|I’ve Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway
(ISBN# 0-9724234-0-0).The book is a collection of my columns that were written immediately following the September 11th atrocity and during my tenure at the City of New York’s Command Center. The columns describe all of my experiences and emotions during those dark days, as well as memorialize the dear friend I lost so tragically. A sample of some of the columns from the book are available below, along with reviews from readers. I am proud to say that my book is SOLD OUT! But I would love for anyone interested to read it. If you want a
Thank you. July 14, 2008
I am reading your fabulous book, and can hear the hurt in your voice and feel the emptiness in your heart… unfortnately, dus to my schedule, I usually come home from work and collapse, only to do it again; however ,on my days off, I ALWAYS squeeze in enough time for a thought or three… and while I am saddened that anyone was forced to endure the trials we all went through in our own ways during the following months, I am overjoyed beyond words that someone had the desire, ability, and strength to put it into words.
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DEDICATES BOOK TO BEST FRIEND LOST IN WORLD TRADE CENTER
Book Chronicles His Experiences From September 12th Through December 31st
(BROOKLYN, NY) – “Writing this book is the only way I got through the September 11th atrocity,” said Paul Wein, a Brooklyn born writer and author of I’ve Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway, a book that chronicles Paul’s personal experiences from September 12th through December 31st. The book is dedicated to Douglas Farnum, Paul’s best friend who worked on the 97th floor of Tower #1 – and was killed during the attack on the World Trade Center.
The book is a collection of columns and photos documenting Paul’s experiences as he lived through the aftermath of the events of September 11th and tried to deal with losing his best friend, while working at the City’s Command Center as a Public Information Officer for the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM). Each of the 69 columns in the book are written in real time as the event or events he describes occurred. “The book is like a diary, written right in the middle of the disaster, not months afterward,” Paul said. “For example, when I wrote the first column in the book and described my feelings on the attack, I wrote it on September 12th. At the time I wrote it, the attack was only 24 hours earlier, and events that followed the attack, such as the Anthrax scare and the crash of Flight 587, were still months away.”
In addition to Paul’s written descriptions of the attack on the World Trade Center and the aftermath, the book also chronicles the range of emotions Paul lived through during those harrowing 111 days. The book describes Paul’s anguish as he had to eulogize his best friend Doug at his memorial, his battle with nightmares in the weeks following the attack and his patriotic gratitude for the millions of Americans that united and stood strong against terrorism and hate. The book also describes some truly unique situations that Paul found himself in, such as inviting the superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment to the Command Center, having to take Nightmare on Elm Street Director Wes Craven to Ground Zero, and having a group of his closest friends fly in from as far away as London, England and Juneau, Alaska to help ease his pain.
Looking back, Paul is very happy he wrote the book. “While this book may have served as my catharsis during this incredibly rough time, it is my hope that others will benefit from the book as well and hopefully find it a little easier to deal with the day none of us will never forget.”
Reflections From Ground Zero
By Paul Wein
While I knew it would be difficult to see what awaited me up close and personal – I had to do it. I had to go see what these monsters did to my City, my Country – and my friend. I had to see with my own eyes the devastation and destruction that used to be the most famous landmark in New York City. And I had view what used to be a place that I would go to and enjoy a hearty lunch with a good friend. So I got in my car at 6:00am – and headed into Manhattan for the first time since it was attacked just six days ago. As I drove along the Belt Parkway, the sun had not yet risen and the only brightness came from the cars that were ahead and behind me. As I drove toward Kingsborough Community College on my way to the City – I looked to my right and for the first time – saw the World Trade Center-less Manhattan skyline. Nothing but a bright light and a pillar of smoke stood where the Towers used to stand. It was at that moment that I felt my heart tighten – because I knew that this was for real.
It was when I reached the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway that tears came to my eyes. Right before the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, there is a strip of the Expressway that runs directly across from the Downtown portion of the Manhattan skyline. When you drive down that strip – it appears as if you are driving past a life size, three-dimensional postcard. But as I drove past it today – that postcard was changed forever because the World Trade Center was gone.
Because I am a City official, I managed to get over the closed Brooklyn Bridge and made it to my building. It was terrifying to drive down a street that I have driven down hundreds of times and instead of seeing the busy pedestrian traffic and dozens of taxicabs – I saw the Army standing guard at every corner. And instead of the view of the Trade Center that greets me every time I turn from Chambers Street to Hudson Street – I saw smoke, chaos – and destruction.
I went upstairs to my building to try and gather my belongings that I had left on my desk when I ran outside after the first explosion. When I saw my desk for the first time since Tuesday, my desk calendar was still on September 11th, my phone had many frantic messages from my friends, my loved ones and Christine wondering if I was ok – and my office was full of sleeping colleagues who have worked tirelessly since this tragedy to try and bring this City to some semblance of order and normalcy.
