt one for the fluid exchange of ideas in a changing, free society. And like money, or ideas, bodies are liberated through digital media as well.


We are mobile entities, rhizomatic entities, nomadic, intercultural peoples, capable of attaching and detaching, exchanging and absorbing, communicating and effecting global space. No longer agents cathected uncomfortably to a structuralist system, we are freed by the lucid flexibility of the networks, to live in a self-documenting, self-willing poststructuralist public ...

NOTES

1. Saskia Sassen, "The Topoi of E-Space: Private and Public Cyberspace" in Readme!, nettime ed. (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1999).

2. Whispered Media, "Showdown in Seattle" and "Breaking the Bank" (Video; San Francisco: 1999 and 2000);

CNN footage of May Day riots (London, UK: 2000); zines, ephemera, varia documenting WTO uprisings.

3. Ibid.

4. "AOL Takes Over the Australian Content Space", article online at

http://www.abc.net.au/news/justin/nat/newsnat-10dec2001-75.htm  and posted to the fibreculture mailing list (www.fibreculture.org, 11/12/01).

5. McKenzie Wark, Virtual Geography: Living with Global Media Events (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994).

First appeared in SARAI Reader 02 (2002) "The Cities of Everyday Life" and can be dowloaded at http://www.sarai.net/publications/readers/02-the-cities-of-everyday-life/02-the-cities-of-everyday-life-1/?searchterm=archifesto

27 September 2011

“EAT IT!”

