A person who eschews a car and walks by choice today seems willfully archaic, as curious a specimen as someone choosing to play professional football in a leather helmet.

Why would you choose to walk when the gods of modern technology have provided us with cars? We’re in an age of rapid movement, and walkers seem to be in no hurry; many are known to stop to talk to others, or to admire some streetside oddity that’s captured their attention. “English has no positive word for lingering on the street,” wrote British transportation consultant John Whitelegg. “In English, slowness in general is often treated with pity (a slow learner, retarded) with derision (sluggish) or with suspicion (loitering).”

Wayne Curtis is a contributing editor to The Atlantic and the author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New… More…

At the 2013 Walking Summit early this month in Washington, DC, I spent a lot of time looking at other people’s shoes.

My interest in footwear-as-fashion borders on nil, but I was curious about locomotion. I saw a lot of sensible, flat-heeled shoes on women, and some efficient Tevas and Hi-Techs on men. But also quite a few painful and pointy dress shoes on both sexes, all inappropriate for walking more than to the nearest Starbucks. I tried not to judge, but, well, what can I say?

Wayne Curtis is a contributing editor to The Atlantic and the author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.

 

I became very dizzy while watching Cloverfield in the theater last year. I sank into my seat and muttered, “Oh man, I don’t feel too good.”

“What’s the matter?” my friend Geoffrey asked.

“Taiji,” I said. “I think I may have a bruised rib from taiji.” Even the kids in front of us had to turn and see what was so funny.

Everyone knows “tai chi” — it’s that arm-waving thing old ladies do in urban parks. The Whole Foods yuppie crowd swears by it as a way of learning how to “relax.” Taiji quan (same thing, somewhat more accurate transliteration) started out, however, as a powerful martial art. I started looking for a martial art to practice a few years ago and observed a few classes. I met lots of athletic types, and a few… More…