Monday, September 11, 2017

LIZ SMITH: Remembering The Twin Towers

by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Remembering The Twin Towers — My Way

“THERE are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well.” — Nicholas Sparks.

SIXTEEN YEARS ago today I watched the historic and horrible events of 9/11 in real time from the windows of my 26th floor apartment in New York’s Murray Hill. I had a cinematically dramatic and unencumbered view of the Twin Towers as they burned and then fell.

I no longer reside at the Murray Hill Mews, where my career as a gossip columnist and—for a long time—a TV “reporter” flourished.  My new deluxe apartment in the sky on Park Avenue is beautiful and elegant, as opposed to the office/apartment chaos I often complained of—every day!  But so many memories, good and bad, feature my longtime, old-time home.

At the time of the attacks, and for a long time after, it seemed inappropriate to consider show biz and gossip and trivia. I did continue to write, however— although my first post 9/11 column began, “To Hell With Gossip.”   (I only half believed that, despite a call from a belligerent  press rep on the awful day itself, complaining over something we’d written about a famous client.  “Do you know what is happening today?!!!  I screamed, before unfurling a barrage of expletives and slamming the phone down so hard the receiver was never the same again.)

I knew that to heal, we would need gossip and entertainment and all manner of frivolous musings.  After the events of Pearl Harbor, which propelled us into a war that actually mattered, movies literally became “better than ever” and movie stars even more lustrous and glamorous and needed than ever before.

And yes, we dealt with that press rep again in years to come, but I never forgot the insensitivity/stupidity.

Then, on September 21st, I wrote the column that appears below, for Newsday and the New York Post. The latter’s editor refused to print this column, saying it was “maudlin and sentimental.” Maybe he was correct. However, considering my future dealings with that newspaper, maybe not.  But my wonderful syndicate and all my other sources did print it and the Reader’s Digest later immortalized it.

With another 9/11 anniversary upon us. I thought I’d run that column past you again.  Not because anybody needs reminding. The site itself, once a scene of devastation, has risen gloriously in typical Manhattan fashion. And today we are likely being inundated with unhappy/scary news about Hurricane Irma—disaster never takes a vacation.  But it’s okay to be sentimental now and then, really. 

September 21, 2001

"Admired for its majesty and fine proportions, the Empire State Building is visible from many parts of the city and dominates the skyline of Midtown Manhattan," reports the Encyclopedia of New York City.

When I go to bed at night on 37th Street and Third Avenue, this silver-gray spire looms outside my 26th-floor window. At the end of a terrible week, I decided to ask my old friend, the Empire State, how it feels these days. Here's the answer from an exclusive interview with the tallest star I've ever known.

The Empire State Building speaks:

"No matter the color of my lights at night, I realize that I am beautiful. But I am especially beautiful now with my red, white and blue lights.

"You know that I turn red and green at Christmas. I have autumn colors for Halloween and Thanksgiving, lavender for Gay Pride, and once I even went all blue for Frank Sinatra. I light up for whatever is needed or being honored. In between, I am all white.

"But these nights, the red, white and blue lights mean the most to me.

"After 1931, I was always the tallest. But then, in 1972-73, along came those interlopers downtown — the Twins! I admit, I was terribly jealous. I envied them. They took away my long-held title as 'The Tallest.'

"So I churned with resentment for many years as they grew more familiar, supporting one another, becoming super-important to Wall Street and having so many millions of tourists. Why, I used to have that kind of fame all to myself. But after they were bombed in 1993, I softened my attitude.

"The Towers and I began to give one another some friendly salutes.

"We sent clouds, birds and stars along from time to time with greetings and comments. We fumed together a little when the world's tallest building rose in Malaysia.

"But, we were New Yorkers. We couldn't let it get us down. And along with the Lady in the Harbor and that gorgeous hussy the Chrysler Building, the Towers and I were New York City personified!

"The other day I watched helplessly while the Twins were attacked.

"I remembered only too well when I had myself been hit by a bomber back in 1945. I survived that crash, and as the Twins burned, I thought they would come through as well.

"Then the Twins died before my eyes. Now they are gone, and once again I am the tallest in New York. I am king of the Manhattan world. I will get some tourists back now. How I wish I couldn't say that!

"From now on my lights will shine especially bright for the Twins. It is very lonely here in the middle of things with them gone!"

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