Transcript of A-side of a Microcassette Tape
September 11th, 2001
11:15 a.m. – 12:40 p.m., EDT (US)
Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
< police siren, Bushwick and Powers streets, Brooklyn>
Corner Deli at 15 Bushwick Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

MAN TRANSLATING SPANISH TELEVISION: The game plan was this: to bomb Washington D.C., to bomb New York City, to bomb Chicago.

MAN: I can’t communicate. I can’t even communicate with my sister. I can’t even communicate with the people up there. I can’t even communicate with my boss. I don’t know.

EXT. DELI, 15 Bushwick
A.E. Williams: It’s September 11th, two thousand and one and uh, the polls have been closed, the world trade centers- buildings, have- (beat) are gone.

INT. 53 Bushwick, #3
(the sound of television reporting the news)
M-H. Balle: -had a dream about last night. I had a dream about UFO’s last night (notices tape recorder) -Oh, God, No, No, No!
M.T. Karthik: Yes! Listening to what you’re saying right now, I am sure that I’ll want to hear this back later on so-
MHB: Oh, please! Fuck you! Are you being condescending?
AEW: (negatively) mm-mm. No Way.
MHB: And am I being paranoid?
AEW: Well, what is paranoia, right? (points at TV)
MHB: I’ve never-
AEW: That’s not paranoia!
MHB: I told Alison earlier today that I wrote a story called falling debris about a year ago. And the story essentially was that it surprises me that I am not hit by falling debris more often than I am – which is never.
MTK: which is never.
MHB: Right, I’ve never been hit by falling debris.
MTK: Right
AEW: She’s always afraid of shit that’s falling out of buildings.
MTK: Right.
MHB: I’m afraid of- I’m afraid- I’ve always- Not afraid, but I walk around in Manhattan – especially lower Manhattan and I look up and I’m like, ‘The fact that this shit isn’t falling down on me for whatever reason amazes me.’ – the fact that these buildings are allowed to stand.
MTK: Allowed to stand?
MHB: Yeah. I have to like, I  have to hook up my other computer and print something out because-
TV: … a couple of years ago about how much U.S. authorities … attack … and now …
MHB: They’re gone now of course. We’re looking at (laughs) footage of what used to be the world trade centers. (laughs)
TV: -’ve on the phone right now, someone who both in fact and fiction has dealt with this … in …
MHB: … it’s so – They’ve already brought up-
TV: Tom Clancy-
MHB: Tom Clancy, by the way (laughing)
TV: Uh, Mr. Clancy, uh, this is uh-.
MHB:  There it is! Tom Clancy.
TV: I guess a terrible case of life imitating art
Tom Clancy: It’s a noteworthy incident, I mean, it’s not the sort of thing – It’s the sort of thing that’s best left in a novel rather than in real life. Unfortunately one of the problems with being an author is keeping up with reality.
TV: But Mr. Clancy, you also are very well plugged into this world-
MHB: he’s plugged into this world-
TV: From your own knowledge-
MHB:He’s plugged in, baby-
TV: -how concerned have the authorities been
MHB: -to this world!
AEW: (laughing)
TV: – that something of this scale could possibly hit on the- o-o-on American soil?
CLANCY: It’s Jeff Greenfield, right?
GREENFIELD: Yeah, yes.
CLANCY: Well, you’ve been here to the house. It’s uh, I had a conversation some years ago with an Air Force General about a possibility rather like this – I ended up putting it in one of my books – where you know a bad guy takes an aircraft-
