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The Sun Magazine

Culture and Society

Cities

Photography

Displaced Persons

After World War II Congress voted to allow thousands of European war refugees into the U.S. Whenever a ship carrying these “displaced persons,” as they were called, came into New York City, Kalischer would go to the harbor to take pictures of the new arrivals. He had come here as a refugee himself not long before, at the age of twenty-one, and he recognized the fear and expectation in the faces of the men, women, and children.

Photography

Father Figure

As Lee immersed himself in these families’ daily lives, he witnessed tender interactions that ran counter to stereotypes of black men as indifferent or absent fathers. Despite challenging financial and personal circumstances, the men Lee encountered were “loving, present, and responsible fathers,” he says, who worked hard to provide for and nurture their children.

Fiction

Beneath Our Feet

Well, if the world handed me strangeness, then I’d take whatever advantage I could, which meant walking right down the middle of a street usually clogged with traffic. There was luxury in the freedom to roam as I pleased.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Waterbugs

If you’re not familiar with waterbugs, if you’ve confused them with some kind of delicate creature that skips along the surface of a lake, you are adorable. Waterbugs are enormous cockroaches. Specifically they are two to four inches long: meaty, definitive proof that there is no God.

Fiction

Due To Vandalism

The copper is the easiest, isn’t it, vandal? You can clear the whole house with a hammer and a hacksaw. Start in the basement at the water heater. If the property has been properly winterized, the water will be shut off, and even if it hasn’t been, it takes hours for a basement to flood and days for someone to notice. (Just make sure the power is off, for real. In April they found a fried vandal in a cellar in Pontiac, Michigan, his body bobbing as high as the window well.)

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Garlic In My Ear

In our culture, when you have a medical problem, you visit a doctor, who writes you a prescription; then you drive to a pharmacy and pay thirty-two dollars for a medication. There are few surprises or slip-ups. But if you decide to single-handedly reconnect with a lost ancient lineage of herbal wisdom, you may end up with a short spear of garlic bearing down on your eardrum.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

No Longer On The Map

I had once believed in answers, saviors, miracles, and sages; divine justice and ideal love; the discovery of a lost Taoist parable or a missing biblical passage; a scientific intervention or progressive sociopolitical system that would liberate the oppressed; perhaps even news from NASA about habitable planets accepting applications for novelists. But I knew now that none of this would happen. The letter from a publisher, the spiritual breakthrough, the scientific solution, the literary prize, the big-hearted city, the understanding woman — they were all a mirage.