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Thread: 9/11 memorials, museums?

  1. #31
    Banned Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    I miss him already... He's a liar and a scam artist.

    A heated debate over photographing New York’s bravest

    By Rachel Breitman

    As the city marked the still-painful fourth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, two downtown photo exhibits opened their doors to honor the fallen with images from Ground Zero and its aftermath.

    Both the Ground Zero Museum Workshop and a temporary exhibit of photography done by members of the NYPD and FDNY at Soho Photo capture uniquely personal moments from city’s darkest hours, yet each uses very different styles, scope, and scale to portray the recovery workers who scoured the wreckage for the remains of their family and comrades.

    Though neither exhibit was specifically timed to coincide with the anniversary of the terror attacks, the event provided an emotional backdrop for each opening.

    The Ground Zero Museum Workshop, a permanent installation run by Gary Suson, who photographed and took part in the recovery efforts, opened Wednesday, September 7th to widespread media attention and some controversy.

    Surrounding the one-room space are giant photos bearing Suson’s name and the caption “Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefighters Association.” In glass cases lay mementos from the Towers, including a Windows on the World Invoice, a crushed cell phone, a desk calendar with the date Tuesday, September 11th on the top page, and a clock that stopped at the moment the South tower fell.

    Suson stated that he created the museum with the exclusive purpose of helping people mourn and remember. All proceeds from $15 entrance fee and sale of posters and books go to charity.

    “I had to be sensitive to the family members while paying homage to their loved ones,” said Suson.

    During his time photographing the recovery from November 2001 to May 2002, Suson worked almost around the clock, sleeping at a nearby church and forgoing the salary he had previously earned from acting work on television and soap operas.

    Quotes from Suson decorate one wall of the exhibit, along with a self-portrait by a stopped PATH train below Ground Zero. In the bathroom a framed certificate celebrating Suson as a “FDNY Honorary Battalion Chief” sits under a collection entitled “Band of Dads,” dedicated to FDNY members who lost family. Even the shower curtain is covered with enlargements of his photographs.

    On the gallery’s opening day he invited firefighters to tour the space.

    “The firetrucks pulled up on Wednesday, and firemen came to see the exhibit in full regalia,” said Suson. “They were very touched, which was the ultimate compliment for me.”

    Some visitors were deeply moved by the haunting images, though others have questioned the time Suson has spent in the limelight for his museum.

    “It’s a disgrace to be honest,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a press conference prior to the museum’s opening. “You know, there are always some sick people that are trying to exploit other people’s tragedies, and I just don’t want to give them any more publicity.”

    The General Counsel for the Uniformed Firefighters Association, Michael Block, said he sent Suson a cease and desist notice two weeks ago, asking him to stop calling himself the official photographer, since “he has no right to say that.” The union doesn’t have an “official photographer,” and the only reason Suson is apparently making this claim is because he received a letter with a stamped signature of former union president Kevin Gallagher giving him the clearance to take photos at Ground Zero.

    But Block maintains that the union has no interest in fighting about this. It also has no issue with the quality of Suson’s exhibit, or the fact that Suson is displaying artifacts he retrieved from Ground Zero. If anything, Block said, that might be an issue for the families who might be upset by their display.

    Suson, who has yet to respond to Block’s letter, claims he’s not upsetting anyone.

    “Many 9/11 family members have been here. No one is ‘disturbed’ and no one has been ‘offended.’”

    Fewer, more modest framed snapshots line the upstairs wing of the small Soho Photo exhibit, which runs through October 1. Each photo displays a quiet restraint that contrasts the eye-catching style of the Ground Zero Museum. Here, pictures are left unadorned, and the names of the photographers are written on a separate handout in fine print.

    Some photos were taken by civilians employed by the FDNY and NYPD, but many were taken by the firemen themselves. Not all of the nineteen images are somber, and not all focus on 9/11. Rather than picture larger than life heroes, many photos highlight the very human nature of a fireman’s job, emphasizing the modesty of both artist and subject.

