August 1, 2010

Long ago Michael Kinsley found the most boring headline ever: "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative."

And now he may have found the most boring article:
The story that grabbed my inattention was in the New York Times on Monday, July 26. It was about a man who used to take long walks around the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, until he died last week. That’s it. That’s the story. In Silver Lake, he was wittily known as "the Walking Man." (You see, it’s because he walked all the time).

Was he a homeless man who walked because he tragically had no place to go? No, he was a family doctor named Marc Abrams. Was he an eccentric recluse who lived in squalor and scared the neighborhood children? No, he lived in a house with a hot tub next to the reservoir with his wife, Cindy. Cindy worked with him in his practice. Did he walk every day, rain or shine? No, only “near-daily.” Did he reject all conversational overtures due to the intensity of his need to keep walking, walking, walking? No, a local restaurant owner used to “walk half a block with him” and “strike up a conversation.” People along his route knew him from “years of drive-by small talk.” So what inner demons possessed him and caused him to take long walks nearly every day? The Times reporter asked neighbors. “He walked, he told them, to keep fit.” Of all things.


Anonymous said...

The walking guy was only 58 when he died? Sheesh. And I thought walking was supposed to be good for you.

Word verification: sequedn

Steve M. Galbraith said...

He died at 58?

"Worthless Daily Walking" would have been an apt headline.

Synova said...

It probably wasn't that boring a story to the locals who saw him all of the time. No reason anyone else should consider it interesting though.

rhhardin said...

Imus has an unbroken treadmill record now of 881 days.

Imus 1940- , as he's referred to in his bio.

Unknown said...

Since they can't write about what's going on in Mesopotamia, the Gray Lady has really gone downhill.

WV "smatoe" What someone says when they want to know what's wrong.

MayBee said...

It's an even stupider story, because many of the people who knew his medical practice said he specialized in giving prescription drugs to addicts.

But he was special, because he walked. You can feed addicts drugs as long as you walk for fitness nearly every day. It becomes charming.

MayBee said...

Here are his Yelp reviews, covering a few years.
It seems the people who liked him most were the people who saw him walk by.

Bonus: He was one of the few doctors who took walk-ins.

lemondog said...

There are eight million stories in the Naked City; this has been one of them.

Phil 314 said...

I believe you missed a key point in the article: he had a pending Medical Board action against him regarding narcotic prescribing habits. Additionally, he may have committed suicide.

I will admit the narrative is a bit muddled (is it the "local colorful character passes away and will be missed" story or is he "the tormented soul" or is he the "unethical local doc who's dirty deeds finally caught with him" morality tale?)

Hey, as a guy who regularly criticizes the media for searching for "narrative" in spite of the facts, I have to a appreciate the attempt to present a complex story without a straight narrative. My critique would be that the piece wasn't well written and could have been better if it had waited a bit longer for more detail and a better conclusion by the medical examiner.

Maybe he was a user himself and simply drowned in his own hot tub after a few too many Oxycontins.

(Hey now there's a great narrative:

The scourge of addiction leads a physician to ruin)

Phil 314 said...


And you're telling me you found the Elizabeth Hasselback bit "interesting"?

Anonymous said...

Low budget journalism.

Got to keep the shareholder happy.

Cutting the product to keep profits up never works, but I don't expect the NY Times to know that.

They've never run a business, after all - they hate business.

I'm Full of Soup said...

"It probably wasn't that boring a story to the locals who saw him all of the time. No reason anyone else should consider it interesting though."

Excellent point - local coverage could help the now-dying newspaper industry. If I ran a paper, I'd insist the paper do at least one story a week for every zip code area we covered.

wv = mantv = opposite of The View

Beldar said...

Did he bite any dogs?

More likely, he was bitten by one or more.

Scott said...

If it was a bit more prolix, it could be published in The New Yorker.

Unknown said...

We used to live on his walking route in Silver Lake. Saw him every day, never knew the back story.

I say we celebrate the eccentrics in our midst.