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9/11: The View From the Midwest


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Displaysofpatriotismacrossthecountry;thishouseisinruralMaine. JoeRaedle/GettyImages

Thisessay,bythelatenovelistDavidFosterWallace,appearedinthe
October25,2001issueofRollingStone.Wereprintitheretomarkthe
anniversaryoftheterroristattacksofSeptember11,2001.
Location:Bloomington,IL
Dates:11-13Sept.2001
Subject:Obvious
Caveat:Writtenveryfastandinwhatprobablyqualifiesasshock

Jann Wenner on 9/11: 'A Pivot


Upon Which We View Our
Future'
Jimmy Breslin on 9/11: 'The
Word on the Street Is Run'
Newly Public Images: Bush
Administration Reaction to 9/11
Paul Simon Performs at 9/11
Memorial
Video: Stewart and Colbert on
9/11 Anniversary

Synecdoche

IntrueMidwestfashion,Bloomingtoniansaren'tunfriendlybutdotendto
bereserved.Astrangerwillsmilewarmlyatyou,buttherenormallywon't
beanyofthatstrangerlychitchatinwaitingareasorcheckoutlines.Butnow
there'ssomethingtotalkaboutthatoutweighsallreserve,likewewere
somehowallstandingrightthereandjustsawthesametrafficaccident.E.g.,
overheardinthecheckoutlineatBurwell's(whichissortoftheNeiman
Marcusofgasstation/conveniencestoreplazascentrallylocatedathwart
bothone-waymaindrags,andwiththebesttobaccopricesintown,it'sa
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AROUND THE WEB

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9/11: The View From the Midwest | Rolling Stone

municipaltreasure)betweenaladyinanOscocashier'ssmockandamanin
adungareejacketcutoffattheshoulderstomakeasortofhomemadevest:
"WithmyboystheythoughtitwasallsomemovielikethatIndependence
Daytilthenafterawhiletheystartedtonoticeitwasthesamemovieonall
thechannels."(Theladydidn'tsayhowoldherboyswere.)
Wednesday

Everybodyhasflagsout.Homes,businesses.It'sodd:Youneverseeanybody
puttingoutaflag,butbyWednesdaymorningtheretheyallare.Bigflags,
smallflags,regularflag-sizeflags.Alotofhome-ownersherehavethose
specialangledflag-holdersbytheirfrontdoor,thekindwhosebracetakes
fourPhillipsscrews.Andthousandsofthoselittlehand-heldflags-on-a-stick
younormallyseeatparadessomeyardshavedozensalloverasifthey'd
somehowsproutedovernight.Rural-roadpeopleattachthelittleflagsto
theirmailboxesoutbythestreet.Somecarshavethemwedgedintheirgrille
orduct-tapedtotheantenna.Someupscalepeoplehaveactualpoles;their
flagsareathalf-mast.MorethanafewlargehomesaroundFranklinParkor
outontheeastsideevenhaveenormousmultistoryflagshanginggonfalonstyledownovertheirfacades.It'satotalmysterywherepeoplegetflagsthis
bigorhowtheygotthemupthere.
Myownnext-doorneighbor,aretiredCPAandvetwhosehome-andlawncarearenothingshortofphenomenal,hasaregulation-sizeanodized
flagpolesecuredin18"ofreinforcedcementthatnoneoftheother
neighborslikeverymuchbecausetheythinkitdrawslightning.Hesays
there'saveryparticularetiquettetohavingyourflagathalf-mast:You're
supposedtofirstrunitallthewayuptothetopandthenbringithalfway
down.Otherwiseit'saninsultorsomething.Hisflagisoutstraightand
poppingsmartlyinthewind.It'sfarandawaythebiggestflagonourstreet.
Youcanalsohearthewindinthecornfieldsjustsouth;itsoundstheway
lightsurfsoundswhenyou'retwodunesbackfromit.Mr.N'sflag'shalyard
hasmetalelementsthatclankloudlyagainstthepolewhenit'swindy,which
issomethingelsetheotherneighborsdon'tcarefor.Hisdrivewayandmine
arealmostsidebyside,andhe'southereonastepladderpolishinghispole
withsomekindofointmentandachamoisclothIshityounotandin
fairnessit'struethathismetalpoledoesshinelikeGod'sownwrath.

