There is a little warning at the beginning of the episode this week, as Natty answers a listener question about where he was on 9/11. Nothing horrible is said, but — I wanted to let you know the topic, as it can be upsetting.
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Natty Bumpercar 0:00
Today’s episode comes with a little bit of a trigger warning. I’m going to talk about 911 September 11 2001 somebody asked me about my experience and I thought it’d be easier for me just to talk through it then to type everything out because it was an eventful day not just for me but for the world obviously. But just so you know. So, I lived in Brooklyn, in a place called the East Williamsburg industrial park. Nowadays everybody you’ve heard of Williamsburg probably it’s like hipster capital central central capital whatever. You take the the El train over from you get over there and we’re in Williamsburg and but at the time I lived in East Williamsburg which was factories and stuff the building I lived in it was an illegal loft, which is fun. Across the street was that where they put all the dump trucks for the night that’s where they slept the dump trucks, the garbage trucks I want to be specific because dump trucks they don’t smell that bad garbage trucks smell horrific and bring along a lot of vermin a lot of rats also in my neighborhood, and maybe I’ll go more into depth about this another time but there were packs of wild dogs that would just roam the streets and it was and and people would go to this neighborhood to set cars on fire it was it was a wasteland It was a terrifying place but it was also kind of magical the the apartment that we had but just an old building, it was raw and we built our space out and I had your two stories because that I built because the ceilings are so high and my office was on the second and I had a slide a spiral slide that that came down from the top to the bottom and it was deep but that’s where I was I was in East Williamsburg and the morning that it happened my roommate kind of came and grabbed me and he’s like hey, come up to the roof something something weirds happening. And so I ran up and you know, the first tower was was already smoking and everything and it was just like oh, this is this is weird. I’m gonna run back downstairs and we turn the TV on and I grabbed my camcorder and I ran back upstairs and we were all standing up there and there’s a crowd of people on the roof at that point we’re all watching and I’m filming and because at the time I worked at the New York Times and in the the photos and graphics division, and I was like and I really honestly I didn’t think anything crazy. Like I don’t even know if I knew what happened to the first hour that’s that point I saw there’s a fire in the World Trade Center This is That’s crazy. Look at this look at that smoke Wow. And didn’t even really think about people being hurt and everything because it was just like, you know fires happen in New York City and skyscrapers it’s certainly scary and precarious but I think it’s gonna be Oh my god. Just sec second tower. There isn’t there’s got just got hit. And I was filming. And so then at that point, that’s when Yeah, your whole body just kind of it’s a shutter. It was just a chill like a gut feeling. my now wife, then girlfriend worked in the city in Manhattan on Spring Street, and that’s if you need a location, it’s
kind of it’s Southern Manhattan. So it’s it’s not very far from all the shenanigans, all the badness. And so first thought was, how do I get in touch with her? I start calling and calling and calling and I can’t get her. At the time we had two very close friends living in the city very near to me, and I had a truck that I would zoom around and his name is Gomez, gogo Gomez and silver truck. And so I called the friend and I was like are you seeing this? Do you see what I’m coming over and drove over and his his girlfriend also worked in Manhattan. So now it’s the two of us and we’re trying to get in touch with to find these people. These close people of ours that are in the city. You’re it’s it’s, it was a real moment of like, you know, you have to think about what’s happening you have to process what’s happening, but you also have to like, figure out how to get your people safe. The people you love safe. And I don’t really and cell phones were basically non existent. Like it was the the system was down. The traffic was everywhere. There’s cars, gridlock, there’s people just in the streets. And eventually, we found his girlfriend and I don’t remember how that happened. But we found her and we got her in the car. And then we went to the Manhattan Bridge, I think it was the Manhattan and not the Brooklyn I think was a Manhattan Bridge. But there were just just droves of people coming across the bridge. And you know, we kept trying to text and call and everything. And this was I had a Nokia we did have a I have a razor is crazy old phones. No, I think it was it was this Nokia and it was called like it was like a candy bar. And it was this little plastic phone. And it was bright yellow. And I think the back had fallen off. And it was it was it was great because it just kept going and kept doing it. But it was it was it was a little bit of a wreck that phone. But I think I finally managed to text her. You know, like, have friends in truck. base of bridge, we’ll wait we’ll find you whatever. And it was a tense few hours, you know, and so we finally found her and then we’re all in the truck. And we were all starving because it was later in the day at that point and we ate I feel like we ate at McDonald’s and it was a weird thing because that’s not really someplace we ate. But it was it felt very, for lack of a better term jingoistic like we it made us