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Nerves Of Iron

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  • Nerves Of Iron

    ************************************************** *************
    This message is reprinted under the Fair Use
    Doctrine of International Copyright Law:

    ************************************************** *************


    TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2005 - ON PAGE D6
    ================================================== ===========


    NEW TV DOCUMENTARY Captures Fearlessness And Friendly Rivalry Of Mohawk And
    Newfoundland Ironworkers Rebuilding The Third Tower To Fall At The World Trade
    Centre On 9/11


    ================================================== ===========

    The winds up there are fearsome, the air thin, the ground far, far away.

    The two teams of ironworkers - Mohawks from the Kahnawake Reserve and
    Newfoundlanders, raised on generations of climbing through the rigging of tall
    in rough Atlantic seas - don't look down, however. They have a job to do -
    rebuild a section of the World Trade Centre, and restore a small portion of
    to New York City's skyline.

    Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker Jerry Thompson knew the story of
    iron-working Mohawks was compelling subject matter, but worried it was already
    well known. But the closer he looked at this particular job, the more he
    realized there were aspects of the story yet to be told.

    The fact that the Twin Towers weren't the only skyscrapers to fall in the
    Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, for example. The fact that sea-going
    Newfoundlanders are also "slamming iron", as it's called, on New York City's
    skyline, 50
    storeys above the ground. The fact that the Mohawks and Newfoundlanders have a
    good-natured but spirited rivalry, to see who can outdo the other and be first
    to reach the clouds.

    And so, quelling his nerves, his fear of heights and lingering doubts about
    the logistical practicality of shooting a documentary 520 feet above the ground
    with no safety net, Thompson set about making his film, Slammin' Iron:
    Rebuilding the World Trade Centre, alongside producer Leigh Badgley.

    Six months and 25 shooting days later, Thompson was a changed man.

    "They're not just tough guys," Thompson said. "You realize after you spend
    time with them that there's this real humanity to them. There's a sense of
    honour and pride --- and sadness and caring too. And that did surprise me, in a
    way. I didn't expect guys to open up as much as they did. They're definitely
    tough guys, there's no doubt about that, but when we saw the way that they
    to 9/11, we could see that there was this whole other side to them that was
    really quite interesting. It was not just a one note song."

    To a man, every ironworker Thompson encountered had been involved in the
    clean-up at Ground Zero after 9/11, and were involved in rebuilding No. 7 World
    Trade Centre, occasionally referred to as Tower 7, the third tower to fall in
    the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

    Few people realize there was a third building that fell at 5:30 that
    afternoon in 2001; fewer still realize that it has since been rebuilt.

    "Oddly enough," Thompson recalled, "almost nobody else was covering that

    Filming required a level of physical fitness that verged on extreme. Steel
    cage elevators - so-called "man hoists" - didn't go to the top of the building;
    the upper construction decks, where all the filmmaking action was, were not
    physically connected to the building. The cameramen had to climb the last 38
    feet on hand-over-hand ladders, with their gear strapped to their backs.

    "You can actually feel the building sway in the wind," Thompson recalled.
    "You approach the outside edge of the top floor and you see that there's no
    ceiling, no harness, no safety net - just two strands of steel cable about the
    of your little finger. And you look over the edge and you think, 'OK....' "

    Thompson kept his nerve.

    "You realize you've made it that far, you're going to be all right. I suppose
    if I'd had a different reaction, I couldn't have done the film. I was just
    lucky. There's no other word for it. You're either affected by that or you're

    Thompson didn't take any stupid chances, and neither did his crew. The more
    time he spent up there, however; the more respect he gained for the ironworkers
    who take their lives in their hands, day in and day out. A massive iron cross
    has been erected on the Kahnawake Reserve, in commemoration of the Mohawk
    ironworkers who have lost their lives in Manhattan's crosswinds and at other job

    sites throughout the world.

    The Mohawk ironworkers and the Newfoundland riggers don't believe there's any
    such thing as a fear gene, Thompson said.

    "Life magazine has done these stories about whether there's some sort of a
    gene, a gift, a sense of balance that's somehow better than the rest of ours.
    They all think, nah, that's just a lot of hooey."

    The first time Thompson asked that question of veteran Mohawk ironworker Kyle
    Beauvais, who appears throughout the film, Beauvais just laughed.

    "He said, 'No, it's not true that we have no fear of heights. It's just that
    we handle fear better than you do.' I thought, OK, that seems a good way to
    summarize it. These guys come on the job, and they've been told about it by
    their fathers and their granfathers since they were 5 years. There, must be
    something to that. Your sensitivity to the fear drops over time. Their culture
    to embrace it. These guys are good at it, and they've stayed with it. But do
    Mohawks die any less than other guys in that trade? No, If they fall, they get
    hurt, too."

    the Passionate Eye on CBMT-6
    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

  • #2
    That's a wicked cool story dude.


    • #3
      I agree.. one of the best one's I have ever seen written!
      Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


      • #4
        I watched this story on television.... its awesome; the dedication these workers have... the pride they take in thier work. It was truly a touching story.

        ~~~ Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up. ~~~


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