The girls and I jump in my car. We’re off to a lovely birthday party in the countryside. It’s my long known chum Susanna’s 40th birthday and she’s pushed the boat out by providing a marquee with DJ’s, roasting log fire and some lovely food.
“You’ve gotta try some of the chowder”, says Rosie. “It’s delicious!”
“Thanks, but I’ve already eaten” I say.
“No. Go on. It’s really lovely.”
“I had some lentil dhal before I came out...”
She grabs a spoon and puts it in the massive pot and I see it heading towards my mouth. “Try it!” she says.
“No thanks. I’m full.”
“EAT IT!”
“Mmmm. Delicious.”
“Told you.”
I sip on a draft pint of bitter provided by one of the kegs. Ooh it’s bitter. I normally drink the fizzy brown shit, or lager, as we call it. This is strange, flat, but kinda nice. I decide I like it.
I hear there’s a ‘ban’ on dance music at this party although the music I am listening to coming out of the speakers, a mix a old soul, funk and hip hop, sure sounds like dance music to me. People are dancing. I recognise one of the backdrops hanging in front of the decks. It’s an old tVC one that Eldad designed for us for the Woodpecker parties. It’s a grotesque cartoony woodpecker with a gold tooth. I also see two orange sub bass speakers in the corner of the marquee and recognise it all as the subsdance rig. The DJ they ‘have over from Germany’ turns out to be John Ayres, an old chum I used to DJ reggae with back in the day at University in the late 80’s.
I sit round the fire, sipping, chatting and enjoying the music and my sobrietous abstinence. It’s a state of mind I never fully explored when I was younger and take great pleasure in having a full weekend of parties and Djing duties and participating fully in that and waking up on a Monday morning for work virtually hangover free. I love my job and cannot afford to be anything less than on the ball.
 It was good to see a few old faces from the past and it was hard to believe that the young woman I saw open Tea and Times Cafe in Whitstable all those years ago was now 40. By the kids dun ‘arf grow up quick don’t they? I’m very proud of her achievements.
I was out that night with a digital only setup; my laptop with Traktor Pro 2 on it and all the fresh tunes I had just bought from Beatport (sorry Juno) with my $10 free tunes card and 25% discount code. You can get a fuck of a lot of tune for £50. Remember, support those artists and producers kids by buying their tracks whenever you can. I was no heavier than a small bag of records. I had an Audio 6 and a Crane stand to complete the set up.
What with the dance music ‘ban’ and not being invited to play I was readying myself to head off to Joanna’s birthday party in Whitstable. At least I might get a play there. On the way out Susanna asks me to stay and hints there might be a chance of me getting a slot later but it was too late; I was already decided and had gathered the crew ready for the drive back to the Bubble.
It was 2am-ish. The revellers were well on the way. Whitstable is so boozy or maybe it was my straightness? I still enjoyed a few nice chats and got a few etchings from Eldad. Sound wise it was CD’s through the home stereo. Get in. Just what I’d prepared for. It would only be a matter of plugging the lappy via the Audio 6 into the small jack line socket at the back. I fuck about in the dark with the help of Dave Burner, JD and Coke blinding his brain to the fine manual dexterity required. The sound keeps going on and off. We give up. After a few chats around the fire with some more drunk friends I decide, at around 4am, to call it a night.
A mid week break from the onslaught of work came in the form of Stephen Merchant performing at the Margate Winter Gardens. Fish and chips on the seafront by the Turner Gallery was followed by a wait on the steps leading into the theatre. What the fuck this was about I don’t know. Open the effing venue and let us get to the bar. Simple.
The decaying splendour of the theatre was a perfect backdrop to Merchants hilarious self depreciating frippery. I’m not one to drop spoilers so I won’t. Just catch him if you can. 8th of October in Canterbury. You won’t be disappointed.
Finally, we open up a new tVC night at the Jekyll and Hyde in Ramsgate. It’s called RamsBubble or tvcabbaged just like in Whitstable. Now, getting any one to go anywhere and do anything is a tough ask if they can’t stagger back home on foot so any vehicles going are suddenly full of people. And, despite the flyers, the Facebook push, the personal texts, the emails and the face to face pleads; we get a reasonably able crowd of beautiful and gifted people propping up the bar and the dance floor of the Jekyll. DJ’s, against my better wishes, are plonked high up on a mezzanine out of touch and out of reach of the dancers eye level gazes. I could finally get a digital set at a gig out of the way and look forward to wrestling with the philosophical DJ dilemmas of the day at future gigs such as ‘how to mix from vinyl back to digital’, ‘how can I get the decks back on the ground?’ and ‘how can I stop Si from drinking gin and tonics all night and using up the paltry bar bill?’ We were going to put the £50 fee for the evening towards one of several re-coning kits at £90 a pop, we need to mend the bass bins. The bar bill was £39. The landlord, Steve, must have felt sorry for us as he gave us £25. Bless.
As we finished at 12 and, I personally, was gagging for a beer, I headed back to the Bub for a late night drink at the Green Machine to see old Alex and Tam celebrate Dad’s Old Dance’s birthday. Not a bad little night was in progress; a full dance floor, our Leanne on the decks, EyeSaw on visuals. Before I knew it it was 3am and time for home and Big Brother and X-factor double bill.
Now that’s what I call a night out.

12 September 2011

a lot of pain in both of us


Dad's ey?
My brother rang me up on Sunday afternoon. I missed the call so rang him back around 6pm. He told me our father had died. Cancer.

I thanked him for the news and hung up. I was strangely stunned and disassociated from the news. I did not feel sad, or a loss or hurt. It was a kind of emptiness.

I’m 51 years old now and the last time I saw my father was when I was just turned 17 and he’d booted me out of the family home. Well, he didn’t exactly boot me out; I’m exaggerating a bit there. I was working in my first job after leaving 6th form and had been in it a few months. I paid around 20% of my income in ‘board’ but this day my father said he was going to put my board up. I objected, of course, I had my motor bike to pay for and I’d just discovered the joy of having your own wage packet to spend on whatever you wanted. He said ‘if you think you can live cheaper in the real world then do it’. i said ‘I don’t know if I can but I’m going to try it’. And so I left. I got a house with 5 bedrooms and 4 mates and we lived cheaper than cheap can live.

I never went back home ever again. Popped back a few times but it always ended badly. I worked for five years then went to University. Never needed to. Never sorted things out with him and now will never get the chance to.

