David Rakoff says take a walk, a proper walk

whose streets? [1980: Chris Parker* walks in Jarmusch's "Permanent Vacation"]

The back page of the "Week in Review" section of Sunday's NYTimes was devoted to three writers offering advice on "how to get New Yorkers moving faster". The first two were quite serious, all about arranging cars, buses, trains and taxicabs, but they were fundamentally pretty "pedestrian" and had little of interest for anyone who already knows all the solutions (like me). However the third invited guest, the wonderful author and performer David Rakoff, offered something completely different in a piece about real pedestrians, below the delicious title,"Walk this Way".

He begins with a reference to the period of hard economic times the City is about to re-enter:

. . New York City is about to get interesting again. Those who regret having moved here too late, having witnessed only her metastasized proliferation of glass-walled condos and cupcake purveyors, can take heart at the prospect of shuttered libraries, underfinanced schools and grimy hospitals. Those bygone days of "Midnight Cowboy" grit might soon be upon us once more. Why, if you squint just a little bit, you can almost see Verdi Square changing back into "needle park."

In spite of the infectious New York cynicism, Rakoff has actually written a very funny column about the rules of engagement in the art of walking the streets of New York, one of life's supreme pleasures, we both seem to agree. He also offers some exceedingly practical advice, much of it useful even to New Yorkers (you know who you are). This is one of them:

CHOOSE A LANE: Yes, there are lanes. If you see something you like in a shop window, check your blind spot and, when it's safe to do so, shift over. (Happily, soon the stores will have closed, their windows boarded over, or smashed and empty from the latest blackout looting, rendering this rule as anachronistic as the requirement that men remove their hats in an elevator when a lady enters.)

I can survive any kind of New York, so long as I know there will be David Rakoff with me.

playing the perambulatory Allie, whose unhurried and unfocused persona has these defining lines early in the film:

Some people, you know, they, they can distract themselves with ambitions and motivation to work, you know, but not me. . . . . They think people like myself are crazy, you know. Everyone does because of the way I live, you know.

[image from reverseshot]

Whatever happened to Chris Parker? I met him here in San Francisco around 1987.

Whatever happened to Chris Parker?