Sunday, September 12, 2010

November 22, 2004

Many who know me, know my love of the band U2. Yes, their tunes are catchy - but did you ever really listen to them? Their songs are cries for the helpless, modern pslams for the spiritual, and praise for those who stood against oppression. Yes, Vertigo is a cool song, but I am more of a Pride or Running to Stand Still Girl. 
I wrote papers on their songs in Dr. Wrabley's classes at Pitt. I was going to use Love Come Tumbling in my movie (when I evetually finish that screenplay). I saw them in concerts and knew every word to every song. U2 became a part of me, their albums the soundtrack to my 20's. 
It was 2004 and I was working at the Office of Emergency Management under the Brooklyn Bridge. It was about 6am when the first call from the PD assigned out front, Yeah, there are some trucks that need to block the entrance for the U2 concert tonight. The what? Some more phone calls later and it was confirmed: U2 was playing under the Brooklyn Bridge. I was off for the afternoon so the cards were in my favor. 
Trucks of equipment, a stage, fans began to congregate. I was getting so excited. We would be able to get right up front. But would I meet them? After all these years? Would it happen?
Limos rolled up, was it them? was Christy Turlington and Ed Burns. I could have called it a day right there. Ed Burns, the man behind the reason why I write, was there to see the show. People that I work with who were not even fans were excited as well. Who wouldn't be, it was a small show to preview U2's new album. We watched as U2 made it over the Manhattan Bridge on a flatbed truck ...and...waited...
Finally, the limo came, it was them. Adam, Larry, the Edge and Bono. In front of me. After all those years. I would be that close.
I had seen U2 perform and Bono was at the top. He hadn't sounded that good in years! They opened with Vertigo and went into All Because of You. I remembered at that moment the signifigance of the date. Michael Hutchence had died on that date seven years prior. Bono and Hutchence were apparently dear friends. 
After about 5 new songs, the Irish Flag came out, I was at the front of the stage and they took it back to the beginning. Back to The Bottom Line, where it all began for them in NYC. They played Out of Control as if they were four fresh-faced Irishmen from Dublin. It was something I will never forget. The perfect U2 moment...for the time being. 
The show ended and I was waiting around. I was still determined to meet them. What felt like an hour went by and there they were, taking pictures. I was able to get in the back of one, but still not too close. Patience, finally paid off. Almpost everyone had gone, I was ready to go back for a night tour so I could spare the time. I can't remember who was standing in front of me, but it happened. I met him.
Bono shook my hand. Then I said, you were so on tonight. This show was for Hutch! And then he hugged me. He thanked me. Then he walked away. I am still looking for a picture of that moment. The moment I had been dreaming of for what seemed like an eternity. It was over like that.
Bono wasn't the first celebrity I had even met, but it had the most impact on me. I had yelled at Ethan Hawke, chit chatted with Cyndi Luaper, held flowers for Steve Buscemi and played the umbrella dance with Kevin Bacon on Spring Street. Nothing compared.

It will be a memory that I will cherish. When I hear those songs I will go back to that chilly November night, the Manhattan skyline in the background.


All Because of You
Miracle Drug
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
City of Blinding Lights
Original of the Species
She's a Mystery to Me
Beautiful Day
I Will Follow
Out of Control

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Nine years ago, I was ready to embark on graduate school at NYU. It is almost cliché now: it was a beautiful, crisp autumn day with an azure sky. In Pennsylvania, the leaves were starting to change colors. I was excited to watch a Sting webcast that night from Italy. I had gone for a run that morning, coming back to a message to call the neighbor about picking up deck cleaner. I was putting milk on my cereal when my neighbor commented that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I quickly turned the news on to see the second plane disappear into the South Tower. I had just recently returned from Belfast and did not expect terror to follow me home. I did just see that. A goddamn fucking plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. Thanks to some great teaching in my international studies classes at Pitt, the names and dates of terror plots of past flashed through my head. My mom couldn't figure out which TV to watch. We just sat and stared.Stared as people died. Stared as people ran for their lives. Stared at our country under attack. I will forever remember Jim Miklaszewski commenting about hearing an explosion at the Pentagon. And will forever feel the lump in my throat when the voice on our police scanner recalled all volunteer crews the report of a plane down west of Johnstown. My mom commented about the Tower tilting before it pummeled to the ground. We were essentially watching the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Ferdinand being shot assassinated or the Boston Massacre. We were watching history unfold before us.

