Ian Belton’s Emails from Ground Zero, 10 years later
Subject: SEP 11, alive from tribeca
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 13:12:39 EDT
As some of you may know, I live a couple of blocks away from what used to be the World Trade Towers. I was deep in sleep when my friend Brendan called me and asked me if I was close to what was going on. He then told me that two planes had just crashed into the World Trade Towers. My apartment is on the 26th floor facing north, not towards the Twin Towers. I looked outside. The streets were flooded with ambulances, cop cars and people. I threw on some clothes and took the elevator downstairs. A woman in the lobby had fainted out of fear and was being revived. I stepped outside and looked up at the Twin Towers burning and billowing gigantic clouds of white smoke. People were hurling themselves from the buildings to escape the fire. I quickly got back in the elevator which stalled on the second floor when the power surged. This was apparently when the first tower collapsed. I got upstairs and there was some commotion coming from my neighbor’s apartment. I knocked on the door. It was a young couple visiting from Jamaica. They were completely terror stricken trying to find friends they could go stay with. I looked out their window which faces south and saw the first collapsed tower. There were piles of concrete dust 20ft high which had enveloped cars as well as huge chunks of twisted metal and wreckage. I went back into my apartment and began to put together the essentials to leave. There was a loud rumbling. The people in the street began screaming. It sounded to me like a plane. I began praying that the plane not hit my building. The rumbling stopped. I grabbed my stuff and ran. I ran down the 26 floors to the lobby. People there told me the other twin tower had collapsed. I went out on to street which was completely deserted. There was black charred debris floating in a thick white fog. I covered my mouth with my shirt. I ran north past a road block and then east into SoHo. My sympathies go out to all the friends and families of the people that were killed. In particular to the people on the planes, the people in the buildings and the rescue workers and firemen who were at the base of the buildings when they collapsed. There were also some very prestigious artist studios in the Towers, awarded as residencies. I hope those artists, in stereotypical fashion, slept in. If not, again I offer my deepest condolences. Many thanks to all of you who called or emailed me to check in.
-ian a belton
Subject: Sep. 12, Back Into the Belly of the Beast
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 11:58:19 EDT
I woke up late. I left my mother’s house at around 11:30AM. I had
gotten a call from my friend Holter that he had been down to the Chelsea
Piers where they had set up a Volunteer Center. I headed downtown on the
subway which was practically deserted. I got as far as 34th street and then
had to walk.
When I got to the Piers I ran into David Diamond from the SDCF. It was
comforting to see a fellow theater dork on this scene. He directed me to a
courtyard where he said I could get information or volunteer.
I quickly got corralled into sorting various sizes of garbage bags as
they needed to send them ASAP on a boat downtown. Over the next 5 hours I
carried and sorted socks, pants, underwear, shirts, medical supplies,
surgical masks, cell phone chargers, perishable food, baked goods, canned
food, dried food, you name it. Everyone wore pieces of duct tape with their
job title on it i.e. Shirts, Info, S&R (Search and Rescue), EMT, Transport,
ect. My tag said Runner. I got so sweaty that it kept falling off so I did
what some others had done and had the name tag person write it on my arm. I
also ripped my jean shorts and had to acquire some replacements from the
donation pile as not to offend any of the other volunteers.
At 6PM they called the volunteers into a pavilion for a meeting. At this
point Holter & his girlfriend Neela had returned after a break and were
working with Missing Persons. Neela was translating for people who only spoke
Hindi. Someone got on a microphone and announced that all the volunteers
I noticed there was a large abundance of food that had been amassed. I
went to one of the coordinators and asked if I could take some off the food
down to my building to give to the elderly who lived there. He loved this
idea and told me they would give me truck. In turned out that Holter knew
the coordinator, who was a Lighting Designer named Guy. Yet another theater
We arranged a rendezvous with some caterers who had a cube truck. Holter
and I got a bunch of food and volunteers together and carted it out to the
parking lot to wait for the caterers. They never showed up so we loaded the
stuff into three vehicles: a U-Haul van, a white mini-van and a green VW
By the time we had everything loaded we were informed that they needed stuff more urgently at Ground Zero, meaning the base or foot of the former World Trade Center. We were given surgical masks and began our trip down. I was in the white mini-van with a bunch of Koreans from a Church group
and a sculptor. Holter & Neela were in the VW bus.