MHB: a bad guy! (laughing)
TC: -into the Capitol building during a Joint Session of Congress – which, you know, could effectively decapitate the whole government-
MHB: (hysterical laughter)
TC: uh, (laughing, also) I don’t know, at the time it seemed rather humorous. You know, I said, ‘Surely you’ve thought about things like this,’ and he says, ‘Well you know, to the best of my knowledge nobody in my office has looked at this but I promise you Monday morning they will be.’ Presumably they have been- you know, they’ve considered this possibility for some time … the- the big problem is a person who is willing to, to lose his own life voluntarily in a, in a terrorist incident. People like that are relatively rare because self-preservation is indeed the first law of nature and a per-it’s  not too many people that want to throw their lives away and those who do it generally do it for religious reasons because they think there’s something good waiting for them on the other side of death- Uh, in a case like this that’s going to lead people towards, you know, talking about Is-Is-Islamic fanatics but we need to remember that Islam is a religion and it’s a religion with beliefs not necessarily very different ….
MHB: …voluntarily deciding that they want to lose their lives … or  that they wish to or that they’re willing to. So fuck you on the ‘lose your life thing.’ To declare war is not a statement decided by Congress, right? Why is it any different from a guy who lives in Omaha, Nebraska deciding that he wants to- deciding that he is willing to go to … Europe during world war two and fight. This is different than a man or a woman who decides to fly a plane into the world trade center.
GREENFIELD: -officials, uh, in doing the research – did they see an attack of this enormity or were they more concerned with the sort of smaller kind of hit and miss that we’ve followed the last several years?
CLANCY: Well, you don’t ordinarily expect terrorists to display this degree of expertise. I mean, flying an airplane is not all that ea- <channel click>
MHB: (laughter) I can’t believe that Tom Clancy is the authority on terrorism now. How many more books do you think he might sell tomorrow? <click>
VOICE:  but unfortunately you know the security you have in airports because your dealing with human beings is not perfect (unintelligible)
MHB: Actually I think he’s big on books on tape, too.
CLANCY: Somebody very carefully and <click>
CLANCY: -madman- <click>
MHB: “madman”
MHB: Wait- unedited video-
YOUNG GIRL: -huge cars – I’m standing on the corner and watching and taking pictures you could see the wings of the plane sticking out at least in the middle of the second building. (beat) I think they were delivering bombs. The explosion went up on that last one.
MHB: You know what I love-
MTK: “They were delivering bombs”
MHB: It’s the “they”.
YOUNG GIRL: Although it was probably a bomb inside the plane. They saw it to.
MHB: I’ve heard this word “they” many many many times.
YOUNG MAN ASIAN: The explosion went up like a mushroom. The second uh, the second building-
MAN W/AUSTRALIAN ACCENT: (fast) The second plane was an old prop engine plane like an old Cessna?
INTERVIEWER: Say that again.
AUSTRALIAN: (slower) The second plane was like an old prop plane, like a dual prop plane, like a Dakota(r) or something like that – It wasn’t a Dakota, but.
MHB: another authority here.
AUSTRALIAN: -it came in low from over the ocean …

