Dubai, as elsewhere, the sky's no limit

One has to wonder if watching clips of the fireworks marking the celebration of the new world’s tallest building brought to many minds — at least in the U.S. — the horrors of 9/11.

The Burj Khalifa opened amid fanfare in the city-state of Dubai, which could easily be known now as “Buddy, Can You Spare Tens of Billions of Dollars Land,” the half-mile high structure rising ever skyward in glorification of excess and in a toast to some of Sigmund Freud’s most provocative theories.

People will work and live and pray in this building and who knows what else. I cannot fathom how anyone can live way up. I’m not talking a few stories, or even 20 or so stories, but perhaps more than 160 stories?

Part of my misgivings come from having worked as a fireman and witnessing for myself that those ladders and snorkles on trucks only reach so far, and not really much at that. Then, of course, there was 9/11. People walking down floor after floor amid an unspeakable tragedy, trudging down stairs, not even running for their lives, in what must have seen a nightmare featuring a living hell in which time ended only by escape or annihilation.

There is no reason for living way up. A pretty woman perhaps? I did stay a week in a 20th floor apartment overlooking the Mississippi River in a certain large, Midwestern city. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

I was in Chicago back in 1995 when the Sears Building was still the Sears Building and was the World’s Tallest Building. It’s now the Willis Tower. I hope it wasn’t named after that character in the TV show  in the late 1970s and 80s who was the brother of Arnold, a.k.a. “”What’choo talkin’ ’bout?”  That Willis got into a bunch of trouble when he got older. See what excess will do for you?

Nevertheless, I took a ride to the top of the then-world’s tallest building. I looked around to see what I could see. Then I rode that speedy elevator down to the bottom.

Even the name of the new tallest building is steeped into the grossest of financial insanity. The backers of the project named the building after the sheik running Abu Dhabi. Sheik Daddy is the fellow who poured in tens of billions into the fiscally challenged fantasy land where megabucks and the right connection could build you an island in the shake of a tail feather.

It’s all about “mine is bigger than yours.” That is why the World’s Third Largest Fire Hydrant in my town is no longer the world’s largest. Things have got to be bigger and, hopefully, better.

At the end of the story last night on CBS about this new high-rise, Katie Couric did mention the structure had these new safety features and could withstand being struck by a plane. She didn’t say how big a plane. I do think, though, that proved at least some of us were on the same page about 9/11 and tall buildings.

People, men mostly, will keep building ’em taller and taller. Dubai can  have it’s old World’s tallest because one will emerge from somewhere even higher some days. Perhaps as the ‘scraper shoots ever taller, through the clouds to where the top of the building can’t even be seen, someday a great giant will emerge. The giant will throw a super-duty bean stalk over the side of the structure and he will take perhaps but a minute before he rappels to the street level. What the giant does then is better left to the imagination.

Does this sound a bit farfetched? You tell me. The sky no longer seems the limit.