The police had set up barricades all along 14th Street. We drove East and
then down the FDR Drive. We drove past scores of dump trucks filled with
concrete wreckage. We turned west into the financial district in which all
the power was out. It was ghostly with only an occasional flood light
illuminating a corner or a facade. Cars were blown out or caved in and
everything was covered with dust and concrete fragments of all sizes.
We finally hit Ground Zero. It was a giant smoldering pit surrounded by
cranes, flood lights, firemen, police and construction workers. Even with my
mask on, my head began to throb from the smell and the fumes. We had been
separated from Holter and Neela in the VW bus. We unloaded mostly
ready-to-eat foods and tried to figure out the next destination.
We drove West and found the Salvation Army cantina where we dropped off
the rest of our stuff. They were stationed on Chambers Street and the West
Side Highway. This is near my apartment building which looked as if it had
been evacuated because of the power outage. Another cantina and a triage
center had been set up in The Styvusant High school. We were told they
needed caffeinated beverages so we carted over a bunch of Cokes. I was also
told that they had been processing a lot of dead people there and I should
Once inside I asked the MDs what they needed. They gave me a list which
included linens, difibulator pads, pulse ox, scrubs, Succinyldchloride (Sux)
and Diprivan. I phoned this list into Guy, the coordinator. It was very hard
to get a signal and all the land lines were down. The lack of electricity
had thrown communication back 40 years.
I rode back up in the U-Haul to the Piers on the West Side Highway. There
was a massive convoy both to and from downtown.
I found the girl who was co-ordinating the medical supply transport and
encouraged her to take as much stuff from the list they had given me. She
left in an SUV. The U-Haul people went off to find hard hats and cots. I
loaded up the Koreans with Cokes and coffee to go back to Styvusant High
school and said good-bye. The VW bus returned having dropped off Holter and
Neela at home and I gave them the rest of the medical supplies that didn’t
leave in the SUV along with two EMTs who were itching to get down there. I
then loaded another SUV with sandwiches and cold sodas to go to Ground Zero.
It was about 11:30PM and I was spent. On my way home I stopped off at
Holter and Neela’s to say good night and to barrow some clothes as I only had
what I was wearing when I left my building.
Anybody who wishes to make donations or who wants to volunteer should go
to the Jacob Javits Center to where I think they have moved operations. They
said something about the Army coming in but I imagine there will be a massive
clean up and relief effort once they are able to put out the fires.
I am hoping to get in my building by tomorrow.
Be safe everyone.
