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American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

Author:Nick Bilton
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi, azw3
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2017-04-06T15:13:59+00:00


Chapter 39

KIDNEY FOR SALE!

Ross stood in his bedroom, his white sheets rumpled on the bed, as he buttoned his pink-and-green-checkered shirt before heading out on another San Francisco adventure.

Over the past few months he had explored every crevice of the Bay Area. On some days he had ventured south to Bernal, where he climbed to the peak of a hill. He took long walks past the piers with sunbathing sea lions. He had gone north with his roommate and best friend, René, over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin, where they hiked the trails amid the redwood trees, clambering through the salty fog and stopping every few feet to marvel at thousand-year-old trees that seemed to almost touch the heavens. Between explorations Ross went on boating trips with friends through the choppy waters of the bay, brushing past Alcatraz, the notorious prison that had once been home to Al Capone, the American gangster who fought the U.S. government during Prohibition.

But one of the more memorable experiences of his time in San Francisco happened on a Thursday afternoon in early December, when Ross and René happened upon the Contemporary Jewish Museum in the South of Market area of the city.

Homeless people, mostly drug addicts who had fallen on hard times, lined the streets, pushing their lives in carts from one soup kitchen or rehab center to the next, past the big glass buildings where those billion-dollar start-ups grew larger and more powerful by the hour. It was chilly that day, and a light sprinkle of rain fell from the sky as the two friends walked inside the museum. They wandered around the brightly lit, cavernous rooms until they came upon a metal box the size of a shed on whose side the word sTORYcORPS was written in big bubbly red letters. Ross and his friend pulled open the door to the metal box and sat down in front of two microphones. A red light soon came on to indicate that what they were about to say to each other was going to be recorded.

Ross began, introducing himself and noting, “I’m twenty-eight years old.” His voice was calm and crackly.

The recording they were about to make was part of a National Public Radio experiment; the box they sat in would travel the country, enticing Americans to tell their stories for posterity, to try to capture the change the United States was going through at the time. Some of the recordings people had already done in other parts of America were sad, like the two parents who told the story of their young son who had died because he couldn’t get a bone marrow transplant for a fatal disease. Another man talked about his experience being hit by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan. And other stories were more uplifting, like the couple who fell in love during Hurricane Katrina.

It might not have been the wisest thing for Ross to draw attention to himself. But if on the Silk Road the Dread



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