Remembering a DJ Lost on 9/11

Josh Birnbaum DJ SamssonOn the 14th anniversary of 9/11, I’m sharing the editor’s letter I wrote in the November 2001 issue of Mixer. I dedicated it to Josh Birnbaum, a DJ friend of my colleague Matt Hanrahan. Josh went by the alias DJ Samsson. I never knew Josh, but Matt told me it was Josh’s dream to be mentioned in the magazine. Josh, 24, had recently graduated from Columbia University and was working at Cantor Fitzgerald. He was on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center when the attack took place. Never forget.

It’s been a little over two weeks since the nightmare began. I saw the World Trade Center burn and crumble from my living room window. I’ve continually breathed in noxious fumes from the ensuing fires and felt what I thought must be murdered spirits from the victims shoot through my body. I’ll never forget the sight of business people running for their lives up my street and watching heroes rescue complete strangers. I’ll never forget my fear, horror and outrage.

Like you, my eyes are still bloodshot from watching CNN and scanning the Web for news almost 24/7. My sadness has slowly morphed into a state of numb semi-productivity. If it wasn’t for taking up yoga. I probably wouldn’t be sleeping at all. All of the media pundits and politicians have searched for the words to sum up this global chaos and inspire our patriotism. As I see it, a media byte comparable to FDR’s speech after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor is impossible to write. Of course this day will live in infamy and our lives will never be the same. Now someone tell me something that I don’t know.

The outpouring of solidarity in New York and Washington DC has been amazing. People have donated their time, money. food, blood and clothing. I only wish that generosity for those in need could be an every day occurrence in our great country.

DJ SamssonAs life here in New York City returns to “normal” in this aftermath, the missing people signs posted up on walls all over the city by distraught loved ones flap in the air and tug at your heart. Photographs of people dressed in tuxedos, lying on a beach on vacation or celebrating their last birthday are branded with urgent pleas for information for the missing. I almost can’t look at them anymore. It’s just too sad.

We’ve all heard so many heart-wrenching stories, but there is one that I’d like to share with you. On the day of the attack on the World Trade Center, 24-year-old Josh Birnbaum (a.k.a. tech-house DJ Samsson) was working on the 102nd floor as a recently-hired apprentice at Cantor Fitzgerald. A recent graduate from Columbia University, he was prepping to take the Series Seven brokerage exam and was balancing a fledgling DJ career. A veteran of Long Island’s Caffeine parties, he shared the bill at gigs across the country with Christopher Lawrence, Sandra Collins, Juno and Deepsky. After the first explosion, Josh called his mother on Long Island and hasn’t been heard from since.

“Josh was always cracking jokes and liked to make people laugh,” said his friend, booking agent and ex-Mixer staffer Matt Hanrahan. “He had a sharp sense of humor and was dead serious about DJing and making music. He wanted to be a DJ, producer and label owner. He was forward-thinking…he wanted to be more than a successful DJ. His dream was to be mentioned in Mixer.”

Josh, this one’s for you.

Darren Ressler
Mixer Magazine

Darren Ressler

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