How does one show grief for a man you haven’t known properly for 43 years? How do you remember a man from that long ago? I do remember watching wrestling with him on a Saturday afternoon; I remember the ‘belt’, administered for misdemeanours. I remember him drunk and angry or drunk and playful. I remember him working away for long periods and not seeing him. I don’t remember him. Not really. And that’s what sad about the whole sorry episode of death is that you think you know these people but you don’t really. You can try to know these people and that’s the most you can do.

I did try reconciliation a few times. I went on the long trip back to Newcastle to visit him. There was still a lot of pain in both of us and we ended up falling out again but even more deeply this time.
When he met his new partner she had a son and he kind of saw him and her as his new family and rejected me and my brother. We became a pain in his life and he never really accepted us after that; we were constant reminders of a woman he loved who left him for another man and abandoned her children.

I will remember his legacy of abandonment and my mother’s too. It’s affected me and my brother to this very day. We’re broken people in a way. Every time I feel as if I’m being abandoned I have this choking irreconcilable fear that I can’t contain.

This was the death notice in the Chronicle today.


Bill Anderson
8th September 2011
ANDERSON (Pelaw). Peacefully at home on 8th September 2011, aged 80 years, Bill, dearly loved husband of Sue, much loved dad of Peter and his partner Jan, devoted and much loved granda of Rowan and Tanith. Friends please meet for service at Saltwell Crematorium on Wednesday 14th September at 2.30pm. Family flowers only please, donations if desired for Barnardo's may be left in the donation box after the service. Bill was a loving husband, father, father-in-law and a much loved friend of Ann and Billy. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him. All enquiries to Watson's Funeral Directors Ltd.

Didn't get a mention.

11 September 2011

"Let us not measure our sorrow by their worth, for then it will have no end."

CNN's Live Coverage of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 ceremony in New York was everything the viewer could ask for; apart from those idiotic anchors.
Even before the title sequence had finished the names began flashing across the bottom of the screen; a respectful black gash, like an armband, with white lettering. Cindy Ann Deuel, 28, New York, NY. Ten seconds before the next name appears. Jerry Deo, 66, New York, NY. This goes on all day. From 8 in the morning for hours.


There is talk, by the anchors, an old boy and a stocky woman, of the memorial pools, ‘Reflecting Absence’ designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker. The bleak starkness of Arad tempered by landscape architect Walker. Anderson Cooper and Candy Crowley, the names of the presenters, mean nothing to me. They talk of tranquillity and beauty and of how fitting the pools are. The words ‘changed’, ‘resilient’, ‘hallowed ground’, ‘bricks on your chest’ are mentioned.

The names of every person lost in The Twin Towers, Washington, Pennsylvania and the World Trade Centre bombing in 1993 will be read out during the ceremony. The Names are etched around the edge of both pools. Interesting how they decided to group the names in a pattern called ‘meaningful adjacencies’; by company for example. According to David W. Dunlap  The representatives of the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department requested that the names of their officers appear apart from the civilian victims and in addition to the name, indicate service, badge, rank, and assignment. An example would be: "FF. Michael F. Lynch, Badge No. 2315, Engine 40-Ladder 35, on rotation from Engine 62-Ladder 32."

We pop over to The Pentagon. Some beardy guy tries to big up their ceremony but we all know our heart is in New York. At Shanksville they broadcast from a hallowed field containing the memorial. A marble wall with 40 panels, one for each person who died there.


At crucial times corresponding to events on the day the screen will flash up things that happened at  that time.


8.17am we quickly cut to Barack Obama (BO) silently praying. He’s at the World Trade Centre Memorial now pressing flesh and long hugging every one of the gig organisers. Followed by MO, George Bush and his missus. No commentary. Just background noises. The names keep on flashing up at the bottom of the screen. They get bored with that and split screen him doing his thang to talk about ‘heightened security’. Authorities are jumpy.

