The Urban Pedestrian

If I had a blog called The Urban Pedestrian, it would be a daily account of my walks through downtown New Haven and surrounding areas. I would talk about the buildings, the streets, the people in the streets, construction projects that are underway, and so on. I would report on what it’s like to be a pedestrian in the attempt to “raise awareness” about the “issue” of being a pedestrian. I would complain a lot about the traffic signals and how they are awkwardly timed so that it is actually safer to jaywalk than to cross at the intersection. I would bitch and moan about motorists who never use their turn signals, and relate tales of how I yelled, “Nice turn signal!” as the car swerved blithely on by. Uplifting stories of Good Samaritanism would be included, as would sardonic tales of the street people asking for money.

Today, for example, I ran into a street lady with whom I am quite familiar. I don’t know her name. It was a beautiful day out, in the 70s I believe, and she said, “Do you know me?” I said I did, and asked how she was doing. “I’m depressed. I’ve been walking around all day, crying like an asshole.” I could see the tears in her eyes. I don’t know nor do I care whether she was just running for Best Actress or what. I just said, “I’m sorry, sweetheart, I would give you some money, but I am fresh out.” I gave her a hug instead. She kept on walking and panhandling in the gorgeous weather.

Now that’s kind of sardonic, yes? Sad, but nice weather. Good combination. Then I would move onto how I ran into my buddy Gary from the old soup kitchens I used to attend, and how I spotted him today wearing a suit at a bus stop. He was coming back from a job interview at a temp agency to (hopefully) replace his job as a stock “boy” in a grocery store. His explosion of sandy white hair and handlebar goatee, juxtaposed with the old pinstriped suit, made him look a lot like Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain depending on who you ask. Gary was reading a fantasy novel. He’s always reading a fantasy novel. He opened the one he was holding and read me a passage from the introduction, which was basically a how-to guide to writing fantasy. Moral of the passage: you have to have a theology (pagan or Christian, pagans are better because “they have more fun”), a Hero, a Quest, and a “Magic Thingamajiggy” (Holy Grail, the One Ring, the Special Jewel). That’s as far as we got. Gary’s bus arrived.

That’s The Urban Pedestrian. Lowbrow and blue collar and street. Then there’s The Upscale Pedestrian.

The Upscale Pedestrian would be a blog about how to live the good life without having to buy a car or even a bicycle. It would include information about how to use the transit system in an efficient manner, reviews of nice restaurants and museums you can walk to, a guide to planning your days around a pedestrian-oriented way of life, and other material. It would break down the cost of being a pedestrian and weigh it against the cost of owning a car, and then compare the intrinsic benefits of each way of life. I would attempt to prove that you can muster any type of non-motorist lifestyle you want, whether you are young or old, rich or humble, single or married, with kids or without.

So why don’t I start those blogs? Because I have too many ideas. That’s why I have this multi-purpose blog, this trash compactor. I realize there is little to connect this blog to itself. There seems to be no pattern, other than the fact that it is written by myself. So I’ll just stick to this one for now. My goal is to tell self-contained stories that do not require you to follow a thread or series. On the other hand, a lot of my life does connect; a lot of the stories do find relationships with each other. So if you are a reader of this blog, please just read as much or as little as you like. If you start to see a pattern, then you have your larger narrative. Reading and writing are therefore a symbiotic relationship. As a reader, you have just as many choices to make as does the writer. So we’re kind of exactly alike. You’re confused, I’m confused, let’s all share our lives with each other.

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