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"Clarence tells me that he has a place on Staten Island, but he has to wait for friends so he camps out in the cold and rain.."
- Jeffrey Abelson

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USA

The world's riches.. right here
by Jeffrey Abelson, 36, New York City, USA
Sep 27, 1999

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I live downtown in the shadow of the Stock Exchange, the heart of the Financial District in New York City. Limousines and black Lincoln Continentals clog Wall Street, some of the cars waiting on people in their twenties who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Clarence lives in a doorway near my home on Beaver Street, our apartment above Delmonicos, one of Manhattan's grand old restaurants. Clarence tells me that he has a place on Staten Island, but he has to wait for friends so he camps out in the cold and rain.

My neighborhood is an inorganic canyon of towering skyscrapers; some streets dark by three o'clock in the afternoon. Original Revolutionary War era structures blend in with Art Deco marble and more modern steel and black glass, the area one of the first settled in the New World. Bankers and lawyers and brokers in expensive clothes stand on line in Starbucks with new media Internet slackers, everyone isolated by their cell phones, the sidewalks crowded with all the colors of the world.

Fruit stands and coffee wagons and hotdog vendors cater to the richest folks on earth, while Clarence hustles quarters for a buttered roll.

The streets tremble with traffic above and the subways roaring below, the lines all converging as they go in and out of Brooklyn. Once the market bell rings the crowds start to head home, though the limos and black cars line the streets, waiting for their late-night charges.

Clarence knows all the drivers.

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