Paris Attacks

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Local photographer Andrew Pielage and his fiancé Lori Buhlman were in Paris during the time of the attacks. Both were a few miles away from the site of the attacks and will relay their experiences.

TED SIMONS: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," hear from two valley residents who were in Paris during last week's attacks. Also tonight, a discussion on the ethics of lawyers writing books about their court cases. And video of President Kennedy visiting Phoenix 54 years ago to honor an Arizona senator. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A local photographer and his fiancé have returned to Phoenix after a visit to Paris put them just blocks away from last week's attacks that killed at least 129 and wounded hundreds more. Joining us now, Andrew Pielage and Lori Buhlman. Thank you both for joining us. Appreciate it. Good to have you both here. How tempted were you to stay in Paris? I mean, was it time to get out of there or did you feel like you should stay?

ANDREW PIELAGE: Yeah, you know, it was -- I think it was kind of both a little bit. We were both kind of ready to go, but also we talked about it just last night actually that it is kind of like when you have a friend that is injured, you never want to leave them while they're injured and that's how we felt at the airport leaving. You know, we would like to stay and support, you know, this city and what it is going through right now.

TED SIMONS: Feel the same way?

LORI BUHLMAN: Absolutely.

TED SIMONS: As far as why you were there, you are somewhat familiar with the city, correct?


TED SIMONS: Talk to us about that.

LORI BUHLMAN: I did a post doctoral fellowship there 2007-2009. I lived there for a couple of years, worked, made good friends and fell in love with the city.

TED SIMONS: Where were you when the attacks happened?

LORI BUHLMAN: We were having dinner with friends, 14th district. Just finishing dinner when my friend received a text message from a friend actually in the United States asking if she was okay. And we all sort of wondered why would she ask? And then my friend received several more text messages from people asking if she was okay. And we were a little bewildered because no one around us seemed to notice that anything was going on. We paid our bill and started a nervous walk home because we had heard that several restaurants had been attacked and that people were being asked to go home. We walked very briskly back to our apartment. And we ended up spending the night with them rather than going to where we were staying because we were told to stay indoors.

TED SIMONS: When you were walking home at the restaurant you were dining at on the streets as you were going home, the mood, the response from Parisians, what were you seeing?

ANDREW PIELAGE: Quiet. When we arrived in Paris the city was full and vibrant like Paris usually is and that night, I think everyone was trying to figure out what was going on. Obviously when we found out, it was still a fluid situation. We heard there were shootings and bombings and honestly we just wanted to get home safe and in the apartment. I think all of the other people in the cafe were kind of in that same mode trying to figure out where they were, text their friends and family while they make their way home.

TED SIMONS: I would imagine social media was huge about that time.

ANDREW PIELAGE: Absolutely. It was absolutely huge, yeah, yeah. We ended up -- Facebook actually contacted us and they have some kind of awareness where they know you're in Paris so they ask if you can submit and say you're safe and we ended up doing that. And that -- Facebook was great for letting people know that we were safe.

TED SIMONS: Compare that evening before and after the attacks, and the next day when the knowledge and everything kind of sunk in.

LORI BUHLMAN: It was a very surreal kind of feeling. The city was partially moving and businesses were open for the most part. The streets were not very heavily populated. There were people walking around, all of the Metro lines were open. Some of the stations were closed but for the most part they were running. So we took the Metro home the next morning. It was heavy. And I think everyone, it felt like everyone was in a state of shock.

TED SIMONS: Indeed, we have photographs that you guys took of the next day. It sounds like, and looks like, just -- I would imagine lots of folks in a daze and looking for some way to remember and some way to honor those that -- the lives that were lost.

ANDREW PIELAGE: Yeah, absolutely. I think you nailed it. When we walked up to the small gathering that was taking place, it was thick. I mean, the sorrow, the pain, you could see it on their faces, you could just feel it in the air.

TED SIMONS: Was there hesitation to go out the next day?

ANDREW PIELAGE: Definitely. Yeah, yeah. And, you know, that's actually something we discussed as well. Once we knew that it was somewhat safe and at that point they had caught all of the terrorists or they had left, we decided to go on with the plans we made that day and not stay inside in fear because I think that is what they wanted us to do was to stay inside and we decided not to.

TED SIMONS: When you talk to people, your friends there in Paris and in France, what -- why do they think these attacks happened? What are their thoughts on this?

LORI BUHLMAN: I think in general they feel that it is -- does have to do with the bombings, U.S.-led coalition in Syria, and that it is a retaliation for that. They're very shocked, you know, of course, they -- I think that was the biggest adjective I would use to describe the situation.

TED SIMONS: Was there anger?


TED SIMONS: There was no anger?

LORI BUHLMAN: Not from our friends. No. Mostly sorrow and shock and disbelief.

TED SIMONS: Same thing --

ANDREW PIELAGE: Exactly. I didn't see any anger on the streets. A lot of mourning, sadness, crying.

TED SIMONS: The headlines in the papers, this time it's war. And it's war and all of these sorts of things. I mean, we're seeing that in newspapers, but the average person in France and on the streets of Paris, were they even ready for that kind of talk or thought yet?

ANDREW PIELAGE: I don't think so. I think the president came out strong like he probably should have been on the TV and we watched that live that night when it was happening. I didn't get that impression from the people on the street and how they were acting or our friends, our locals in France.

TED SIMONS: Was there any -- before this happened, Charlie Hebdo attacks were not that long ago and at that time they were unthinkable. Did people talk about that or mention that or refer to that?

LORI BUHLMAN: They did. There they refer to as what happened in January. I heard my friend say it a few times. Like what happened in January. There were a couple of references to that.

TED SIMONS: With all of this in mind, are you hesitant at all to go back to Paris?


TED SIMONS: How come?

LORI BUHLMAN: I still feel the city is very safe. It is a wonderful, wonderful city with wonderful people. I have very good friends there. Andrew and I both have very good friends there. I will, I hope to go back next year.

TED SIMONS: What do you think, a little hesitant to go back?

ANDREW PIELAGE: Not at all. Not at all. It is a beautiful city. The people are beautiful. Again, I think that is what the terrorists want us to do is be fearful and I think we need to do the exact opposite and continue living our lives.

TED SIMONS: Considering you were there, last question for both of you, considering you were there and the impact of what happened, does the world seem a little different to you now?

ANDREW PIELAGE: You know, I -- I think in -- in the city of Paris, maybe, yes. I think they're still trying to deal with it and figure out how they're going to move forward.

TED SIMONS: Have things changed?

LORI BUHLMAN: I think it is too early to tell for us. We left Sunday. But I think what is coming and -- it was a little -- I think sports venue -- more security like there -- also talk of passing laws that would invade privacy, personal privacy, just like we saw here after 9/11 as well. I think those things will change in France.

TED SIMONS: Good to have you both here.

LORI BUHLMAN: Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Good to have you both back safe as well. Thank you for joining us.


Andrew Pielage : Local photographer

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