    “Our goal was to give an opportunity for the public to get acquainted with work of the departments,” said Rosalee Frost, a member of the gallery’s collective who helped organize the exhibit. “It didn’t have a 9/11 function per se, but it just so happened that the photos from the fire department were work-related. That was what they thought was important.”

    In firefighter Benjamin Cotten’s picture “Ground Zero Iron Worker,” he shows the lonely work of a man removing huge chunks of steel from the fallen building. In another photo from the following St. Patrick’s Day, he captures an endless line of anonymous firemen’s faces flanked by flags in the parade.

    “On 9/11, I responded to both help and to shoot photos of what was happening, and I managed to try to do both,” said Cotten, who is currently in Louisiana taking part in the relief effort following Hurricane Katrina. “My pictures are of firefighters, many of whom were individuals who had lost parents or siblings on Sept 11th. I guess for me it represents the way that firefighters feel that we can tackle anything. We try to just do our job, and we are very humble about what we do; we don’t ask for much.”

    Lieutenant Richard Smiouskas’ “Untitled” shows a conversation between two workers pausing amidst the debris, their masks moved to the side so they can speak to one another. Firefighter Michael Gomez shot a haunting image of a fireman’s silhouette, face turned towards a fire below, offset by the bright lights of the George Washington Bridge.

    “I haven’t even told any of my friends that I have work in this gallery. It is kind of a low-key thing,” said Gomez, who works as a fireman in Squad Company 288 and as a fire photographer, documenting accidents, unsafe buildings and fatalities. Gomez would not comment on the media attention that Suson’s exhibit has received. But, he said, “You don’t see firefighters advertising anything if it’s legit.”

  2. #32


    October 7, 2005

    In an interview in his museum workshop, Suson was asked where he was the morning it happened. "I was on the roof of this building shooting that picture," Suson says, pointing to a black and white image mounted close to the floor. It shows one of the towers as it starts to fall.

    At the time, Suson was an actor with a photo lab in the Meatpacking District. That photo lab is now the permanent home of his museum.

    About two months after the attacks his photo web site,, came to the attention of officials at the Uniformed Firefighters Association. He was invited to photograph the work at Ground Zero, under the condition that none of the pictures would be shown publicly until the recovery work was complete.

    Suson, like many of the people who spent a significant amount of time at Ground Zero, has medical problems including diminished lung capacity and abnormal blood gas levels. He’s received government compensation for those injuries, money he’s used in part to open the museum.

    The museum’s 501(3c) not-for-profit status is pending, but it’s currently operating under the non-profit ID for Trauma Response Assistance for Children, one of the six charities that receives the museum's funds. Other sponsors are paying for salaries and rent so that 100 percent of the admission price can go to the charities, Suson said.

  3. #33
    Banned Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    it's too bad the idiot had to resort to threatening WNY administrators, moderators, and forum members. I would've been interesting to hear him address this stuff. But, threatening a group that is pretty reasonable compared to other forums out in cyberland kind of erodes credibility. It's a loss for him.

  4. #34


    An important addendum to Jasonik's last post, from the 09/28/05 issue of the NY Post:

    "Fire marshals yesterday busted the chairman of a controversial Ground Zero charity for possessing stolen FDNY property.

    Michael Bellone, 51, the embattled founder of Trauma Response Assistance for Children, was charged with grand larceny, criminal impersonation and possession of stolen property after being questioned at the FDNY's Brooklyn headquarters.

    Among the items he allegedly had in his possession were a Scott air-tank, harness, regulator and mask from the FDNY's Mask Service Unit.

    It was unclear whether Bellone - a former grocery-store worker from Brooklyn - is suspected of taking the items from Ground Zero when he volunteered there as a rescue worker after 9/11.

    Last year, he had been warned by fire officials to stop claiming ties to the FDNY and dressing in its uniform after he and two others posed as New York City firefighters in a 9/11 ceremony in Nevada with that state's governor.

    An FDNY source said Bellone's group is not registered with the state as a charitable organization. "

  5. #35


    Quote Originally Posted by Schadenfrau
    from the 09/28/05 issue of the NY Post:

    "Fire marshals yesterday busted the chairman of a controversial Ground Zero charity for possessing stolen FDNY property.
    If true, there must have been some court action on this by now. Outcome?

