While I sit on an essay about Civic Theater and the road to Labor Theater in this country (and how it all grew out of the Revolutionary and Pre-Revolutionary Theater of Russia), I've been doing another research project on the side that was partly triggered by my ambivalence toward the Glorious 10th Anniversary of the Attacks on America, September 11, 2001.
Ambivalence to the point of... well, let's just say "unease."
For several years (or rather, parts of years) in the late seventies and early eighties, I worked in this building (labeled "1") in Venice, Florida:
You'll see it's directly across from an airstrip, which even then was notorious. This was prior to the "Miami Vice" era, yet it was commonly known that the airstrip in Venice was a prime landing/transfer point for illicit substances brought in from Mexico and South America. We even knew which planes were the drug carriers. It was common knowledge.
The building labeled "2" on the overhead view above was at the time a flight school, Huffman Aviation, which would become world-famous (or rather infamous) as the training site for three of the four alleged pilots (and possibly the fourth as well) of the planes flown into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the ground in Pennsylvania on 9/11/01.
Not shown, but just down the street from the flight school, is the apartment building where Mohamed Atta is said to have lived first with a number of terrorist compatriots, then later with a stripper/pizza shop manager for several months (or longer) while he was learning to fly (or...?)
I won't say what company I worked for at the time (but anyone familiar with Venice can probably suss it out without too much difficulty). The company is very well known, and it was headquartered in Washington, DC. The people they sent down to Florida were, to say the least, "characters." Some were creepy as hell, but most were simply... interesting.
The town was... interesting. That whole section of Florida was... interesting. I mentioned in a comment earlier that while I was there, I was invited to a party in the back country where I discovered that Dixie was alive and kicking. It was quite a surprise. You hang around in the towns and resorts on the west coast of Florida, and you don't even think about Dixie. Most of the people who live there are from Ohio and Michigan, Wisconsin and New Jersey etc.-- cold country -- and they've moved to Florida for the weather and what they call the lifestyle: beachcombing and whatnot. Many, of course, are elderly and they have retired to Florida in at least modest comfort.
Dixie (except in the form of Winn-Dixie supermarkets) doesn't even enter your thought processes.
But it's there and it's alive. Just beneath the surface or just out of sight in that mangrove swamp over there.
That was probably the first incident -- or "discovery" -- that put me off of Florida; eventually, I would convince myself not to go back. Too creeped out.
But recently, because of the "10th Anniversary" stuff, I've become curious about what else was going on there, what else is just beneath the surface, just out of sight, or as was the case with Atta and his friends, what else is right out in plain view.
And if the hair doesn't go up on the back of your neck as you look into these things, you will have to ask yourself whether you are still alive. Somethin' ain't right. That's for damn sure.
I was aware -- everyone was aware -- of the use of the Venice airport for drug smuggling. It was interesting but not considered such a big deal.
What I -- and I imagine most of the others I was working with -- didn't know was the long connection between the CIA and the Venice area, especially with the airport, and how that connection continued right up to the time the 9/11 pilots were being trained right next door to the CIA encampment.
Of course the story of those pilots is one of madness; so much disinformation mixed -- perhaps -- with fact has made its way into "common knowledge" about who they were and what they did. That they were able to stay in the Venice area without a care in the world is not that well known, but it's not that surprising, either. There have long been "characters" there, oddities you might say, and few pay any attention to the various odd ducks around town.
They're too busy collecting shark's teeth (of which I still have quite a collection.)
Like everyone else in the area, the alleged 9/11 pilots were frequent travelers up and down the Tamiami Trail, with apparent stops in Sarasota, Nokomis, Naples, Tampa, Miami and so on.
But what gets me about what I've looked into so far is... the inherent gansterism of the story, not just of the pilots and their sojourn in Venice and that part of Florida, but the entire context of what was going on -- and for all we can tell is still going on. Most people live their lives oblivious to it. I can say I was vaguely aware of the gangsterism while I was there, even among people I least suspected of such inclinations. But I attributed it to a cultural thing, and generally put it out of my mind.
But the stories I've been reading indicate gangsterism is a deep-seated way of life for many of the higher and the mightier in the area. It's how they got where they are. Which I suppose I could figure out when I was there, but I didn't even think about it.
If you're interested in looking into the peculiar story of Venice, Florida and the long path to 9/11, Daniel Hopsicker is a fascinating source. And if you want to see how crazy it all is, nothing can beat The Complete 911 Timeline.
Sorting out the truth from the mountains of disinfo is going to take generations.