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  • Whenever I bike in New York City, I see fishermen, and I always hope to see one pull a glistening, thrashing fish out of the Hudson or the East River. But this dream had not been realized—until recently. Lots of fishermen, but no fish.

    At a pier along the bike bath running up Manhattan's west side, an older man sits on a bench, saying nothing, doing nothing, except contemplating the rope in front of him, one end of which is tied to a railing, the other end disappearing into the river.

    In the familiar manner in which any man who has ever caught a fish—even once—can approach a fellow fisherman, I ask him, "What are you after?"

    "Crab," he says.

    He pulls up a small, pyramid-shaped wire trap, one that opens perfectly flat on the ground, revealing a raw chicken leg tied to the middle, but no crabs. With no wasted movements, the man throws the trap back into the sea, the rope trailing behind and then tightening as it reaches its limit.

    I follow him to the other side of the pier, where he reels in another trap. This one—believe it or not—holds a crab. The fishermen tries to grab his catch, as the crab waves its blue claws. The standoff continues for a few moments before man bests crab, plucking it from behind, and almost tenderly folds its arms in upon itself. He then wraps the crab in a Chinese newspaper and puts it away.
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