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the trains still run

They never taught us more than how to make things. They did not explain how to take pictures, or write stories, or record songs when the walls are falling down. What should you paint when the sky is falling? And yet, they taught us all we needed to know. As I have begun to understand over and over again, all art is political. All freedom is freedom. The trains still run. The cameras can still be loaded with fresh rolls of film that smell of plastic and possibility. If there is a pothole, at some point it gets filled. Sometimes it just takes a hell of a long time to happen.

The sun rises. Children trundle around in the snow, laughing, falling down and getting back up again. Yes, the news is unthinkable. Yes, the headlines are poisonous enough to make you throw things out the window. But there is still dinner to cook, and why not make it delicious? Why not crack an egg, or laugh wildly at nothing in particular?

There was a night, about eight years ago when I was told that the militia w…

this must go


Every week, the city transforms. An old bus stop with thick cracked glass and a tiny metal garbage can that was always on fire is suddenly gone. A gleaming, modern structure is there now. A route map, laser cut brushed steel, a bench that is not lopsided. The old supermarkets are torn down, and shiny new ones replace them in less than a month. In the metro there are new cars that do not rattle, no torn vinyl seats giving up their ancient stuffing.

It is all sheen. A facade.

The chicken sold on styrofoam trays is still old, past its sell-date, sitting in those cases. The same milk, made from powder that claims it is fresh. The parmesan (spelled carefully that way) is palm oil and wood pulp. The bus stop is new, but the trolley bus is ancient  - two great limbs connecting it to the wires that run above everything here. The driver has to get out and reconnect them when they jump away, in the snow, in the rain, in the dark while everyone waits inside.

Shacks and one-car garages that slumped against walls and trees somehow standing for decades are disappearing. Every week, a bare spot of dirt where one stood. They were no danger, and no one complained about them. They were just old. But the city is in the middle of a campaign of bulldozers and papers that say "this must go".


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