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Monday, September 22, 2003


Well, they've got the big beams of light shooting up into the night sky over the Oregon Convention Center again this year. The huge spotlights are meant to symbolize the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and memorialize those lost on 9/11/01. The display will stay up again for another two months this year, just as it did last year.

But what's the point?

Although I mean the organizers of this memorial no disrespect, the two columns of light streaming into the night sky no longer evoke in me any connection with the events of that fateful day. Instead, they remind me of how our city government spent upwards of $100 million to double the size of the Convention Center, which to this day remains as empty as it ever was, if not more so.

To me the twin beams represent our own celestial figures, Mayor Katz and Commissioner Sten. I envision them as the Castor and Pollux of Bad Local Government, beaming all those precious tax dollars into empty, black nothingness.

Comments (6)

I believe that many of us around here (myself included) would love to see twin beams like that become a permanent part of the Twin Towers site itself. In the past when the twin beams of light shot skyward from the site, it made a dramatic statement and served as a reminder to those of us who had become accustomed to seeing the Twin Towers what had been taken away.

I can see how it might not work as well in Oregon.

Any word on the Illuminata parade, which I felt was much more thoughtful and less wasteful?

Prof, I also hope that the rebuilt WTC site incorporates the twin beam memorial. Perhaps the connection to the terrorist attact and its victims is somewhat attenuated out here in beautiful downtown Portland against the backdrop of trees and mountains, rather than concrete, what with the electric bill to worry about and all. For me, it is meaningful, the electric bill notwithstanding. My office was in 7 WTC, the building across the street from the twin towers that was also destroyed. While I was out of town on official business on September 11th, my coworkers and many other innocent people were there. My view, any memorial is at once a respectful tribute to those who lost their lives and a humane gesture. I would gladly pay your share of the bill.

I wasn't concerned about the bill for running the spotlights. I'd support even much greater expenditures for a powerful memorial that meant something.

I guess my attempted point was two-fold: (1) while twin beams make sense for downtown Manhattan, the message is kind of lost against the backdrop of little Portland, and (2) any time my attention is drawn to the Oregon Convention Center, it stirs up resentment for the grand waste of public money which that facility represents.

I guess I'd add one more thing: As several of my previous posts have indicated, I will never need a reminder of 9/11. I too had friends and relatives on the scene. They survived but will never be the same. I have a copy of the Times "Portraits of Grief" book on my bookshelf, but I hardly can bring myself to open it. To me, the WTC murders are the heaviest thing that's happened on this planet in my lifetime. In U.S. history, they're second only to the Civil War. For the City of Portland to have to remind people that they happened makes me slightly nauseous.

Prof, I know you aren't worried about the electric bill. My reference to the electric bill was metaphoric. Actually, an attempt to extend yours. Better, I should stick to tax. In any event, to me, it seemed a little insensitive to tie the building, wasteful or not, to the memorial. But its your blog, and I like it.
You have another connection to the day. My class notes for your class were destroyed. Isn't the mayor formerly from NYC?

I'm getting the sense I'm wrong about this. Sure, the OCC is a waste of dough, but the twin beacons of light are not the occasion to comment thereon.

I do wish we could come up a better response than artsy tributes and war, however.

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