to explain myself

the risks of the metafiction lifestyle

I went to airport security and told the young, shaven-headed guard why I'd been in the country.

“I also have lived in Brooklyn. They find you, this company in Savion, from your Web site?”


“And what is this site called?”

“Ftrain dot com. You know the F train from Brooklyn?”

“I know the F train. I took it. What is on this Web site, Ftrain dot com?”

“Huh. Thoughts on technology. Stories. Ideas. Essays.”

“Stories about you?”


“This is something that we do not have here already, in Israel, is your biography? There is an urgent need for your life story?”

“No, but the things I do behind the scenes, that's what they wanted to talk about.”

“Why you, Mr. Ford?”

“I am an exceptional human being. But also there were several others invited.”

He laughed. “May I see this Web site? On your computer?”

“If my batteries are working.” I booted the laptop and after a minute of disk-spinning, Netscape emerged with Night Flight to Tel Aviv. “Where would you like me to click?”

“Click there.”

“It's a story about taking a train, people fighting.”

“Yes. Please scroll down. I see the picture of the Ftrain, yes? You took that picture?”

“It is. I did. That is my stop.”

“Why is it so yellow, the picture?”

“I run it through a special filter to make it look as if it was printed in a 1970's children's textbook.”

He had no response. “This is nice work, Mr. Ford. You are going to be a millionaire, I think. I am learning Unix myself also. My cousin in America, he had a Web site about Unix, pieces of knowledge. He sold it for 6 million dollars. Will your Web site be worth so much money?”

“Please. It is worth much more than 6 million dollars.” I asked, “You are bored asking these questions?”

“Sometimes boring. Many have the same story. You would not believe for crazy people, sometimes. Rich people. Business people. I talk to all kinds of people.” Behind me, a patient man with a southern accent said to his interviewer, “all of my work immediately becomes the property of the United States Government.”




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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