18 September 2009

“Dear Bill: A Politically Incorrect Correspondence”

Part Sixteen
A 2001 letter to Bill Maher

Dear Bill Maher,
I ran into you days before the WTC attack at a health food store on 8th Avenue and 55th Street in NYC. You were looking to buy a fan. I turned around amused and said, "I'm a fan." We chuckled as I had caught you in a double entendre. I congratulated you on your good work and left with my groceries as you searched a food store for electrical appliances (next time check a hardware store).

I wanted to write a diary of events as a volunteer behind the scenes. And for being a NY "fan" I'm sending along a FDNY T-shirt. I know you're a little fella so I hope it's not too big. The shirt is from my local company on West 43rd Street, Rescue One. This specialized unit was created as a rescue company of firemen for firemen. They're considered the Green Beret of firemen. They have lost nearly half of their men. Among the 11 missing, 6 have been found dead along with the Captain Terence Hatton. They hope to recover the other 5. So wear it well.

October 3, 2001
A Politically Incorrect New Yorker,
--R. B. Stuart

Dear Bill,

My diary of events from behind the scenes as a NYC volunteer: What disturbs me the most about this tragedy besides the obvious: Is Ian Schrager running full page condolence ad's in the Times and then a paragraph down begins hawking his luxury rooms to the people that were displaced for $3,000 a month. While Mayor Guiliani strut's around the city as if he's really done something significant besides touring politicians around the site. While begging us to spend money, he insists that we go back to normal by pretending nothing has happened, so NY doesn't go into a financial collapse. He's worried about money and camera angles---we're worried about mourning.

The Red Cross has been in hype mode for volunteers, blood and money. During the initial days and weeks of the tragedy, fifteen volunteers besides myself have watched first hand the multi-level confusion and disorganization with this agency. The miscommunication is rampant at Red Cross headquarters. From the thousands of LDV large disaster volunteers) workers whether you're a driver, food deliverer, shelter worker, telephone bank person; no one knows what's going on. The national Red Cross members continuously hand down incompetent information and instructions. As a result, this is one organization I will never depend on. My mother told me that my father (a WWII Veteran) always hated the Red Cross. I asked why. She said, "Because Daddy said the Red Cross didn't do shit for them in the war." It is apparent.

The Red Cross claims that they have never seen a disaster as monumental as this and they were unprepared. Well, what was WWI and WWII a play ground? This organization has been around since 1864, I think that's plenty of time to get their shit together. Frankly I think that they are using the WTC tragedy to restock their blood banks and fatten their bank accounts with all the financial donations pouring in. [Four weeks after this was written their financial support for the victims is in question as is the blood.]

By day three the city set up a volunteer center at the Jacob Javits Center. Within two day's thousands of people enlisted. We forked over confidential information and identification then waited on the sidewalks of 11th Avenue and 34th Street. Standing the day and through the night, waiting with a slip of paper in hand with a designated number. [I wonder what the city really did with all the data that they accumulated?]

The left side of the street was 10 deep with volunteer electricians, plumbers, steel and construction workers. The right side lined with out-of-town cops mingling with the NYPD, medical staff and us. We were being well taken care of with food and beverages by The Salvation Army and local New Yorkers walking around with trays and baskets of sandwiches, pizza, fruit, cookies, candy, water, soda, kindness and love. The unity had begun. A New World was forming. Some slept over night on the cold sidewalks; the voluntary homeless with make-shift beds out of newspaper and denim jackets, colored bandannas tied around their necks, scuffed yellow-buck work boots fastened at their ankles, pillows of blue plastic hard-hats, and rows of white candlelight looming over head.

The country that was built on the backs of these men, and were willing to break their backs again by sleeping on the grey concrete their brothers mixed and poured years before. Even still---they would wake with ease. Then at Ground Zero they'd gather the ruins that were laced with sweat and toil from their forefathers. Which was now soiled with the blood of our beloved, and our enemy. And they would do so lovingly.

