In addition to the stories on the opposite page, countless L.A. businesspeople had direct experience with last week's terrorist attacks or knew people who did. Here are some of their stories.Eerie Phone Calls
Cliff Gilbert-Lurie, partner at Ziffren Brittenham Branca & Fischer in Los Angeles, heard harrowing tales about last week's disaster from his clients at Oppenheimer Funds, one of the World Trade Center's tenants.
"We do a lot of business with Oppenheimer, which was on the 82nd floor (of the South Tower)," said Gilbert-Lurie. "Several of their executives were outside the building talking on their cell phones to other members of the firm who were being evacuated down one of the stairwells when the phone just went dead and they were gone."Long Walk
Robin Lanier, executive director of the West Coast Waterfront Coalition, was on Capitol Hill when she was evacuated by SWAT teams. They told her they believed the Capitol building was being targeted by a hijacked plane. "I walked three or four miles to the Iwo Jima Memorial. None of us were going to get on the Metro," she said. As she was walking, "I heard what sounded like a big explosion behind me. A lot of people were calm but very upset."
A short time later, military jets crisscrossed above the walking evacuees.
"I realized later that the noise we heard was a sonic boom, jets scrambling from Andrews Air Force Base."Second Time
Donald Straszheim is vice chairman of the Milken Institute and former chief economist at Merrill Lynch. "I was actually sitting at my desk at Merrill in '93 when the first attack occurred at the World Trade Center."
Today, Merrill Lynch's headquarters are located across the street from the Trade Center. Last Tuesday, the day of the attack, Straszheim hadn't been able to get through to Merrill. "The servers are all down," he said.
Straszheim's son works in midtown Manhattan but was home with the flu at his apartment in Hoboken, N.J., across the river from lower Manhattan. "He watched the second tower come down."Arkansas Breakout
Last week's terrorist bombings stranded local political consultant and lobbyist Richard Lichtenstein in Bentonville, Ark., along with one of his co-workers. Lichtenstein's firm, L.A.-based Marathon Communications, represents Bentonville's best known corporate citizen, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in its government dealings in the L.A. area.
Lichtenstein quickly realized it would be hopeless trying to get a commercial flight back to Los Angeles to get them back in time for meetings later in the week. So he and his co-worker took a cab down to nearby Fayetteville and tried to rent a car.
"The first rental car place we went to, some local outfit, told us they had cars to rent, but that it would cost me $675 a day," he remembers. "We just looked at each other in disbelief, and decided to look somewhere else. Obviously, they were trying to take advantage of the situation."What a Trip
Tracy Singleton, a guitar player for L.A. band Fishbone, checked out of the Doubletree Hotel in uptown Manhattan on Sept. 10 before catching one of the last flights back to Los Angeles before the tragedy the next day.
"You could see the World Trade Center from our hotel," Singleton said. "I can't believe what we're just looking at isn't there anymore. It's scary. I'm just tripping on this."Studio Backing
Warner Bros., which postponed the release date of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Collateral Damage" out of respect for victims, helped out after last week's attacks in more direct ways.
Senior Vice President Barbara Brogliatti said the company made equipment from its series "Third Watch" available to help in rescue efforts. The show, which is based on the lives of emergency crews in New York, owns numerous vehicles and other rescue equipment.
"We have donated everything to the city and postponed production," Brogliatti said. "We don't know if they are using everything, but they are definitely using the generators we gave them."Road Trip
Gary Grossman and Rob Weller, co-owner of Weller Grossman Productions, were in New York on business last week. Having survived the ordeal, they were eager to get out of town.
"On Wednesday, we tried to rent a car but there weren't any available," Grossman said. "So we got a car to take us to Westchester County, where we'd reserved a car. Right now we're in Indiana, and there are a lot of people doing the same thing as ourselves, driving cross-country. What's interesting and humbling, with all the horror, we've been through six states in two days and everywhere you go people are talking as if they're in New York City."
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