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The Internet Hates Me


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I moved to New York City, and I needed to make money. I wasn’t having luck getting a job. It's a common tale.

My solution was to grab my typewriter that I bought at a yard sale for 10 dollars and bring it to a park. I’d write stories for people, on the spot—I wouldn’t set a price. People could pay me whatever they wanted. I knew that I had the gift of writing creatively, very quickly, and my anachronistic typewriter (and explanatory sign) would be enough to catch the eye of passersby. Someone might want something specific; they might just want a story straight from my imagination. I was prepared for either situation.

I started at Washington Square Park. My cousin joined, which was particularly nice, since it started raining and he held an umbrella over my head. Barely anyone stopped, but there was a grand piano player and dancers to contend with. So I tried the 5th and 59th street entrance to Central Park, and was lost among the Statues of Liberty, the bubble guys, the magicians, the stand-up comic, the free hugs guy, the jugglers. At the Hans Christian Andersen memorial statue, I was writing post-card size stories for grade schoolers, mostly in the vein of Pokémon and Disney. I didn’t make a lot of money—only enough money to grab a slice of pizza on the way home.

When I set up at the High Line, I had lines of people asking for stories. At seven to 10 minutes per a story, I had to tell people to leave and come back. It surprised me when they would do just that. I never had writer’s block, although sometimes I would stare off into space for the right word, and people watching would say, “Look! He’s thinking!” Writing is usually a lonely, solitary act. On the High Line with my typewriter, all the joy of creating narrative was infused with a performer’s high—people held their one-page flash fictions and read them and laughed and repeated lines and translated into their own languages, right in front of me. Perhaps other writers would have their nerves wracked by instant feedback on rough drafts, but all I could do was smile.

Each time I went, I’d walk home, my typewriter case full of singles, my fingers ink-stained. Lots of people were worried about copycats—what if I saw someone “stealing” my idea? I tried to soothe them. If every subway guitarist had fights about who came up with the idea to play an acoustic cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the underground would be a violent place. More violent than it already is. Others, perhaps drawn by the sounds of the typewriter, would stop and just talk to me, watch me compose a story for someone else. Then they'd shake their head and tell me that the idea and the execution were “genius.”

Of course, the Internet could be counted on to take me down a peg.

I just like the image of a dude in a park typing at a typewriter. Cool.

It's brilliant.  He should double post, retain the rights, include a camera for both the requestee and the eventual blog and movie deal.....

I'm in NYC on Tuesday, I'm going to look him up and tell him everyone hates him. ;-)

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