    Didn't know firemen had power of arrest.

    Post is reputable?

  6. #36


    Fire marshals are trained as both firefighters and police officers. They may carry weapons and make arrests.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward
    FDNYHonoraryChief is not going to respond - I have banned him from this forum because in his email he threatened to sue me. This is a universal policy on this website - any member threatening to sue me or moderators will be banned.
    Damn! I guess I'll throw away my briefs.

    I was going to ask Mr Chief if "Amy" was his girlfriend. He seems to need one.

  7. #37


    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc
    If true, there must have been some court action on this by now. Outcome?

    Didn't know firemen had power of arrest.

    Post is reputable?
    If he pled out the charge before the case went to trial, it's possible there would be no record.

    If the Post isn't reputable enough for you, here's something from

  8. #38

    Default Puttin' the Fire Out

    Quote Originally Posted by Schadenfrau
    If he pled out the charge before the case went to trial, it's possible there would be no record.

    If the Post isn't reputable enough for you, here's something from

    Hi - this is one of NY's Bravest Checking In. Been reading your posts for days and find it all very interesting, to say the least. Can I shed some light on some of these points for you? Take them as fact or take them with a grain of salt. Your choice.

    FACT: Mike Bellone's charges were dropped the next day by the DA and the Judge because the arrest had no merits. There is no future court date but he is being watched carefully by FDNY officials. He has upset some people for various reasons. Nevertheless all charges were dropped.

    About Suson: I'd love to support you all on this but truth is I worked many months in his company and he always did good by us. We all knew who he was officially sanctioned by and that's why his camera wasn't ripped out of his hands when he was shooting inches away from us during recoveries. He never "stole" anything from the WTC site. That's ludicrous. He regularly donated photos of our fallen brothers being carried away during honor guards and gave them as gifts free of charge to families that I know personally. About the word "official.." President Bush is the Official President of the USA but it never states the word Official on his letterhead. It's assumed he is Official otherwise he would NOT be sanctioned to act on our behalf. It was the most secure crime scene in the world, so if Suson wasn't official, then he must have been airlifted by helicopter every day in an out of the pit, oblivious to police, papd and fire officers. The POST did state he was the "Only officially sanctioned photographer by the FDNY" and they most likely got that info from an official authorized to say that. Monday night I ate a McDonalds Cheesequarter pounder. It didn't say it was an Official McDonalds Cheesburger on the wrapping; We knew it was - we assumed it was based on common sense and where we were. We were in McDonalds. Ground Zero and all that happened was carefully watched. Cameras weren't allowed, get the point?

    Some of you wrote hateful things about a man that has done good by us for many years and that is wrong. Your forum rules on the box I checked today, and tell me if I am wrong, are that users should not write anything "hateful" on the site. But this forum began with hateful things written about him by a 'shadenfrau', so why that is condoned is questionable. One of you wrote that he is "blowing smoke out of his ass.." That's hateful and cursory also, so why that is allowed I don't know. I see he can't respond (banned?) so that's too bad for him I guess. When we need a reminder of what went on down there, we look in his photo book only because it's the truth; its how things happened down there.

    I see you took alot of time to cut and paste some very bad things written about him by the Post. You didn't cut and paste anything else but the Post & another article that quotes the Post. . Get my point? This is my first and last post on this website. To the man or woman who wrote that he is a liar and a scam artist -- sounds like he may have done something to you personally.
    He isn't a scam artist. He isn't a liar to us.

    I have been to the Museum. 'Without words' is all I can comment.
    Go see it it for yourself and make your own decisions. He did the right
    thing. If you have not been to his museum you cannot pass judgement. the person who is called brooklynrider -- nothing you wrote is "reasonable".
    You called him an idiot. In the rules box I checked it stated nothing hateful should be
    written. You broke the rules but you are still a member in good standing I see.
    Kudos to you. I would bet that 'if' I called you a liar, a scammer, and an idiot who
    is blowing smoke out of your ass I would get banned. But I would not do that as its
    against the rules. Rules should not be broken.

