Padraig’s chomping pretzels as he surveys his political history from his West Ravenswood apartment, a former hospital. He grew up in Roger’s Park, in the house his parents still live in, moved to attend school at UIC, then headed West for a few years. After September 11, he says, “There were no programming jobs.” He came back to Chicago, pretty sure we haven’t been given the full story on September 11.
At the time—don’t laugh—I was still consuming AOL. It was kind of my front-end to get online and maybe for emails, and I happened to be up very early that day. At that point I had had so many jobs that required getting up in the morning that I pretty much became a morning person, a person that’s not even drinking. So anyway, it’s like ten to six, and I see on AOL it says, Small Plane Hits Building in New York. I was in that building, significant changes of my life occurred while I was at the World Trade Center campus for five days five years ago, ’96. So I was visibly shaken. On the next day, I cried all day September 12th, that’s all I did was sob all day, that’s all I could do. By the following night I was meditating and of course I was out of work, I just left a contract. I didn’t think it was that bad, it was August 15th, I thought, I’ll get a job after Labor Day no problem. And then this happens.
Long story short, I heard the official story that looked like a story and wasn’t making any sense. Then there was this one guy, Jacob Israel, heard of him? Emperor’s New Clothes dot net? I saw it online somehow. This was pre-Google of course, and when I saw what he had posted, it was disturbing as hell. You know, I’m someone who didn’t think JFK was killed the way they said he was, so I already had this idea, well maybe we’re being lied to again. I kept researching it while I was at work and the more I researched it I thought, I think I know what’s going on, but if I can meet someone who was there that day . . . Well, that didn’t happen, though I met a janitor William Rodriguez* five years later and I was convinced that what I think is the case is probably true: The facts have not really come out about who can be held responsible. We need a new investigation. I can’t point a finger. I certainly know what didn’t occur: two years of physics in college, I know how hard it is for things to fall so neatly on themselves. I was very mad about that, but there was never a huge protest around that except for the Boston Tea Party in 2006.
Then of course in the Fall of ’04 there was a big election, and I was trying to get Nader on the ballot, but when I heard that John Kerry quickly conceded and that Ohio was screaming foul play I took my last 110 dollars and gave it to someone I barely knew, this lady Doctor Laura, who was having meetings at Healing Earth regularly. It was this little knick-knack, incense and books and clothes for those that are, you know, into that. Goth or—I can’t really describe it. They were having meetings near Ashland and Lincoln. She said, We’re having a caravan and we’re gonna go to Columbus, Ohio and we’re gonna lobby the US Senate. I’m like OK. Let’s go. It was great. Jesse Jackson, I met David Cobb, the guy from Texas who ran the Green Party. We went there and we lobbied for two days. I put my last money on that. I felt like, this was something I feel good about. I didn’t vote for John Kerry, I was too informed, but people who voted from Ohio were really insulted.
I just think that, if a democracy, number one, is everyone gets to vote and number two, their votes are counted correctly, the rest of government comes after that. The ability to tax you, the ability to fine you, put you in front of a court. But if your vote is not able to be cast or your vote’s not counted for the person you voted for, then we don’t have any kind of a republic. We have a complete totalitarian government. Even though I didn’t like who they voted for, I still think that that vote shoulda counted for idiot number 1, being John Kerry. So I was very mad about that cause it speaks to not having a Constitution with any weight in it. Then I heard that Harvey Wasserman, you heard of him? He’s one of these guys from Ohio that’s a big-time author and he’s also into non-nuclear power and for clean water. He said that he corned John Kerry in a coffeehouse in New York and John Kerry said, Well the Rehnquist court is corrupt. I knew if it went up there I’d lose. That was one of those off-the-mic kind of things but it was said to him. Well, Harvey Wasserman thinks 9/11 happened the way it was reported, but I don’t think he’s wrong on this, I think I don’t think he would make that up, that John Kerry said that to him. Since this guy is from Ohio, this is personal for him because his state is where the election was flipped for the wrong guy. Bush. . . .
I don’t like being part of an empire. I think the American flag, the United States flag, is the new swastika. I stopped using the word America about a year and a half ago and I realized America goes from the North Pole to the South Pole and we’re just one tiny part of it, so I try to say I’m a USA-an. . . .
I try to push my ideas at people way too much. I kinda let that become who I am, so I’m trying to unset that, just you believe what you believe. I’m trying to get to a more neutral place. Like my mom, who doesn’t try to convince anybody of anything.
*William Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican-born janitor at the World Trade Center the day it fell, had a set of master keys that allowed him to bring firefighters into the North Tower after it was struck by American Airlines flight 11, eventually leading 15 people to safety. He is thought to be the last man to leave the tower before its final collapse, and in the years following September 11, 2001, he raised funds and advocated strenuously for undocumented workers and victims. His version of the events of September 11th differ greatly from the official version.