-ian a. belton
Subject: Friday, Sep 14th: The Islamic Middle Hour
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 05:41:31 EDT
I spent the morning on-line and organizing with a group of Iranian-Americans from Relief International in Los Angeles who wanted to make immediate contributions to the relief effort in NYC. They wanted to show their solidarity with the U.S. in light of the surge of hate crimes targeting Arabs. A Pakistani woman was chased down in a car and 7-11’s have had their windows smashed in New York. Later on the 14th, an Iranian shopkeeper was machine-gunned down in Scottsdale, Arizona. My friends Holter and Neela picked me up in their pick-up truck just after 1:00PM. We drove over the Manhattan Bridge into Queens and then took the BQE to the Home Depot on Hamilton Street in Brooklyn. We saw the Manhattan skyline which was definitively lacking the Towers. The grey and rainy morning gave it the look of an old photograph. Once at Home Depot, we hooked up with Steve who I had spoken with earlier on the phone. He had already pulled some of the things we needed. Holter and Neela had gotten a list together from their contacts at Chelsea Piers. We bought respirators (respiratory masks), rubber gloves, work gloves, hard hats, rain tarps, industrial strength garbage bags, first aid kits, and ear plugs. There were only 3 or 4 respirators with filters, which were in high demand but we were able to get quite a few replacement filters. We faxed an authorization form to Farshad Rastegar of Relief International in California for a purchase of well over $1,000.00. As we made the purchase, Holter spotted The President’s helicopter. Security had gotten very tight with his arrival. We headed back doubtful if we could make it back onto the island, let alone to Ground Zero to distribute our stuff. We were inspected at a checkpoint. Luckily, we were allowed into lower Manhattan with a police escort. The army had arrived and were very present. The work force was tremendous and reassuring considering the apocalyptic chaos we had witnessed two days earlier. We were now witnessing the aftermath of the apocalypse. The sun came out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. The blue sky juxtaposed against behemoths of scorched wreckage. We shuddered as we passed the One Liberty Plaza and the Millennium Hotel. There was an old graveyard filled with garbage and refuse from the explosions. There were piles of clothes and a lone shoe which I could not spend too much time focusing on or I would have dropped the mental ball, as it were. We distributed our supplies to people who needed them and left the remainder with Salvation Army and Red Cross supply tents that had been set up. I feel secure that everything that can be done there, is being done. I have no desire to return to Ground Zero until the general public is permitted access. Dante I am not. On the way home I asked if we could stop at my apartment building. I went inside. The lobby was lit with candles. As I had suspected the power had gone out. There was a putrid smell in the air. I was informed that I would be allowed to enter the building only once to retrieve some of my things. The security guards had no idea when the power was going to back on or we would be allowed to move back in. After a brief deliberation I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. I walked up the 26 flights in ghostly darkness that reminded me of the evening of the 12th when we were driving through the financial district. Holter had given me a miner’s light. This allowed me to have my hands free which was extremely helpful when looking for my keys and carrying my stuff back downstairs. I grabbed a few random items, some clothes and bagged the rotting food in my fridge. We dropped off Neela and picked up some microphones for the Red Cross Benefit VIA has been holding at the Clark Studio Theater. We passed people standing outside with candles. Some people actually created a barricade in the middle of the street blocking traffic. I had mixed feelings about this. The VIA Benefit was tremendous if not epic. That’s VIA’s style. Holter, Phil Ristaino, and Caitlin (a flamenco dancer from Bard College) performed Lorca’s Dialogue of Amargo on Sep13th and 14th. The piece had a much different resonance in this context as it is about knives and death. There were some incredible performances including Rinde Eckert, some people from Pilobolus, a powerful Shostakovich piece, as well as a very moving piece for cello. They will be performing Saturday the 15th and Sunday the 16th at 7PM at the Clark Studio Theater. Also, VIA will be holding concerts all next week, in the evenings at the Culture Project downtown on Bleeker Street. We will perform the Amargo piece on Wednesday the 19th at The Culture Project. (Information pasted below in this email document.) My friends Jen Dana and Cami DeLavigne also both made it to Ground Zero today to distribute food. But please don’t break you neck trying to get through the checkpoints to get down there! There are lots of ways to help. Jen also worked for the ASPCA rescuing animals and Cami spent time loading medical equipment at the Jacob Javitz Center. There is also a resource center set up at the Armory in the 20’s on the East side. There are a lot of displaced elderly people in downtown Manhattan, in Battery Park and in my building, 310 Greenwich Street. If and when they are allowed back into their homes they will need help re-orienting themselves. There will also be a massive clean up effort downtown to try and get the financial district back on its feet. (Some helpful info is posted below about relief, donations, as well as warning about asbestos poisoning.) Seeing how the House had a virtually unanimous vote to use force in retaliation against the attacks, I believe we are in for a long haul. This is the last installment of my on-line war journal. I will be out of phone contact for the next few days but will check email regularly. Thanks again to everyone who emailed me and offered their help and sympathies. -ian a. belton
If you would like to make a donation to Relief International please make checks payable to: Relief International OR Iranian-American Disaster Relief Fund and mail to: Relief International 11965 Venice Blvd. #405 Los Angeles, CA 90066 The website is: www.ri.org
Thursday, September 13 – Sunday, September 16 7PM-12AM @ The Clark Studio Theater, Rose Building, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 66th/B’way 646-295-9577 / 917-742-0171 / 212-253-7017 Tickets are FREE.
