- Before: “New York City – 24 Hours in Public Places”
- During: “Golf Balls”
- After: “Reinventing Normal”
Right after September 11th, we created the “Days That Follow” section here at Transom.org. Eventually, we expect to turn it into a timeline of work that resonates forward and backward from the events of that day. Creative and useful audio evidence, that’s what we’re looking for.Here in our “Shows” section, though, we’ll keep on looking for all manner of new and different pieces, not necessarily tied to those events. But this month we felt we should mark the time with work that relates.These are three pieces, each set in a temporal relationship to that day. Two come from New York City, one from Washington, DC. One is from a first-time producer, another from a seasoned journalist. Each was made within a week of the 11th and neither has been broadcast. The third piece was broadcast in 1983 and was made by a group of about a dozen recordist/producers living in New York City at the time. It was, and still is, a tribute. –Jay A
Before: New York City – 24 Hours in Public Places
Notes from Jay Allison: (September 2001) We all first met though the New School where I was teaching at the time. We started gathering once a week to listen to each others’ work and critique. And we decided to make a piece together.
We went out to record life all over the city at different times of day, not all on one day, but whenever we had a chance and could get away from our other jobs, which most of us had.
We pooled the tape and shaped a chronicle. It was simply to be an homage to the city, where many of this group still live now, 18 years later.
At the time, I had a four-track Teac and an eight-channel mixer in an old barn in Ulster County where several of us gathered one weekend to mix. I don’t remember what the weather was like, but it seems like it must have been lovely.
Recordists: Janice Ball, Portia Franklin, Alan Gingold, Katie Davis, Jay Allison, Karen Pearlman, Lou Giansante, Marjorie Van Halteren, Karen Frillman, Joanne Cooper, Charlie Gilbert.
Associate Producers: Janice Ball, Katie Davis, Charlie Gilbert, Karen Pearlman.
Narrator: Lou Giansante.
Executive Producer and Engineer: Jay Allison.
During: Golf Balls
Produced by Matt Lieber, September 11, 2001
New York City as seen from space
From Matt Lieber: (September 2001) A week before September 11th, I moved to New York with the firm, vague idea of working in Public Radio. I was on my way, in fact, to find a temp job in lieu of public radio, when the second plane hit and when I saw the man hitting golf balls in the park. The scene was strange and compelling, and I figured I ought to talk to him on tape, a thought which was immediately followed by feelings of shame and self- indulgence. Shame for wanting to capitalize on this moment, for exploiting it. Exploitation is complicated, and I believe its the cardinal sin of documentary. There is nothing more disappointing than a radio story which amounts to so much pointing and staring.
I did the interview, collected sound, and sat on it for a few days. I told a friend the story about this man hitting golf balls as the World Trade Center collapsed, and he thought it was remarkable. I didn’t tell him that I had recorded the man until I had convinced myself that I was not, in effect, pointing and staring.
I got a Sony MR-70 minidisc recorder and a Shure SM-58 microphone this summer and recorded a total of 3 minutes 37 seconds of me walking around my house, flushing toilets, opening and closing doors, and unloading the silverware tray from the dishwasher. I couldn’t bear to speak into the mic, or to hear my own voice played back, and I put the equipment in a bag under my bed. I took it back out on September 11, and this was the result.
About Matt Lieber
I’m 22, I just graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine, where I spent four years working in College Radio. I interned at The Connection, dearly departed, and now I need a job.
After: Reinventing Normal
National Cathedral, Washington, DC
Photo: Joshua Barlow
From Katie Davis: (September 2001) I spend hours every day immersed in the troubles and astonishments of my Washington D.C. community and when I sit down the next morning to write often that is what wells up: neighborhood stories.
Through Neighborhood Stories, I am exploring the role of participant observer. This is not a role most journalists are comfortable with but I see it a natural evolution of my two passions – writing and community activism. The core of what I am writing about are experiences that I witness as a community organizer and youth worker. As a participant I have an intimate view of events and as a trained observer, I can step back and find the contours of the story.
About Katie Davis
I earn my living as a writer and am a regular commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and a contributor to PRI’s “This American Life.” I also write op-ed pieces for the Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post and a magazine called “Hope.” I have worked as a reporter, anchor and field producer for NPR- both nationally and internationally.
In addition to my professional writing credentials, I am the founder of a neighborhood youth group – The Urban Rangers Youth Service Corps. For eight years, I have worked with some 50 young people-age 10 years to 24 years old. The youngsters are both Latino and African American. I do a little bit of everything with these kids- repair bicycles, hike, landscape, coach basketball, tutor, counsel, encourage them, match kids with mentors and therapists, find internships for them and help their families when they face job loss, addiction or eviction.
Sample more of Katie Davis’ work at: