Piecework: Writings on Men & Women, Fools & Heroes, Lost Cities,Vanished Friends..
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In a new volume of journalistic essays, the eclectic author of A Drinking Life offers sharp commentary on diverse subjects, such as American immigration policy toward Mexico, Mike Tyson, television, crack, Northern Ireland and Octavio Paz.
Prohibition, and they ran pretty good saloons. I was a kid. I worked in the places that were open. They paid you, and the checks didn’t bounce. I didn’t meet any Nobel Prize winners in saloons. But if Francis of Assisi was a singer and worked in saloons, he would’ye met the same guys. That doesn’t make him part of something. They said hello, you said hello. They came backstage. They thanked you. You offered them a drink. That was it.” He paused. “And it doesn’t matter anymore, does it? Most of
most fruitless encounters and dispiriting defeats are as nothing compared to the life of the man living each night in a cardboard box on the street. Our relative freedom from want should encourage mobility, propel us into small adventures. In New York, we don’t have to go far. On almost any given day, we can face grotesqueries; the next day might be riddled with ambiguity; and even for those of us trapped in offices, stamping away at a million documents like the man in Kurosawa’s Ikiru, there is
that no words, no pictures, no movies can ever fully express the horror of the Holocaust or the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But an awed silence can’t satisfy everyone. Some Americans might be adapting the robes of the victim in solidarity with the victims of this century’s horrors; others might don them in annoyance, saying in effect, Yeah, that’s terrible, but / have my own problems. And some might be trying to relieve some tangled feelings of national guilt; for the incineration of
American families are now living below the federal poverty line of $10,989 a year for a family of four (compared with 8 percent of whites). In New York City it is estimated that 60 percent of black youths never finish high school, in a time when even a high school diploma is barely sufficient to function in the job market. The national infant-mortality rate is 50 percent higher among blacks than among whites; eleven thousand black infants died in 1984, and in New York last year, after the advent
saw only the waste of his own talent and his life. We looked around, feeling oddly like intruders at the scene of some private tragedy, and then we fled. The town that Huston, Burton, and Taylor saw in 1963 has been enveloped by the much larger Puerto Vallarta that is here now. It has the usual transcultural clutter that you see in places designed to give pleasure to strangers from El Norte: Denny’s and McDonald’s and a lot of boutiques. But it’s still a good town for walking. In the mornings