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"Hellofaniceflaganddisplayapparatus,Mr.N."
"Oughttobe.Costenough."
"Seenalltheotherflagsouteverywherethismorning?"
Thisgetshimtolookdownandsmile,ifabitgrimly."Somethingisn'tit?"
Mr.Nisnotwhatyou'dcallthefriendliestnext-doorneighbor.Ireallyonly
knowhimbecausehischurchandmineareinthesamesoftballleague,for
whichheserveswithimmenseprecisionashisteam'sstatistician.Weare
notclose.He'sneverthelessthefirstoneIask:
"SayMr.N,supposesomebodylikeaforeignpersonorTVreporterwereto
comebyandaskyoutosaywhatthepurposeofalltheseflagseverywhere
aftertheHorrorandeverythingyesterdaywas,exactlywhatdoyouthink
you'dsay?"

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/9-11-the-view-from-the-midwest-20110819

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9/11: The View From the Midwest | Rolling Stone

"Why"(afterabriefintervalofgivingmethesamesortoflookheusually
givesmylawn)"toshowoursupportandempathyintermsofwhat'sgoing
on,asAmericans."*
ThepointbeingthatonWednesdayherethere'saweirdaccretivepressure
tohaveaflagout.Ifthepurposeofaflagistomakeastatement,itseems
likeatacertainpointofdensityofflagsyou'remakingmoreofastatement
ifyoudon'thaveoneout.It'snottotallyclearwhatstatementthiswouldbe.
Whatifyoujustdon'thappentohaveaflag?Wherehaseveryonegotten
theseflags,especiallythelittleonesyoucanputonyourmailbox?Arethey
allfromJuly4thandpeoplejustsavethem,likeChristmasornaments?How
dotheyknowtodothis?Evenasortofhalf-collapsedhousedownthestreet
thateverybodythoughwasunoccupiedhasaflaginthegroundbythe
driveway.
TheYellowPageshavenothingunderFlag.There'sactualinteriortension:
Nobodywalksbyorstopstheircarandsays,"Hey,yourhousedoesn'thavea
flag,"butitgetseasierandeasiertoimaginepeoplethinkingit.Noneofthe
grocerystoresintownturnouttostockanyflags.Thenoveltyshop
downtownhasnothingbutHalloweenstuff.Onlyafewbusinessesareopen,
buteventheclosedonesaredisplayingsomesortofflag.It'salmostsurreal.
TheVFWhallisagoodbet,butitcan'topentilnoonifatall(ithasabar).
TheladyatBurwell'sreferencesacertainhideousQik-n-EZstoreoutby1-74
atwhichshewasundertheimpressionshe'dseensomelittleplasticflags
backintherackswithallthebandannasandNascarcaps,butbythetimeI
gettheretheyturnouttobegone,snappedupbypartiesunknown.The
realityisthatthereisnotaflagtobehadinthistown.Stealingoneoutof
somebody'syardisclearlyoutofthequestion.I'mstandinginaQik-n-EZ
afraidtogohome.Allthosepeopledead,andI'msenttotheedgebya
plasticflag.Itdoesn'tgetreallybaduntilpeopleaskifI'mOKandIhaveto
lieandsayit'saBenadrylreaction(whichinfactcanhappen)....Untilinone
moreoftheHorror'sweirdtwistsoffateandcircumstanceit'stheQik-n-EZ
proprietorhimself(aPakistani,bytheway)whoofferssolaceanda
shoulderandastrangekindofunspokenunderstanding,andwholetsmego
backandsitinthestockroomamideveryconceivablepettyviceand
indulgenceAmericahastoofferandcomposemyself,andwhoonlyslightly
later,overstyrofoamcupsofastrangekindofteawithagreatdealofmilk
init,suggests,gently,constructionpaperand"MagicalMarkers,"which
explainsmynow-belovedhomemadeflag.
*Plusselectedotherresponsesfromvarioustimesduringtheday'sflag-and
Magic-Marker-huntswhencircumstancesallowedthequestiontobeasked
withoutoneseeminglikeasmart-assorloon:
"Toshowwe'reAmericansandnotgoingtobowdowntoanybody."
"Theflagisapseudo-archetype,areflexivesemiondesignedtopre-empt
andnegatethecriticalfunction"(gradstudent).
"Forpride."
"Whattheydoissymbolizeunityandthatwe'realltogetherbehindthe
victimsinthiswar.Thatthey'vefuckedwiththewrongpeoplethistime."
Aerial&GroundViews

