Chris Faraone was a block and a half from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, en route to a bar called Forum on Boylston Street, when the bombs went off. The day's shift from carnival to chaos is preserved impeccably on his Twitter feed.
"I'd make fun of all the people going to watch the marahon [sic] in running gear, but I totally did go to see Magic Mike in my G-string," he wrote at one point. Soon after, he was sending dispatches from a war zone: "Some relatively calm, others crying for blocks near Boston marathon finish line where loud noises were just heard," "Observer who was right near Boston Marathon finish line during explosions tells me he smelled gun powder," "FYI to my friends and fam and readers: I'm okay, and for the next few hours will be writing and processing today's pandemonium."
That last tweet could serve as an epigraph for the e-book Faraone, a former Boston Phoenix staff writer who covered everything from Occupy protests to the LA rap collective Odd Future at the bygone paper, will release Friday, April 26 called Heartbreak Hell: Searching for Sanity in Boston Through a Week of Tragedy & Terror.
Faraone didn't just spend the hours following the attack writing and processing; he has never really stopped. He was interviewing people at the vigil in Boston Common the day after the bombings. Then he was speaking to a gaggle of nurses in town for a medical convention. Then, on Friday — the day Boston literally and figuratively froze with fear — he reported from what seemed to be the only open bar in the entire city: Biddy Early's, in the Financial District.
"I hate to be that guy . . . who never stops talking about how he was never late to work in 20 years at the World Trade Center, but got a flat tire on 9/11," he writes via email about the "dumb luck" that prevented him from reaching Forum ten minutes earlier. "But in this case I guess I am."
The restaurant has posted a note on their website that reads, in part, "Forum will be closed until further notice, as we are now a crime scene."
My conversation with Faraone has been edited and condensed.
PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF BOSTON EXPERIENCED THE DAY OF THE BOMBINGS AND THE DAY OF THE "CHASE" MOST ACUTELY. WHAT WERE THOSE DAYS IN BETWEEN LIKE? There's a lot of color from those days in Heartbreak Hell. Even before the lockdown, all of downtown was ghostly, with more military vehicles and cop cars then regular autos. It was a police state, plain and simple, with noise where there wasn't usually noise, and silence where people are typically frolicking. There were the anomalous weirdos who I guess were just getting on with their lives — playing whiffle ball, enjoying lunch on Boston Common — but for the most part heads were shook. Even though we didn't have a suspect yet, I think there was a feeling that a villain was on the loose, among us.