After I gathered my things, I went to the window that I ran to when my friends at work told me that a plane hit Tower #1 of the World Trade Center. I will never forget looking out that window to see the top of the Tower on fire with a huge gaping hole in the middle of it – and my friend somewhere inside of that mangled mess hopefully still alive. Now, as I peered out the same window – the Tower was gone – and so was my friend.
When I left my building and headed down Chambers Street toward the World Trade Center – my stomach was starting to hurt and the tears swelled in my eyes as I got closer and closer to Ground Zero. As I made it to the place where I stood just six days ago when Tower #2 collapsed – I let out a loud gasp as I saw what was left of the one hundred and ten story monolith that once stood triumphantly over the other tens of thousands of buildings in Manhattan – for what I saw was the largest pile of twisted metal and debris I have ever seen in my life. And as I looked upward to the place where I always saw the two towers staring down at me – I saw nothing but blue sky.
As I made my way around Ground Zero, the scene became more horrific with each step I took. The first thing I passed was the remains of 7 World Trade Center, a forty-seven story building that once housed the Mayor’s Emergency Bunker – and was now a flattened pile of smoking rubble. As I stood there staring at what used to be the newest of the Trade Center Buildings, I remembered all the times I passed that building to cross the street to meet Doug for lunch – and now – there is no street, there is no building – and there is no Doug.
I had to go down Barclay Street to get to the front of what used to be the World Trade Center because Vessey Street, which is the street I normally walk down, is no more. It was when I saw the front of the Trade Center that I screamed and placed my hand over my mouth just as I did when I watched the crown jewels of the mighty skyline fall. Here was a plot of land that housed the two pillars that stood for the very freedom and inalienable human rights that this country represents – and is now nothing more then ruins. But I have to tell you that when I saw what remained of the two once tallest buildings in Manhattan – I was moved. Like stubborn warriors, the skeletal remains of the two towers still try and stand as proud as they once were, mocking those that dared to destroy them. I have to admit that seeing those pieces still standing did give me a glimmer of hope that the terrorist’s plot of destruction was unsuccessful.
Besides the hope I got from seeing the still upright portions of the Towers, there was another thing that I saw that made me very proud to be an American and gave me the feeling that we will win this war. On almost every corner, there were piles of food, drinks, medical supplies, clothing, and shelter for the workers that have put their own lives on the line to dig for survivors, clean up the rubble – and attempt to return New York City to what it was just before it was shaken to it’s very foundation not even one week ago.
As the time drew nearer for me to come to the OEM Command Center, I knew I had to leave Ground Zero. But before I did, I stopped and said a silent prayer for all of those innocent souls that were lost due to this horrific act of war. From the people in the four planes, to the people in the Towers to the people in the Pentagon – to the one person that has made this disaster seem even more personal then it already does. I prayed that they rest in peace and that their eternal sleep will be a sound one. I then prayed that the monsters that caused the destruction I witnessed today pay dearly for their senseless atrocities.
Being reminded of the death that took place at Ground Zero by the all too obvious destruction, but also moved by the outpouring of support and love from volunteers and companies that have donated goods and services for those volunteers, I was reminded of the twenty-third Psalm, which I think says more in one sentence then I could say if this column were as thick as a phone book, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I fear no evil.” – because if anything – they should fear us.
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance, the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.
From a distance, we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease.
No hungry mouths to feed.
From a distance, we are instruments,
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope.
Playing songs of peace.
They’re the songs of every man.
From a distance, you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance, I just cannot comprehend,
what all this fighting is for.
From a distance, there is harmony.
And it echoes through the land.
It’s the voice of hope.
It’s the voice of peace.
It’s the voice of every man.”
Bette Midler – From A Distance
United We Stand
By Paul Wein
The monsters that did what they did on September 11th have done something that they could not have possibly imagined – they united this country in a way that it has never been united before. In the last sixteen days, I have seen more of a sense of unity, cooperation, selflessness – and harmony then I ever have before in my almost thirty years on this planet.
I have seen Red Cross volunteers work twelve-hour shifts to make sure that those of us at the OEM Command Center and Ground Zero are fed. I have seen rescue workers work tirelessly at Ground Zero digging through tons of rubble in the hopes of finding survivors. I have seen our Mayor work almost around the clock to get this City back to normal – and I have seen ordinary people stand in the middle of the West Side Highway with signs and flags cheering for myself and the other City workers that drive by thanking us for our efforts and calling us heroes.
Besides the unity that I have personally experienced, September 11th’s attack has affected everyone and given us all a sense of pride for our country. I remember watching America: A Tribute To Heroes and seeing superstar after superstar give both their time and a million dollars a piece to help raise money for those families who lost loved ones. I have heard stories of Red Cross centers all over the country having to turn people away because so many Americans have donated blood that they can no longer accept any. From City worker to civilian – everyone is doing their part.
