Michael Munves

May 5, 2002

The phone rang. The phone rang again, and again. I finally answered it. Mike wake the fuck up. Turn on the TV. Just do it quick. Wholy shit dude, a plane crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings, I can't believe this shit.î This is how I was notified of the horrific events of 9/11. Not one of my most articulate friends from NYC had been able to reach me in my Los Angeles hotel room. As I awoke, I rushed to switch on the TV. My first vision of this event was a smoking hole in the side of tower one of the World Trade Center buildings. The TV reporter was exclaiming that a terrible tragedy possible accident occurred and many can be assumed injured and dead. My initial reaction to this event was disbelief and anger. What kind of asshole pilots a plane into a building? Was this an accident or something more? As I watched the smoking hole in the side of the building, people hanging out of the tower windows, others jumping to their death, the news anchor reported another plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and another into the ground near Philadelphia. At this point the TV anchor was reporting that these were connected acts of terrorism. My anger shifted to concern and my first thought was that this could be the beginning of World War III. It felt like America was under attack, and we were. After watching a live telecast of the second plane crashing into tower two I was sure this was the beginning of World War III. I walked down the hall of my hotel to see how the other guests were coping with these tragic events.

When I arrived in the lobby all of the hotel staff, and about 100 guests where huddled around a giant TV. Everybody was on their cell phones trying to reach their loved ones and friends, but most of us had no luck, which exponentially raised the amount of anxiety in the room. All of us had similar concerns and fears. Would wemake it home? Were any of our loved ones or friends on one of those planes? Do any of them work or live near one the trade towers? Would there be a home to return to? and if so, how long would we be stuck in LA? As our discussion progressed I found that this disaster affected many of the hotel guests including me, in a direct way. As this disaster unfolded we shared our stories and our fears.

My family lives in NYC. I live six blocks east of the trade buildings, 100 John Street. When I travel I always leave keys with my doorman in case my brother wants to use my apartment. Was he there? If so is he OK? I didn't know. As time progressed there seemed to be a momentous calm, the quiet before the storm. Bam, the first building started to collapse. As I was watching this happen I was screaming reapeatedly at the top of my lungs, Holy fucking shit I canít believe this is happening. I could not believe this was happening. My mind could not digest such a horrid event. It didn't seem real. It looked like something that I had seen in a cheesy 80's action flick. After ten minutes of watching this coverage repeatedly, I digested this macabre image, at least for the moment. I realized what I was viewing was real. As the TV coverage continued, I viewed the second tower collapse. This event was equally numbing and unbelievable. Watching both of these events live took my breath away. I got a bad sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. As I sat in the hotel in disbelief, fear, and anger. I asked myself how could this be happening?

After sitting in the lobby for about two hours, and enjoying the comfort of the other guests, I went to seek refuge at a friendís house in the Hollywood Hills. It was nice to be around familiar faces. Besides, I wanted to make sure I had a place to stay for awhile in case I could not get back to NYC. Warner Brothers Records, who had flown me out to LA, notified me that they would cover my stay as long as needed and would find a way to arrange passage home as soon as possible. That was comforting to hear. Now I just wanted to reach my family to make sure they where all OK. Several hours went by before I could reach them. I finally contacted them at around 12 o'clock LA time, they where in shock, but they were fine. I finally could exhale. It would be about a week before Warner's could book me on a flight back home. It was no easy task getting on a plane after watching this disaster. I was notified by my building that it was not habitable, and that I would eventually be told when it was safe to return. I was now officially homeless. I made arrangements to sleep on my attorney ës couch until I could find a temporary place to live. I remember my father telling me, take the train home, donít fly. I was a little uneasy, but I never had any doubts about making it home safe. Flying into NYC was both comforting and scary.

When the plane landed at La Guardia, all the passengers let out a heartfelt cheer. They all exhaled. Driving into NYC after this event was creepy; the smoldering twisted wreckage smelt of blood, burning plastic and steel, the level of anxiety was off the meter, and there was the presence of the army on the streets of NYC. Hell, I saw a tank parked on the streets of NYC, this was surreal. This was overwhelming and a lot to digest in one day. After a week on my attorney's couch I was allowed access to my apartment to fetch a few of my personal belongings. I was dropped off in a cab on South Street and Delancy about twenty blocks away from my apartment. That was as near as I was able to get with in an automobile. As I walked toward my apartment I had to pass thru several military checkpoints, show my ID and proof of residence. My bags where searched and I was allowed access. As I walked closer the smell became so overwhelming that I put my shirt over my nose. As I passed Fulton Street I turned my head to the right and viewed the twisted wreckage at close proximity. It looked like a war zone. It was a smoking grave. The death cloud had traveled down John Street, and over my building. There was thick gray dust everywhere on the ledges, on the windows, and in the air vents. In the weeks to come I was allowed back into my apartment. My family and friends urged me not to return because of the air quality, but I felt a need to. I felt running away would be like letting the terrorists win, and I would not allow myself to make a fear based decision.

My friends and family were quick to point out it was not fear they were concerned about it was the air quality. I ignored them and moved back as soon as I could. The air quality was funky. Some days it was unbearable. On those days I left my apartment and found a friend's place at which to stay. So for awhile I was living like a vagrant in a high rent military zone with poor air quality. I held out for about a month and then tired to move several times, but I could not get out of my lease.


It has been eight months since the tragic events of 9/11. My area and NYC is just getting back to normal, or as normal as possible. There is now a viewing platform where the Trade Center used to be. There is no place in the world like NYC. That ís why the terrorists targeted the city. In their mind it symbolizes power, success, unbridled ambition, and America at its pinnacle. That is what they wanted to destroy. In true NYC fashion the city administration transformed Ground Zero into a tourist action in order raise money to restore this area. Giving people hope and comfort. That's why I'm here and not going anywhere.