Sorting through the 9/11 tributes

September 9, 2011

Earlier this week I was emailed a press release from someone who I believe was an amateur musician letting me know about his September 11 tribute rock song. That, and this Regretsy post signify the amount of media dreck out there about honoring September 11. (There’s even a special this week about how pop culture “saved” America. Yes, pop culture, stronger than a New York City firefighter.)

If you’re like me and are trying to avoid any 9/11 coverage that seems excessively pointless (yes, we all remember where we were), maudlin or off-base, there are a few 9/11 tributes I’d like to recommend that I think got it right.

First is the New York Magazine September 11 double-issue. The magazine presents, encyclopedia-style, a breakdown of what was important leading up to, on, and after that day and includes never-solved mysteries, architectural details and sober tributes. I couldn’t stop reading it even though it occasionally made me feel nauseous (due to the subject matter, not the writing.) It’s nonfiction at its best and provides a clear-eyed look back (I thought the story on Morning Edition called “The Banality of Evil” also did a great job of solid reporting and storytelling.)

Secondly, tomorrow Showtime is presenting The Love We Make, Albert Maysles documentary about Paul McCartney putting together The Concert for New York City. I got a sneak peek at the movie (my review of it is going up on The AV Club tomorrow) and enjoyed it. It’s a different kind of tribute--it was shot in 2001, with no looking back from today, and instead of us the horror and trauma of September 2001, we see the rebuilding that takes place in October 2001. It’s a rock documentary more than anything else, which might seem like a flippant way of looking back, but it’s a lighter way of remembering that time--and it’s important to remember the rebuilding as much as the destruction. I think it’s a good tribute for people who can’t handle revisiting the details of September 11.

If you’ve observed any other 9/11 anniversary reports or tributes that you thought were especially tasteful and well-done that you want to recommend, feel free to leave them below in the comments.