A documentary by Jeremy Workman. Rated PG
More reliable than the U.S. Mail, Matt Green walks the streets of New York City in rain, hail, sleet, snow, and trash-encrusted sunshine. He doesn’t do it for money, or any tangible goal, but because the streets are there.
A former civil engineer who couldn’t stay at a desk, Green quit about six years ago and has been ambling the Big Apple’s boroughs ever since, as documented in Jeremy Workman’s curiously uplifting The World Before Your Feet. The more common expression “the world at your feet” would imply a materialism he eschews with Zen-like commitment. Now pushing 40, Green has no fixed address, but circles outward from wherever he’s currently cat-sitting. He has covered more than 8,000 miles and carries almost no money—just trail mix, a water bottle, and a smartphone with which to document the many oddities he finds along the way.
His obsessive taxonomy of Unhidden New York includes hair salons with Z in their names, personal 9/11 memorials, and the “churchagogues” that sprang up in poor neighbourhoods that Jews left behind. Green himself left a leafy town in Virginia—the kind of place you could walk in a day—and began his not-so-pedestrian journey by hoofing from Rockaway Beach, New York, to Rockaway Beach, Oregon.
The habit stuck, and he began categorizing his poststroll research into cemeteries, abandoned shantytowns, and unexpected foliage—one tree is almost 400 years old and was certainly on George Washington’s bridle path—into a literate blog called I’m Just Walkin’. Given the common perception of New Yawk attitudes, you might expect it to be some variation on “Hey, I’m walkin’ heah!” But Green says he has never been robbed or attacked on his journeys. He’s such good company, on screen or foot, you have to believe him. The few times he’s accosted with skepticism end in smiles, handshakes, and exchanges of trivia that, seen up close, look not so trivial to him.