Eventually you realized that your volunteer potential wasn't being utilized. Which prompted many of us to "do your own thing" by helping on the "block." The Relief Workers donation center was set up in a fenced outdoor parking lot on West 34th Street, accepting truck loads of supplies 24 hours a day. The trucks were jammed pack with newly packaged men's white socks, T-shirts, briefs, sport shirts, sweat pants, work gloves, black steel-toe work boots, masks, packaged food, bottled water, medical supplies, toiletries, paper goods, cigarettes, Canine booties, dog food and bones.

In the dark of the night we worked side by side unloading these trucks. Crews of construction workers and out-of-town cops. Women and men, shoulder to shoulder---white collar and blue. Each of us suspended in a new reality. Tied together by the red, white and blue ribbons that were pinned to our breast. While a quiet sadness filled our hearts and a peacefulness flowed from our Spirits---for once, we were all equal.

It was distressing to hear the next day that a truck was loaded from the donation center and the driver took off with the entire contents. Along with having to fend off the few meandering vultures that thought they were at a K-Mart free-for-all, as they attempted to stuff their bags with socks, T-shirts and toiletries. Only after reprimanding them with scornful dismay were they reminded of WHO the recipients were; the FDNY. Disgruntled for my spoiling their Christmas, they reluctantly walked away. One man did steal a sleeping bag, but claimed to be homeless. And a local fire company let a stranger into the firehouse to use the bathroom. He was graciously admitted since he was adorned with a FD sweatshirt. Once inside he pulled the fire alarm, and during the ruckus he wiped out the firehouse of their gear. This was not an isolated incident. At another station house someone stole a bag of protective asbestos masks ten minutes after it was logged. People were going to extremes to be allowed into Ground Zero. Although it was the NYPD that disappointed me the most.

By day four, the FDNY were still not receiving the proper gear they needed for Ground Zero. What was being sent to the stations were work boots in size 6. A size a teenage boy could wear. The firemen still without masks or sufficient footwear were wearing their own make-shift work gear taped up. The work boots that did make there way to the site were hoarded by the NYPD. Some cops refusing the firemen boots saving six pairs for their fellow officers. I know the NYPD lost men in the collapse, but isn't it the firemen who are working in the rubble along side the iron and construction workers? Shame on the NYPD for such a power play. I guess they feel their guns and badge gives them the authority to bogart anyone.

With Guiliani having the Police and Fire Commissioners in his back pocket, it's no wonder why this was allowed. I hadn't realized it until I went to a firefighters memorial service at St. Patricks. When the Mayor went to the podium to speak I intentionally didn't clap. But when he introduced the Fire Commissioner, Thomas Von Essen the applause wasn't as grand as Guiliani's. I observed many firemen not clapping for the commissioner. And found it peculiar. I wondered if there was some underlying resentments with the firefighters. After some probing I discovered there was.

Over the years, with each promotion, Von Essen moved up in union ranks at the Fire Fighter's Union. The firemen supported him every step of the way and hoped, "Finally if we have one of our own in there. Then we'll start being treated better." Each year passed and nothing changed. Von Essen gained clout and eventually was selected under Guiliani's reign as the Fire Commissioner. The firemen who stood by his side voting for him at each step---he ultimately left in the dust, and rubble. No longer one of them. He sold them out to be another Guiliani puppet.

And as of lately, Guiliani has through the media, trashed the FDNY who only recently were the cities most beloved Hero's. It seems (by anonymous FDNY sources) the fire bashing Mayor was interested in hundreds of firefighters volunteering for the relief effort only until the truck load of gold and crime scene material was located and recovered. Days after the retrieval of this "valuable dig" is when Guiliani cut back the man power needed for the WTC clean-up. Which evoked the passion and dedication in these men who have tirelessly worked around the clock for nearly two months in a cause more valuable than gold---HUMAN REMAINS.

