30 October 2004
3:37 pm to 4:37 pm
Ending point: 30 John Street
Distance from home: 0.0409 miles
Literature received: Falun Gong Today (“The Suppression of 100 Million People”), Falun Gong Today again, V.I.P. Men’s Suits flyer (“From Size 36 to Size 60″)
Coin: 2001 P quarter (North Carolina)
On a misty Saturday afternoon, as I walked through the deserted streets of the financial district, I felt like I’d been transported to London of a hundred years ago. I kept expecting something or someone unusual to be around every corner, shrouded by mystery, but the same urban landscape kept rolling out under my feet and I never found the valley of Shangri-La.
As I walked around, I hummed R.E.M.’s “Leaving New York” to myself, and then later, John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Key West Intermezzo,” for some reason.
I ended up at Bowling Green, and then bounced north, heading towards the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Eight consecutive flips of tails sent me spinning around the block clockwise–and then five straight heads rewound my path, as I went around the same block counterclockwise.
I reflected on how the purest coin flips came at five-way intersections: I couldn’t double back, so two coin flips gave me an equal chance of walking down any of the four remaining roads. I pondered what a city with lots of five-way intersections would look like: I decided it would be a grid system that more closely resembled a Moroccan mosaic.
I headed north up Broadway in fits and starts, ending my trip only one block away from home. Mist was coming down from the sky and steam was coming up from a grate; I was in between.