We are going to

“We are going to listen to some music,” said Scott. “Get up your Russians.” I have this Russian website I visit where the songs cost ten cents each. This is one of the things I like to do the most, hang out and shop for music online and listen to it.

“You know what I want to hear?” Scott asked. He was suddenly guarded.

“There's amnesty tonight,” I said. “You're cool.”

“Band called Ace,” he said. “'How Long' is the name of the song. Driving song.”

“Let me just get that for you,” I said. “I've decided on total amnesty. I don't care what anyone listens to any more. I tried to tell Lucy about how much I like Chicago,” I said. “And she just looked at me. Like how could she love this man who just said he likes the band Chicago?”

Suddenly I wanted to tell him my morning dream about a man living here, in my apartment, fifty years ago. This man is alone and he has a few pots and pans, a cheap old bed, a chair, and a collection of jazz albums that he spins over and over. He has a job in the city, where he is a ghost, and when he comes home he sits in his chair and smokes cigarettes, drinks, and listens to his albums for two hours. He doesn't read. I can't see him any more fully than that. I know a few things about this man: he does not own a bicycle; he owns several gray ties; he believes in ghosts, in a small way.

Walking around I sometimes become aware of men in straw boaters and women in crinoline with parasols walking down the same street as the girl with a pierced navel. A man in knee breeches yells out to man in a fedora carrying a trumpet case. The beatnik snaps his fingers as Manahattoes and Canarsies walk by. A woman in a housecoat. Trollies rise up out of the street, tracks gleaming from use. Cobblers and leadsetters, tailors, candlemakers, butchers. All are, I notice, heading for the park. I slide in besides a man from the Depression wearing a stained tie. “When we get there,” he says, “I am going to have a popsicle.” He pats his chest pocket. “Pal,” he says, “do you have a light?”




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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