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BloomingtonisaCityof65,000inthecentralpartofastatethatis
extremelyflat,sothatyoucanseethetown'ssalientsfromveryfaraway.
Threemajorinterstatesconvergehere,andseveralraillines.Thetown's
almostexactlyhalfwaybetweenChicagoandSt.Louis,anditsorigins
involvebeingabigtraindepot.Ithasasmallertwincity,Normal,that'sbuilt
aroundauniversityandaslightlydifferentstory.Bothtownstogetherare
like110,000.
AsMidwestcitiesgo,theonlyremarkablethingaboutBloomingtonisits
prosperity.It'srecession-proof.Someofthisisduetothecounty'sland,
whichisworld-classfertileandsoexpensiveyoucan'tevenfindouthow
muchitcosts.ButBloomingtonisalsothenationalHQforStateFarm,
whichisthegreatdarkgodofconsumerinsuranceandforallpractical
purposesownsthetown,andbecauseofwhichBloomington'seastsideisall
smoked-glasscomplexesandBuild-To-Suitdevelopmentsandasix-lane
beltwayofmallsandfranchisesthat'skillingtheolddowntown,plusalarge
andever-widersplitbetweenthetown'stwobasicclassesandcultures,so
wellandtrulysymbolizedbytheSUVandpickuptruck,*respectively.
Winterhereisapitilessbitch,butinthewarmmonthsBloomington'sa
littlelikeaseasidecommunityexcepttheoceanhereiscorn,whichgrows
steroidicallyandstretchestotheearth'scurveinalldirections.Thetown
itselfinsummerisintenselygreenstreetsbathedintree-shadeandhomes'
explosivegardensandarea-code-sizeparksandgolfcoursesyoualmost
needeye-protectiontolookat,androwuponrowofbroadweedless
fertilizedlawnsalllinedupflushtothesidewalkwithspecialedgingtools.
(Peopleherearedeeplyintolawn-care;myneighborstendtomowaboutas
oftenastheyshave.)Tobehonest,itcanbealittlecreepy,especiallyinhigh
summerwhennobody'soutandallthatgreenjustsitsintheheatand
seethes.
LikemanyMidwesttowns,B-Nislousywithchurches:fourfullpagesinthe
phonebook.EverythingfromUnitariantobug-eyedPentecostal.There's
evenachurchforagnostics.ExceptforchurchplusIsupposeyourbasic
parades,fireworksandacouplecornfestivalsthereisn'tmuchpublic
community.Everybodyprettymuchhashisfamilyandneighborsandtight
littlecircleoffriends.ByNewYorkstandardsfolkskeeptothemselves.**
Theyplaygolfandgrilloutandgotomainstreammovies...
...Andtheywatchmassive,staggeringamountsofTV.I'mnotjusttalking
aboutthekids.Somethingthat'sobviousbutstillcrucialtokeepinmindre:
BloomingtonandtheHorroristhatrealityanyreallyfeltsenseofalarger
worldistelevisual.NewYork'sskyline,forinstance,isasrecognizablehere
asanyplaceelse,butwhatit'srecognizablefromisTV.TV'salsomoresocial
herethanontheEastCoast,whereinmyexperiencepeoplearealmost
constantlyleavinghometogomeetotherpeopleface-to-faceinpublic
places.Theredon'ttendtobepartiesormixerspersehere;whatyoudoin
Bloomingtonisallgettogetheratsomebody'shouseandwatchsomething.
Here,therefore,tohaveahomewithoutaTVistobecomeakindof
constantandKramer-likepresenceinothers'homes,aperpetualguestof
folkswhocan'tunderstandwhyyouwouldchoosenottohaveaTVbutare
completelyrespectfulofyourneedtowatchTVandofferyouaccesstotheir
TVinthesameinstinctivewaythey'dbendtolendahandifyoutrippedin
thestreet.Thisisespeciallytrueofsomekindofmust-see,Crisis-type
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situationlikethe2000electionsnafuorthisweek'sHorror.Allyouhaveto
doiscallsomebodyyouknowandsayyoudon'thaveaTV:"Wellshoot,boy,
getoverhere."
*Despitesomepeople'simpression,thenativeaccentisn'tSouthernsimply
rural,whereascorporatetransplantshavenoaccentatall(inMrs.Bracero's
phrase,StateFarmpeople"soundlikethefolksonTV").
**Thenativetermforaconversationisvisit.
Tuesday

