There are two basic sorts of pedestrians, those in motion from A to B and the loomers, who move stop-and-start, and set a shuffling pace, investigating trash, asking for quarters. To them we add two recent variations: cell phone users, and now the smokers, both of whom are banished from the bars and restaurants, self-selected social pariahs who breed either annoyance or lung cancer by their presence. They duck in, commit their deeds, they duck out.

And through it walks me, hepped up on caffeine, and singing. This being 11:30. And I am coming from a good conversation. It's enough, to listen to people talk about their lives. In this case a woman formerly of the army. It was beautiful to watch her, because she is in agony, worried about friends, and full of hatred for the this administration, and in her—she went on, got her degree, remained in the reserves—and she spun around herself. It was something not to get up and knock the dip over and embrace her, pull her out of her gyroscopic balance.

Because she keeps looking for a way for things to be all right. But she's too close to the moment, too close to the experience. “I'm not watching any more TV,” she said. “I turned it off.”

“Then you're missing some fantastic reality television,” I said. “They're marrying off a midget on Fox. And making fun of the fat. We're only a moment away from 'Who wants to Fight in Gladiatorial Combat' and 'Who Wants to Buy My Daughter?'“

The evils of the age are so apparent, so blatant. What sort of annal do you need.

“I can do without the reality TV,” she said.

She was at Rebecca's, and Elephant the German Shepherd ran back and forth between the rooms for no reason. She is a graduate student in political science at Rebecca's university. I am falling for her, even though she won't remember me at all. That almost corporeal ambiguity, child-sized, hanging in there, the desire to be a patriot and to change things, the hopelessness, and a distrust of the facts. Oh lurkers she makes me sing. Emperor of New York, shield me from pigeons and bring me into her arms.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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