My personal favorite show of patriotism has been from the littlest of Americans. Since the attacks, children across America have written cards and letters that have been displayed here at the Command Center and at other places throughout the City and the nation calling all of us heroes. In fact, yesterday, the Red Cross was passing around some cards that children made for us. When I came in this morning, I found a card next to my desk that had a picture of the American flag drawn in crayon on the front of it – and this message inside:
Dear Rescue Workers,
Tuesday’s event was terrifying but you firefighters policemen and workers are helping everybody put this behind them. You guys are our heroes, and no one will forget what you did to help. You helped so many lives. I am very grateful. All those people you lost were good people. You helped people get on with their lives. You will always be in my heart. Be careful going through the buildings.
Messages of hope like that from children that are too young to even fully understand what happened gives me such an overwhelming sense of pride and honor to be an American. Yes, we are living through the worst attack in history and none of us will ever forget the horror that happened on September 11th. But besides never forgetting the attack itself – I will never forget the faces of the people I see when I drive down the West Side Highway that thank me for simply doing my job. I will never forget the thousands of people who have donated blood, money and supplies to help the cause. I will never forget the thousands of other workers from dozens of different City, State and Federal agencies that have stood by my side and helped me both here at the Command Center and at Ground Zero – and most of all – I will never forget the hundreds of children’s cards and letters that have helped me get through this and shown me exactly what we are fighting for – them.
This is far from over and Lord knows what is to come. But the last sixteen days have shown me that whatever lies ahead – we will get though it – because our Army is 281,421,906 strong – and united.
On Top Of “The Pile”
By Paul Wein
As it has become known, “The Pile” is what is in the middle of the two towers and is just what it’s name entails – a pile of debris that is bigger then my house. In fact, it is so large that a huge crane has to place rescue workers on top of it.
Yesterday, we took a pool of local reporters to Ground Zero to interview both Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen. When we arrived at the site by Police Harbor Boat, we were taken to what used to be the corner of Liberty and West Streets where we were to wait for both Commissioners to arrive. When we made it to the corner – we were at the back of the site. Having never been to this section of the site – it was like seeing it for the first time all over again.
This particular view of Ground Zero gives a view of destruction unlike any other place around the site. Standing directly across from One and Two World Trade Center – you see the two shelled out bottoms of the towers, as well as the partially collapsed Four, Five and Six World Trade Center behind the towers – and The Pile.
As I stood there waiting for the Commissioners to arrive – I was marveled at the site that I saw. As far as my eye could see, I saw cranes – at least a dozen of them – picking at the debris like giant metal hands and placing their catch in dump trucks. One by one, the dump trucks would arrive at the site empty – and leave full of debris containing pieces of the buildings, the planes – and the people who lost their lives so violently.
For at least an hour we waited – and the whole time – the site I saw transfixed me. Even the reporters around me, whose job it was to report about the site we saw, stood as silent as I was gazing at the destruction before us.
When the Commissioners arrived, I went with the group interviewing Police Commissioner Kerik. As we stood at the site while the press got their interviews, I was still gazing at the wreckage as if we just arrived – despite the fact that we were there for at least two hours. As the interviews were drawing to a close, I noticed one of the Commissioner’s assistants passing out hardhats to the cameramen, the reporters – and myself. I had no idea why until I was told that the Police Commissioner wanted to take the press into the middle of the site – and right on top of The Pile.
With my visit yesterday, I can now say that I have been on every side of Ground Zero and seen it from every possible angle – except one – I have never been in the very middle of the site itself – until yesterday.
As myself, Police Commissioner Kerik and the members of the press made our way up the makeshift ramp to the middle of the site and the top of The Pile, I felt my heart tighten as we got closer and closer to our destination. When we made it to The Pile, I looked down and saw a hole that was at least fifty feet deep – full of twisted, burning debris – and rescue workers inside the hole still desperately trying to find survivors.
After gazing at the hole underneath The Pile – I turned my body completely around in a circle and realized that I was indeed right in the middle of Ground Zero. As I stood on a site that was once the home of the world’s most prominent buildings that were seen as the crowning jewel of the Manhattan skyline that was now nothing but miles of destruction – I could feel the death around me. In my mind, I could still see the buildings that used to tower over my head falling to the ground and landing all around where I was standing. I could see the people leaping from the towers and landing in the wreckage before me – and worse then that – I could actually smell the death around me.
After the Police Commissioner was done with the press and we were ready to leave The Pile – I stopped for a moment and stood silent as my way of honoring those lives that ended where I stood. I also reached down and grabbed a piece of metal that was among the over one million tons of wreckage surrounding me. What appeared to have once been a part of the towers, this four inch piece of metal was so thick it was impossible to bend by hand – but was so twisted, dented and mangled – that it alone told the story of the destruction that took place at Ground Zero on September 11th.
I am sure that my job will no doubt require me to travel to Ground Zero again. No matter how many times I go back – I am still appalled and shocked by the view that I see – because I still remember what I used to see when I stood there before.
They left their childhood, on every acre.
And who was wrong, and who was right.
It didn’t matter in the thick of the fight.”
Billy Joel – Goodnight Saigon