feel like America like Uh huh, what’s happening? Oh, eat at McDonald’s. That’ll make things it didn’t make it better, but, and then you’re glued to the television, really? And trying to take it all in and contacting relatives who aren’t in the city and know you are in this city. That was another mad rush of people calling or texting. Are you okay? Is everything okay? No, it’s not. I as I said, I saw I worked at the New York Times. And I couldn’t get into the city that day, because they closed off all the bridges and everything in the trains and everything shut down. But when I finally was, I think it was the next day that I was able to get into the city. And I was talking to somebody about this recently, that I worked something like 35 straight days, like every single day. And these were long shifts too, because it just the amount of information, the amount of images and just everything that were coming through our pipeline to get out to other papers across the world was was massive. And I feel like the way I got into the city if my brain is right, is I rode my bike up over the Queen’s was a 50/51 Street Bridge 54th Street, 57th Street, there’s a bridge up there that I went across. Yeah, it’s the 59th Street Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, kind of near Long Island City kind of over I don’t know it, but I that’s what it is. So I was able to ride across on my bike and get to the times building and basically to stay there. And
my experience is slightly different from a lot of people. Everyone’s experience is different, obviously. But being in that building and being so tied to the news and all the images that are coming in. And many images that couldn’t be published or couldn’t be sent out for print or anything was intense, and it really kind of mess my brain up because I’m seeing things that are truly horrific. And then also doing it every single day it meant you didn’t have a second to really kind of take a breath or bounce back or anything like that. And yeah, it was just constantly being exposed to these things. Speaking of exposed and this is is a really terrible thing in the city and this was for a while there was it I mean it was basically smoke but it felt like you know just smog or whatever but it was just this pervasive ever present just white ish cloudy I don’t know bro that was there for a while but much worse than that even was the smell the burning you know like the electrical burning just the building burning metal and glass and whatever and at that hung in the air for a long time and it’s weird I think it was like a week or two ago there was a fire and it was probably like 10 miles from my house 810 miles but it was an industrial fire and it was I was I was walking to get the kid at school or something like that and I got hit by this smell and you know they always say that smell is one of the most powerful triggers of memory or whatever but man that smell hit me and I was I was right back and that it was it was I don’t know it’s I don’t know how you do but the way i i i like to experience things and sometimes I’ll take a step back and I’ll look at how long the experience things and I’ll try to figure out how I’m experiencing them and why I’m experiencing them in that way and maybe why my brain is thinking of x y and z and why banjo loves to bark every time I’m doing a podcast like these are just things that I think of and that’s okay but yeah, it was 20 years ago and it it still weighs heavily on my heart and on my mind and every so often depends like you know if I am thinking about something or whatever like I can definitely still like it a little early and get upset by the whole thing oh you know as I should. It was a terrible day. It was a it was a day that I think a lot of stuff changed the world and not not for the better certainly. But that’s for another day. Speaking of another day, really quick I want to address the last podcast I had a song and some people got very worried about me. They were like are you okay? It sounds very sad. It sounds very ominous. And it was not my intention. I always I was kind of trying to I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Willy Wonka movie The first one the original one but there’s a there’s a scene where Wonka is on a boat kind of thing in the chocolate river with all the kids and he’s singing this song and it also is pretty ominous also if I’m if I’m To be honest, but that was kind of like I was trying to try to capture that in a way and and I made the song up on the spot so there was no intentionality behind it. There was no like, I’m gonna sit down and write out this sad, you know, skit wherever I was. So I apologize if if I made anyone upset or worried.
And now we’re doing this episode. Maybe next I think next episode, let’s get back to the fun. What do you think of that? I think that would be amazing. I would love that it’s October it’s rocktober. Let’s kick out the jams. Let’s raise the roof. I mean, is this the bumper podcast? Or is this the bumper podcast? It is the bumper podcast. And you guys have my bumper podcast, cut tears. And I want you all to take a minute today. Take a deep breath. Look at the sky, right? Or look at the mirror, look at yourself, and just give yourself a hug. Because the world is a lot and you need to take care of yourself. That’s important, you’re important. And you need to take care of yourself. Okay? And if you ever get you know, a little too if things are too bunu then, you know, send me an email and well I know I’ll try like helping people that’s what I do. And, and you guys helped me everyday by listening to this and I appreciate it. And now I’m gonna go drink some tea because that’s what I do. That’s what I do.
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