Few days pass during which Wayne Pernu does not buy a book, or several hundred. During the summer, he hits as many as a hundred book sales per day in and around Portland, Oregon, cramming volumes into every inch of his car, stacking them on his lap if he runs out of space. For the last twelve years, he’s made a comfortable living reselling titles he’s purchased for quarters at thrift stores and at yard, estate, and library sales. As a book scout who listens to his instincts rather than to technology, Pernu is one of the last of his kind—an old-school purist in a digital world.
We’re at a hole-in-the-wall Internet café on a drizzly Saturday morning checking the weekend’s sale listings online. “You can tell if it’s going to be a good sale by how people phrase their ad,” Pernu says, peering over his thick-framed glasses at the computer screen.
A red storage locker in my living room holds the dozens of maps I’ve collected from my travels over the years. Inside, a laminated street map of Portland, Ore., sits atop a bound gazetteer of Washington, a trail map of Mount Hood National Forest and a tourist map of San Francisco.
These maps have helped me plan everything from hiking excursions to road trips. But I didn’t realize until recently — when I tacked Oregon cartographer Dave Imus’ U.S. map on the wall across from the couch — how much I’ve missed with my piecemeal approach to geography.
If Mike Gutowski had said hello to the cute girl in the peacoat and Converse All-Star sneakers who boarded the No. 6 bus after him on a Friday evening, this would be a different story. He and the girl made eye contact and exchanged smiles as they traveled south along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. But rather than start an across-aisle conversation that might make him late to his friend’s house, Gutowski got off the bus silently at his stop and posted this ad on Craigslist’s Missed Connections page the following day…Read More »
Escaping this prison would be as easy as crossing the front lawn, stepping off the property and hitching a ride to Moody’s Diner down the road for a slice of four-berry pie and a phone call. At the Bolduc Correctional Facility, Maine’s prison farm, the fences serve to keep the cows in the pasture and the porcupines out of the apple orchard, not the inmates in the yard. Rather, it’s Maine’s State Prison, better known to inmates as the “supermax,” which looms behind a chaos of chain-link fences and razor wire across the road, that reminds Bolduc inmates where they’ve been and where they could end up if they’re not careful.Read More »
Adam Swafford, a 17-year-old Chattanoogan, lies in bed on the seventh floor of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville waiting for a new heart.
When he arrived at the hospital, his heart, which should be the size of a human fist, had swollen to the size of a cantaloupe. Dr. Frank Scholl, his cardiac surgeon, said that it was one of the largest he has ever seen.
Adam’s heart still beats, but his blood flows through the four canisters of a mechanical pump that enter his body at his abdomen. The canisters click and shudder as the machine vacuums blood from the main chambers of his heart and delivers it back through his circulatory system.
About five minutes into a Saturday night wrestling match at Georgia Xtreme Wrestling in Rossville, Sam Young slipped out of the ring and grabbed a stop sign from beneath the platform.
As his opponents, Chip “Hazard” Brown and Jesse “Kilawaya” Harvey, fought to pin each other to the ground, Mr. Young hoisted himself back into the ring and cracked the sign twice over Mr. Brown’s back and once against his forehead.
Satya Vayu and I are sitting across from each other on floor pillows in the sparse living room of the house where he’s staying in Southeast Portland. His legs are crossed and his feet are bare, the bottoms calloused and dirty from walking around shoeless outside. He’s telling me how he’s gotten by without working for an income or spending a substantial amount of money for almost two decades.Read More »
The salt and pepper shakers on James Thornhill’s kitchen table are cheap, plastic and far from remarkable. Looking at them, you might assume that he has no taste in spice dispensers. But you would be wrong.Read More »
As Chris Chesnutt, 35, of Chattanooga ascends Little Cedar Mountain with his one-eyed pit bull, Obie, he stops periodically to admire the grooves that the wind and rain have carved into the limestone boulders strewn about the trail.Read More »