Donations will be accepted for The American Red Cross. Come and contribute what you can.
NEXT WEEK AT THE CULTURE PROJECT @ 45 BLEEKER 212-253-7017
Thanks to everyone who has bounced back with information from the front. The following is information on critical supplies and food donations needed for relief workers, another way to donate to the Red Cross, advice for those living downtown, a list of the most current hotline numbers for friends and family searching for loved ones, etc. Please forward to your lists and pitch in any way you can. Please. – Nicole B.
URGENTLY NEEDED SUPPLIES My friend Sue is volunteering at Ground Zero, at the canteen/relief area for the firefighters, rescue workers and police. They have very specific needs to get them through this, so if you want to help, here’s what to donate: DRINKS: They love Gatorade especially (it goes the fastest at the distribution centers), sports drinks, juice, two liter bottles water, especially the vitamin waters, and sodas. Cans and small bottles or even the juice boxes are preferred, except for the water, which they need in two liter bottles if possible, for the extremely fatigued and dehydrated rescue workers. They do not have cups, so individual containers are most useful. FOOD: Sandwiches. All kinds. If you are bringing sandwiches, wrap them in cellophane, saran wrap or tin foil; ziplock baggies are best, and if you can PLEASE mark them with what they are. So many sandwiches were donated, unmarked and wrapped only in paper towels and by the time they got to the site, and they were in terrible shape and had to be thrown away. They don’t need candy bars, but I’m sure energy bars will be. Packaged items like cookies, chips, popcorn, pretzels etc are appreciated. Yes on fruit like oranges, apples, bananas, but nothing else perishable or delicate or that needs preparation, no tins or cans of soup (they have no way to open, heat and serve them). Think picnic for one or a kid’s school lunch, with no forks or spoons or heating needed. OTHER: Ice, construction helmets, heavy duty gloves and goggles, flashlights, batteries, Band aids, Advil, over the counter medications, vitamins, eye drops, and lots of socks. Trolleys, or shopping carts, so they can pack stuff in and move it. If you have an old shopping cart you can donate them, that would be tremendous to help them move supplies from place to place. Bring them to donation centers in your area and they will be brought downtown to Ground Zero. If you want to help or bring your donations down yourself, volunteers should go to the west side highway and walk down, around North Moore. Don’t ask the cops where to go or whom to check in with, since they really don’t know and they have other things to do. Sue says ask civilians “What can I do to help? Who should I talk to?” and they’ll pretty much point you out to one of the relief centers/canteens. She’s become rather well known in the area, so ask for the tall blonde, Sue, and you may find her yourself. Tell her I sent you and she’ll get you to work right away. For anyone hoping to make it to the morgue on the west side highway to make relief donations to the workers there, that has basically been shut. The bodies are going on the boats out. Brooks Brothers downtown has now also been turned into a morgue. REMEMBER: Keep it coming all week. Don’t donate everything tomorrow and say “I did a lot on Thursday, so I’m done.” They will need donations all week, perhaps for weeks. Donations in dribs and drabs are probably better than a massive dump all at once, so there is a steady flow of food and supplies. “The dent we made today is nothing compared to what we need,” says Sue. “We had massive amounts of stuff this morning and it’s all gone. Gone. Next week those relief workers will still need supplies and something to eat.” Many of these relief workers are on 12-14 hour shifts, and a turkey sandwich, bottle of Gatorade, an orange, and perhaps a clean pair of socks may not sound like much, but will be so appreciated by someone doing the hardest work of their lives.