[witnesses are interviewed]

MHB: Can we get Spanish? I want the Spanish channel- or Disney! I’m curious what’s on Disney- <click> lets see what else is going on in the television world <changing channels>“countless acts of kindness” can we record this  term, “countless acts of kindness” thank you. Yeah, well, let’s get BET TV on right here. I think BET TV might sum it all up for you right here.

[lots of channels, skipping around, pieces of soundbites]

MHB: That’s another thing-
[Spanish for some time]
MTK: OK, now we’ve had enough-
VOICE: (female) a source from New York City saying it is likely … it is possible that thousands of lives have been lost-
MTK: Look, (reading scroll) the White House, Pentagon and Capitol have been evacuated – look, the White House, Pentagon and the Capitol-
MHB: thousands of lives have been lost, is that what they’re saying now?
VOICE: at least in the United States, uh, in addition, the Federal Reserve- <click>

<channels skip about more, an old Saturday Night Live episode is on with a spoof of H. Ross Perot driving down the road with his running mate from when he ran for office>


MHB: -to anger, retaliation, envy, jealousy, hatred, paranoia.
MTK: This is what revolution leads to.
MHB: Well I do- not- I do believe that these are some of the things – I’m not saying that there the only things – these are some of the worst things components of what revolution can lead to. I mean look at what’s happened in other revolutionary scenarios? I mean look at China, look at the Soviet Union, and I believe that this is a statement, that says- I mean we are- the targets are two significant institutions: one, the military industrial complex which is directly linked to the world trade org- World Trade. Multi-national.
MTK: You don’t think- peaceful revolution is impossible you think?
MHB: I don’t- I believe it is- the point that I am making is that I don’t think that this- I mean, to me this is a revolutionary act.
MTK: It is?
MHB: I believe it is-
MTK: Is it a terrorist act?
MHB: It’s a terrorist- well, yes. But we need to define terrorism. This is a terrorist act, which you know, I’m going to assume that this a terrorist act as it’s being called.
MTK: Oh, wow, so you are going to give credence to every single person who’s naming this-
MHB: No, no-
MTK: We’ve got to turn the mute on immediately- immediately (TV cuts off)
MHB: I’m talking about, if this is a terrorist act, which I believe it is.
MTK: You believe it is because you have been told it is.
MHB: No, as a matter of fact no one has actually said that it is yet, right?
AEW: Yes.
MHB: They have? Oh, they have made the statement that this is a terrorist act?
MHB: I’ve heard-
MTK: They had a terrorism timeline!
MHB: I’ve heard- no one has officially been willing – other than Bush who has said the following thing: “I will hunt down the people responsible,” right? So, there is a hunt, yes.  So, here we have a res- now we already have the first tenet of what happens in a revolutionary act, which is the desire for vengeance, “to hunt down.” So the statement that’s being made here, very clearly it seems to me, is a statement that says: the military-industrial complex, the world- the world  trade scenario as it stands-
MTK: hang on, hang on … are you sure it’s not just that drunk people shouldn’t fly planes?
MHB: No. This is too significant to be drunk people shouldn’t fly planes. Drunk people who shouldn’t fly planes, accidentally hit small buildings like the ones we live in now.


MTK: Like the White House?
MHB: What?
MTK: Remember that guy some years ago-
MHB: You said, “The White House”
MHB: Was that a drunk guy? Actually it wasn’t a drunk guy-
MHB: Revolution breeds vengeance.

[stupid conversation]

MHB: We were talking not that long ago about the question of revolution. I think we were implying violence.  We talked about guns. Remember we talked about guns?
MTK: We did?
MHB: We did in the bar at The Garden. And I was like, we were talking about it as a violence against- perpetrated or enacted by one individual towards another.
MTK: That’s what- that’s what you think of as revolution?
MHB: Well, yeah we were talking about it in that context at the Garden.
MTK: hmm, ok.
MHB: I mean, yeah, ‘cause I mean, certainly revolution is a broad stroke, I mean it can mean many things revolution in art,  revolution in writing … although I don’t … there’s many-
AEW: It means ‘taking down,’ doesn’t it?
MTK: No, it means change.
MHB: see this gets very complicated.
MTK: Revolution is change.
MHB: Change happens every second, every moment-
MTK: Right. Revolution is a lot of change in a short amount of time. I’ll take the Webster’s dictionary and read the word revolution if you want.

[dictionary search conversation]

