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An Encounter With a Writer on the Subway

It was a hot, humid city Thursday. I got off the A onto the steamy platform at 59th St. to change to the C train. Oh, it was hot on the platform. I had forgotten to bring a bottle of water. The air-conditioned train will be here soon, I said to myself. Just relax. Breathe. Dream of Tokyo where the subway platforms are air-conditioned. Imagine you are in the pool. As most thoughts, these were fleeting. Heat descended, the train didn’t arrive. I turned to my right and there was a man, buds in his ears, holding a notebook against a pylon, writing. He put the book down a moment, then lifted it again to write some more. He was using a pencil, I recall, because who can write in that position using a pen, right? It doesn't work. And I recognized that Staples notebook. Unlike other cheap composition books it has a soft cover easily turned inside out, lighter to carry. My journal of the moment is the same!

So I couldn’t resist: I went over to the man and said, “What are you working on?”

I’d interrupted his writing reverie and he was startled. Then he smiled. The B train arrived, not my train, but I got on it anyway. I could get off at the next stop and still be okay for my destination. I wanted to talk to this writer who wrote on the subway platform.

His name is Jason Faust.

“Faust as in Faust?”
“Yes. I’m a playwright, I’m working on a play.”
That was in answer to my question as the train arrived.
“Had anything produced?”
“A one-act.”
“Day job?”
“At a theater. At least I’m in the business.”

One stop and we had talked a lot, as writers do. I asked Jason permission to write about him in this blog and to post a photo of him I’d snapped before I so rudely broke his reverie. He said, “of course,” and handed me his card. I gave him mine. Now we were networking!

I know many writers who concentrate best when they are surrounded by noise and activity, but never have I met anyone who writes on a subway platform. This was a first.  Read More 
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Breaking News

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight.” Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963
I was awakened by milling on my street at 2 am, brewed up some tea, and made the mistake of turning on my iPad.

More unbearable breaking news: cops shot in Dallas during a demonstration against police brutality. Before the gunfire, protestors and police were posing for photographs—peacefully. This lovefest does not answer the endemic racism, but it may be a watershed moment. Unless we become inured to killing, it will stop. We are not Boko Haram training drugged children to kill by slaughtering chickens or their own parents. We are Americans. We’ve had our civil war, our revolution, our Bill of Rights. We can fix this.

For what remained of the night, even as I attempted to rest my brain, I was writing this blog post and thinking of all my African-American friends who have been stopped by the police. My husband’s screenwriting partner, Gerard Brown III, author of “Juice,” a cult classic, has many stories to tell. He has a gentle, loving nature so when the cops stopped him, frisked him and searched his backpack one afternoon in the neighborhood where he lives, he was able to stay calm and civil. The humiliation and disrespect stayed with him.

And that is just one story among too many stories. An ex of my daughter’s carried a police badge in his wallet. His dad was a court officer and got it for him. But what if he had reached for it one day in the car when he was stopped, my daughter riding “shotgun.” What an image that is!! When I asked him one day—as a mom—if he was being careful, he pulled out the badge. I had never known he was carrying it until then.

For weeks now, many of my FB friends have been writing the most heart-rending posts about the latest killings. It’s so hard for all of us to know how to respond. FB is helpful because it enables us to have a conversation and, therefore, some solace. Articles are posted. Petitions. This morning I signed a petition to Loretta Lynch. Thousands upon thousands of people signed it.

What a world we live in. What, if anything, has changed? Have we made progress? Is it possible to maintain an historical perspective? Where can we find sanctuary and wisdom? Read More 
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