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Urban Renewal

The Resurrection Of An Ex-Gang Member — An Interview With Luis Rodríguez

Someone once pointed out to me that the word respect comes from the latin respectus, which means “to see again.” It’s a beautiful concept. We have to see each other again. We have to see the gang member again, and the poor farmer, too. As we see them again, we find they’re not that different from us, that a thread connects us all: the Indian on the reservation and the immigrant just arriving on these shores; the middle-class kid in the suburbs and the gang member in the inner city. The more we look, the thicker that thread becomes. Sometimes it may be invisible, but it’s there. We’ve got to make it more visible. There is no such thing as a separate reality. What we do here affects people over there.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


Bull City looks like Fidel Castro: green fatigues, engineer’s cap, and mule-tail, anarchist beard. He’s from Missoula, Montana, but he took his fall — a life sentence — right up the road in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He carries a Bible, a dictionary, a prison issue loose-leaf, and two sharpened pencils. He wants to be a writer.

Sitting In The Dark

I should begin by confessing that I belong to an organization called TV-Free America because I find television so dangerous and corrupting an influence that the best solution I can think of is to do away with it entirely. I’m also aware that the chance this will happen any time soon is zero.

Skeleton Woman In Seattle

When I was able to open my eyes, I saw beside me a young man, nineteen, maybe twenty at the oldest. He was in shock, twitching and shivering uncontrollably from being tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed at close range. His burned eyes were tightly closed, and he was panting irregularly. Then he passed out. The sidewalk was wet from the water that a medic had poured over him to flush his eyes.


A Life Without Consequences

The psychiatrist wants to know if I have allergies, if I take any medication. I tell him I have hay fever. He rubs his bald head; I rub mine. His window is covered with wire mesh. Outside, it’s starting to rain. He pages absently through his manual with a large thumb, not really looking for anything. I can feel the rain in my bones. Since I ran away a year ago, I’ve spent a lot of cold, wet nights huddled under boxes, hiding in boiler rooms. Running, running.

Readers Write

Crimes And Misdemeanors

After my mother caught her new husband taking liberties with my younger sister, it was over between them, but she was determined not to leave him until she could stash away enough money for us to live on. (Welfare was only for “lazy people,” she said.) We moved to Wisconsin to be near her parents, which she thought would help her save money.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

April 2000

I turned off the radio. I didn’t want to hear more about the war in Chechnya, about the man who lost his wife and son. I didn’t want to think about the wars to come. The full moon had something to say to me, but I didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to be reminded we’re as far from the moon as we’ve ever been. 

Musings From Our Founder ▸


“If one is going to change things, one has to make a fuss and catch the eye of the world.”

Elizabeth Janeway

More Quotations ▸
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