Catharsis 2.

The towers of the world trade center innocently stand tall on a cool, fall day in 2000. Uncle Ricky works on the 78th floor of the South Tower; a lawyer by trade, Uncle Ricky has always been quite smart.

Uncle Ricky took a picture of his 2000 world series patch probably to stitch it on his newly purchased Derek Jeter Jersey. Hope he did. He said it would be mine someday.

Last row of Yankee Stadium during the opening festivities of the 2000 World Series. It is the Yankees versus the Mets, both New York Teams. The championship would be deemed: The Subway Series. Uncle Ricky is elated he can share in the moment.

Uncle Ricky does his best impersonation of the Yankee play-by-play announcer: “Yankees win, THaAaAaaAAAAaa Yankeeeees, win”


Parading down “The Canyon of Heroes” in lower Manhattan, Uncle Ricky uncharacteristically skips work to take this picture from his buddy’s office window.


Uncle Ricky tells me it’s tradition-every championship team of the major American professional sports leagues meets the President. Here are the 2000 Yankees with President George W.Bush


A young Derek Jeter optimistically looks forward to a great 2001 baseball season.



United 175 hits the Second Tower

Jet fuels ignites an explosion comparable to a bomb

falling man

Seems so insignificant against the backdrop of the massive tower. But it’s still somebody’s life. Just…who’s?


Too many questions to ask. Too many questions to answer. In this moment, though, very powerless to do either.

Everybody knew somebody that day

FDNY assesses the daunting (to say the least) task before them as they try to clean not only the towers, but an entire city. Some families lost their loved ones, some were lucky. Some never found out which one.


…a very exhaustive task indeed

America stopped. Life stopped. And so sports stopped.

But we climbed. We raised our chins. Our pride. Our FLAG.


NYPD officer protects the field; with the World Series serving as a reminder as to what he protecting; sanctity

The American flag is appropriately spread across the field. The Yankees played the Arizona Diamondbacks that year. As the flag spans the field, the World Series spans across the country, uniting us, once again, as one.

“Yessir, Mr. President.” “No, Derek, thank you”

I fear nobody. I am the President of the United States. 60,000 people concentrated stadium. Millions of Americans watching. Terrorist threats. No. We go on. PLAY BALL.

Derek Jeter steps up to the plate. For me. For New York. For America.

The release. Some said the Stadium shook when Jeter hit that homerun. For that one moment, everybody forgot.

…and then I remembered. It was just like Uncle Ricky had always said.

To me, my photographic essay really stayed the course throughout. I knew this is the story I wanted to tell and I knew that my intention was to have a very personal story, yet present it in a way that everybody could relate and understand. And it seemed that my classmates did understand, as Maxine posted: “This narrative, to me, tells the story of New York post 9/11, torn apart by tragedy, but also bound together in their resilience to carry on with one of the most classic of American values–the love of baseball. This is a story of the spirit of a state that refuses to stop living and celebrating because of tragedy.”  I don’t think I could’ve written it any better.

Everybody had a different coping mechanism post 9-11, but for my family, the Yankees provided a way to escape the horrors and return to tradition. I included a fictitious name (Uncle Ricky) in the captions because I wanted to remind people that although we could all relate as a collective tragedy, there were individuals that were lost. It is the individuals that we remember; sometimes I feel that tragedy is only remembered on a macro-level because not everybody experiences loss (hence, another caption, “Everybody lost somebody that day”). So to me, an important part of this presentation was to also keep in mind that death is individual and personal- and that is why I included the falling man.

But, to return, baseball created a way for my family, the city, and the country to get behind something yet again- to feel one with other; to share in tragedy just as much as we were sharing in glory with the Yankees and New York City.

My FAVORITE picture is Derek Jeter literally and metaphorically stepping up to the plate. He is my hero, and I think that picture captures his deistic aura that inspired and continues to inspire so many people. His homerun lifted the spirits of a City- he is equally Captain America, at least in that moment, as the President of the United States. I have him shaking the President’s hand because in that moment it isn’t shortstop and President- it is two U.S. citizens doing their duty to repair the country. That sequence to me is absolutely amazing.

The last thing I want to say is the President throwing out the first pitch. Although I only show him holding his thumb up, the subsequent pitch he threw was right over the middle. It was perfect, in fact. The President at the time was wearing a bullet proof vest. He was scared and he openly said he was after the fact. But he still delivered a strike in that moment. Very powerful imagery for me.

Additionally, I did keep in mind the theoretical, academic presentation, as my subsequent analysis of the Falling Man picture demonstrates:

The “Falling Man” picture represents the tragic death of the 3000 people. It is as Barthes said:

“…the discovery equivalence. In front of the photograph of my mother as a child, I tell myself: She is going to die: I shudder… over a catastrophe which has already occurred. Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe.”

The poignancy of this photograph was “the discovery…over a catastrophe which has already occurred.” The photograph captures the result that we know unfolded. There is no return, no way to help, no way to effect change- the man is falling and is inevitably going to die. The story developed in and within itself and the photograph as an “imagetext”, as a self-promulgating photo, demonstrates Barthes point. It symbolizes the death and tragedy of the attacks.

Thus, to conclude, all in all, I think it was a successful prompt.

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4 Responses to Catharsis 2.

  1. maxinesrich says:

    This is my favorite photo narrative posted (nice job, Ross). I had never thought to tell such a story from history. I would title this narrative, “America Stands Tall”. This narrative, to me, tells the story of New York post 9/11, torn apart by tragedy, but also bound together in their resilience to carry on with one of the most classic of American values–the love of baseball. This is a story of the spirit of a state that refuses to stop living and celebrating because of tragedy.

  2. Sheila Jelen says:

    I call this “9/11 Yankees” although you already called it “Catharsis” (you couldn’t resist giving it a title yourself, could you?) Your use of Barthes in your construction and analysis of this photo essay is beautiful. Excellent work.

  3. Sheila Jelen says:

    Wow. You have a lot going on here. I thought your Uncle Ricky narrative was very interesting, and appreciated your giving a bit of the background for it in your reflection. I wonder if you might have considered incorporating some of your theoretical thoughts on the image of the “falling man” into your final reflections in a more organic way, instead of tacking it on at the end.

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