"Some straight people have gradually changed their attitudes toward gays after realizing that their friends — or children — were gay. Researchers have found that male judges are more sympathetic to women’s rights when they have daughters. Yet because of the de facto segregation of America, whites are unlikely to have many black friends: A study from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that in a network of 100 friends, a white person, on average, has one black friend."
[T]he progression from detail to epiphany is not a technique used merely for its effect on the reader, but that this method is in fact how a writer discovers his own material.
This changed my writing forever. To put it another way: I had chanced upon the discovery that for the writer it is not moral pondering or grand emotion that are the entrance to a story, but detail and small event.
"True hermits, according to Chris, do not write books, do not have friends, and do not answer questions."
“The Last True Hermit
,” a great story by Michael Finkel, though it calls to mind The Journalist and the Murder.
"At the end of the hall on the ground floor of a tenement on New York’s West 63rd Street, behind a rickety door, in three small rooms littered with cardboard cartons, catsup bottles, half-empty suitcases, Japanese dolls in glass boxes, soup dishes stacked on a piano, team irons, clothes hanging from nails in the fiberboard walls, shopping bags and children’s toys, lives Thelonious Sphere Monk."
Cold beer safely crotched, I yaw out into the onion-consommé tide once more, Miss Bennett following in silence. I ease into a narrow canal coursing through a cheery Floridian Venice where manses shoulder in among rusting modulars. At a Y in the stream, I pause to get instructions from a trio of seniors out for a swim.
"Hello," I say, "which way to the Gulf?"
"You’re going to the Gulf?" asks a man somehow able to tread water and maintain a healthy ember on a cigar.
"Trying to," I say.
He indicates the right fork. “Shit,” he says. “Good luck.”
Wells Tower channels
Neddy Merrill on a jerry-rigged raft float across Florida
"In other words, the moment we quit trying to teach our son anything was the moment he started really learning."
"Few learned anything about the history of Dyess as an experimental colony built by the Works Progress Administration for farmers during the Great Depression. Or the fact that the Cash family is part of that history."
"Transplants who protest that the street panders to tourists miss the point. Bourbon Street has to appeal to tourists in order for the city to survive. Tourism is today New Orleans’s leading industry, responsible for supporting the local economy in a city that, despite the recent boom, remains severely underpopulated. One out of every twenty jobs in New Orleans is located on Bourbon Street. Campanella estimates that it produces billions of dollars a year for the city. If most tourists mistake each other for locals, and see Bourbon Street as a true representation of New Orleans, it’s not the city’s loss. It’s the city’s gain."
"The desperation in coal country is hard to square with the beauty of the place — the densely flocked hills peppered with tiny towns."
The New York Times on the “hardest places to live” in the country, which seem to map pretty closely with some of the places I love most.