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BIRDS AS ART ON-LINE Note September 23, 2001

 
On Mailing Film
The Current State of Air Travel
The Tragedy: One Man's Story
 
On Mailing Film 
 
    I flew home from San Diego on the red-eye on Saturday night.   Earlier in the day, I had brought my exposed film to the Post Office.  The counter clerk stated that in view of our changed world, all mail would be X-rayed.  He was unable to provide any details, and did offer to write "Film/Do Not X-ray on the priority box, but could of course offer no guarantees. 
I decided not to mail the film, and took it in my carry-on rolling case.  I shall be making some inquiries of both the US Post Office and Fed-X tomorrow and will let you know what I find out.  In the meantime, do realize that any un-processed or unexposed film could be ruined if it is mailed and X-rayed (by the powerful machines used at major airports).

 

The Current State of Air Travel
 
I have been on three flights (all on Delta) since the tragic happenings of September 11, 2001.  In each case, the carry-on situation remained unchanged.  I was allowed on board with my rolling carry-on and my 600 IS in a lightweight Domke bag.  My photography equipment was scrutinized more carefully than it had been in the past, but my requests to have my exposed and unexposed film hand-checked were honored.  I made sure to arrive at least 2 1/2 hours before each flight. 
 
When I flew from Dallas to San Diego (see below for details)  last Friday, I was one of the first in the country to have my checked baggage "dump searched."  I was randomly selected and asked to take my bags to a dump search site--two big tables with a few guards.  There, each of my Delsey bags was emptied and inspected, dirty underwear and all.  The whole thing took about 15 minutes (including repacking by yours truly).  
 
The Tragedy: One Man's Story
 
On Tuesday September 11, 2001 I flew from Orlando to Atlanta on a 5:30 am flight that was delayed nearly an hour.  When I deplaned, I was told that I had missed my connection, but then the agent realized his error and said, "No, you can make it."
 
I headed for the gate and arrived in plenty of time to board a seemingly brand new Boeing 777.  We left on time somewhere around 8:30 am.  I was headed to San Diego to do some photography and visit my dying Dad.  
 
Nearly an hour into the flight, I was marveling at the incredible comfort of the huge, leather business class seat and the technology that comes with it when the captain dinged in and said, "North American air space has been closed.  All aircraft have been ordered to land at the nearest available facility.  We will be landing at Dallas Fort Worth in about 25 minutes.  There has been an incident involving a plane and the World Trade Center and terrorists..."  I turned to the woman sitting next to me and said, "There must be more than a thousand killed."  She asked, "Why do you think that?"  I replied, "They would not be closing North American air space if a small plane hit into one of the skyscrapers." 
 
All were nervous until we landed, and then things got worse. I grabbed my cell phone and called Jennifer at the BIRDS AS ART office.  She told me that both towers of the World Trade Center had been struck by jetliners and that both towers had collapsed and that all that was left were two piles of rubble. My heart pounded and my mind raced in disbelief as I shared the news with the passengers and flight attendants around me.  One of the flight attendants said that she had a brother who worked in the World Trade Center.
 
One we deplaned, things seemed totally surreal.  There were long lines of folks waiting for pay phones and rumors flew.  I calmed down a bit, and decided to call LF Van Landingham, a good friend and frequent IPT participant. I got him at work on the first try and asked, "How would you and Marbrey like a house guest for a few days/"  "Who is this?" he answered. 
 
I stayed with LF and Marbs for 2 1/2 days.  For the most part I just stated at the TV, hoping that I was actually watching a movie or having a bad dream.  Seeing the plane strike the second tower over and over again seemed completely unreal.  By Wednesday, they had come up with the home video of the first plane hitting.  And the horrific tape of the buildings coming down...  It was numbing, yet I could not tear myself away from the TV. 
 
I was angry and upset and scared.  I cried for the first time on Wednesday night after seeing an interview with an LA man who was trying to locate his beautiful blonde wife.  
 
I flew to San Diego late on Friday afternoon, or was it Thursday?  The flight was nearly empty and the atmosphere at  DFW was positively grim.  The flight, however, was uneventful. 
 
Right after I got to San Diego, I had a pleasant visit with my Dad who was more coherent than he was when I saw him in August. Though he had a laryngectomy nearly 20 years ago and has great difficulty speaking, he was eager to talk with me and smiled quite a bit. 
 
He went downhill quickly right after that and when I left San Diego on the evening of Saturday, September 22, he was being given large doses of morphine and will be pretty much out of it until he dies.   He is about the toughest man who ever lived, having survived 13 machine gun bullets and the loss of his right arm on Okinawa in 1945 (and 19 months in the hospital), a close call with death during gall bladder surgery in the late 50s, a liver cancer scare in 1969--it turned out to be an infection, throat cancer, a heart attack, lung cancer, and most recently, two brutal bouts of pneumonia the first of which nearly killed him and the second that left him weak and debilitated.  With the first pneumonia, the doctors stated, "This man will not survive the night."  Two days later, they told my Mom, "He will surely die tonight after we take him off life support.  Two weeks later he was at home "busting my mothers balls."
 
His time, however, has come.  But knowing Bob Morris, it will probably take a while <smile>   (At this point, when death does come, it will be a blessing for all concerned.)
 
 
 

 



 

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