April 13, 2010

Requiem For A Media Guy: October 16, 2001.


Requiem For A Media Guy

What an eerie feeling, bidding one of your best friends goodbye.

I have to look at it through romantic terms. The weight of it is overbearing. It's like my heart dies, though it strangely keeps on beating.

Chris Hanley took the plunge from traditional media, left Bloomberg for a COO job in the online space and attempted to take a real estate publishing company online.

It didn't work, but he bounced back. Got a top job selling Radianz, a secure IP Broadband service marketing to the financial business. Chris was at a banking event at Windows of the World on the morning of Sept. 11.

His memorial service is today at St. Francis Xavier Church on 16th Street in New York at 7 p.m.

When I first met Chris he was with The New York Times's radio station here in New York, WQXR. We met at a party my wife and I were throwing almost 10 years ago, and that was it. He and I hung out all the time and covered for each other, like the "Me & Terry" boys in Springsteen's Backstreets.

Chris was incredibly special and he loved this business; no matter that his online gig didn't work out, he never regretted the experience. In fact, though it changed him, I thought it was for the better. On our last night together just a week before his death, he told me, much to my surprise, that he'd just resigned his NYAC membership.

Though we'd been there partying a bunch of times before, his reasoning was that it no longer served his purposes. He said it created more "walls than bridges" when entertaining clients, so what was the point? That was classic Hanley, his ability to get to the heart of the matter.

The fact that he had to pay such a terrible price for being downtown vs. in his midtown office, and at the absolute worst time in history, seems contrary to his destiny. But, much as I wish it wasn't so, it became his destiny.

The online marketing business is very touch and go, though Hanley juggled it well. If he were here, he'd be making it more fun. It's going to be very weird, especially every Thursday night around 6 p.m., planning where to meet up.


He Liked What He Saw

Paid notice published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 14, 2001.

He had an eye for special objects -- a street grate in Paris, a license plate in the Virgin Islands, a gondola in Venice.

Christopher James Hanley's photographs always looked like postcards. He loved taking pictures around the world, but he lived in Manhattan and some of his favorites were of his city -- a chandelier in Grand Central Terminal, a street sign in Greenwich Village, a fried chicken restaurant in Harlem.

Mr. Hanley, 33, was a child of the news media. Both his mother and father had long sales careers in radio, newspapers and television. They watched him grow into a young man who had an affinity for finance, good music and a penchant for responsibility. He called his parents every morning, and at the request of a friend, he had recently agreed to be the godfather of the child of a couple he had never met.

Although he worked as a sales representative at Radianz, a financial services technology company at Rockefeller Center, he attended a management conference at Windows on the World on Sept. 11. "Had he been late, he'd be here today," said his mother, Marie Hanley. "But because he was an early bird..."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 15, 2001.

HANLEY-Christopher J., 34. Beloved son of Marie and Joseph, killed attending Risk Waters Conference, September 11, 2001 at Windows on the World, 106th floor, World Trade Center. A Mass to celebrate his life will be held on Tuesday, October 16, at 7:00 PM, Church of St. Francis Xavier, 46 West 16th St., NYC. Donations to honor Christopher's memory can be made to Xavier H.S./Christopher J. Hanley Memorial Scholarship, 30 West 16th St., NYC 10011.


Her Twin Tower Tears (Published September 14, 2001)

Lady Liberty is alone again, waiting for the rain.

I remember when they were being built. I had just started my first job in media, as a paperboy.

One of my Long Island Press customers was in construction. He lived on Cherry Street, and his five- and six-year-old kids used to stop and tell me all about their Dad's job, working on the Twin Towers so high in the sky.

Every week or so, as a 12-year-old, I'd hear wonderful new stories about these still-budding skyscrapers and began seeing them as the young boy and girl who entertained me along my route.

I remember the kids laughing and exclaiming how their father told them that, once the towers were built, "they'll be able to dance every time the wind blows." Then they'd sway a little to demonstrate.

But now all I can think of is Lady Liberty. Suddenly alone. Though over 100 years proud, her spirit must hurt today like so many who've lost someone they love. In a sense, she lost her children, her precious Yin & Yang who delighted her so, as they stood so tall, dancing for her each time the wind blew.

And now they are gone, and like many of us, she awaits the rain, silently calling for it, impatiently waiting, wanting now to be cleansed by it, and for it to give her cover.

You see, with the rain she can cry and no one ever knows. Now, and for the rest of her (and our) lives, every time the Atlantic blows in rain, who can say that Liberty won't be sobbing her Twin Tower tears for her children, longing for the way they danced.


One story

The autumn of 2001 was extremely warm. Deep into November, the temperatures were still '80 degrees. On most late afternoons - working at Tribal in an office right across the street from St Patrick's - we could hear the Cathedral bells toll their soft, sacred melodies.

That season, even the most hurried New Yorker rushing down Madison Avenue seemed to slow down. You had to. The Police would stop all traffic. Everyone knew what it meant. We all tried to get used to it.

On one of those sunny days Delores, one of our tougher clients came into town from Chicago, where by November the Second City was cold and windy. But it was so warm in Manhattan and in the office that we had to open up the conference room windows to get some fresh air in.

After a couple of hours in the conference room, with the windows open Delores sat back and commented about the church bells. She breathed a sigh of relaxation, stretched a minute and said, "Oh, that is sooo nice to hear. Does the church do that everyday?"

Nervous, we looked at each other. We had gotten so used to it we hadn't even heard it. Being from out of town she was not used to them like we were. There was silence in the room. No one said anything. Finally, one of our braver creative guys spoke up and said, "No, those are bells that St. Patty's rings when there's a funeral mass for one of the cops or firemen, who are being recovered from Ground Zero."


"Oh my," she said. Startled, she sat up like a bolt shooting up her spine. The New York trip had been the first time she was back in the Big Apple since 9/11. She took a deep breath, tried to recompose herself and said in a cracked voice, "Let's move on."

You needed a chainsaw to cut the tension in the room at that moment. But we all knew that we most likely would not move on. Because once the bells ended, the bagpipes would then begin to play. Bouncing off the MadAve skyscrapers, echoing down 50th and 51st, being just 10 floors above the street, their sad piercing siren began screeching in our ears.

Delores froze. Her nerves of steel were no match against the bagpipes. We looked down, held by collective breath and then looked up at her.

All the blood had rushed out of her face. She looked around, began to tear up and then without a word she stood up, walked out of the conference room and into the bathroom.


See "Hanley, Alive & Well in Our Hearts" for more on Mr. Hanley.

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