On September 9th and 10th, 2001, George Carlin was performing a standup set about enjoying mass tragedies. It wouldn’t be released until 2016 as his final, posthumous, comedy album, but it had a prescient title he’d come up with before the show: I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die.
This is just one eerie anecdote that host Dan Taberski (Missing Richard Simmons, Surviving Y2K, Running From ‘Cops’) explores on his new podcast, 9/12, from Pineapple Street Studios, Amazon Music and Wondery. Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, described finding the recordings of the standup sets among her father’s belongings after his 2008 death. “He’d already picked the title and he’d been working this material,” she tells Taberski on the podcast. “This is the Carlin that people say, ‘He’s so angry and dark.’ The thing is if you look at the world now, he was just trying to prep us for it. He saw it coming, people.”
In a seven-part series, released in its entirety today on Amazon Music and Wondery +, 9/12 examines how 9/11 shaped American culture in the two decades since it happened. In each episode, Taberski — a born-and-raised New Yorker — focuses on how the day affected one person or group, how things changed for them the day after, and for the 20 years that followed. (Episodes will be dropping weekly on all podcast platforms starting September 8th.)
In its exploration, the series catalogues compelling where-were-you-on-9/11 tales. There’s the reality show crew who were isolated on a ship, sailing the Timor Sea between Australia and Indonesia to whom the news felt surreal and easy to forget; the staff of The Onion, who had celebrated the launch of their first New York issue the night before the attacks and was left grappling with how to be funny in the aftermath (eventually producing timeless headlines about the shared experience like Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American-Flag Cake); and a Deadhead who’d begun exploring Islamic fundamentalism six months before the attacks and had to choose sides.
As the 20th anniversary of the attacks approaches, Taberski’s latest project looks back at how 9/11 changed us, what it meant, and whether we can ever move past it. “Twenty years later, it’s not the day that we need to ‘never forget’,” Taberski said in a statement. “It’s how we reacted afterwards, how we let it change us and how it still does. 9/12 is our attempt at figuring out where to put 9/11 now.”