Never Forget


Je fais partie des gens qui restent, pour diverses raisons, marqués par les attentats du 11 Septembre.

A ce sujet, je vous conseille l’excellent livre de Dean Muprhy journaliste au NY Times au moment des attentats. Il a recueilli dans ce livre de nombreux témoignages qui permettent d’avoir une vision plus humaine des attentats du 11 Septembre.

Je mets aussi en ligne quelques extraits tirés de son livre.

September 11: An Oral History (2002)


  • Stephen Miller, computer systems administrator:It was just a few minutes later when there was an announcement over the intercom system. It was a guy with a Bronx accent, which was a little queer under these circumstances. Couldn’t you speak television English at a time like this? I thought. He said there was a fire but it had been localized. It was safe to return to our offices. He left the choice to us: continue to evacuate or go back up. I was told that four of the senior Japanese managers at my bank immediately turned around. After the announcement, many other people started leaving the staircase in search of the elevators. I ran into a bunch of people at the elevator bank. In the crowd I could see Hope Romano. It was so good to see a familiar and friendly face. We hugged. « This is so scary, » I said. « It really is, » she agreed.The doors to one of the elevators opened. It was going up. It quickly filled up with people. But I just couldn’t bring myself to join them. I grew up with Watergate and everything else that makes you question authority. It would seem those Japanese managers didn’t think twice about turning around. I thought a hundred times about it. I looked at Hope, who had already stepped inside. « I don’t think you should go up, » I said. But it was too late. The door closed and she and the others were gone. I worried about them for a moment and then started looking for a telephone to call my wife. There was an office nearby that faced north and people were milling around. Some of them had gone over to the windows to see what was happening at the other tower. I was fiddling with the phone when suddenly they all started screaming. « Oh, my God! » « No! » « They’re jumping! » « People are jumping! » That sealed it for me. There was a tremendous disconnect between what was happening around me and the announcement that it was safe to go back upstairs. I knew more than ever that I had to get out.[ … ]

    I joined the parade of survivors marching east, toward the Brooklyn Bridge. It was rushed but orderly. Some people worried that the bridge could be a target too. But I didn’t know where else to go but home. I was on the sidewalk when there was another big roar behind me. I turned around in time to see my 110-story building crumble to the ground. I immediately thought of Hope and the others. Why had they gone up that elevator? I thought they were dead. I would only find out later that day that not long after their elevator left to go up, there was a consensus inside that it was the wrong decision. They pressed the down button. Hope and the others were already in the lobby of the 44th floor, where you needed to change elevators to go the rest of the way down, when the plane hit our building. They managed to get out unhurt.


Note: If you’re sensitive, or prone to nightmares, it might be best for you to skip the next section.

  • Ernest Armstead, emergency medical specialist:I think of her as the living dead. I talked to the living dead. And I lied to the living dead. I told her to hang on, that help was coming. But I pronounced her dead in my mind. And she knew that. I put a black tag with a small white cross around her neck. And as best she could, she gave me hell for it. The psychiatrists and those from the post-trauma team say it is good for me to talk about her and the rest of that day. They say it is the only way I will come to terms with what happened and finally free my mind of her. So here I am talking to you.This lady was among a half-dozen people I saw who probably fell a thousand feet or so when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center. I am not sure how she got on the plaza. Maybe she was on her way to Los Angeles and was ejected from the jet by the force of the collision. Or maybe she was an office worker in the tower sitting near one of the windows and she was swept away when the building caved around her. Or maybe she was trapped and jumped to escape the flames, though I don’t think so. I happened upon her even before most of those people were seen jumping.She was an elegant lady. About my age, early fifties. I could see that even with all that she had been through. I could tell that she had her hair done up very nicely. Brunette. She had on tasteful earrings. She was wearing pretty makeup. And in my profession you notice clothes because so often you have to cut them into pieces to save lives. That was the first thing that came to mind: This lady is well dressed….

    Triage is the first thing that should be done at a disaster like this. It basically means dividing the injured into four categories so that backup medical teams can move quickly in and give treatment to those who need it most urgently. The categories are indicated by colored tags that are hung around the injured person’s neck. Green is the least serious. Yellow more so. Red indicates critical injuries. And black means the person is dead or close to it. When you’re engaged in triage, you have one thing in the back of your mind all of the time, My backup is coming. My backup is coming. That’s the reason you can tag people who obviously need help and not stop and give it to them right then. You know you need to get everyone tagged, and you know that someone with a medical bag is coming right behind you.

