Jane Jacobs, the great champion of urban living, stoops were as integral to the health of a city as parks, sidewalks, and street life. In our own era, as prices of townhouses soar and they once again become the domain of the city’s wealthiest residents, will the stoop survive as a neighborhood gathering place? Or are we on the verge of a new Gilded Age?
We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for this all to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography—to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.
Bill Gates’ latest charitable contribution in the field of public health: $100,000 to the inventor of a condom that actually feels good. Grand Challenges in Global Health, a research foundation established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is offering the grant money for the best “testable hypothesis” for “the next generation condom,” one that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure.” The goal is to eliminate one of the major barriers to condom use: “From the male perspective,” the call for entries says, “condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable.”