Therearemaybetendaysayearwhenit'sgorgeoushere,andthisisoneof
them.It'sclearandtemperateandwonderfullydryafterseveralstraight
weeksofwhatfeltlikelivinginsomebody'sarmpit.It'sjustbeforeserious
harvestingstarts,whenthepollen'satitsworst;agoodpercentageofthe
cityisstonedonBenadryl,whichasyouprobablyknowtendstogivethe
earlymorningakindofdreamy,underwaterquality.Timewise,we'rean
hourbehindtheEastCoast.By8:00everybodywithajobisatit,andjust
abouteverybodyelseishomedrinkingcoffeeandblowingtheirnoseand
watchingTodayoroneoftheotherA.M.showsthatbroadcast(itgoes
withoutsaying)fromNewYork.At8:00Ipersonallywasintheshower
tryingtolistentoaBearspostmortemonWSCRsportsradioinChicago.
ThechurchIbelongtoisonthesouthsideofBloomington,nearwhereI
live.MostofthepeopleIknowwellenoughtoaskifIcancomeoverand
watchtheirTVaremembersofmychurch.It'snotoneofthoseProtestant
churcheswherepeoplethrowJesus'snamearoundortalkabouttheEnd
Times,whichistosaythatit'snotloonyorvulgar,butit'sfairlyserious,and
peopleinthecongregationgettoknoweachotherwellandtobepretty
tight.Mostofthecongregantsareworking-classorretirees;therearesome
small-businessowners.Afairnumberareveteransorhavekidsinthe
militaryorespeciallythevariousReserves,becauseformanyofthese
familiesthat'ssimplywhatyouyoudotopayforcollege.
ThehouseIendupsittingwithclotsofdriedshampooinmyhairwatching
mostoftheactualunfoldingHorroratbelongstoMrs.Thompson,whois
oneoftheworld'scooler74-year-oldsandexactlythekindofpersonwhoin
anemergencyevenifherphoneisbusyyouknowyoucanjustcomeon
over.Herhouseisaboutamileaway,ontheothersideofamobilehome
park.Thestreetsarenotcrowdedbutthey'renotyetasemptyasthey're
goingtoget.Mrs.Thompson'sisatinyimmaculateone-storyhomethaton
theWestCoastwouldbecalledabungalowandonthesouthsideof
Bloomingtonissimplycalledahouse.Mrs.Thompsonisalongtimechurch
memberandaleaderinthecongregation,andherlivingroomtendstobe
kindofagatheringplace.She'salsothemomofoneofmybestfriendshere,
F,whowasaRangerinVietnamandgotshotinthekneeandnowworks
kindofunhappilyforacontractorinstallingVictoria'sSecretfranchisesin
malls.He'sinthemiddleofadivorce(longstory)andlivingwithMrs.T.
whilethecourtdecidesonthedispositionofhishouse.Fisoneofthose
for-realcombatveteranswhodoesn'ttalkaboutthewarorevenbelongto
theVFWbutissometimessomberinahauntedway,andalwaysgoesquietly
offtocampbyhimselfoverMemorialDayweekend,andyoucantellthathe
carriessomeveryheavyshitinhishead.Likemostconstructionguyshehas
togettohisjobsiteearlyandwaslonggonebythetimeIgottohismom's,
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whichwasjustafterthesecondplanehittheSouthTower,meaning
probablyaround8:10.Inretrospect,thefirstsignofshockwasthefactthatI
didn'tringthebellbutjustcameonin,whichnormallyhereonewould
neverdo.Thankstoherson'stradeconnections,Mrs.T.hasa42"flat-panel
PhilipsTVonwhichDanRatherappearsforasecondinshirtsleeveswithhis
hairslightlymussed.(PeopleinBloomingtonseemoverwhelminglyto
preferCBSNews;it'sunclearwhy.)Severalotherladiesfromchurchare
alreadyoverhere,butIdon'tknowifIexchangedgreetingswithanyone
becauseIrememberwhenIcameineverybodywasstaringintransfixed
horroratoneoftheveryfewpiecesofvideoCBSneverreran,whichwasa
distantwide-angleshotoftheNorthToweranditstopfloors'exposedsteel
latticeinflamesandofdotsdetachingfromthebuildingandmoving
throughsmokedownthescreen,whichthenthatjerkytighteningofthe
shotrevealedtobeactualpeopleincoatsandtiesandskirtswiththeirshoes
fallingoffastheyfell,somehangingontoledgesorgirdersandthenletting
go,upside-downorwrithingastheyfellandonecouplealmostseeming
(unverifiable)tobehuggingeachotherastheyfellallthosestoriesand
shrankbacktodotsasthecamerathenallofasuddenpulledbacktothe
longviewIhavenoideahowlongthecliptookafterwhichRather's
mouthseemedtomoveforasecondbeforeanysoundemerged,and
everyoneintheroomsatbackandlookedatoneanotherwithexpressions
thatseemedsomehowbothchildlikeandhorriblyold.Ithinkoneortwo
peoplemadesomesortofsound.It'snotclearwhatelsetosay.Itseems
