remembering. I was in LA when the attack happened. I was sleeping in my patio/basement bedroom when Laura and Bardo yelled down that I had to get up, that something had happened. Did I sleep thru another earthquake I wondered as I walked up the outdoor staircase to the living room where they had the TV on. We all just stared at the TV for a long time. After a while we started to speak again. We didn’t know what to do, what could we do? We were 1000′s of miles away. I called anyone I could think of in NY, didn’t get through to many. It was a while before I could know what was happening to my friends. They all survived. Some never left their rooftops, others ran right into the middle of the disaster. They all made exceptional historic photos that day. Patrick, Cary, Aris and others who I cannot think of right now. Aris ran the furtherest into the fray. That is what Aris would do. Aris ran to where the action was, not thinking about his safety. It would never occur to him to NOT run that way. I know the feeling, I remember when I was in Bosnia running and pushing against the crowd going the other way, they were running from the gunfire, I was running to it. Aris ran to it, he took some photos. Then he ran away from it. he was pulled to safety into a building and he made some more photos. Aris was safe, but he was not the same, no one was. He still suffers some ill effects to this day, as many do.
All day I’ve thought of my little buddy. He has been up at our old school, RIT, speaking with some other photographers to the students, showing them the photos they made that day, talking about the effects on them. He shared an interaction he had with a woman he photographed that day - “One of the ladies asked me: ‘Why are you taking this?’” He told her, “You have to remember this. We can’t forget.”
While there was a great loss this day 10 years ago, to individuals and to the country as a whole, and I never forget about it, I always think of Aris when I think of 9/11. I am proud of my friend for the work he did and still does, and grateful that he didn’t perish along with so many others.
9.12.11 edit – Here is a link to Aris’ work from 9/11 on the Digital Journalist
Aris and I outside the Half King in NYC, circa fall 2004 photo by Cary Conover
Aris running for cover and away from the falling towers. Photo by Joe Tabacca