There is a light that never goes out

…Well, here we are folks, at the Cleveland Airport (thanks for the recommend Sudha, but I think I’ll fly direct next time).

For me, this weekend was more than remembering Paul, it was about remembering who I am, who my friends and extended family are, and — most importantly — what Paul and the 3,000 other victims of 9/11 continue to stand for.

Yes, we’ve moved on and rebuilt, but we must also remember there’s a way of treating one another: with kindness, sincerity, humor, grace, intelligence and fairness. I saw a lot of that this weekend in the spirit of 9/11. I hope this feeling is one I won’t need another decade to revisit.

To honor this, a few photos of the WTC site below as well as a few thank yous:

Thanks to all who encouraged me to share the weekend of events. We all cope in different ways, and for me, taking photos and being able to write a few things down is my way. I appreciate the good thoughts even if I tend to do what I criticize most in others’ writing (rambling and wrestling with the written word).

Thank you Sudha for letting Chris and I crash in your apartment. Someone once said guests are like fresh-cut flowers and are nice for a day or two but should be thrown out as soon as they start to wither.

I appreciate your willingness to not throw us out after three days of walking, eating, running and beers …caused us to wither and wilt right there on your couch. Oh, and thanks for sneaking us on the subway.

Thank you Chris for making the trip with me. I see how dedicated you are as a husband and a father and I know it killed you to be so far away from Lyns and the kids during an emotionally charged weekend (yes Lyns, a HUGE thank you to you as well for being so understanding …I hope you got that chair at Pier 1 — you earned it).

Chris, you’ve been there for me in every capacity that a friend can be not only this weekend but over the last decade. You are the best Loser a guy could know and, like you recently wrote of Paul, just a great friend.

To Eugene, Todd, Lassila and the rest of the Brown guys as well as the San Marin crew sending thoughts and prayers from back home, thank you for being part of my life: I know everyone believes their group of friends is special, but I don’t believe, I know you are.

Thanks to Ron and Muffy and the Sloan family for the gift of your son, Paul. I know there are times when you wonder where his misfit friends come from (or are going), but you’ve continued to embrace us as extended family with your kindness, trust and graciousness.

Paul was the best friend a guy could ever ask for. So thank you too, Sloané, for continuing to be there for us. Your love and guidance, strong opinions and strong resolve, tireless work ethic and huge capacity to love and laugh will never, ever be forgotten.

One of the 9/11 memorial quilts which hangs near the library space at the Met. This is how we ended our day there Monday (see: post below).

One of the 9/11 memorial quilts which hangs near the library space at the Met. This is how we ended our day there Monday (see: post below).

Everyday is like Monday (at the Met)

Monday, we were treated to a private tour of the Met Museum, courtesy of my friend and former coworker, Lucy Redoglia.

Lucy has one of my favorite New York stories: She moved to Manhattan a little more than three years ago with nothing but two Tahoe cats and a desire to spend the remainder of her 20s making it in the big city.

Prior to the move, the Pasadena native had never spent more than a week on the East Coast and though I’m sure growing up in LA gave her a bit of a city edge, enjoying Tahoe life sanded that edge right off.

Upon arriving in the big city of dreams, Lucy found herself visiting the Met multiple times a week. A graphic designer by trade, she has a voracious appetite for art and figured a museum with a million square feet of gallery space was a good place to satisfy that hunger.

She got the idea for her blog: ‘The Met Everyday’ which would feature a new artifact, exhibit or factoid …everyday. A Twitter feed followed and soon Lucy had a following of her own. Check out her profile/slideshow here.

…Fast-forward about a year and Lucy’s blogs and tweets started to turn up on Google alerts. The Met took notice and she was offered a temporary position as an online image coordinator replacing a woman on maternity leave.

Temporary has become full-time-plus as Lucy currently puts in 12-hour days coordinating, editing and uploading (literally) every image for the Met’s soon-to-relaunch Website and its 47 million annual online visitors.

In all this, she still found two hours to lead a private museum tour Monday (see: Blitzkrieg) for Chris, the Sloans, Sudha and Julie and myself. Thank you so much Lucy. Your passion for the museum and dedication to living out your New York dream is infectious.

The museum is closed on Mondays to the public, so here are some photos to show what an empty Met feels like:

Reservoir (Met) Dogs.

Catching Chris in a moment.

…This is what quiet looks like.

No escaping this Egyptian tomb.

Probably my favorite picture of Sudha ever.