grotesquetotalkaboutbeingtraumatizedbyavideowhenthepeopleinthe
videoweredying.Somethingabouttheshoesalsofallingmadeitworse.I
thinktheolderladiestookitbetterthanIdid.Thenthehideousbeautyof
thererunclipofthesecondplanehittingthetower,theblueandsilverand
blackandspectacularorangeofit,asmorelittlemovingdotsfell.Mrs.
Thompsonwasinherchair,whichisarockerwithfloralcushions.The
livingroomhastwootherchairs,andahugecorduroysofathatFandIhad
hadtotakethefrontdooroffitshingestogetinthehouse.Alltheseats
wereoccupied,meaningfiveorsixotherpeople,mostwomen,alloverfifty,
andthereweremorevoicesinthekitchen,oneofwhichwasveryupsetsoundingandbelongedtothepsychologicallydelicateMrs.R,whoIdon't
knowverywellbutissaidtohaveoncebeenabeautyofgreatlocalrepute.
ManyofthepeopleareMrs.T.'sneighbors,somestillinrobes,andat
varioustimespeopleleavetogohomeandusethephoneandcomeback,or
leavealtogether(oneyoungerladywenttogogetherchildrenoutof
school),andotherpeoplecome.Atonepoint,aroundthetimetheSouth
Towerwasfallingsoperfectly-seemingdownintoitselfIremember
thinkingitwasfallingsortofthewayanelegantladyfaints,butitwasMrs.
Bracero'snormallyprettymuchuselessandirritatingson,Duane,who
pointedoutthatwhatitreallylookedlikeisifyoutooksomefilmofaNASA
liftoffandranitbackward,whichnowafterseveralreviewingsdoesseem
dead-ontherewereatleasttenpeopleinthehouse.Thelivingroomwas
dimbecauseinthesummereveryonekeepstheirdrapespulled.*
Isitnormalnottorememberthingsverywellafteronlyacoupledays,orat
anyratetheorderofthings?Iknowatsomepointforawhiletherewasthe
soundofsomebodymowinghislawn,whichseemedtotallybizarre,butI
don'trememberifanyonesaidanything.Sometimesitseemslikenobody
speaksandsometimeslikeeverybody'stalkingatonce.There'salsoalotof
telephonicactivity.Noneofthesewomencarrycellphones(Duanehasa
pagerwhosepointitunclear),soit'sjustMrs.T.'soldwallmountinthe
kitchen.Notallthecallsmakerationalsense.OnesideeffectoftheHorror
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seemstobeanoverwhelmingdesiretocalleverybodyyoulove.Itwas
establishedearlyonthatyoucouldn'treachNewYork;212yieldsonlya
weirdwhoopingsound.PeoplekeepaskingMrs.T.'spermissionuntilshe
tellsthemtoknockitoffandforheaven'ssakejustusethephone.Someof
theladiesreachtheirhusbands,whoareapparentlyallgatheredaroundTVs
andradiosattheirworkplaces;forawhilebossesaretooshockedtothinkto
sendpeoplehome.Mrs.T.hascoffeeon,butanothersignofCrisisisthatif
youwantsomeyouhavetogetityourselfusuallyitjustsortofappears.
FromthedoortothekitchenIrememberseeingthesecondtowerfalland
beingconfusedaboutwhetheritwasareplayofthefirsttowerfalling.
Anotherthingaboutthehayfeveristhatyoucan'teverbetotallysure
someone'scrying,butoverthetwohoursoffirst-runHorror,withbonus
reportsofthecrashinPAandBushgettingrushedtoasecretSACbunker
andacar-bombthat'sgoneoffinChicago(thelatterthenretracted),pretty
mucheverybodyeithercriesornot,accordingtohisorherrelativeabilities.
Mrs.Thompsonsayslessthanalmostanybody.Idon'tthinkshecries,but
shedoesn'trockherchairasusual,either.Herfirsthusband'sdeathwas
apparentlysuddenandgrisly,andIknowattimesduringthewarFwould
beinthefieldandshewouldn'thearfromhimforweeksatatimeandhad
noideawhetherhewasevenalive.DuaneBracero'smaincontributionisto
keepiteratinghowmuchlikeamovieitis.Duane,who'satleast25butstill
livesathomewhilesupposedlystudyingtobeanarcwelder,isoneofthese
peoplewhoalwayswearcamouflageT-shirtsandparatrooperbootsbut
wouldneverdreamofactuallyenlisting(as,tobefair,neitherwouldI).He
hasalsokepthishatoninMrs.Thompson'shouse.Italwaysseemstobe
importanttohaveatleastonepersontohate.
ItturnsoutthecauseofpooroldtendonyMrs.R'smeltdowninthe
kitchenisthatshehasagrandnieceorsomethingwho'sdoingsomekindof
internshipatTime,Inc.intheTimeLifeBldgorwhateverit'scalled,about
whichMrs.Randwhoevershe'smanagedtocallknowonlythatit'sa
vertiginouslytallskyscrapersomeplaceinNewYork,andshe'soutofher
mindwithworry,andtwootherladieshavebeenoutherethewholetime
