Biography of a peridromophile
February 10, 2005 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Peridromophile William James Sidis was so fascinated with with streetcar transfers that he wrote a 300 page book about them.
posted by gregb1007 (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Good find. Thurber did the rewrite, eh?
posted by Hildago at 7:33 PM on February 10, 2005

Here's some more background on Sidis that I have recently come across. Good find gregb1007.
posted by loquax at 7:34 PM on February 10, 2005

Oh, and another metafilter thread about him. The new yorker article isn't a dp, although my link was in the old post.
posted by loquax at 7:38 PM on February 10, 2005

I just want to congratulate you for using the word 'Peridromophile' in a post.
posted by anastasiav at 8:37 PM on February 10, 2005

well it has quite a ring to it doesn't it... someone who would be very scared of streetcar transfers would be called peridromophobe! (not that such a thing as streetcar transfers exists anymore... which probably means that it's no longer possible to use this word)
posted by gregb1007 at 9:00 PM on February 10, 2005

not that such a thing as streetcar transfers exists anymore

Not so fast, Toronto still has 'em!
posted by loquax at 9:07 PM on February 10, 2005

Back in the day I contributed to the transcription of The Animate and the Inanimate and The Tribes and the States to In retrospect, for a "genius" (he was reputed to have had an IQ of 250, whatever that means) Sidis is definitely disappointing.
posted by Frankieist at 9:13 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

so does new orleans.
posted by Igor XA at 9:13 PM on February 10, 2005

Antoni Gaudi was killed by a streetcar in 1926. The construction of La Sagrada Família was transferred to Francesc Quintana.
Frankieist: I think genius starts around 130, so 250 is the full deck.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:18 PM on February 10, 2005

that whole time I thought it was a joke article - and I was impressed by the fiction
But jesus - this is a true story? Unbelievable.
posted by klik99 at 12:53 AM on February 11, 2005

Fascinating and sad. Thanks for posting it.

I see that the entire text of Notes on the Collection of Transfers is now available online. One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Here is another of Sidis's poems on the Boston subway system:

A car from Elevated at Woodlawn may arrive;
If so, the sign above the car will show six-fifty-five.
From Tunnel out to Chelsea, two trolley lines are seen;
By the Meridian Bridge four-ten, by Central four-sixteen ..
From Harvard Square prepayment cars are to North Cambridge run,
Which on the top will show the number seven-fifty-one.

Apparently Sidis also edited a journal for transfer collectors, The Peridromophile, which ran, amazingly, for over three years, September 1926 to October 1929. Alas, no copies have been located. He probably produced it on his own typewriter, for his sole use, but it is nice to imagine a whole society of peridromophilists wandering the streets of Boston with their eyes fixed on the ground ..
posted by verstegan at 3:28 AM on February 11, 2005

There's a terrific (and out of print) book by Samuel Rosenberg called Confessions of a Trivialist which includes a section on Sidis. Highly recommended.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:00 AM on February 11, 2005

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