Ladies and gentlemen, I am hungry, and I'm selling socks, I'm selling these socks, because I need the money, because I am broken, because I am not your color--but aren't we all down here together. I am without skill or hope, with no promise for better things. You, too would beg if you had to. Paul Ford, I see you there. You stopped doing volunteer work with the homeless, didn't you? Because your job makes you too busy. Whose suffering have you lifted, Paul Ford? I want a dollar. You spent fifty times that today, on laundry and a haircut and lunch and dinner. Am I not worth one-ninth of your bad haircut?

Ladies and gentlemen, out of the fineness in my heart and faith in human nature I'm telling you this is Bergen Street, and I have AIDS, cancer, nervous tic, stress, chronic fatigue syndrome, crotch rot, bad breath, an eating disorder, post-traumatic stress syndrome, night sweats, and a pimple. I am very contagious.

You, ma'am, you wish you'd gone to Vassar instead of to a state school, because in magazine publishing it makes a difference and you worry you're lagging behind. You, sir, you worry because your kids aren't getting the same advantages as rich children. You know, I still have fantasies of being a famous musician? I live in subway stops and can't play anything except some trumpet, but I still want to be more famous than Louis Armstrong. Everyone down here wants to be a writer or poet, all of us have written our Nobel acceptance speeches in our heads, fantasizing about exchanging life for frictionless glory. I would have as much distrust if I was in your shoes, but I'm wearing a pair of Air Jordans without laces, and they smell like someone else. I fished them out of the trash. So I can't even wait for regrets, I need your help now.

This is Carroll Gardens, and every penny you give me will go straight in my lungs via a glass pipe. So? Why are you so worried about those quarters, when you'd throw them after a gumball or a slot machine with abandon? Why are you judging the investment as if I was a car salesman telling you that the seats are leather when they're really vinyl? This is human skin, brown and breathing. I'm asking you to judge my total worth and invest only a few pennies. When I told you I was sick I didn't lie. I have broken into a realm waking up is a five-stage task.

This is Smith and 9th. Paul, before you go, a quarter? No? Well, then I'll curse at you: you fat fuck, you bastard, you child molester. Give me a dollar!

All right, don't get angry. It's just that I hate being in this position, but you put me here, and I have to push back. Stand clear of the closing doors.




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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