I Love That Dirty Water: Thoughts On Yesterday's Events
A confession: At least once a week, I lament the excess of interconnectedness that exists in the modern era. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, god knows what else -- I'm in some way either directly or indirectly hooked into countless networks, and every now and then the misanthrope inside me realizes what a royal pain in the ass it is, and how annoying it can be and how aggravating my fellow humans sometimes are. At least once a week, I wish I could just shut the whole damn thing down.
"And as we stand in your driveway in fear,
the future and all that is near.
I still can't believe this. I am not a kid.
The beauty of youth is long gone, maturity has never seemed so wrong.
I miss innocence, I miss ignorance, I miss my backyard."
-CityCop, "Freebird Part II"
And then a thing like yesterday happens. And instead of becoming horrified at the human race and running for the hills, I end up taking it all back, because within minutes, I was able to let dozens of concerned people know that yes, I was OK, no, I wasn't anywhere near it. I tracked down my local family, and all was well. I reached out to my local friends, and each and every one of them was accounted for, safe as houses. My sister caught up with me with much more ease than those horrifying hours when I couldn't reach her on the day of 9/11 and she lived in New York City. My family overseas knew within minutes that all was well with me and mine. It's those moments when you realize that this level of connectivity is more than just being connected. It's not just connectivity, it's community. It was actually kind of wonderful. It's those moments where you realize that whatever the goal was, whatever the people who perpetrated such a terrible crime wanted -- they're not ever going to get it.
Boston is close to my heart. I've lived in or near this city for more than 20 years of my life. I love this city. I love the people, the food, the weather (sometimes. Not really. Occasionally. Shut up), the sports teams, the accents, the driving, the music, the harbor, the skyline, the whole shebang. I sometimes think that I love Boston a little too much, so much so that it makes it hard for me to contemplate ever leaving, much to the occasional chagrin of my warm weather-craving wife. But none of that really matters today. What matters today is that tragedy struck, and it struck hard.
As a result, I just figured I'd borrow Pajiba for a few minutes to give everyone an opportunity to talk about it, a place to let some off some steam. And I wanted to let everyone know that Boston, like every other city that has been struck by tragedy, will be OK. It'll be confusing and scary and painful and awful, but we're going to be OK. The truth is that despite our bluster and obnoxiousness, Boston is just like everywhere else. We get scared and we mourn and we dust ourselves off, we help the person next to us up and we keep going. This was a terrifying event, to be sure, but nothing even close to the horrors that happen daily around the world. But it's not a contest. In some ways, it helps to realize that this is another day in the life of a planet full of people, and despite the horror of that day, life will go on, despite some people's best efforts to the contrary. Yet again, instead of raging at the cruelty of it all, we can marvel at the capacity for human kindness, those who ran into the chaos to help, those who carried others to safety, those who offered their homes to others who simply needed a place to sleep.
The world is flooded with great quotes right now, from people who eloquently spoke of the beauty of humanity and how it sometimes shines brightest in these dark moments. Be it our President, Mr. Rogers, hell, even Patton Oswalt was amazingly eloquent. But the two quotes that stood out most in the aftermath of yesterday's events:
Arkady Hagopian, one of the runners in the Marathon, was quoted as saying, "Whoever did this is trying to break people's spirits, but it's not going to happen. It only brings people closer... I was on the fence, but now it's definite. I will sign up next year."
And one of my old high school friends remarked that, "I hope I remember this feeling, learning of tragedy in a place I know very well, next time I learn of tragedy in a place I've never been."
I can put it no better than they did. And since this is a website about movies, here are a few of my favorite Boston-centric movie scenes. Because that's what you do, right? In the wake of tragedy, you find comfort in the things that make you feel better, and movies are that thing, that common bond, that brought me and all of you here today. So that's what we'll go with. It's not much, but for now, for a few minutes, it's enough.
(apologies for the crappy quality)