strangers in a strange land

I like my life because of the strange people that cross my path. petey freeman just marched across the tiled floor of the farmacy with a bag of trash and a determined look. his dream is to turn this old abandoned pharmacy into an egg cream parlor and soda fountain. his family bet the farm on this project (literally: it’s in maine with his mother). in this old italian neighborhood, he knows the gentlemen who smoke all day in front of the Society of the Citizens of Pozzalo Way.

one is an old italian man, bent but spry. whenever he sees a bike, he comes over to talk. if’s it italian, “oh yes, the best” but with my old Schwinn he starts describing the design problems. the english only lasts a few sentences. i spend several minutes listening as he points at the bike and talks in rapid italian pausing to wait for my nods of agreement. petey grins in the background. he’s sat through long incomprehensible stories from this gentlemen before. “the stories always start in english and end in italian.”

a man on the steps of a williamsburg bank cum art gallery gives me a flyer of his work. grotesque bright stunning images of wonder, illustrations to accompany paradise lost. he wears a bow tie and a snappy suit.

a mexican kid delivers pizza and while we bike next to each other, he brags aout going home once a year despite his illegal status. the coyotes have always gotten him through with no problem.

a slim turkish teacher who beautifully handles her special ed kids in the bronx. she entered a dance competition and her kids all voted for her online. she donated the prize of a portable sound system to the school. now three autistic boys went from outcasts to rap stars who perform at lunch. i especially like good teachers. i’m glad my sister just married one. i’m also delighted at the beautiful Levin that they recently brought into the world. congratulations my dear sister.

i’m excited to get back on the road this summer. the rate of meeting strange ducks increases dramatically when you wander down the highway. a preaching canadian truck driver, a quiet burned out hippy who delivers a honest and deep sermon in sixty seconds on the love of mary mother of god, old boys looking for a piece, a wandering rockclimber who lives out of his van complete with a library. he happily loads me down with science fiction and steinbeck.

as i often said, my grandfather taught me that you can learn something from everyone. that’s why i’m constantly writing notes about my experiences with these interesting characters. i find them fascinating. maybe other people will as well.


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Lex Pelger

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