Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 + 9

While most bloggers, talking heads and media today are focusing on the 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, I am going to be a little different and focus on the role that the Twin Towers have played in most of our lives.

Some interesting facts about the iconic Twin Towers: a) The North Tower (with the antenna) was completed in December of 1970 and the South Tower in July of 1971. b) The material excavated from the site was used to build Battery Park. c) Electrical service to EACH tower was 13,800 volts. d) The "Windows on the World" restaurant on the 107th floor of the North Tower grosed $37,000,000 in 2000, making it the highest-grossing restaurant in the world. e) The WTC complex was so huge it had it's own ZIP code, 10048, still receiving about 300 pieces of mail per day.

f) The 44th and 78th floor "sky lobbies" were served by express elevators, and all floors between them by local elevators. This maximized the amount of usable floor space by allowing "stacking" of the elevators within the same shaft. g) The windows were only 18" wide, reflecting the architect's fear of heights. h*) Critics of the Towers called them "the boxes that the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower came in". i) Each tower had 3,800,000 square feet of office space. j) Eight floors of each tower (B6/B5, 7/8, 41/42, 75/76 and 108/109 were used strictly as mechanical space and weren't accessible to the public. k) The South Towers outdoor viewing platform, at 1,335 feet, allowed visitors a sight horizon of 50 miles in any direction on a clear day! l) On a typical day, 25,000 people worked in each tower, with another 200,000 visitors passing through.
m) Philippe Petit, a French high-wire acrobat, walked a cable between the Towers in 1974. n) Brooklyn toymaker George Willing scaled the South Tower in 1977. o) On Memorial Day in 1983, high-rise firefighter and rescue advocate Dan Goodwin scaled the exterior of the North Tower, a stunt meant to call attention to the inability to potentially rescue people trapped on the top floor of skyscrapers.

p) The PCA World Chess Championship in 1995 was held on the 107th floor observation deck of the South Tower. q) In 1998, Mafia member Ralph Guarino arranged a 3-man heist of a Brink's delivery that netted over $2 million. r*) In RUMBLE IN THE BRONX, a 1995 Jackie Chan movie, the Twin Towers are featured in background shots throughout. s*) 1986's movie F/X also featured the Towers prominently during a chase scene in lower Manhattan after Rollie steals his special effects truck from an impound lot. t) 1989's THE DREAM TEAM features Michael Keaton as a pathological liar, pointing to the Twin Towers, saying "You see those two towers? I was an architect working on them. First they just wanted wanted to build one, but I said 'Hey fellas, we're here--what the hell, let's just throw another one up.' Turned out pretty well, didn't it?"

u) 1981's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK features Snake Pliskin (Kurt Russell) entering the Manhattan Maximum Security prison zone by landing a glider atop the South Tower. v) 1975's DOG DAY AFTERNOON features the Towers in the opening credits. w) The Towers also are seen in several scenes of both CROCODILE DUNDEE movies (1986/1988). x) 1987's WALL STREET, with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen features several lingering shots of the Towers, as well as the WTC PATH transit station. y) Macaulay Culkin takes a snapshot from the South Tower's outdoor observation deck during 1992's HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK. z**) The Towers are featured in a chilling final shot in Steven Spielberg's MUNICH (2005).

With the exception of asterisked items, all information comes from
*Personal recollection, not listed on wikipedia
**Only post-9/11 reference (other than the title)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

1,534 Years Ago...Are We There Yet?

September 4, 476...Romulus Augustus, the last recognized Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was deposed by Germanic chieftain Odacer. This date is largely considered by most historians to be the actual date of the fall of the per-se Roman Empire. The date is considered arbitrary by other historians, since the legitimate and recognized ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire, Julius Nepos, continued to live in Dalmatia until his assassination four years later.
Many scholars maintain that rather than a "fall", the changes were more gradual, and can more accurately be described as a fundamental TRANSFORMATION, since the Eastern Roman empire, more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire, continued to thrive as a regional power until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. There is no debating, however, that the last time the Roman Empire was politically unified was until the death of Theodosius I in 395.

The building above is one of many reminders left by one of the FORMER MPNEs...Most Powerful Nations on Earth. Most who travel there to marvel at the Coliseum's architecture and how it has withstood the test of time, don't know the details (and LESSONS) provided in the paragraph above.

Rome was crippled by huge government bureaucracies, enormous public debt, a history of court favoritism, infidelity, exposure of unwanted infants, perverted bathhouses, and sexual immorality. The Roman Army, though militarily superior and marching on advanced road systems, were strained fighting conflicts worldwide, and eventually troops had to be brought home from the frontiers.

Rome had a trade deficit, having out-sourced its grain production to North Africa. When the Vandals captured that area, Rome did not have the resources to retaliate. The citizens of Rome were mainly immigrants (Visigoths, Franks, Anglos, Saxons, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, Lombards and Vandals) who poured in so fast they did not learn the Latin language. They were kept distracted with violent entertainment in the Coliseum and Circus Maximus, living on welfare and free bread, and one Roman commented: "Those who live at the expense of the public funds are more numerous than those who provide them." Tax collectors were considered by the Roman businesses to be "worse than the enemy".

The building above, although a marvel of architecture and historical significance, is much more than is a WARNING to the current MPNE to beware the path that you are on...I was there and this is all that remains.