Lucy calls this the Star Wars vase …Sudha wants one.

Proof Lyns, that he didn’t forget the camera.

Frank Lloyd Wright living room. Yes, please.

Sudha and Julie pricing out priceless art in visible storage. (“Is that Kip?” Sudha asked.)

Contemplating (Lucian) Freud

So that’s where you’ve gone, Joe DiMaggio.

Sudha considers Pablo.

Sorry Ron, not for sale….



Andy’s Mao.

The original Ms. Liberty. Those French, always skimping on their portion sizes.

Me shooting Chris shooting the view from the Met roof.

Sudha Gorla’s Day off.

The kids are alright.

Remind you of anything?!:

Will DeRiso

Apologies for the blurry photo. This is Ron and Muffy Sloan talking to a gentleman named Will DeRiso.

Will approached our table near the end of the KBW reception cocktail hour and introduced himself to the Sloans, “I’m Will,” he said. “I worked with your son. Paul was great.”

Will works for KBW on the sales side and was hired the same month as Paul in late 2000.

Will and Paul also happened to be the same age.

Will, with short-cropped salt-and-pepper hair, a wedding band and a smart casual gingham dress shirt/pink tie combo, could’ve jumped off the pages of GQ — reminding me of Paul’s preternatural ability to dress.

He said the first thing he remembered after meeting Paul was the total shock he felt upon learning his coworker was a former (almost) 300-lb. O-lineman from Brown.

"I just didn’t get how someone could go from this," he spread his arms wide, "to that" shrinking down his hands an inch apart.

"I spent a lot of time with Paul my first few months at KBW," he said. "One of my favorite guys, definitely."

Paul was in research but Will said his sales training required he sit at every desk; his rotation with Paul’s group ended just before 9/11.

That morning, Will was working on the trading side of the 89th floor of the South Tower when the first plane hit the North Tower.

Will said as soon as the plane hit the first tower, the loudspeaker went on with a message for workers to sit tight and wait. A trader next to Will made haste, grabbing him and a pair of others to get out of the building using the stairs.

The foursome descended the stairwell and made it to the 73rd floor before pausing for a moment to regroup and think about the decision.

Will said the small group noticed “nobody else from the (89th) floor was coming down.”

"We talked it over for a minute and said maybe it was just the North Tower that would be hit and we should go back up and sit back down."

Will said the foursome decided to turn around and go back up. By this time, folks were passing them in the stairwell descending. Trying to climb back up to the 89th floor was too much like swimming upstream, “Plus,” he said, “I’ve never climbed 17 floors in my life.”

It was decided, then, the group would head down to the bottom floor, grab a coffee and wait to see what’s next.

When the men reached the 55th floor, the second plane hit the South Tower, killing the 66 who remained at KBW, including Paul.

"People think there was a lot of time to make decisions, there wasn’t," Will said. "I was lucky enough to be in the right spot on the floor. We’re talking 15 minutes, total. That’s not a long time."

The thing that struck me about Will, and something Chris pointed out later, was how engaging he was. He wasn’t matter-of-fact about his story, but he didn’t seem to take any of the credit for his tale of survival. He considered himself one of the fortunate ones, but he also carries with him every day the memory of those left behind.

He spoke slow and calm capturing the attention of all within range, but his overall demeanor was gregarious, smiling, engaging and sincere, much like Paul. 

I have a feeling Will DeRiso doesn’t share his story with many folks. I don’t think he has to.

It’s the Will DeRisos of the world, I believe, who continue to put a human face on the tragedy of 9/11, and a very American face at that — a living example that hard work, dedication and strong beliefs can build a better world from ash and rubble

Though I only met Will DeRiso for a brief moment, he is a testament to life being so finite, fickle and, in the end, final. Will reminded me that every day, every person is a gift.

KBW 9/11/11 reception Part II

Afternoon by the KBW Memorial in Central Park soon gave way to evening.

Several hundred attendees enjoyed sushi, wine, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings along with speeches and music honoring the fallen from KBW employees both past and present.

KBW hosts the gathering annually and John Duffy, KBW Inc.’s chairman and CEO said he expected a “good turnout” but was overwhelmed with the number of people who came to honor the firm’s 66 employees who perished 10 years ago.

Here, a few photos of the Sunday evening event in balmy Central Park:

I love this picture of Eugene and Julie. ‘Gene with his best wrestler pose and Julie with a genuine laugh.