holdingbothherhandsandtryingtodecidewhethertheyshouldcalla
doctor(Mrs.Rhaskindofahistory),andIendupdoingprettymuchthe
onlygoodIdoalldaybyexplainingtoMrs.Rwheremidtownis.It
thereuponemergesthatnoneofthepeoplehereI'mwatchingtheHorror
withnoteventhefewladieswho'dgonetoseeCatsaspartofsomegroup
tourthingthroughthechurchin1991haveeventhevaguestnotionof
Manhattan'slayoutanddon'tknow,forexample,howfarsouththefinancial
districtandStatueofLibertyare;theyhavetobeshownviapointingoutthe
waterintheforegroundoftheskylinetheyallknowsowell(fromTV).
Thisisthebeginningofthevaguebutprogressivefeelingofalienationfrom
thesegoodpeoplethatbuildsthroughoutthepartoftheHorrorwhere
peoplefleerubbleanddust.Theseladiesarenotstupid,orignorant.Mrs.
ThompsoncanreadbothLatinandSpanish,andMs.Voigtlanderisa
certifiedspeechtherapistwhoonceexplainedtomethatthestrangegulping
soundthatmakesTomBrokawsodistractingtolistentoisanactualspeech
impedimentcalleda"glottal1."Itwasoneoftheladiesoutinthekitchen
withMrs.Rwho'dpointedoutthatthatweekwastheanniversaryofthe
CampDavidAccords,whichwasnewstome.WhattheBloomingtonladies
are,orstarttoseem,isinnocent.Thereiswhatwouldstrikemany
Americansasabizarreabsenceofcynicismintheroom.Itdoesn'tonce
occurtoanyoneheretoremarkonhowit'smaybealittleoddthatallthree
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networkanchorsareinshirtsleeves,ortoconsiderthatit'spossiblethat
Rather'shairbeingmussedisnot100%accidental,orthattherelentless
rerunningofspectacularfootagemightnotbejustincasesomeviewers
wereonlynowtuninginandhadn'tseenityet.Nooneelseseemstonotice
Bush'sweirdlittlelightlesseyesseemtogetcloserandclosertogether
throughouthistapedstatement,northatsomeofhislinessoundalmost
plagiaristicallyidenticaltostatementsmadebyBruceWillis(asaright-wing
wacko,recall)inTheSiegeacoupleyearsback.Northatatleastsomeofthe
shockofthelasttwohourshasbeenhowcloselyvariousshotsandscenes
havemirroredtheplotsofeverythingfromDieHardI-IIIandAirForceOne
toTomClancy'sDebtofHonor.Nobody'sedgyorsophisticatedenoughto
lodgethesickandobviouspo-mocomplaint:We'veSeenThisBefore.
Insteadwhattheydoisallsittogetherandfeelreallybad,andpray.Nobody
doesanythingasnauseousastrytomakeeverybodyallpraytogetherofpray
aloudoranything,butyoucantellwhatthey'redoing.
Makenomistake:Thisismostlyagoodthing.Itmakesyouthinkanddo
thingsyouprobablywouldn'tifwatchingalone,likeforonethingtopray,
silentlyandfervently,thatyou'rewrongaboutBush,thatyourviewofhimis
distortedandhe'sactuallyfarsmarterandmoresubstantialthanyou
believe,notjustsomeweirdsoullessgolemornexusofinterestsdressedup
inasuit,butastatesmanofcourageandprobityand...andit'sgood,thisis
goodtopraythisway.It'sjustalittlelonelytohaveto.Innocentpeoplecan
behardtobearound.I'mnotforamomentclaimingthateveryonein
Bloomingtonislikethis(Mrs.T.'ssonFisn't,thoughhe'sanoutstanding
person).I'mtryingtoexplainthewaypartofthehorroroftheHorrorwas
knowingthatwhateverAmericathemeninthoseplaneshatedsomuchwas
farmoremyownmine,andF's,andpooroldloathsomeDuane'sthan
theseladies'.
Editor'sNote:Somenameshavebeenchanged,andsomedetailshavebeen
altered.
*Mrs.T.'slivingroomisprototypicalworking-classBloomingtontoo,bythe
way:double-panewindows,whiteSearscurtainsw/valence,catalogueclock
withabackgroundofmallards,magazinerackwithCSMandReader's
Digest,insetbookshelvesusedforFranklincollectiblesandframedphotos
M P V MV P V
ofrelativesandtheirfamilies,twosmalltastefulknitsamplersw/the
"Desiderata"andPrayerofSt.Francis,antimacassarsoneverygoodchair
V
andneutral,wall-to-wallcarpetingsothickthatyoucan'tseeyourfeet
REVIEWS
REVIEWS
(peopletaketheirshoesoffatthedoor;it'sbasiccommoncourtesy).
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APivotUponWhichWeViewOurFuture:JannS.Wenner,writingin
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September,2001,onthe9/11AttacksandWhatLayinStore
MyDecadeofBinLaden:MichaelHastings,inMay2011,CallsforanEnd
totheChaosUnleashedbytheJust-KilledTerroristLeader

