Thursday, September 12, 2002
By Paul Ford
Almost like any other.
I stopped at a drugstore and they were playing a John Wayne speech on the radio, backed with some drums and guitar. Then I
went to help my friend leave her apartment. The movers had been there and there wasn't much left, just a few boxes. The boxes
were heavy and it felt good to lift them, stepping slowly down all 4 flights of stairs. The car service told us the boxes
wouldn't fit in the car, but they did, and I waved goodbye to my friend. I'll come back, she said through the half-open window.
But come visit! I said I would. She and her cat, secure in his carry-bag, left for the west coast. People on the street wore
a variety of ribbons in white, and in red and blue.
I felt lousy and tired. I walked towards Rockefeller Center. A man was playing bagpipes on 48th St between 9th and 8th. Many
people looked somber. French teenagers took pictures of the skyscrapers. People in dark suits were hugging for long minutes.
Men were selling commemorative booklets. Others were talking about deals on their cell phones, talking into space, the little
earpieces sprouting a wire. Some trees were tied with ribbons and decorations. A motorcycle had a piece of paper in the windshield,
“Please do not give me a ticket I am at a memorial service.” The police blocked off part of 8th Avenue for no obvious reason.
At 6th Ave I found they'd closed the McGraw-Hill bookstore. On June 14. And they'd closed the Dover Books Bookstore a few
months back, as well. And Coliseum before that. And of course the Borders, which was destroyed when the towers fell, I forgot
about that. I went a few blocks more to the Barnes & Noble. I hate giving them my money, but I was too lazy to support my
I bought two GRE-prep books. I ate a sandwich, and got the train home, reading the books and remembering basic algebra. I
picked up a newspaper from the seat beside me, The New York Post. It had an image of the World Trade Center reflected in the Statue of Liberty's eyes, with tears running down her face. It
was the most maudlin thing I'd ever seen, and I laughed. It was a fantastically windy day, and the grit from the streets kept
coming into my eyes and onto my face.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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.