    That certainly is what I was thinking when I met the lady in the plaza, the big open space between the two towers that had a fountain ad a round sculpture in the middle. I had finished tagging everyone from the stairwells, when I turned to face the plaza. I had not noticed the people there on my way upstairs because I was in such a hurry and there was such a crowd of firefighters blocking my view out the window. But now I saw something that was so horrific that I am glad I missed it the first time around. When the plane hit, an incredible amount of debris from the collision rained down on the plaza. Most of it was chunks of airplane and building that had little meaning to me. But amid the destruction, there were a half dozen or so people, I ran toward them, my triage tags in hand. There was a man having a seizure and his eyes were rolling into the back of his head. He had struck the pavement so hard that there was virtually nothing else left of him. There were a couple others that I never got to, but I could see from a short distance that they were dead. And then there was the lady with the nice hairdo and earrings.

    When I got to her, I ripped out a black tag. What impressed me — and scared me — was that she was alert and was watching what I was doing. I put the tag around her neck and she looked at me and said, « I am not dead. Call my daughter. I am not dead. » I was so startled that for a split second I was speechless. « Ma’am, » I said, « don’t worry about it. We will be right back to you. » That was a lie. She couldn’t see what I could see. Somehow, I guess it was an air draft or something, her fall had been cushioned enough so that she didn’t splatter like the others. Still her body was so twisted and torn apart that I could only ask myself, Why is this lady still alive and talking to me? How can this be? Her right lung, shoulder and head were intact, but from the diaphragm down she was unrecognizable. Yet she was lucid enough that she continued to argue with me. « I am not dead, » she insisted again. I am convinced she had some medical training because she knew I had given her the black mark of death. And she resented it. « Don’t worry about what I put around your neck, » I told her. « My coworkers are coming right now. They’re going to take care of you. »

    I knew I had to keep going, but she had so deeply shaken me that I lingered for a second or two. Then I stepped over her to get to the others. I put a black tag on the man having the seizure. But another wave of casualties arrived in the lobby from upstairs, so I needed to return. As I headed back, I stepped over the lady one more time. And as eerie and unsettling as our first encounter had been, the second was even worse. She started yelling at me.

    « I am not dead! I am not dead! »

    « They’re coming, they’re coming, » I replied without stopping.

    « I am not dead! I am not dead! »

    I went back to the lobby, putting her out of my mind for now. There was so much that needed to be done. I began tagging the hundreds of people coming out of the building….

    I can honestly say that I didn’t fear death, though I walked for hours in a wretched place I can only describe with a biblical reference — « the valley of the shadow of death. » I felt death, I heard it, I saw it and I smelled it. And with that lady in the plaza, I even talked to it.

    (149-53, 155)


Le doc du Samedi : Lorsqu’un funambule traversa le World Trade Center


Le 7 août 1974, Philippe Petit réalise ce rêve qui l’obsède depuis qu’il a 16 ans, il effectue huit allers-retours à 417 mètres au-dessus du sol entre les tours du World Trade Center.

A la veille de l’anniversaire de la chute des tours jumelles, parce que partageant la même fascination que ce funambule pour ces tours et parce qu’il est agréable de voir d’autres images du WTC que celles montrant sa chute, je tenais à vous faire découvrir ce magnifique documentaire. Le documentaire est en VO mais comme la majorité des explications sont données par Petit avec son accent français cela reste facilement compréhensible.

Je partage ici un extrait de la critique du monde :

Cette histoire-là ne tient qu’à un fil. Un fil d’une soixantaine de mètres de long, sur lequel s’est promené Philippe Petit, le 7 août 1974, entre les toits des défuntes tours du World Trade Center (WTC). Huit allers-retours à 417 mètres au-dessus du sol : un exploit certes fascinant, mais depuis longtemps digéré. Autant dire qu’il ne semblait a priori guère fournir de matière à récit une trentaine d’années plus tard.

Le réalisateur britannique James Marsh l’a pourtant revisité en 2008. Il en résulte un documentaire de 90 minutes, dont aucune n’est de trop. Par la grâce d’un montage très soigné, qui articule parfaitement témoignages, images d’archives et scènes reconstituées, on se laisse attraper d’emblée dans cette épuisette, d’où l’on ressort les mains moites. Ressuscitant une tension et un suspense depuis longtemps disparus, ce film a reçu l’Oscar du meilleur documentaire en 2009.