VOLUNTEER: the Red Cross of NY has a form so anyone interested in volunteering can fill out at their website so they’ll have you on file when/if they need you. www.nyredcross.org
MONEY DONATIONS For those wanting to make Red Cross donations, their website redcross.org has been overwhelmed with responses, so you can make donations via credit card through Amazon.com Also, AOL now has a pop up window that says HOW TO HELP when you log on. http://s1.amazon.com/paypage/PKAXFNQH7EKCX/103-4541745-3375821
HOTLINES FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY * The city has set up an online locator board to help find relatives and friends separated by the disaster. At the site, people can read or post messages to relatives and friends. (Click on www.ny1.com for a direct link to the site, it wasn’t transferred with this msg) For further information, call 917-363-9421.
* The city has set up a hotline to answer questions about the rescue effort (when possible) from concerned family members and friends of potential victims: 212-560-2730.
* Family members and relatives of NYPD employees who have not heard from their loved ones are asked to call 718-677-8328.
* For more information about firefighters and FDNY rescue workers, families and relatives can call 718-999-2541.
* About 2,000 Port Authority employees worked at the World Trade Center, and the PA has set up a number for relatives of employees searching for information. That number is 973-565-5505. You can also try 5506 and 5507.
* The Port Authority is also asking all employees who were supposed to show up to work at the World Trade Center on Tuesday to call a special number: 973-565-5501. You can also try 5502, 5503 or 5504.
* Morgan Stanley, which had offices in the World Trade Center, has set up a number to for friends and family of its employees at 1-888-883-4391. They were the largest company at WTC with some 22 floors, and 3500 or so employees, even on the floors directly hit by one of the planes. Word is, stunningly, most of them made it out.
* Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, whose headquarters were located in the World Trade Center, is requesting employees to call 1-866-761-8265.
* American Airlines has set up a hotline for relatives who may have been on their downed flights, at 1-800-245-0999.
* For United Airlines, call 1-800-932-8555 or go to www.united.com.
* St. Vincent’s Hospital, which is treating many of the victims, can be reached at 212-604-7285. Any doctors or nurses that can help treating patients are asked to call the hospital at 212-604-8478.
* The U.S. government family hotline can be reached at 1-800-331-0075.
* The city has also set up a hotline for all non-emergency calls, and officials are asking that you avoid using 911 unless it is necessary. The hotline is 212-560-2730.
* If you’d like to donate blood, which is desperately needed, please call the New York Blood Center at 1-800-933-BLOOD for information on how to do so.
IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW LIVES DOWNTOWN:
From Yvonne: “Remind everyone to call their friends who live in the ‘hood between 14th street and the WTC – we’re still being told to stay in our homes and it’s still spooky outside & frustrating because we can’t really get around! [I know seems minor but…] also PLEASE tell any friends who have asthma to please be careful – the air quality is really really bad…” (wear those white respiratory masks or if you are visiting a friend downtown, bring them some, ask them what they might need, pet food, etc). Also the Village Voice is doing obits: they really want to get as many as they can to give tribute to everyone who’s suffering so please get this info out to as many people as you can.” There is a serious health risk as well — asbestos. The NYT I got this morning in Boston did not cover this at all, but plenty of walking wounded are being shipped to NJ for decontamination (Clara Mas on the west side of Newark has the only decon unit in North Jersey, I think) and health care professionals know the risk. They are wearing protective clothing, even at the hospital. Briefly: The WTC was the LAST big building in the US to use blow-on asbestos insulation to protect the steel beams from fire’s heat. The asbestos type specified for this purpose is chrysotile (“white” asbestos). This type is generally believed to be no more dangerous than any other fiber (the fiber in fiber glass, for instance). But crocidolite, another form of asbestos (“blue” asbestos) contaminates chrysotile in most asbestos deposits, and it has been known for 30 years that the asbestos used in the WTC has a lot of it. This stuff is now blown all over lower Manhattan. Crocidolite is a carcinogen, considered a POTENT carcinogen by many. (Mt. Sinai in Manhattan has long had a good research team on this issue.) There are plenty of documented cases of shipyard workers getting mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest lining, unique to asbestos) after only a few weeks’ exposure to croc. Smoking raising the risk drastically. Almost 100% of all asbestos workers in the 60s and 70s who smoked have died of mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers are caught in simple medical face masks, if the masks are worn properly (no beards!). I would not send a student who smokes down nto lower Manhattan without such protection. After a visit, they should shower and send clothing to the laundry (to avoid spreading dust to others). BTW, most of the gray ash seems to be made up mainly of clay (from paper) and other construction materials, but there is asbestos there as well. The Port Authority ignored advice on this issue when the towers were built. Also, contrary to NYC building codes at the time, the stairwells for emergency use did not open directly to the outside — a serious bottleneck partially overcome by above-average attention to tenant training.
