I was working in Bettendorf five years ago today. I had scheduled my annual trip to the client, which typically took three days, around a concert in Iowa City by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. I planned to head to the show - a one hour drive - after finishing the day's work at the client office.
It was a gorgeous day, and I was listening to the NPR news on the five-minute drive from the motel to the client office. Nothing out of the ordinary. When I reach the client office, though, I'm told "Did you hear two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center?"
Puzzled, I asked "How could two airplanes hit the World Trade Center?" I didn't get it. One airplane - a freak accident. Two?
My client is a very smart man. He was the first I heard to suspect Al Queda. When Flight 93 crashed, he correctly suspected that the passengers took the plane down. We watched the towers collapse on his little office black and white TV. He shooed everyone out and got us back to work. Might as well; even in the top floor of the tallest building in Bettendorf, the terrorists probably weren't after us.
That left the concert. At the end of the day I called the University of Iowa ticket office, and they said the show was still a go. I had a half tank of gasoline, which was handy, because there were panic lines at the gas stations -- I thought it was moronic, because the hijackers didn't bring down any oil refineries or anything. I also thought the gas operators who raised their prices to $5 a gallon were doing the right thing - it was a way to slap some sense into the panic buyers - but the politicians cried "price gouging."
It was a great concert. I think I was the only male in the crowd with both short hair and no beard or mustache. I was probably the only accountant, too. The band started with one of their best songs, "Big Country," which now always says September 11 to me. During the concert Bela Fleck, whose family lives in lower Manhattan, said his family was all right. The Flecktones bassist, Victor Wooten, has his birthday on September 11 (happy birthday, Victor!). The band rocked, but I was strangely agitated and couldn't relax. The music was great, but I was preoccupied trying to sort out the days events and my mind kept drifting away from the music.
A year or two afterwards, Bela was touring with another great bassist, Edgar Meyer, doing a classical tour. They did a little seminar thingie during the day before the concert, and I had a chance to chat with Bela. I asked him about the September 11 show, and he said that they weren't sure whether they should play. Then Victor Wooten settled the issue when he said "We can't let them stop the music!"
That works as a battle cry, for me. The Islamists of September 11 were of the same ilk as those in Afghanistan, who literally stopped the music. They still want to. They've been trying since at least 1993. They're still at it and they'll keep at it. Nothing but our death, their death or our conversion to their death cult will satisfy them.
We can't let them stop the music.