Se souvenir de New York


Je suis amoureux de New York,

au final rien de très original, tout français ayant posé au moins une fois un pied à New York tombe sous le charme de cette ville.

Je raconterai d’ailleurs dans un prochain billet ma première rencontre avec cette ville et le World Trade Center.

Je n’ai pas l’intention ici de faire ici une description de la ville ou un récit de voyage, vous trouverez des choses plus complètes dans des guides spécialisés 🙂

Ce billet a pour but de soulever le principal problème que pose New York au voyageur, je parle ici de la nostalgie. Posez vos bagages à New York, parcourez là, respirez là, repartez chez vous et vous n’aurez alors plus qu’une idée en tête… repartir !

Si vous êtes riche (tant mieux pour vous !) cela ne posera aucun soucis, si comme dans mon cas, un voyage vous demande un minimum de préparation et d’économie, vous devrez alors patienter.

Et en attendant, il est toujours possible de garder un lien avec cette ville. Cette ville inspire et c’est une chance, vous retrouvez alors dans les livres, les films et la musique c’est que vous attache à cette ville.

Je vais donc partager ici, une petite sélection des choses qui me rattache à cette ville, il s’agit là d’une petite liste de mes  anti-blues new-yorkais. Nous commencerons par les indispensables, je compléterais dans un prochain billet.

  • J. D. Salinger L’Attrape-cœurs


Écrit à la première personne, le roman relate les trois jours durant lesquels Holden Caulfield vit seul dans New York, après avoir été expulsé de Pencey Prep (école préparatoire).

  • Colum McCANN Les saisons de la nuit


New York, 1916. Des terrassiers creusent les tunnels du métro sous l’East River. Des noirs, comme Nathan Walker, venu de sa Géorgie natale, des Italiens, des Polonais, des Irlandais… Pendant les dures heures de labeur dans les entrailles de la terre, une solidarité totale règne entre eux. Mais, à la surface, chacun garde ses distances, jusqu’au jour où un accident spectaculaire établit entre Walker et un de ses compagnons blancs un lien qui va sceller le destin de leurs descendants sur trois générations.

  • Colum McCANN Et que le vaste monde poursuive sa course folle


7 août 1974. Sur une corde tendue entre les Twin Towers s’élance un funambule. Un événement extraordinaire dans la vie de personnes ordinaires.

  • Paul Auster, La trilogie new-yorkaise


Il s’agit de trois nouvelles tournant autour des mêmes thèmes qui sous couvert de roman policiers sont en fait de véritables essais métaphysiques sur l’homme et l’identité. New York est un labyrinthe où les héros se perdent à force de se chercher. (critique par Kassad)

  • Will Eisner, New York Trilogie


Muets ou diserts, instantanés ou développés en plusieurs planches, les portraits que dresse Will Eisner dans New York Trilogie révèlent toute la finesse et l’intelligence de ce grand maître de la bande dessinée contemporaine. Un trésor accumulé, année après année, sous une grille d’égout, la faune exubérante campée sur les personnes d’immeubles populaires, les jeux turbulents des gamins des rues, telles des sentinelles imaginaires… Tous ces éléments de décor deviennent à leur tour personnages. Dans ce premier tome, Will Eisner pose sur la ville qui l’a vu naître un regard sensible et malicieux. Enseignant à l’école des Arts Visuels de New York lorsqu’il réalise cette trilogie, Eisner nous permet de profiter d’une belle leçon d’observation et de saisir au passage ce que la  » Grosse pomme  » recèle de plus attachant.

  • Smoke ( Réalisation Wayne Wang, Scénario Paul Auster)

Les destins d’un écrivain désespéré, d’un adolescent noir fabulateur et de l’ex-femme d’Auggie, photographe amateur et patron du café de Brooklyn où ils se croisent, vont se mêler, s’entremêler et basculer.

  • Brooklyn Boogie ( Réalisation Wayne Wang, Scénario Paul Auster)

Les auteurs de « Smoke » se sont tellement plus sur le tournage de ce film qu’ils ont aussitot enchaine avec celui-ci, mis en boite en trois jours et ou chaque participant devait improviser durant dix minutes. C’est donc la chronique d’un quartier de New York par ses habitues.

  • A Tombeau Ouvert  ( Réalisation Martin Scorsese)

Frank sillonne tous les soirs au volant de son ambulance l’un des quartiers les plus chauds de New York. Il opère dans l’urgence, hanté par toutes les vies qu’il n’a pas pu sauver.