Thursday, May 6, 2010

Eunbyoul Cho Book review, Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier

Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier
This book is written by Mitchell Duneier. In this book, there are many descriptions on people who work in the sidewalk. People who he talks about in this book are from New York City. They are vendors, scavengers, and panhandlers who Duneier have met and learn many things through them. The main theme in this book is that there are different lifestyles in New York City for vendors, scavengers, and panhandlers. Even though people might think they know about vendors, scavengers, and panhandlers, there are different then we know as Duneier experience with their lifestyles.
In this book there are many examples of people who are in the sidewalk. People who works in the sidewalk, they are usually black people. In this book, Duneier talks about Marvin and Ron, who works in the sidewalk, they sell magazine to the people. In this book, Marvin is like a ‘caretaker’ to Ron. Marvin has trust on Ron so they work together. Marvin always cares and tells him to not to do bad things to Ron. Marvin believes that one day Ron will live without doing bad things like drugs. By reading this book, most of people never or doesn’t think about the vendors, but I noticed that within working in the sidewalk, there are trust and people who really care about each other. There are social relationships created within the sidewalk, which I didn’t know until I read this book.
The most important, interesting, and surprising points of the book was in the beginning of this book. The book vendor called Hamkin shows his relationship with people who he sells book to. Hamkin is educated person; I want to mention this because there are stereotypes that people who work in the sidewalk aren’t educated. Hamkin went to Rutgers University but he couldn’t graduate because he couldn’t pay five hundred dollars to the school, which he owed. Before working in the sidewalk, he used to work in many companies. But now days he sells his ‘black’ book, which is history of black people, and give choices to people which ones are good books for them to read. It is interesting and surprising that Hamkin is educated person but works as a book vendor. There is diversity of people who buys book in Hamkin’s vendor. Jerome is 22 years old who works near the Hamkin’s vendor. Jerome buys book from Hamkin and Hamkin gives advices to Jerome. Hamkin helps Jerome to get GED and promises that he will support him. Also, Hamkin introduced Jerome to other person, who he was professor. Hamkin tries to help Jerome to get better life and education than he has it now. There is a suprising relationship that Hamkin supporting Jerome. He even promises that he will financially help Jerome.
As we discuss in class about Jane Jacobs of view, Hamkin is a perfect example to draw connection. There was deliveryman but the shop was close so he asked Hamkin to hold until the shop opens. Hamkin said yes to the deliveryman. This is a trust that deliveryman and Hamkin have. Because Hamkin is always there in his vendors, deliveryman knows that Hamkin will be there until the shop is open. Like Jane Jacobs said that there is relationship or trust in neighborhoods. Also, as we discuss in class, even though we don’t ‘know’ neighborhood, we know them. In this book, people who work in the sidewalk has trust within them and within people who are around them.


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  5. FROM ALINA:The city needs sidewalks when you think about it (we usually don't because we can not imagine not having them). But sidewalks are often meeting places. I have run into people I know plenty of times just by walking down on a sidewalk and there are certain sidewalks which have particular stories to me.
    I like how you pointed out that stereotypically street vendors are uneducated. There is a vendor right outside of Hunter college (I buy food from him and talk to him everyday). He is actually very intelligent and he got into the business from his father. He makes good money too- think of a restaurant type business minus the cost of rent, electricity, employers, etc. There are plenty of hardworking and smart people doing this.