reviewed by Tom Hartman

Published in Issue No. 50 ~ July, 2001

Baudelaire would be proud: Editor Lawrence Levi’s appropriately titled
Flâneur seeks to promote idle urban
wandering and showcase essays, stories, poems and art inspired by
“Flâneurial behavior.” Flâneur‘s contributors, however, aren’t
prowling the arcades of Paris, but rather Manhattan’s five boroughs.
Contributor Rachel King, for instance, in “Literature,” presents a
number of texts found in various NYC coffee shops, office waste bins
and newspapers. Literature, King argues, has become “this capacious
thing, a word that can contain two opposing senses — ‘written
matter of aesthetic significance,’ as well as ‘written matter of no
aesthetic significance’ — in much the same way that ‘cleave’ can
mean both ‘to adhere’ and ‘to come apart.'” One of the texts on which
King comments is this “For Rent” ad found (circled) in an abandoned
newspaper in a Chelsea Starbucks:

3 Rms, $3,000!

Stunning 1 bdrm apt. in bldg my parents left me in once-crummy,
now-hot nghbrhd. Old lady who lived here just died. Her loss, yr
gain! Yr loss, my gain! Living rm w/fireplace/balcony/EIK — all
utterly beyond yr means. Full 1st year’s rent req. for sec. dep. +
you have to promise to take me to your friends’ parties. I don’t
get out much. Pls. call, esp if young SWF. I live downstairs.

While you’re browsing Flâneur, be sure to read Rebecca Schuman’s
“Sarah Jessica Parker is Stalking Me,” in which the svelte star of HBO’s
Sex and the City appears at every turn to complicate Schuman’s

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Tom Hartman has been a regular contributor to Pif since 1999. He lives in Philadelphia.