City by City

Essays on American cities by people who live in them. Edited by Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb.

Fear and Aggression in Florida

Nobody bothered to point out that if Trayvon had attacked his murderer, he would have had the law on his side…How many other times had policemen or others stopped him for nothing? How much fear can we endure before aggression starts to promise relief? Sometimes I envy those whose first instinct is to attack. By hitting back, they take an active role in shaping their lives.



My parents moved us into an apartment complex in northwest Fresno called Cobblestone Village. This was the scaffolded edge of the city, only half a mile from where the suburbs disintegrated at the sandy banks of the San Joaquin. The apartments were surrounded by acres of troweled lots. A wide pit had been dug in one with I-beams and rebar sticking out of the dirt.