It's hard to write an editorial when you're speechless. It's a week after the events of September 11, 2001, and we still don't know what to say. We were in London, at the PLASA show, along with Adrienne Gurman, Ellen Lampert-Gréaux, Michael Eddy, and David Johnson, editor of Entertainment Design, who was accompanied by his wife and daughter. We were on the trade show floor when the news came through; by the time we reached a television, we saw the towers collapsing. We didn't know then that the rest of our staff, back in New York, saw it happen live.
What followed was a nightmare of uncertainty, as we tried to get out of London, while flight schedules were reshuffled on an hourly basis. We took some solace in the company of so many of our US neighbors who were also attending the PLASA show: Colin Waters, Scott Davies, Keny Whitright, Rand Clark, Marcel Fairbairn, Gary Fails, Steve Hoffman, Stan Miller, Stan Schwartz, Josh Alemany, Bill Gallinghouse, Mark Vasallo, Jeanne Taylor, Rusty Brutsché, Victor Pavona, Anne Johnston, Bob Kliegl, Bob Gordon, Gordon Pearlman, Jack Schmidt, John Fuller, Tommy Stephenson, Brian Byrne, Jonathan Resnick, Mike Wood, Steve Terry, Nils Thorjussen, Lowell Fowler, Peter Rogers, Phil O'Donnell, Bob Schacherl, Fred Foster, Larry Kellermann, Tom Folsom, Anne Valentino, Karl Ruling, Annalise Landrup, Karen Anderson, Mitch Clark, John James, and Richard Willis, to name a few. And, of course, our countless international friends who were at the show from all over the world who offered their assistance and company while we were on our extended stay in London. Thanks to Lori Rubinstein of ESTA, we were able to extend our bookings at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel. Some of us left on Saturday, others on Sunday. A few were delayed until Tuesday. People have asked us if we were afraid to fly; in fact, as soon as our planes left Heathrow, we experienced a deep feeling of relief: We were headed home.
There's a hush over Manhattan that's unlike anything we've experienced in 20-plus years of living here. There are American flags and photos of the missing posted everywhere, along with notices about where to seek medical assistance, counseling, and other services. Delis and diners are offering free services to New York police and firemen. We have always loved New York and loved living and working in New York complete with its brashness, sarcasm, and size, its eccentricity and cultural vitality. Now we love New York for its bravery and decency.
Nobody knows what will happen next. By the time you read this, something momentous may have happened, or maybe not. We don't believe in violence and, if anything is clear, it's that there's no easy resolution to this situation. Our greatest hope--and please, let it be a realistic one--is that the world will be so repulsed by the hatefulness of what has happened that they will work together to stop this kind of evil from spreading any further.
In the meantime, what we keep thinking about are the small acts of kindness that have meant so much--the words of condolence from Matthew Griffiths of PLASA, and from so many other Brits at the show, the helpfulness of the staff at the Millennium Gloucester and American Airlines, the dozens of concerned e-mail messages and calls that have poured in. Go to the "September 11 Thoughts" link on www.lightingdimensions.com to read many of these kind comments. This industry is full of extraordinary people; if there's anything to hold onto right now, it's that.