The Jobs Americans Do

Take some of the abundant leisure time that our post-industrial society has afforded you to read a series of nine portraits of working-class men and women in America, published last week in the New York Times Magazine. The article challenges the image of working-class jobs, which today are no longer in manufacturing as they were throughout most of the industrialized twentieth century.

The decline of the old working class has meant both an economic triumph for the nation and a personal tribulation for many of the workers. Technological progress has made American farms and factories more productive than ever, creating great wealth and cutting the cost of food and most other products. But the work no longer requires large numbers of workers.

But it’s not as if there are not any jobs. As we’ve known for decades, the working-class jobs of today are in services: health-care, education, hospitality, transportation, and customer service. Not only have the jobs changed, but they faces so have the faces of the American worker. “The emerging face of the American working class is,” as Binyamin Appelbaum succinctly summarized in the introduction to the article, “a Hispanic woman who has never set foot on a factory floor.”

A different author writes each of the stories. On a personal note, I was thrilled to see that a college chum and fellow KCSB alumnus, Eric Steuer, penned one of the stories, about a customer service representative at Zappos in Las Vegas named Sandi Dolan.

Opening: Matt Dunn at Hill Street Country Club

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An old friend, Matt Dunn, will be showing some new paintings, drawings, and sculptures at a show called “Anti-Analogy” at the Hill Street Country Club, in Oceanside, California.

I won’t be able to the opening since I won’t be in California for the foreseeable future, but if you’re in the area, please stop by and say “hi” to Matt for me, and tell him I sent you.


My Friends Run Marathons


As much ado I make about riding a bicycle, I am in awe of runners. I can’t run the 240 feet of a softball home run, which is why I swing for a line drive, so I admire my friends who run the New York City Marathon.

Living on the route in Long Island City, I get to celebrate and watch as nearly fifty thousand runners come through our neighborhood. After the marathon was cancelled last year due to Sandy, it was great to have the marathon return to our streets this year and to watch friends run today. Congratulations!



Cara posted a photo of her running clothes on Facebook so I found her in the crowd rather easily. She also looked for me and found me quickly. Thanks for the wave!


Michele was running her first marathon today. She finished with a respectable time, and I’m really proud to have seen her.




Sarah’s former roommate Mario ran today. I saw him and recognized him, thinking he looked familiar. This was one of my favorite shots I took of today’s marathon.


We Missed Steve

Steve was the only one who requested that we have something for him as we passed us. But he looked right passed us and didn’t see us. We yelled his name, but he continued towards the 3:45 pace he was running. We didn’t get to give him his orange slices. He ultimately finished at 4:46. He probably could have used those orange slices.

FMIG was once Steve’s nickname. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you what it means.

Moving Day Rules

Why do I agree to do this?

The consensus is clear. Helping a friend move from one apartment to another is one of the most generous things you can do. It always seems like one of the most unpleasant experiences in the world, even if most intracity moves only take a few hours. But since everyone recognizes the sheer unpleasantness of the moving-day experience, we’ve developed a few rules and truths about the process to make it more palatable.

  1. The person who is moving must carry the heaviest items. These items include the mattress, which is not only heavy but incredibly awkward, the air-conditioning window unit, and table, and any large shelving units. This also include any flat-screen television set because if anyone is going to drop something like that, it should be the set’s owner.
  2. Your volunteer movers get a free lunch and maybe a few beers. I once took this to an extreme. I had a mid-morning move, and at the “old” apartment, I bought a bunch of bagels, smear, coffee, and juice for my four friends who helped me move that morning. I bought way too much and ended up with a surplus of food that, you guessed it, I had to move to the new place.
  3. There’s usually an MVP for the move. Almost without exception, there’s someone who determinedly takes charge, moving a ton of boxes, or even grabbing the biggest and heaviest items. This has probably never been me.
  4. Don’t ask me to move you more than once a year. Moving? Yes, I will help you but only once a year. Otherwise, you can expect me to be “busy.” However, I just broke this personal rule, helping a friend move in mid-February and again this past weekend.
  5. Ask all of your able-bodied friends. Nothing has been more frustrating than to arrive at the move, and find that you’re the only friend your buddy asked for help. This happened years ago, well before I moved to New York, and that move took about eight hours. Aside from my own moves, I had never been more exhausted than I was after this move. A couple of other bodies would have made it so much easier.

Of course, these rules really only apply for moves you volunteer to help. A few times, I have helped move friends who have paid me. Ordinarily, it feels unseemly accepting cash, but there are a few factors for making it acceptable.

One reason is because a friend can’t participate in the move. One reason we all volunteer, other than to be of service to a friend, is reciprocity. I help move with the expectation that my friend will be there when I need to move. However, if a friend can’t lift things, because of a bad back or other ailments, then they wouldn’t be able to help with my move. In those limited cases, they have offered to pay me. One friend paid me to help them move for a different reason: neither she nor her boyfriend had a driver license. They needed me to rent and drive a truck for them. Although they didn’t expect me to do so, I helped load and unload.

Over the years, the frequency of helping friends move has been declining. As we get older, we hire movers.

Lauren Elder Performs at Joe’s Pub


Lauren Elder performed at Joe’s Pub on one of my favorite days of the calendar: the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Although Lauren was in the Public Theater’s and Broadway revival show of Hair, this was her biggest show to date. Here are some of the photos from this November 21, 2012 concert.


My favorite shot of the night is of an eyeline gaze between Lauren and her mother. Lauren’s mother had came all the way from California to see the show, and her glowing expression of pride was really moving. Because Joe’s Pub does not allow flash photography, I had to make do with two subjects in very different light, but I think the moment comes through.