    I read this last week in the Daily News, RUSH-MOLLOY:
    MARCH 9, 2006
    "Photographer Gary Suson, who documented the World Trade Center cleanup on behalf of the FDNY, is striking back at the New York Post for claiming he "stole" artifacts from the site for his Ground Zero Museum Workshop. Suson filed a $20 million lawsuit against the tab in Manhattan Supreme Court - asking $5 million for each time the paper called his exhibit a "scam." "We stand by our reporting," says Post editor Col Allan. "I look forward to my vindication in court," Suson told us."

    With Jo Piazza and Chris Rovzar reporting...

    This is my first and last posting on this site.
    All I can say to you guys is do the right thing.
    God Bless..

    The Nuthouse
    Last edited by TheNUTHOUSEfd; March 18th, 2006 at 04:29 PM.

  9. #39


    Thanks, TheNUTHOUSEfd, for taking the trouble to introduce a little balance from your insider's viewpoint; I figured there had to be another side to this story from the immoderation and flimsiness of the attacks. Sounds like Suson might be a bit of a hothead and got on the wrong side of some other hotheads (we even have some here). That's no reason to slander and vilify the man.

  10. #40


    A fascinating thread.

  11. #41


    The picture of Gary Suson have touched deep me. It's for me today still incomprehensble what at 11.09.2001 in NY has happend. At the prestige of the pictures i stood tears in my eyes .I could remember still good at the day, as the terrorists into the WTC have flown. I sat before the TV and could not understand, what there had happend. I hope is forgotten never the deads !!!

  12. #42

    Default The nightmare known as Gary

    Hi Guys - Welcome to the world of Gary, not a fun place. It is amusing (and a bit scary) how he rants on when confronted. He seems to rely on the fact that most of the people involved in the attacks and the recovery effort have better things to do than deal with Gary so ignore the repeated claims he makes. So thanks for standing up to him. Many of us have been subjected to endless emails and threats similar to what he's written in this post. Every time we think he has finally given up his quest for fame has finally subsided he resurfaces.

    Gary was sent a cease and desist letter by the UFA a long time ago. Besides - San Fillipo never had the authority to give him the title he claims. I would like to see evidence that Gary has donated money to all (or any) of the charities as he claims. Gary - can you provide such proof?

  13. #43
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    ^^ :: smack ::

    Mr. Suson claims, on his museum website, to have donated various amounts to assorted charities:

    The current Total of "donations" now shown is ~ $115,000.00

    However, of that $115K Suson's own listing shows that $71,000 of those "donations" apparently went back into sustaining the Museum operations.

    The single largest "donation" is for $25,000.00 and is shown to be for "time/service to document Ground Zero 7 months UNSALARIED 2001-2002".

    Another two payments totalling $30,000.00 in 2005 were listed "to erect Ground Zero Museum Workshop", each showing that the purpose of same was to "help charity" / "raise charitable funds".

    That leaves $44,000.00 that has been donated to assorted organizations.

    While that amount was no doubt helpful to those who received it, the fact that less than 40% of the funds raised by Mr. Suson have been distributed to those in need (rather than being used to sustain Mr. Suson's own enterprise) raises numerous questions.

  14. #44

    Default numbers dont lie

    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    That leaves $44,000.00 that has been donated to assorted organizations.
    Nice work, Lofter....... as someone on this forum recently said " I like numbers; numbers do not lie!"

    I wonder who, if anyone, audits the donations that non-profits orgs collect.

    Interest thread, indeed.

  15. #45
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Quote Originally Posted by infoshare
    I wonder who, if anyone, audits the donations that non-profits orgs collect.
    Mr. Suson's organization not-for-profit status is "pending", at this time the auditors would be checking (if they're doing their work -- Hello, Mr. Spitzer!!) to see if Suson qualifies at all.

    A previous article states that ...
    The museum’s 501(3c) not-for-profit status is pending, but it’s currently operating under the non-profit ID for Trauma Response Assistance for Children, one of the six charities that receives the museum's funds.
    The site for "Trauma Response Assistance for Children":

    Its Directors are listed there with contact info:

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