One 3x5 American flag = $5.00. One custom made t-shirt = $16.00. One hundred custom cards = $20.00. Standing motionless at Ground Zero on September 11th, wearing a shirt that says ‘9/11 was an inside job!’ and an American flag as a blindfold =
New York has always been my favorite city. From the eccentric honesty of every shade of skin and style to the awe-inspiring-eclectic-architecture, there’s simply no place like it. I always knew I’d live there someday, I just never thought I’d belong there. So, when it came time to hop on the plane and wheel my every earthly possession across the border, it came with a sense of elation and purpose.
“Wow, kill yourself,” an irate teenager snaps as he passes me—standing in the rain amidst an endless stream of people. I can only imagine their faces—my eyes have been closed and covered all day—my vision restricted to a slim slit of feet passing amidst a few remaining protesters talking.
“Why don’t you let those people rest in peace?” an old man bitterly asks. I don’t speak.
“I know people who died when those towers came down and I think what you’re doing is despicable,” a deeply hurt woman states, pausing just long enough for me to feel the power of her words. I don’t move.
The occasional person tugs at the cards in my hand—instructing them to see the truth for themselves and research the matter rather than simply judging me for my opinion on it. But for the most part, I’m overlooked in plain view.
“Heroic move, man,” a passing stranger says.
“That’s powerful shit right there,” someone else exclaims.
I wonder if I’m making a difference; if I’m a freak in their eyes or just another billboard advertising something. I wonder if the dead would want justice; if their families would want revenge. I wonder if the truth matters to people and whether or not hearing it is worth their time. But mostly I wonder how at the end of the day, when my blindfold’s off and I’m riding the subway back home, how I could still have 83 cards left in my hand. But, then again, anyone who knows the truth about 9/11 knows how hard it is to tell people the truth. If only I didn’t have to resort to theatrics to bring attention to the issue. If only people gave a damn even when it wasn’t convenient.
I left New York a few months later—mission accomplished: my short film Blindfold has been completed. But, now that I’m back, I remember my purpose in New York—no matter where I am.
I slowly open my eyes, groggy from the night before—my friend had brought over some hash-banana-bread. But, between the three of us we’d only managed to finished off half.
I wander around the house in my underwear, waiting to wake up. I pet my kittens and put away a few bags of groceries that my mother left out. It occurs to me that it’s not like her to do that, but before I can think twice about it my sister shows up to tell me something’s wrong. Our mother’s in the hospital—she says ‘symptoms of a heart attack.’
The Emergency Room extends into the waiting room where our emergency waits for a bed. There’s one television with fifteen people uncomfortably looking through the screen in between glances at one another. A drunk guy in a wheelchair sings Ozzy Ozborn at the top of his lungs until a nurse wheels him away. My mom sits calmly beside me, telling me she’ll be ok. I know her health well enough to remain sceptical.
After a few hours she’s given a bed and hooked up to an ECG—another screen to stare through. The room we’re in is divided by curtains to give some privacy to the handful of people and their guests. It’s surprisingly quiet—no screams of pain or doctors desperately trying to save people’s lives—just an opium head, giggling uncontrollably as an embarrassed relative sits at his side. ‘Curtains only do so much’ I think to myself, pacing our side of the curtains.
Tests are ordered. Doctors introduce themselves with limp handshakes and fleeting eye contact. My sister and my mother make small talk—perfectly relaxed. The tests come back inconclusive—they don’t know what’s wrong, which means we don’t need to stay. We go home. I call into work and use a vacation day so I can be with my mom and make sure she’s alright. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself—‘being with her will make her alright.’
I struggle with what I’m supposed to be feeling. I don’t cry, this was overdue—my mother’s obese and that lifestyle only has one outcome. I’ve fought with her for years about it, but the last thing I want is to say ‘I told you so.’ Instead, what I feel is hope. I hope that she’ll be ok; that I’ll be ok without her.
She recovers fully in just a couple of days from the symptoms the doctors couldn’t diagnose. She says ‘it was a wake up call about her health.’ I don’t struggle with how to feel this time—I’m relieved to hear her say that. And as my mother throws away what’s left of the hash-banana-bread, innocently stating how good it was, I realize why her ‘symptoms’ couldn’t be diagnosed.
In the beginning technology was a pointy stick. Suffice to say, nowadays that stick would be cheaper, lighter, pointier and most likely be made in Mexico or China. It will travel thousands of miles just to be put on sale and purchased for occasional use. It’ll be available in different colors and sizes. It will be owned and loved by everyone until some kid pokes his eye out. Then after the public shock and subsequent lawsuits subside the stick will be recalled and replaced by a yet pointier stick… I want it.