Subject: London Diary
Date: Wed, 8 May 2002 22:26:48 EDT
> It is a familiar scene. After days of procrastination, I am over-packing
>for a pressing departure. Atypically, my father is sitting on a chair,
>reading the paper, trying not to appear anxious. Typically, I pack late into
>the night before I leave, as my lover sleeps in an adjacent room. However,
>on that particular evening previous to my leave-taking, I had picked up my
>new lover late from work and was too exhausted to pack.
> She was hostessing at a restaurant to earn enough money to pay off the
>Screen Actors Guild so they would give her the green light to do a scene on a
>Speilberg film in which she plays a bank teller opposite Leonardo DiCaprio.
>Leo was to be trying to cash a check. My new girlfriend had one line, “How
>do you want it?”
> I went to the bar where she worked. I wanted very much for her to see the
>show that night but she had to work. I was in the middle of a painfully
>short run of an obscure Swedish drama which I had adapted and directed for a
>likeable if insouciant group of NYU undergrads. The performance the night
>before had been lame. I knew the next showing, the one my new twist couldn’t
>see, would be transcendent. I was right. These Excruciatingly short runs
>often alternate between good and bad. Now she could only see the matinee the
>following day. I knew it was going to suck. I was right again.
> She was adorable. Smiling and greeting people upstairs in a little black
>dress. I sat and watched her do her job. I did not make myself known
>because I did not want to get her in trouble. I also enjoyed watching her
>knowing she did not know I was watching her. Upon finally seeing me, she is
>giddy with the Exquisite Excitement of new love. Our PDA was restrained but
>deep. Deeper perhaps because we were being censored. She then sent me
>downstairs where one of her closest friends was having a birthday party.
>Back when she was just out of college, my hoochie and her friends, all
>aspiring actresses, worked at this bar. The Birthday Girl had landed a soap
>and her other bestest girlfriend, the only remaining partygoer when I
>arrived, had landed a job with an Internet company. My paramour, being a
>die-hard theater actress, was perhaps somewhere in between; had the chops,
>the agent but, at current, not the job.
> Birthday Girl was, and hopefully is, a beautiful bisExual currently
>involved with a longtime lover of whose sEx I have forgotten. Internet Girl
>was also attractive but not in that way that gets you on television.
>Downstairs was a meat market; smoke-filled rooms with beer soaked velvet
>couches on which were horizontally perched, equally saturated
>twenty-somethings about to be pulled apart like cats by the bouncers if it
> We danced. I Explained that I didn’t drink because I almost went out like
>Uma Therman in Pulp Fiction. We had a mini-food fight with the cake that had
>airs of eroticism but I was careful not to cross any lines. These girls were
>being nice to me because I was fucking their best friend. Every friendly
>gesture was laced with the subtExt of, “If you hurt her, we will kill you,”
>which was actually quite endearing in its own Clytemnestronic way.
> They leave. It’s coming up on 1 AM. The owner must have smelled my need
>because he pulled my playmate aside and said, “You can’t hang with your
>people all night. Tell him you just got in trouble.” I went over to the bar
>and humbly sucked down a cran and seltzer. Sobriety was a good thing lest one
>get one’s girlfriend fired.
