By definition, adjunct means, "a thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part." So, we know what we're getting into. Still, it sucks to be nonessential when you do essential things pretty well. There are 2 or 3 weeks before any given semester begins when adjunct instructors get to feel entirely essential. Today alone I've had two phone interviews and gotten no fewer than three other email inquiries about whether or not I can teach at X institution. Some of these are schools that I approached 6+ weeks ago, when I was putting my schedule for the fall together. I've played this game many times. So! Onward! I'm preparing to teach a class of all men (boys?) business majors at a private college. I'm teaching Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams. I planned this syllabus weeks and weeks ago, before I knew I'd have a class of all men, but now, it seems even more essential. Everyone needs to learn empathy. But maybe especially men. Maybe especially men, empathy toward women. Not that that's what this book is about. It's more about just seeing other people for who they are. Understanding lives that seem entirely different from your own. Jamison investigates super weird communities: people with obsessions and diseases, and biases. She writes beautifully about them. She becomes them, in a way. Someday I'd like to become a real teacher, with a living wage and reasonable benefits; but until then, I'll do my best at being essential, in a supplementary way.
This past weekend, 30 or so people gathered at 383 West Broadway in SoHo to smoke cigars and catch up. This is the site of the now permanently closed OK Cigars, where guys (and a few gals) had been smoking, and (more importantly) becoming friends for the past 17 years. The building has sold, and H&M or some other big box store will take over soon: it's tough making a living in retail in New York City. But locally owned places to gather are important for New Yorkers--vital; whether it's a cigar shop or a barbershop or a deli or a running store: New Yorkers find THEIR place, and then visit it religiously. I would argue that community is treasured most in big cities: we want to be part of something small and significant amid the chaos. So when those places close up shop, or get bought out by something bigger, customers take it personally. People--maybe especially New Yorkers--have a need to tell their story. This happened to me today, this is what I'm working on, this is where I've been and what I've seen. And if shop owners and workers are smart, they'll listen, and care: they'll learn something. Jackrabbit Sports joins the ranks of locally owned stores, where people stopped by just to chat and laugh, that has been bought out by a bigger entity. Maybe all of the conversations won't end: maybe some of the employees who went through 3 months of training in order to talk about the biomechanics of feet will stick around. But probably, this store won't remain a religion; probably, the customers will find a new place to have community.
I've been pushing #teamcoyote and the coyote take over of Manhattan lately: those little guys clearly know how to party. This article from The L Magazine, sort of says it all. But I still have a few questions. Like, why haven't the coyotes gotten to Brooklyn yet? Do they prefer bridges to tunnels? Are they friends with French bulldogs, or enemies? How do they feel about the cops giving tickets to cyclists in Central Park? @LonelyCoyoteNYC has some of the answers on Twitter, but someone really needs to get the "What I've Learned," from an actual coyote. I assume Esquire Magazine is on that?
I know that as a "hip-ish" person who has lived in "Brooklyn" I should know better than to listen to "mainstream" bands that Spotify "tells" me to. But still. I like the new Alabama Shakes album. It feels like they're finally not trying so hard to please, and instead just playing. It's slower, for one, and raw: it's not over produced. It's genuine. Eerie and haunting are becoming cliches in the description-of-music/poetry/literature, but this is both of those. It feels like a slow New York City evening in an ageless era. It feels like an outdoor concert. And I'm sure that concert will actually happen, and I'll have predicted the future. I also predict that there will be fireflies there, and cold beer, and a breeze. You're welcome. See you in September, or something.