 By noon, it was eerily silent. No planes flying overhead, the last one was Flight 93. We watched, listened to the reporters tell what they saw, fuel gossip about cell phone calls calling from the rubble. For some stupid reason, MTV played Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah, a song about sex and longing not loss and mourning. Then of course, Sarah McLachlan was in rotation 24/7. Stunned, numb, shock. No one knew what to do. To this day, I cannot eat Dinty Moore steak beef stew because I tried to eat it that day. The smell makes me sick. My neighbor saw Flight 93 near the Galleria airport, thinking it was simply one of the planes trying to land - but oddly she thought, why is it going away from the airport?

Trying to get away from the news, I wondered if the webcast would be on. It was. Sting commented that they would play one song and then possibly end it, out of respect. But they would see how they felt. Sting and his band played an entire set. A set that took me away for an hour from what was happening. He opened with Fragile, a song hauntingly reminiscent of what was happening that day: If blood will flow, and flesh and steel are one...

Fast forward to now. I never thought I would work so closely with the men and women who ran for their lives that day. Fire chiefs, the men who carried Father Judge to the alter at St. Peter's, police officers and firefighters who survived that day, sometimes only to relive it on a daily basis, those I work with from the medical examiner's office who are still painstakingly trying to find new methods of DNA identification,  friends from DC who were at the Pentagon...I haven't forgotten. It is an honor and privilege to know I work with you and that some of you have become my very dear friends. To my husband,it still pains me to know how many friends you lost that day. I couldn't imagine our life more full than it already is now with names, faces and stories. I hope the pain subsides year by year, that the memories are no longer bitter sweet. I long for all of us to not shudder when we wake up to a blue sky day in September.

Today, remember the heroes, the ones gone and the ones living, give an extra hug to the ones you love and Never Forget.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We're on the Road to Nowhere

It is that time of year again, when you notice the sun going down a little sooner, the mornings a little more chilly. We make the annual Labor Day trip to Bayville to officially close out the summer. We consume enough crustaceans, meats, pork and beer to make Anthony Bourdain blush. With culinary experience from the Caribbean, France and the firehouse, we feast on smelly cheese, cured meats and whatever we can create from last night's pasta. We play music, try to remember the words to the songs we always seem to forget, tell the same stories and wish that time didn't fly so damn fast.

This is always a rite of passage to the fall. We begin our summers at the same location, when the water is too cold for non-polar bear swimmers, the sun too harsh for the spring virgin skin and the pants a little too tight from the hearty winter solstice meals. No matter what time of year (and this includes Christmas) we always have music on the beach.

Music and Bayville kind of go together. It seems everyone either plays it, sings it or enjoys it. If the music isn't on the iTunes, it's being played live while we all sing along. Yes, a sing along. Sometimes we don't even know the words, but we all sit together on the deck and laugh (and drink) and sing (and drink) and drink (and drink) and eat and tell Jasper the dog to stop barking.

A few songs and artists have become the staple: Ripple, some Cat Stevens, Johnny Cash and for some reason, the Talking Heads We're on the Road to Nowhere. Whether it is just fun to sing WOO and HEY at the freaking top of your lungs while the neighbors watch, I don't know, but it's cathartic and kind of like primal scream therapy. It's also enjoyable to watch people walk down the beach and look us with amusement. Music, friends, laughs - it doesn't get any better than that.

Every now and then, we'll try something new or someone will stop by with a harmonica and all of a sudden we have Tom Petty or Bob Dylan. It's the magic of music. It happened at Christmas when the guitar came out, the fireplace was roaring and we all stopped to sing Imagine (then I ran into the Sound). It will happen in the middle of winter when someone wants to hear Hendrix or Clapton or the Beatles. Yes, I will run into the sound again in the middle of winter, but people break free of their boundaries, they laugh, don't care who sees them making ridiculous faces or sing off key.

I guess the point it, I love that Bayville is music. We have created a tradition of bringing in the summer and then packing it up and sending it away for the winter. Maybe it's because it is so elementary. Food, music and so many characters that Jerry Seinfeld couldn't keep up with.

We will see you in a equinox and a solstice, summer. Thank you for some great memories this year.