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/9-11-the-view-from-the-midwest-20110819

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07/01/2016

9/11: The View From the Midwest | Rolling Stone

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snideelf

a month ago

"...that you're wrong about Bush, that your view of him is distorted and he's actually far
smarter and more substantial than you believe, not just some weird soulless golem or
nexus of interests dressed up in a suit,..."
DFW was wrong about Bush. Bush really was and still is a "weird soulless golem", and a
"nexus of interests dressed up in a suit".

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Rolf Steiner

4 months ago

Who is David Foster Wallace and if he had it so together why did he not have the smarts
to seek help rather than kill himself.

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http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/9-11-the-view-from-the-midwest-20110819

9/12

07/01/2016

9/11: The View From the Midwest | Rolling Stone


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snideelf > Rolf Steiner

a month ago

This might be a good time to pick up a copy of his biography.


And read a bit about him here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Reply Share

Rolf Steiner > snideelf

a month ago

No thanks
Reply Share

Brian > Rolf Steiner

4 days ago

Sounds about right...


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Scott Rule > Rolf Steiner

4 months ago

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...


Lutz Barz

Reply Share

4 months ago

an imaginary deity would have to be insane to allow this crime to have happened. there
were too many cameras at the ready at this obscene tragedy to make me wonder how so
much serendipity can have done this. there was even a clip - later deleted- at plane
height- [how was that done I wonder] and the jet was empty. totally so as the light of the
sun went straight through it as the plane continued on its homicidal destructive path.
2

acrovader

Reply Share

4 months ago

Today, on the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks,


Barrack Obama and the Democrats hand nuclear weapons (and billions of
dollars) to the terrorist state of Iran.
Reply Share

Brian > acrovader

4 days ago

You mean like Reagan and Bush the First did in the 80s-90s?

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Lutz Barz > acrovader

4 months ago

not counting the state that started the Middle East nuclear race of course. Or that
other state next to Afghanistan given your assertion is as yet hypothetical.
1
Tracy Derrig

Reply Share

4 months ago

God bless him.


and them.

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John O'Connell

4 months ago

The Late Great David Foster Wallace. Who'd figure that you turn to Rolling Stone to
remember 9/11 the way you remembered it. A perfectly beautiful and appropriate tribute
to the memory of 9/11. I love Rolling Stone.
1

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Cheryl Pronchick

4 months ago

I was about to print this out and read it a little later when I noticed the date of its original
publication. It's in the issue I received but could not read at the time. I put it in a drawer
for another day, another time, perhaps maybe when it didn't hurt so much. Today is 14
years since the unspeakable, and I pulled it out. I think I'm ready now...


drp1003

Reply Share

4 months ago

An ocean of corn indeed. This resident of C-U salutes you, DFWRIP.

