September 7, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Worse Than Any Movie

"They showed a jet crashing into a building, and they kept running the scene over and over. It didn't look like a Bruce Willis coming attraction"

By Casey St. Charnez

Media Rare

Casey St. Charnez has been video editor for Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide since 1986 and buyer for Lisa Harris' Video Library since 1981. He likes Lisa, cats, crosswords, and the Metropolitan Opera, probably in that order.

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Uncharacteristically that particular late-summer morning, for once I'd managed to slip out of bed without waking Lisa, leaving her and the cats to snooze and purr as I went into the living room.

These were the days when we used to sip our coffee in front of ABC's "Good Morning, America," then hosted by our favorite news duo, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer. We found his gravitas and her glamour, or vice versa, a good way to start the a.m.

As this was a Tuesday, the street date for new video releases, after breakfast I'd soon be standing in front of the TV, testing VHS tapes one by one for defectives before processing them for rental and sending them on to Video Library. But not yet.

The teakettle whistled, so I ambled into the kitchen to start the brew. When I returned, something caught my eye on the tube and I watched, confused. I stood there for a while. They showed a jet crashing into a building, and they kept running the scene over and over. It didn't look like a Bruce Willis coming attraction.

From behind me, a freshly arisen Lisa scolded, "I really don't want you testing tapes first thing out of bed." She was not happy to see me performing Vid duties so soon. "Can we please have a little time to ourselves first? Is the coffee ready? What are you watching?"

But the VCR was off. I hadn't started work. "Something bad has happened," I told her, without taking my eyes off the screen, "but I don't know what."

"This isn't a movie," she said, mesmerized as I was by the imagery. "No," I replied. "It's worse."

We melted into our La-Z-Boys and tried to make sense of what we were seeing. Over the next couple of hours, the revelations rolled over us in waves. A skyscraper collapsed. Then another. A journalist reported from a Pentagon afire. Another spoke from a farm field full of smoking wreckage.

I thought back to Oklahoma City, remembering how shaken I'd felt, shocked that such a thing could happen in America, never imagining the perps were American...until it turned out soon thereafter that the event wasn't foreign-bred at all.

The question that Tuesday morning was, who could have done this terrible, terrible thing? And just a subway ride from the GMA studio, at that.

Clearly this was no coincidence. One plane could crash--but three? We wouldn't know the answers for some time; all we could hope that it wasn't us who did it this time, it had to be them, it had to be. And in the end, it was, indeed, them. But it was no consolation. Dead is dead.

Eventually, we turned off the Toshiba, drained our cold coffee, got dressed, and went to work. There was nothing else to do.

 

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