I wrote the following for the fifth anniversary of the September 11, and reposted it last year for the sixth anniversary. I figure I’ll run it again, especially since it got a comment from someone who undoubtedly knew Douglas Farnum a hell of a lot better than I ever did. I’m glad I could do something remotely resembling a fitting tribute to the man.
A bunch of words written five years after the fact, one most of the emotions of the moment have cooled, doesn’t feel like much. God knows I wish I could’ve done a hell of a lot more, both then and now, for Doug and all the other innocent people who lost their lives that day. I can only do what I can do; I figure if I brought back good memories for one person, then I did all right by Doug and his family.
Now it’s time for an old-school op-board line break. Nobody who reads this blog will get that reference, but I will. Doug would have. Hopefully he doesn’t mind me remembering the guy I knew from the Internet.
DC Roe undertook the challenge to recruit over 2,996 bloggers to write tributes to every individual casualty from the 9/11 attacks, both at the WTC and on the jets that were turned into bombs by stomach-turning Islamic terrorists. When I heard about the project, I had to join in, because like so many of you I was personally affected by 9/11 in that I had a friend of mine, Douglas Farnum, die at Ground Zero.
Doug, known as “Sick of it All” or “Sick” (after his favorite band) in his various online writing ventures, worked for Marsh & McLennan on the 97nd floor of Tower One. I wrote alongside him at various ventures for two years, at wrestling opinion websites and at Doug’s nascent business BrooklynHookers.com. Yes, it was an adult website, started with the blessing of Doug’s beloved wife Amy, to make the family a little extra scratch and hopefully get Doug out of a job he wasn’t quite crazy about at Marsh. I wrote in the opinions and review section of the website, because as I always said, you can’t jerk off all the time.
Doug was a devoted fan of professional wrestling, particularly the hardcore antics of the Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling, which had a large New York following. He’d meet wrestlers, hang out with them, get them to pose in Brooklyn Hookers teeshirts, and write about how cool it was to meet the guys he’d watched on TV and how they were good eggs. He was always there to talk to, either on AIM or on forums he frequented.
The online wrestling opinions group is a small, insular group of writers who generally cannibalize off one another, but no one ever had a bad thing to say about Doug. He was always there, always friendly, and usually always cool. I’d talked to Doug the weekend before 9/11, as I was expecting a package from him containing my Brooklyn Hookers staff teeshirt.
I got it Monday, the afternoon of September 10th, and I IMed him to tell him how thrilled I was with it, how well it fit, and to thank him for sending it to me. He thanked me for writing for him and said all he wanted in return was a picture of me in the shirt to go up on the site alongside the pictures of other writers who had shirts. I complied and sent him the picture sometime after he’d gone to bed.
He had work in the morning, after all.
That was the last time I’d spoken to Doug Farnum. I’d like to think that before he left for work, or before the planes hit, that he’d opened that email and saw my smiling face in a Brooklyn Hookers tee shirt, proudly rocking a little slice of New York City attitude in the rural South.
I still have the tee shirt. I still have the box it came in, smelling of sandalwood incense. I still have the note he included, green faded marker on a yellow piece of notebook paper, telling me how he’d see me on Stern, where he was hoping to promote the website that he’d started.
The entire community of writers, readers, and wrestlers held its breath, hoping desperately for a miracle that would never come. A month would pass, and life would slowly return to normal, save for the Doug-shaped hole in our lives. It sounds cliché to say he touched everyone he knew, but in Doug’s case the cliché was true. He was a great man, a talented writer, and a loyal friend.
I think about him every day. I miss him every day. I can only imagine how hard things like this are on his family, if they’re this tough on his friends. I hope that wherever he is, he’s enjoying himself with a stack of comic books, NYC hardcore, and a good ol’ barbed wire match on the TV.
Rest in peace, Doug.