Open Outcry by Ben Rubin

Interesting little audio documentary. Not to be confused with the video documentary Open Outcry.

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"A few months after 9/11, I was asked to create a sound that would commemorate the reopening of the Winter Garden, a huge atrium space in the World Financial Center that was destroyed when the towers came down. The place was still in shambles then, and the World Financial Center complex was mostly empty, but one building on the far end of the complex was already filled with people. And those people were doing something curious. They were standing around in huge circles, hundreds of them, and shouting at each other, for hours, every day. It turns out that this shouting has a name; it's called open outcry trading, and through it these people, almost all of them men, set the price that the world will pay each day for a barrel of oil, a gallon of gas, an ounce of gold, and a few other things. Although their building was surrounded by wreckage and accessible at first only by boat, the traders of the New York Mercantile Exchange had come back to work only a few weeks after 9/11. When I thought about what sound represented that place, it was this: the sound of these men shouting, each doing his best to buy low and sell high, a music of call and response that had been produced in lower Manhattan by generations of traders since the 19th century. More recently, it's here that the traders have been reacting to rumblings of war, and then to actual war, the prices of energy and precious metals lurching and trembling as events unfolded in Washington, at the U.N., and in Iraq. This piece was made before the war; it was first played last fall in the Winter Garden." Ben Rubin


Rocky Humbert said...

Does the name "solfest" have some hidden meaning? For example, is it like Octoberfest? Or perhaps accused_criminal_ConFest?

Or did your mother and father really name you "solfest?"

Rocky Humbert

Solfest said...

Tis the Norwegian origin of my last name. Solfest becomes Solfestson; Solfestson gets "Americanized" upon arrival, and so on.

Our last name now resembles a very famous cat. :)

Anonymous said...

The NYMEX floor opened days after the attacks, the following Monday if memory serves me correctly. The NYBOT traders, their floor destroyed, used their backup facility for many months until they moved into the NYMEX building. Technology however managed to do what terrorists couldn't. The NYBOT futures pits are now closed and the NYMEX futures pits are barely active. Only the options pits remain vibrant and of consequence.

longandwrong said...

> Our last name now resembles a very famous cat. :)

Hmmmm... "top", "stevens" or "mandu".

Solfest said...

LW, no, no, and no. :)

Rocky Humbert said...


what more needs to be said?

Solfest said...

One more needs to be said cause it's not in there.