MTK: All right I’m going to try this out of the Webster’s [reads etymology and definitions of ‘revolution’ and gets to, reading]  2a. a sudden, radical and complete-
MHB: change?
MTK: change.
MHB: right.
MTK: (reading) b. a fundamental change in political organization especially the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed.
MHB: Now, that’s more-
MTK: like the French revolution.
MHB: right.
MHB: I would define it as an act of violence. I am opposed to the idea of revolution that is violent.
MHB: can we talk about this (points at TV) We are literally sitting here the three of us, watching a very significant occurrence.
MTK: You think so?
MHB: I do. Because the World Trade Center represents not only symbolically but structurally-
MTK: Mmmhmm
MHB: structurally there are mainframes that exist in those two buildings that are now gone-
AEW: 400 million dollars in each (unintelligible)
MHB: Yeah! The amount of money that is- ok there are several things: how much did it cost to build?
AEW: 400 million dollars?
MHB: How much does it cost to maintain? Not only that -Well, we know because they told us how much it cost to build- Not only that, what is the insurance – on those two buildings? Let’s think about who insures those two buildings? And my guess is it’s that insurance company in England.
MHB: I forget the name of that-
MTK: You know the name of it.
MHB: I forget the name-
MTK: Well I shan’t, uh, say it for you.
MHB: Please tell me, ‘cause I’m very bad with names, I always forget.
MTK: Chris Evert took the name, let’s put it that way, to return-
MHB: No, no, no tell me, tell me- I forget-
MTK: Are you a fan of tennis at all?
MHB: Kind of no, not really.
MTK: Chris Evert took the name, anyway what’s your point?
MHB: My point is that this has this rippling effect. These 50,000 people don’t get to go to work
MTK: Don’t get to go to work?
MHB: They don’t go to work anymore.
MTK: Don’t get to go to work?
MHB: They don’t get to go to work-
MTK: Oh-
MHB: Right they don’t.
MTK: poor kids
MHB: -seriously where do they go? I’m not talking about the people, I’m talking about the industry that exists around those two buildings. The actual industry-
MTK: Is there industry- is there actual industry?
MHB: Oh-, uh, well, 50,000 people work there-
MTK: -or is it just promotion of paper?
MHB: Oh, OK. Well, what is-
MTK: do they really work?
MHB: -capitalism? What is capitalism?
MTK: do they really work? do they really work? Or do they just move paper around to ensure that they stay powerful and wealthy?
MHB: But that’s my point.
MTK: it is?
MHB: That’s the point I’m making-
MTK: Ohhhh.
MHB: -about these two buildings- These two buildings structurally-
(phone rings AEW answers)
MHB: -maintain a (sic) international system. These two buildings, because they are called the world trade centers are symbolic of world trade. They are symbolic of trade, international trade. People who sit at computers who move things from place to place – who organize and move things are in sort of, from the lowest-
MTK: and they can be anywhere. They don’t have to be here.
MHB: No, it’s true, but structurally we don’t have a place to put these 50,000 people right now.
MTK: That’s not true, there’s a huge, massive place to put them.
MHB: OK, well, let me tell ya, it’ll be a while before these people will find another home to work in.
MTK: Yeah, but they have insurance.
MHB: Which they do, back to my original statement about the insurance company-
MTK: which is?
MHB: -that has to cover this.
MTK: unh, hunh?
MHB: The point that I am making is that there is an incredible, symbolic statement that is being made here – and The Pentagon – it symbolizes the military-industrial complex which is obviously connected to the protection of world trade and capitalism
MTK: This is the military-industrial-entertainment complex.
MHB: Well, but that’s the-
MTK: That’s what this is …
MHB: well, it’s more than just –
MTK:  … which is equally vile.
MHB: Right. Right. Well, so it’s all one big package deal – but it is a significant thing. And it’s- and to me – you know as much as I find this disturbing, and I do … it’s surreal. It’s incredible. It’s … it’s going to have rippling effects.
MTK: You think so.