Sarah (Sloan) Funk commented after reading this blog that I was eating my way through New York …felt like I was trick-‘o-treating for sushi.

Under the big top.

Full house.

This photo kind of goes with the previous entry (at the seal pond in Central Park Zoo near the KBW Memorial) but I thought it stood alone. It was taken just moments after the Sloan family placed flowers at the KBW Memorial and said a quick prayer for Paul. There was an impromptu gathering at the pond to watch the seals at play. Here, Ron Sloan holds Paul’s nephew Sam as the seals splash around. Hard to imagine a better image this trip.

This photo kind of goes with the previous entry (at the seal pond in Central Park Zoo near the KBW Memorial) but I thought it stood alone. It was taken just moments after the Sloan family placed flowers at the KBW Memorial and said a quick prayer for Paul. There was an impromptu gathering at the pond to watch the seals at play. Here, Ron Sloan holds Paul’s nephew Sam as the seals splash around. Hard to imagine a better image this trip.

KBW 9/11/11 reception Part I

Every year, KBW hosts a reception to honor the 66 employees who perished in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. KBW is now more than 600 employees strong.

John Duffy, KBW Inc.’s chairman and CEO, lost his 23-year-old son who’d just started working for the firm. He annually gives a short keynote in the Central Park Zoo, where KBW has placed a memorial to honor those who perished. 

A few photos from the late-afternoon/early evening:

On Sudha’s couch ‘getting ready’ for our 9/11 run in the early afternoon. Sudha does an eight-mile ‘Paul’ loop through Central Park every year …cruising by Paul’s apartment (on about 90th and 5th) and around the rim of the park to the northern end and then curving back down — stopping at Strawberry Fields, of course — to the southern tip and out at 72nd past the horse-drawn carriages.

Though the three of us (me, Sudha and Kayser) had, um, felt better during runs before, I can’t imagine a crew I’d rather choose for a jaunt through the park. Our conversations ranged from Xanadu, rollerblading, John Lennon’s Lost Weekend and, of course, Paul stories. The miles ticked by too quickly and, at the end of it, I felt we’d picked up a fourth along the way…

Showered up/collared shirts …Gorla, Lassila and me on the rooftop of an outbuilding of the Central Park Zoo. We were the first to arrive at the KBW reception (hear that mom!) and killed a little time with this kind of photo-taking… then someone checked his phone for game scores/fantasy updates and we realized it’d be awhile till people started to arrive so…

It was off to Mickey Mantle’s we went. Classic sports bar on the southern end of the park saluting its titular Yankee slugger. This is Sudha sneaking a look at the flatscreen where his Browns are about to go down to his intra-state rival (and girlfriend’s team) the Bengals.

Much better. Back at the reception with Eugene and Julie I-n-o-z-e-m-c-e-v. Did I get the spelling right, Euge?

Sorry Paul, had to leave the balloon bouquet at home.

Gorla, Kayser, Lassila equipped with flowers to place at the KBW Memorial just behind the zoo’s seal pond.

A couple places flowers at the KBW Memorial.

It was our turn next…. Chris and I stood next to Mrs. Sloan and were going to let her go place her flower, but she looked at us and said, ‘OK, here we go boys.’ I slipped the camera away because, like most moments uncaptured, it was my most poignant of the afternoon.

Gorla and Lassila.

…After the flowers/memorial — it was time to check out the seals. This is Kate, Will and Sarah (Sloan) Funk’s youngest. Though she’s a native New Yorker, Kate pointed out that the seal is the Giants’ mascot.

Though the day was somber and all voices in dulcet tones, this guy got up on his rock and started barking loud — reminding all of us that every situation always calls for a little comic relief.

How KBW rebuilt

Paul went to work for Keefe Bruyette & Woods (KBW) in 2000.

Here, a short Bloomberg-produced doc about the company’s rebuild post-9/11. It’s worth a quick view just for the juxtaposition of KBW’s philosophy and that of Cantor FItzgerald, two firms who were similarly affected by the attacks and came back stronger in the decade to follow:

Paul Kenneth Sloan

Thanks to Muffy Sloan for forwarding this image from the Memorial site this morning:

Not a day has gone by this decade that your smile, your one eyebrow cocked, your loyalty to family and friends …and your laugh — oh that screaming laugh — isn’t remembered.

Those who want to see online where Paul’s name is at the site, click the Memorial Guide here.

A place of tranquility (Picture: Muffy Sloan)

A place of tranquility (Picture: Muffy Sloan)