> We leave. In the cab she tells me of her anger towards the owner. She
>said she wanted to burst into tears. This, unfortunately, yet unavoidably,
>evokes my Ex. My Ex. My Ex who sustained herself on steady diet waitressing
>and crying. She worked mediocre jobs during the day and rehearsed mediocre
>no-buget plays at night. She also aspires to the stage and in the mean-time
>she was a career masochist. This played into all my savior fantasies
>bestowed upon me in the form of child abuse: I am going to fuck you and/or I
>am going to buy you things and everything will be all right.
> Our relationship went down like the Russians invading Afghanistan. They
>seized the Capital and all the major roads in two days. They then spent the
>nExt 10 years fighting a war they were never going to win. My war was going
>on 14 months and I was never going to win.
> During that elapsed time I had done the whole stupid
>mistaking-Cocaine-for-Heroin-thing. This was the ton of bricks I needed to
>fall on me to realize a close cousin of mine was a junkie. I lost him. He
>didn’t die but he is dead to me. If there is a God maybe something will
>resurrect him from his walking death.
> Shortly thereafter I watched people hurl themselves from the Twin Towers
>a few blocks south of my apartment in Manhattan.
>As my father sits in the chair, reading the paper, he is not the only one
>concealing his fear.
> All this was compounded by my Ex’s violent urges which sometimes involved
>hurting herself. Not to mention the unsolved crimes against my own childhood
>which result in abusive behavior when threatened as well as binge drinking
>when insecure resulting in bar room brawls and other such indiscretions.
> After I stopped having sEx with my Ex, there were two instances where we
>just slept together. As we lay there spooning one another, she said, “Its
>like home, isn’t it?”
>I fucked everything that moved. And she. . . she started seeing someone else.
>She was seeing an actor I believe . . . still not really sure. None of my
>friends “in the business” who knew had the heart to tell me.
>My directing became intensely personal. Maybe from not drinking, maybe from
>being forlorn. I didn’t give two shits. It was power. This NYU play was
>packed with scenes from my twisted immediate past. I rewrote whole sections
>of the play, I included things we said to one another, things I said in my
>sleep which she would then repeat back to me. It was pure demonology . . . a
>practical masochism, if you will.
> I was running out of material so I created drama where there was none.
>In a moment of weakness, my Ex told me that her new man was in Louisville and
>that she missed him terribly. So I bought her a bus ticket to Louisville for
> Act I, Scene ii involves a scene with a theater ticket. I was able to
>convey it perfectly to this young actress who wept uncontrollably and did so
>whenever her character’s Ex came on stage (at least she did in two out of the
>four performances) and I was in heaven. It was “shelter from the storm of the
>inevitable,” to quoth the play. I wrote that . . . I think. Tough to say, now.
> Trying to get the Ex to see the play was the last of these trite little
>parabolas I would spring forth. I had to book my plane ticket on a Saturday
>to get a cheap fare. This meant I would have to miss the last performance. I
>then called a mutual friend of my Ex and I and asked him to invite her to
> I told him to tell her that I would not be there. I also told him not to
>tell me if she went or not. My logic was that if she went I would have dreams
>of the impossible reconciliation; if she didn’t go I would suffer the shame
>of rejection. It reminded me of that scene in Young Frankenstein when Gene
>Wilder tells Marty Feldman under no circumstances is he to let him out of the
>cell with the Monster . . . no matter how much he begs for mercy. Two seconds
>in the cell he is begging for mercy.
> She sent back the bus ticket. She didn’t go to the play.
> My father rustles the paper and coughs. I say something that only
>agitates him further as I am busy trying to remove something heinous off the
>bottom of an almost packed shoe with my girlfriend’s now Ex-toothbrush.
> I am finished. I am packed. Everything Except underwear which I will
>find out later. Those annoying memorial lights around Ground Zero have just
>come on. I avoid thinking I am going to die in the air by thinking of the
>horrible performance of my play that my new love has seen and the wonderful
>performance my Ex will probably miss.
> My father is nervous as he says good-bye. “Say a prayer before you get on
>the plane.” I fumble with my bags. He waits in the car until I’m through