AEW: (on telephone) -skin, black hair, uh, Muslim-
MHB: I just want to say I’m drunk right now-
MTK: rippling effects?
MHB: I’m saying it’s going to have a rippling effect. I don’t think this is very- I mean this is not cloaked conversation – it’s going to have a rippling effect. We already- It already has one. All airports in the country have been shut down. You cannot get into Manhattan, all the subways have been shut down. You cannot call into Manhattan, all the phones have been shut down. You cannot watch even television unless you have cable because everybody transmits from downtown. We have just closed the voting booths. We have a primary, the most significant primary in New York City history, perhaps, has just been stopped.
MTK: subverted.
MHB: right, subverted. So if this doesn’t have rippling effects, nothing will. And a minimal loss of life. Now, there’s another interesting thing: this could have been in the middle of the day, the decision was made not to make this in the middle of the day – not to fly two planes into the world trade center simultaneously at two-thirty in the afternoon. After lunch when everybody’s back in the office.
MTK: It could have been right at lunch, when everybody was out at the lunch spot so they could have a good viewing position (sarcasm).
MHB: But it’s still- you have less- you- actually, the fact is that in most of the- and this is another thing to- understand and- the way that Americans work- I mean most Americans, especially at the world trade centers start around 8.
AEW: (on phone) and the borders closed now.
MHB: This is the first bombing –  the first bombing, – the first airplane arrived at whatever, seven-thirty-five, so, about a half an hour before most people got into the office. (beat) Most people- I know people who work there – they generally start between eight and nine. The second plane arrives around what? Nine? … Nine o’clock. So by now you have had at least an hour to evacuate the building.
MTK: I find this um …
MHB: The idea is to not …
MTK: boring.
MHB: This is boring?
MTK: Yeah.
MHB: Why is this boring to you?
MTK: same shit, different day.
MHB: You don’t think that the –  (smirking) that the fact that there is no world trade center isn’t significant? The fact that the Pentagon-
MTK: If I believed there was none, it would be significant (a) and if …even if I even if – even if I did- even if there wasn’t one. What I’m sure of is that precautionary measures on the part of the people who have constructed the entire economy protect the wealthy from any real exigency or problem and the people who are going to be suffering are the ones down at the bottom getting the crumbs-
MHB: absolutely.
MTK: so, it’s the same shit, different day-
MHB: no, I understand that part-
MTK: -as far as I’m concerned.
MHB: But I’m talking about – I think I mentioned earlier – this is incredibly significant symbolically. Which is the point that I am making about why you make- I mean, if you wanted to make a decision to make a statement about the world trade – about world trade – so, hence, world trade center – with minimal loss of life-
MTK: Hmmm.
MHB: I mean, I agree with what you are saying. You do it because you know the people who go to work everyday are not – the goal is not to kill 50,000 people, the goal is to glue all of us to this symbol.
MTK: (laughs)
MHB: The entire world is watching this right now, right? 50,000 people didn’t die. Had you done it at 3:00 or 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon, everybody practically would have been back from lunch right now. So you make it strategic. You evacuate everyone at 7:45, and you fly another plane in – and whether or not there were bombs in those planes-
MTK: Well, you’re teaching me about terrorism which is something I know nothing about-
MHB: I’m not teaching you about terrorism, I’m being-
MTK: Yeah you are …
MHB: -very presumptuous.
MTK: you are literally telling me how to do it … what time of day-
MHB: I’m being presumptuous. I’m assuming that I understand the scenario here which is that there could have been 50,000 people in that building at 3:00 this afternoon. We could be going about our business right now, and it’s what? (looks at clock) 12:30.
MTK: Well, I’d like to go about my daily business, actually.
MHB: Right. So you should. And there’s no reason why you can’t. No one’s forcing you to stay here.
MTK: My daily business is voting.
MHB: Right, but you can’t vote.
MTK: I can.
MHB: No, because- the el- the booths are closed. The booths – the election booths are closed (laughing)
MTK: Well, see the funny thing about that is-
MHB: It’s primary day! How interesting is that?
MTK: um, then it’s not subversion then, is my point, it’s complicity. And complicity at that point, becomes a joke for you to be so presumptuous. So, as you continually get drunk and-
MHB:  Wait, wait, wait, no, no, don’t bring in my being drunk because I don’t think that I’m being irrational-
MTK: I don’t either, but I just think you’re being presumptuous to the point of like-
MHB: but wai-wai-
MTK: you’re telling me I can do what I want-
MHB: No, you can-
MTK: – and yet in point of fact you’re not telling me I can do what I want-
MHB: No, you said you wanted to vote-
MTK: – and then your saying there is a subversion of-
MHB: No but I already brought up the voting thing, I already brought that up. I was like, I talked- I said- I  mentioned several things- we can go ba- and that’s what’s great about this tape- we can go back and I- I had mentioned several things that have now been subverted because of this event and one of them was the primary.
MTK: and you believe that?
MHB: Well- I don’t think it’s an accident. Do you think that it’s just incidental? Is this fate? Two planes just happened to crash into the world trade center?
MTK: I don’t make- I don’t make judgements until I have seen the evidence-
MHB: Oh. Oh well, I’m being presumptuous – as I said earlier, I’m being presumptuous.
MTK: For example, air traffic controllers have much more power than pilots, for example –
MHB: They do.
MTK: and something could have happened where air traffic control is going on –
MHB: You’re right- I’m being
MTK: and what’s going on-
MHB: completely presumptuous.
MTK: is … as far as I’m concerned is-
MHB: an accident.
MTK: -absurdly presumptuous.
MHB: ah, well, I’m just saying that … I’m making a statement of presumption.
MTK: Yes, you are.
MHB: I said that several times. (beat goes to kitchen) I said that several times, Karthik. I’m not being, you know, I’m not being uh-
MTK: I am not resisting you.
MHB:  -waffling here.
MTK: I am not resisting you.. I am not resisting you.
MHB: I know you’re not.
MTK: I am not resisting you.
MHB: I’m just surprised that this hasn’t happened already, I guess.