It is sacrilegious to remove the remaining 4,000 loved ones mixed with debris by dump truck. And to scale back the man power to twenty-five men is utterly preposterous. It will take seven times longer to clean up that area if this act of degradation is allowed by the Mayor. And the excuse Guiliani's using for the cut-back is ridiculous, "It's for their safety. There are too many firefighters working at Ground Zero someone might get hurt." The firemen are the one's who are in the rescue business. They weren't in the way or unqualified on September 11th, why are they now? It can't be because they're costing the city too much in overtime, because they are doing this for free. Even eight weeks later the firefighters working at the WTC are VOLUNTEERING. How about Guiliani volunteering for the city for two months and giving his salary to them?

It is a disgrace that Guiliani is attempting to turn the public against the FDNY. As the media hops on the band wagon of this smear campaign. Reducing the quiet, humble and caring firemen to a pack of violent thugs---is a shameful slander of character made by the news stations via Guiliani's police state. Because of his District Attorney background you'll never hear him slamming the NYPD who's reputation is one of a big-blue Teflon bully. He has a Gestapo mentality and cops blood running through his DNA. But he'll never possess what is needed to be a member of the FDNY: Heart.

Meanwhile Bill, the Mayor just sits by as the residents in lower Manhattan remain displaced indefinitely, and still have to pay telephone, electricity and rent, on some apartments that aren't even salvageable. Those rents should be waved with no questions asked. With businesses closing weekly, hiring freezes due to Anthrax, the city is in a financial crisis. If he wants to help us he should roll back the rents throughout the city. A $1,500 shoe-box studio will lose its appeal when people see Manhattan ends at 8th Street and the air has been infiltrated with asbestos. But it seems his only concern is car pooling or taking Mass Transit since it will ultimately create revenue for the city.

The irony is two years ago Guilini sunk $16 million into building “the bunker" on the 23rd floor of 7 WTC. Which went up in smoke along with the Mass Transit offices. Maybe I'm mistaken, but isn't a bunker a shelter below ground? Why doesn't he focus on that financial blunder for a day or two? His distraction for everyone is to shop, shop, shop, buy Broadway tickets and trinkets, eat Bon-Bon's and drink Cosmopolitans. There's atleast 10 percent of us in this city without jobs, how can we spend? Who wants to be trivial in such a tragic time.

I guess my question is really for the FBI and CIA. If there is all this file footage on television from camera men shooting video tape of bin Laden over the years. Where did it come from his P.R. people? And if he is really the master mind and such a dangerously evil man, then who is the Governmental Einstein (probably a friend of Guuliani's) that allowed them close enough to shoot film of him all around Afghanistan, but not shoot him dead. If they had access to him and knew where he was to shoot the footage, why wouldn't they know now? What was the CIA waiting for? THIS?

I must say that prior to this tragedy the word GOD was used only on Christian networks. On the 11th of September that changed. In the initial three weeks I heard news anchors, talk show hosts, and people in general talk about GOD with ease. Where people would once shirk at the mere mention of the word. Even Oprah has relinquished her New Age term "Higher Power" for the exact word of GOD. After thousands of years of spiritual bankruptcy, let New York lead the way. Maybe through financial bankruptcy our spirituality can emerge from beneath the ashes of loss and mourning. Could this be the second coming?

Maybe the two slabs of wood Jesus was nailed to now takes form in two steel towers, and the nails hammered into his flesh, was the planes thrust into the buildings. The blood from Jesus' body is akin to the blood shed of the 6,000 people. And the horror, the grief, the unbelievable sorrow is a reenactment of that day in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. The reason is the same: religion. The bottom line is the same: money. The outcome: mourning and resurrection.

A spiritual shift has occurred within the masses around the world and it is 6,000 times stronger. We just might be able to get it right this time. That's if our love and unity can overpower the hate and violence the Government is trying to jam down our throats via the media through fear. I have longed for the day to live heaven on earth---instead of in my mind and heart. Maybe now we're that much closer, and if not---then there's still time to bake anthrax cookies. If things get any worse I'll send you a dozen…..

Be well Bill, keep up the good work----and don't let the bastards get you down.
--R. B. Stuart
October 3, 2001

Copyright October 2001, R. B. STUART, All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.

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