paul ford // f train [writing // BABL]

i first ran across paul ford last spring when i read his 'six-word reviews of 763 SXSW mp3s.' when he came back with 'six-word reviews of 1,302 SXSW mp3s' (click for loads of downloadables) this year, i backtracked to his blog, f train, to see what he's about. ford, a harper's editor and npr contributor, muses sporadically on laughs, literature, and life in new york, and there's really something to it. read steering wheel below.
I've been walking home--my bike is in the shop forever and the weather is nice. I listen to episodes of the Jack Benny program on my phone, waiting for Mary Livingstone to laugh. I'm up through 1946.
The traffic where I live is so bad that sometimes I am stuck in my minivan for forty minutes before I get to work. So I use the steering wheel as a kind of prayer wheel. Each notch reminds me of a prayer. I go from notch to notch saying prayers for my husband, for each of my children, my parents, my friends, and the students in my class.

I read something like that 19 years ago in Guideposts. I was sitting in my grandparents' living room on their black sofa. I think of it whenever my computer gives me the pinwheel, or when I am on the phone at work helping an old lady onto the website, explaining that email doesn't need stamps. At the top right of the screen, I asked, do you see a little box? And to the left of the box is the word “Username?” You put a special name into that box. We have to make that special name.

“I'm old,” she said.

Down through Soho. People walk into traffic while text-messaging. I also have on headphones. It's warm, crowded, and progress is slow. I see a girl in canary leggings and short bangs, backlit by a storefront. She is laughing at a joke made by a boy in a vest. No wonder people want to live here. Right then Mary Livingstone laughs in 1946. A man with his tongue out is trying to shake hands with everyone. On Bowery I pass the New Museum, which has a sign reading “HELL YES!” in great rainbow letters. Faces lit from below or on the side by cell-phone screens and media players. I am moving slow but light is absolutely everywhere.

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