Joshua Bernstein is one of the more prolific craft beer writers working today. (Longreads featured a Q&A with Bernstein after the publication of his recent book, Complete IPA) As he explains in an essay about living in New York on and after 9/11 for Good Beer Hunting, Bernstein’s path has been winding, including stints working at American Baby magazine, and editing a porn magazine.
His office was located in Chinatown, a brisk walk from the Twin Towers, and even before that clear blue morning, Bernstein liked to escape the doldrums of his office job by fleeing to his apartment’s rooftop in Astoria and doing what every New Yorker in their twenties has done: drink.
Fear is as much of a medium for Philippe Petit as is balance, poise, and control in his high wire act. In his death-defying walks across the Grand Canyon and between the World Trade Center towers, Petit bent fear to his will. At Lapham’s Quarterly, Petit reflects on what a lifetime of fear has meant to his art, and how he has faced fear on the wire and off.
Before my high-wire walk across the Seine to the second story of the Eiffel Tower, the seven-hundred-yard-long inclined cable looked so steep, the shadow of fear so real, I worried. Had there been an error in rigging calculations? No. I had just forgotten how high were my expectations, how mad I was to have conceived such a project. On the spot I vanquished my anxiety by imagining the best outcome: my victorious last step above a cheering crowd of 250,000.
If imagination does not work, turn to the physical side of things. Give yourself a time-limit ultimatum: start counting! Yes, choose a number—not too high—and when you hear footsteps on your porch at three am, unfreeze your trepidation by whispering to yourself, “At ten, I open the door! One, two, three, four…”
A clever tool in the arsenal to destroy fear: if a nightmare taps you on the shoulder, do not turn around immediately expecting to be scared. Pause and expect more, exaggerate. Be ready to be very afraid, to scream in terror. The more delirious your expectation, the safer you will be when you see that reality is much less horrifying than what you had envisioned. Now turn around. See? It was not that bad—and you’re already smiling.
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A look at the power, money and politics behind building the Freedom Tower that has delayed its completion:
The PA is run by a board of twelve unpaid commissioners, six appointed by New York’s governor, six by New Jersey’s. Traditionally, the board chair is a New Jersey commissioner, and the executive director — effectively the Port’s CEO — is selected by the governor of New York. In theory, the idea — a product of the Progressive Era of American politics — was to create a quasi-governmental corporation, self-supporting, free of corruption, and insulated from partisanship.
In practice, the PA has yielded to the surrounding political culture. From 1942 until 1971, the PA’s executive director was Austin Tobin, the strongman who built the World Trade Center. More powerful than any elected official, Tobin used the PA’s power of eminent domain to seize those sixteen acres and erect the Twin Towers, the world’s two tallest buildings when they were completed in 1973, steamrolling the city’s private real estate developers, who found it unsporting that a regional transportation agency would flood New York with more than ten million square feet of office space for lease.
Austin Tobin answered only to himself, and his PA was a monolith, omnipotent, opaque. The opacity alone remains; the Port Authority these days is little more than a punching bag, patronage pit, and piggy bank for politicians and those who own or are owned by them. Its stewardship of Ground Zero — in substance and as symbol — has been a bumbling puppet show and an obscene gold rush.
“The Truth About the World Trade Center.” — Scott Raab, Esquire