February 5, 2011
MAPPING THE SOCIAL LANDSCAPE READINGS
Reading #6 – Sidewalk by: Mitchell Duneier
A book vendor and intersection at the busy intersection of Eighth Street,
Greenwich Avenue, and Sixth Avenue.
He is a sturdy and stocky 5’7’’ African American, 42 years old.
Has an apartment in New Jersey.
He reads at least one book a week.
oHe doesn’t just name titles, but he knows contents.
He first used to sell what he called “black books”.
After becoming romantically involved with a Filipina book vendor named Alice,
who carried paperback classics and New York Times bestsellers, the variety of books he
Local residents, workers, and visitors come to Hakim to discuss topics of all kinds,
whereas Alice tended to be “about business”.
After he met with the author (Mitchell Duneier), Hakim was asked about how he
saw his role.
oHe responded that he was a “public character”.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities?
oA book about a classic study of modern urban life published in 1961.
oIt is about the author’s observations in her own neighbourhood, Greenwich
They are anyone who is in frequent contact with a wide circle of people and who
is sufficiently interested to make himself a public character.
A public character need have no special talents or wisdom to fulfill his function—
even though he often does.
He just needs to be present, and there needs to be enough of his counterparts.
His main qualification is that he is public, that he talks to lots of different people.
She modelled her idea of public character after the local shop keepers with whom she and
her Greenwich Village neighbours would leave their spare keys.
oThese figures were trustworthy people.
They were “typically strong proponents of peace and order”.
“They hate broken windows and hold-ups.”
She also modelled the public character after persons like herself, who distributed petitions
on local political issues to neighbourhood stores, spreading local news in the process.