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Pedestrian Dreams

On The Virtues Of Walking

I’m a native New Yorker. I was born in Greenwich Village and raised in Brooklyn. I don’t live in New York now, but I still work there, and I consider it my goddamned right to go anywhere I want in the city. I’ve got to watch out — if a place looks dangerous, or people look dangerous, then I’m going to steer clear. But not on principle.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Poor And Poorer

Growing Up In The Projects

The endless rows of cramped units were designed to house the maximum number of people in the smallest, most underdeveloped side of town. Most families were black. There were only two categories — the poor but not yet without hope, and the poor without any hope.

Delicate Business

One of my patients recently informed me that she had decided to charge for sex. After many affairs with men who had proven untrustworthy, she was abandoning her search for a genuine relationship.

Fool’s Gold

Why should someone like me worry about the recession as much as I do? I didn’t have any money before it, and I won’t have any money after it. The housing it is now killing me to buy will cost less the next time I have to buy. I have more to gain than to lose.

The Door, The Road, And The Zen Teacher

I’m ordinarily unaware that a feeling hangs like a mist around what I see and makes it look the way it does. I’m rarely aware of this because it’s always happening; I’m always looking through filters of feeling just as I’m always looking through the air. Only on rare occasions, when by chance I experience the same object in two very different ways, do I become aware of what my mind is doing.

Hella Hammid

I’d asked Hella to send me more photographs. Months later she wrote back, apologizing for the delay. “I have looked death squarely in the face most of last year,” she said. “I have cancer but am fighting it with everything I’ve got. This is why I haven’t come up with new work, but I’ll begin again soon.”

Fiction

Kissing In The Movies

In 1961, Nicaragua and I were still developing, both of us unsure of our desperate passions. I knew nothing of politics. When the U.S. Air Force needed my father to teach Somoza’s pilots to fly, my family moved to Managua. The State Department warned of the dangers: malaria, earthquakes, revolution, poverty, sharks swimming in fresh water. They left something out.

Fifty Guilders

I sat by myself on the train from Copenhagen. In the middle of the night, the door to my compartment opened. A young woman wearing a ponytail, a T-shirt, and a dark blue suit eyed me stretched out on the seat, my gray hair curled over my collar. Then she decided to come in. She heaved her baggage into the overhead rack, shut the door, and stretched out on the opposite seat.

Straight From The Mouth

I didn’t think I’d hear again from my grandmother’s second husband, Uncle Benny, and then he called one Wednesday afternoon, three years after my grandmother had left him. I was stacking money on my bed at the time — ones on the pillow, fives at the foot, and tens in the middle where I could see them easiest.

Readers Write

Money

Lunch money, Las Vegas, art for the people

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

Rather than earn money, it was Thoreau’s idea to reduce his wants so that he would not need to buy anything. As he went around town preaching this ingenious idea, the shopkeepers of Concord hoped he would drop dead.

Richard Armour

More Quotations ▸
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