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Hard Little Machine

4 months ago

Yes living through history is a terrible thing. Better to look back and smirk at the yokels.

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Nickolaus Pacione

6 months ago

I am from Chicago and have a similar style to David Foster Wallace with The Pattern Of
Diagnosis. I have seen a lot of these flags show up around Joliet as when I ran my own
work through iwl.me the result that came was Wallace. I am sharing this on my
facebook.com and yes you do see the odd mix but he writes like a Downstater -- it's a

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/9-11-the-view-from-the-midwest-20110819

10/12

07/01/2016

9/11: The View From the Midwest | Rolling Stone


facebook.com and yes you do see the odd mix but he writes like a Downstater -- it's a
Downstate style so I can understand it. You have to catch a downstate accent when you
hear it and there is a cadence to this. He does write with a lot of integrity as we had to put
up with the disgrace called [Stephen] Glass.
1

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rOOSEY rEESEY ROWSKI > Nickolaus Pacione

4 months ago

You are a very poor writer.


1
Blo-No Pride

Reply Share

3 years ago

I've lived in Bloomington my whole life. I was there during 9/11. Some of Wallace's points
are correct, but they are just a few of the overarching stereotypes about the Midwest.
After living all over the world, I still love coming home, Blo-No (not B-N duh) is the
weirdest city I have ever lived in. Yep, State Farm acts as our Bloomington economic hub
(loving called the Golden Handcuffs) which brings in an odd mix of blue and white collar
workers. ISU brings in young liberal voices. We also have a Mitsubishi plant, a Firestone
plant, and thousands of small business owners.
This article was obviously written by an outsider who had preconceived notions of the
Midwest and especially Blo-No. This was not my town on 9/11/2001 and it's not my town
now.
4

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Shawn > Blo-No Pride

4 months ago

Well, if you would take a second to do a fraction of research you'd find that
Wallace lived all over the country during his life. I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and
"my Orlando" and the rest of the world's Orlando are two very different things. Just
because someone sees your hometown differently than you doesn't necessary
mean their view is inaccurate. Just saying.
1

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Jay Whatever > Blo-No Pride

2 years ago

Not that anyone will ever read this comment, but...


Like a lot of David F Wallace's pieces, i trust the integrity of his statements but not
so much the verbatim quoting of other people. He has shown (See J Franzen) to
play fast and loose with rules regarding factual quoting of others. He pretty much
knew no one was going to fact check his random man on the street-ish quotes.
So what's I'm going to propose is that what may ring false here are his verbatim
quotes, which no disrespect to the vastly talented and personally god-like Wallace,
I read as fabricated. I have to doubt even non-metropolitan people in 2001 thought
for more than a second that the 9/11 footage was a movie.
2

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Lutz Barz > Jay Whatever

4 months ago

a movie it was even if in bad taste. too many cameras at the ready for
perfect shots. a remarkable set of coincidences.

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Shawn > Jay Whatever

4 months ago

I read the comment and it is interesting, though I don't know if I agree with
it. All those quotes sound like things I heard people say during that time (I
lived in Central Florida), and I can certainly believe that people, especially
younger people and/or children (that seemed to be implied), would think the
footage was a movie.

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Ryan > Blo-No Pride

3 years ago

Except David was born and grew up in Champaign, IL, not more than 50 minutes
away from Bloomington-Normal. The only "preconceived notions" he may have
had about living in the Midwest came from, well, living there.
14

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A Z > Ryan

10 months ago

This is really late... But he was definitely born in Ithaca, NY. Look it up.

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a_dad66 > Ryan

2 years ago

Having grown up and lived in various parts of the Midwest, including very
close to B-N (sorry!), I consider myself an insider, and I think he got those
overarching stereotypes right. And of course, they're not negative, so
what's the problem?
8

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http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/9-11-the-view-from-the-midwest-20110819

11/12

07/01/2016

9/11: The View From the Midwest | Rolling Stone


Mitch Black > a_dad66

4 months ago

Yeah me to, he nailed the Midwest.


Jorge Osvaldo Heredia

Reply Share

3 years ago

This article is depressing piled on top of depressing taking into consideration that what
drove Wallace to his death was probably his proclivity to sense nuances in the air.
2

EFDC

Reply Share

3 years ago

I DNT UNDERSTAND
4

Reply Share

Lutz Barz > EFDC

4 months ago

honest indeed

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