Gut reaction | 5 years ago | September 14, 2001 | Camille Dodero talked to firemen in Copley on the day of 9/11.
“The Back Bay right now is almost a ghost town,” Channel 7 reporter Gary Armstrong declared a few minutes before noon from a Copley Square sidewalk.
“ ‘No, we’re here,’ said Chris, a fireman with boyish good looks, speaking to the television. ‘We’re two blocks down, at the firehouse.’
“With the horrific photos of the World Trade Center’s charred skeleton starting to trickle into mainstream media outlets late Tuesday afternoon, one figure present in most images of the aftermath is the firefighter. But before noon on Tuesday — before the location of Flight 175 has been determined, before Boston officials know whether the city will face anything even remotely as catastrophic as New York — 10 firefighters of Ladder 15, Engine 33 pace around their Boylston Street quarters, listening to televised news updates and wondering whether today is a day they’ll be called out.
“In a small room adjacent to the garage, four men sit around watching a television airing MSNBC. They’re preoccupied with the on-screen horror, but they invite me, a curious passer-by trying to gauge the public’s reaction, to join. We sit in silence for a few minutes, until I ask: Do you all think this is an act of war?
“Chris: ‘Oh, definitely.’
“Ed (a sunburned, middle-aged man): ‘We should bomb the shit out of somebody.’
“John (a flat-topped fella with a neatly trimmed moustache): ‘What about that bin Laden guy?’
“Sean (a baby-faced Irish guy from Southie): ‘If it’s him, we should fucking get him.’
“Ed: ‘You can put that in there. Write that some firefighters say, ‘Fuck ’em.’ ’
“John: ‘They’re estimating that 10,000 were in each tower, so at least 20,000 people were . . . ’ He stops his sentence short as MSNBC begins to flip through more footage of the World Trade Center in flames. Then John declares what many angry Americans are probably thinking: ‘We should hunt that towel-headed son-of-a-bitch down and put a cruise missile in his . . . ’ ”
Between the lines | 10 years ago | September 13, 1996 | Charles Taylor considered the Pet Shop Boys.
“If American audiences think about Pet Shop Boys at all, it’s probably as one of the dozens of synth-and-hair Brit bands who hit fast and evaporated even faster in the mid ’80s. There’s a tendency to identify the duo by ‘West End Girls,’ which, with its blurry, rainy-day rhythm, pegged them as distant and, with its Edmund Wilson reference (‘from Lake Geneva to the Finland station’), as — that dreaded word — clever. They were clever. Especially in the ironic follow-up, ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)’ (the title told the tale), and on their cover of ‘Always on My Mind’ . . . which revealed the loutish selfishness Elvis Presley’s version and Willie Nelson’s had obscured.