By Paul Ford
First the deep blue.
First the deep blue, then the lighter blue (with shades of orange). Streetlamps turned off to make way for sunlight. Light
passed through the windows of the large building across the street. A huge truck, axles roaring, heaved down the street. Someone
yelled, and the metal shutters of the small grocery under the subway were unlocked and thrown upwards with a clanking, medieval
The sun was slow to start, a trickle of brightness, but it gathered confidence with the minutes, and within 40 minutes it
found its footing. Light came now like a dam bursting, through the latticework of the elevated subway. It shone on the Gowanus
Expressway, and bounced off the oily green of the Gowanus canal. It turned the drawbridge silver, then orange, then silver
again. The streets went from black to asphalt-gray, the sidewalks from brown to beige, their irregular ellipses of gray chewing
gum brought into view. Brightness came over the piled black garbage bags that line the streets on Monday nights. The shadows
of the windowpanes began their angled crawl across apartment walls.
When it was nearly done, shoes began to clap on the sidewalks, only a few to start, then many each minute. These are the commuters
who wake up in darkness, even in the summer. They must be in place to greet those who follow two hours later. They are old
men with rough skin and young girls in velour slacks. Receptionists who will answer the first calls and take the packages;
security guards who will take over from the night shift; ambitious young bankers who will greet the boss on her way in; restaurant
workers who will cluster outside the steel-shuttered windows and wait for the manager to come with his key.
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
There is a Facebook group.
You will regret following me on Twitter here.
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 email@example.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.
: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
© 1974-2011 Paul Ford
Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose.
As a hobby I write.
Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out.
Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley.
Welcome to the Company.
“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”.
Forgot to tell you about this.
“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.
An essay for TheMorningNews.org.
People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately.
Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford.
Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford.
Nanolaw with Daughter.
Why privacy mattered.
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...)
That Shaggy Feeling.
Antilunchism, by Paul Ford.
Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford.
I'll have no one to blame but future me.
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.
The Moral Superiority of the Streetcar.
(1) Long-form journalism fixes everything. (2) The moral superiority of the streetcar. (3) I like big bus and I cannot lie.