In a New York minute the tragedy of September 11 did something unthinkable since Pearl Harbor—it turned every American into one and the same. As we watched in shock—the fireballs of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, western Pennsylvania—and realized the magnitude of instant death in the thousands, we were suddenly stripped of division by money, class, color, and religion. September 11 was the equalizer. We all became one pained, sucker-punched, humbled, and unified American. When the terror victims died, a part of us died too, and we were struck by a profound depth of feeling we had forgotten we had in us.
In a flash, celebrity—and heroism—were rewritten, redefined, and love and compassion replaced impatience and arrogance. Meet the new A-list: policemen, firemen, and rescue workers, dusted with the soot of death. When it’s over your shoulder every minute, death gives one a renewed passion for life … and living in the moment. To confront our mortality is to surpass fear and arrive at inner peace despite circumstance. As one WTC widow told me: “I’m not afraid of anything any more. When you’ve dealt with the worst scenario in your life, there’s no more fear.” Or as Frank Sinatra put it, “Love each day as your last, and one day you’ll be right.”
Enjoy The Sheet.
Welcome to New New York City. We found out on September 11 that terrorists can crush our buildings and break our hearts, but never destroy our will and spirit. As Christopher Reeve said, “We’ll find resources we never knew we had.” And he should know. New Yorkers have lived through months of kindness and bravery in the midst of hell, and we’ll never be the same again … and that may be a blessing in disguise of this catastrophe. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” America may be in tears but don’t mistake it for weakness. In fact, it’s COURAGE!
New York has its own gravitational pull that can’t be destroyed by anything or anyone … just like gravity itself. Spirit survives all. New Yorkers had already shown the world we’re tougher than B52s on the outside—now we’ve shown we’re just as humane on the inside. And men finally got more in touch with their feminine side—take the cops and firemen who cried openly at Ground Zero, Dan Rather breaking down on David Letterman, and Tom Brokaw on air reacting to the anthrax letter opened by his assistant. Is this what it takes to wipe out machismo? Our symbols of strength were shattered only to expose our real strength … which is the ability to show weakness. Hey, the only way out is through! So now we’ve become arrogant New Yorkers … with a heart.
For many, the tragedy also allowed us to get out of the gridlock (or is it greed-lock???) of the fast-lane treadmill, to start thinking out of the box and reassess what really matters in our lives, leaving the minutia behind. It’s time to look inward—the almighty dollar has been replaced by almighty humanity: Now each party we attend is even more meaningful for us to appreciate one another in a whole new way, to see each other as if for the first time. The bottom line is our loved ones and friends. Let’s step up to the plate and stay in touch with our higher selves … compassion, unity, and spirituality. This is a time for rebuilding and renewal. As Liz Smith says, “I’m so grateful to be alive in this amazing, threatening, and exciting moment of history.”
America needs to respect that which is different from herself. Fear is born out of what we don’t understand—that same fear is what drives terrorism. If we don’t take the time to learn and understand how terrorists think—and outthink them—they’ll ultimately hold all the cards—and power. After all, they certainly took the time to know us!!! … even though they don’t agree with anything we believe in. They had their 15 minutes!
Every day on the sensory-overloaded news we tune into an ongoing surreal sci-fi thriller … only we are the stars in the movie—it’s no longer them, it’s us—and we’re stuck in the movie and can’t get out of the theater! Cause it ain’t over and we don’t know how it will end!!! Twilight Zone, anyone? A thriller within a thriller??? (If this keeps up, I may buy a farm and publish a magazine that portrays celebrity cows!)
Speaking of thrills, this special issue of The Sheet is dedicated to the relentless undying spirit of New York. Or as Zorba said: “To Life!” Throughout the issue, celebs, artists, media moguls, and financiers share their own takes on the events of September 11. And read how good samaritan real-estate developer Nino Vendome is doing his share for the rescue efforts near Ground Zero (Guest Spot). There’s also a special tribute (Celeb Profile) to the great Stella Adler—only in a country that respects the freedom of expression of art and culture could the daughter of a Yiddish theater actor rise to become a major force in the world of global entertainment. And of course the parties, gossip, and glamour. In the face of adversity and defiance, let the parties reign on in the name of good causes that philanthropic New Yorkers are so known for. (Of course, the new goody bags at every party should be stuffed with gas masks, biochemical suits, and Cipro). I love New York … more than ever!
Joan Jedell appears on national and local tv and radio.
Her photographs are syndicated worldwide.