‘Don’t forget to tweet where you were the day it happened #911whereiwas’ says Anderson as we see shots of BO looking over the pools.

The fire-fighters weren’t invited to the official ceremony so held their own. 343 fire-fighters died on 9/11. No speeches, no politicians; private. Peter Reagan, a fire fighter, says ‘that’s who we are’. Dennis Leary - some of you, like me, may be fans of ‘Rescue Me’, the series focuses on the professional and personal lives of a group of New York City firefighters in the fictitious Ladder 62 / Engine 99 firehouse - says, live on air, ‘it’s complicated..’ 'Rescue Me' are airing their final nine episodes on FX as we speak. Box-set it at Christmas.
‘It’s the water disappearing into nowhere’ stocky lady muses as we are back from the break with a close up on the centre of one of the pools, water gushing over the edge into the black.
I must go to the toilet!
The pipers file round The Pools digitally splitting and pixilating as the live signal blips. Finally they arrive marching on the spot. A choir joins them on the stage. It’s a sea of multicultural faces. Helicopter shot shows the full pageantry. Flag unfurls between the pipers and the choir. All slow and in silence. Cue National Anthem; acapella. Youth and hope and unity and a call for the crops not to fail and, yes they really are, tractor sales are up you know. Straight into Star Spangled Banner the re-edit as they wring another chorus out. A brief pause for applause. Pipers off now. They fold the flag up. Faster than they unfurled it. Don’t know what the tune was but I’m glad it’s finished. Everyone marches off stage to the beat of the drum.  They put the flag on some sort of plinth and salute.



Some guy I don’t recognise starts the next part. Slow speaker, yawn. A moment of silence breaks out as a bell is struck. 8.46 on the clock. Everyone looks sad. You can see what happened here really hurts these people. Still.
OB speaks. ‘We will not fear...The God of Jacob is our refuge’. GB really looks moved and gives OB a look of thanks, tears in his eyes.


The guy I don’t recognise comes back. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the caption.  I can’t read the badges on his lapel. They could have broadcast it in high definition. Although, quickly looking it is in high def on the BBC. After the Italian Grand Prix.
Names are read out, feedback, embarrassingly, through the first few, a lonely cello accompanies. I was expecting a long few hours but luckily they cut away to talk about ‘heroes’. I wish he’d shut up, I really want to hear the names.



GB suddenly steps up looking grey and old, his voice shakey; ‘blah, blah …..Abraham Lincoln’ then he's off the stage forever.

A son who lost a dad. Clean cut. Smart shirt. Close up on his dead dad’s etched name on The Pool. He wipes a tear from his eye; ‘I miss you so much dad.’

Cello sombres out to a new level. You know it’s Bach. Wistful, slow tracking shots around and across The Pool intertwine with close ups of cello players face.


They’re letting the people in round The Pools now. No one runs but they rush off trying to find their ‘loved ones’ names. They rub the etched name. The names are read out over these shots and the sound turned up. The names still blink on the bottom of the screen.

It’s strangely moving.

Them fuckwit presenters butt in again with their Chinese cracker homilies and benign insights. I know they’re just ‘professionally’ linking in to the Pentagon ceremony but we wanted to stay in NY. We don’t want VP Joe Biden or Admiral Mike Mullen. We want names read out and cello music and to see the people by the memorials. To see grief articulated by real people. To share it.
Back to NY and a close up of a hand rubbing on the etchings. Pulling back everyone is taking photos of the Pool or begins brass rubs of the etched names. It’s good to see people walking amongst the trees and leaning into the pools. 


The sun shines. A fitting remembrance.



My #whereiwas tweet?

I was at work. We had no TV’s but we were online. Someone had footage of the first plane hitting online within minutes. 


Disbelief. We knew the world had changed forever.

Bloomberg's 9/11 speech quotes Shakespeare's Macbeth: "Let us not measure our sorrow by their worth, for then it will have no end."

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