In My Life

I was one of those people who went to work in New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001. I witnessed the senseless destruction, grieved for those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attack and collapse, endured the pain of losing a friend as the towers crumbled to the ground and to this day, cringe whenever I hear about terrorists killing innocent people in shopping malls, concert halls, hotel lobbies and city streets.

On 9/11, after my family ascertained that I was unharmed, I made plans to leave Manhattan. Slowly, along with thousands of people, I walked over the 59th Street Bridge to Queens where my wife was waiting to drive me home. It was a surreal scene to see scores of people silently walking over the bridge exiting Manhattan. People of all ethnicities joined together walking and seeing the smoke rise from where the towers once stood tall and proud as we heard Phantom jets fly overhead. The stench of death and destruction hung heavy over all of us. When I got home, I watched the incessant news coverage showing in detail the destruction and seeing a most unpopular mayor proclaim himself a hero although that was more a case of self-praise that actual reality.

Virtually all my neighbors called or came over to speak to me about the horror that was inflicted on our country on that day in New York City. Relatives from all over the world contacted us to make sure that we were safe. All the bad feelings from 9/11 came back to me in an instant when I heard about the attacks in France by terrorists. Once again, innocent lives were lost for no other reason than to make a statement of the terrorists’ displeasure with the leaders of France.

One of the outcomes of the 9/11 attack was to coalesce many Americans to join the battle to fight these cowards, The U.S. Armed Forces experienced an unprecedented rise in enlistment due to the 9/11 attacks. Much like the U.S in 2001, France today has seen a similar spike in the numbers of people enlisting in their Armed Forces so that the battle to eradicate the terrorists can continue. People from free countries like the U.S. and France will not stand idly by and accept terror attacks without a swift response.

One of the attacks in France came at the famous Paris’ Le Bataclan nightclub. This theater has been around for over 150 years. In reading about the club, it reminded me of the Fillmore East that I used to attend quite regularly in the late 60’s, early 70’s. The Bataclan was one of those places where you could see some great U.S. and European acts. Over the years, people like Lou Reed, Jeff Buckley, Sam Smith, Prince, Hole, Snoop Dogg, etc have appeared. It’s a relatively small venue that seats 1,500 people. Young people in Paris have enjoyed this neighborhood venue for many years due to the quality of the acts appearing and the intimacy of the setting.

I can vividly remember going repeatedly to the old Fillmore East, which had a seating capacity, approximately twice the size of the Bataclan. I always felt a certain kinship with the performers. The Fillmore was to me, a home away from home. I felt comfortable there with my contemporaries, all of whom were there to enjoy a night of musical entertainment. Much like the Bataclan, the Fillmore offered mainstream rock, folk, jazz, r&b, etc. It would not have been outside the realm of possibility to have Miles Davis on the same program with John Mayall along with Jefferson Airplane. It was just that good!

Among the music people that perished that November night at the Bataclan was a journalist writing for a publication much like Jambands, a camera technician, a copywriter from a Public Relations firm, a merchandise manager who was the guy who sold T-shirts at the concert and an international product manager for a major record label. All of whom were there because they loved music and wanted to hear the band. All of whom could have been at any concert that any of us would have attended.

Reading about the senseless deaths of Thomas Ayad, Mathieu Hoche, Fabrice Dubois, Nick Alexnader and Guillaume B. Decherf at the Bataclan along with so many others made me think of the many times I attended concerts at places like the Fillmore East, Jones Beach, Capital Theater and how safe I felt being at those venues. I am saddened by the inexcusable loss of life in France, but also understand that the feeling of safety at any concert will probably never be the same.

The owners of the Bataclan have clearly stated that the will reopen their venue. That’s good news. Closing it would have meant that the terrorists have won and that should never be the case.

*Fluctuat nec mergitur is a Latin saying that has become the motto of Parisians as they heal from this tragedy. It means, “Tossed but never sunk.”

I wish peace to my musical brothers and sisters throughout the world. I know all of us will continue to go to concerts. And that’s the proper response.