Sunday, June 17, 2018

Success is a Social Construction

This tweet caught a virus and generated fun responses.
One of my favorite responses centered on a good drinking song from the 1990s, the most glorious of decades.
I was just sitting on a chair in front of my house listening to a good song on my phone ("Gold Rush" by Death Cab for Cutie) and my neighbor drove by, flashed me the peace sign and yelled "Happy Father's Day homie". I responded in kind and started thinking about social constructions such as "living the dream" and how people define success and happiness. Anyhow, I'm glad to have a good neighbor and I'm going to go back to listening to Death Cab for Cutie.

 

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Review of Almond

If you find yourself in Bridgehampton, Long Island, make sure to visit Almond.

The first night we posted up at the bar. I was with two family members and a dear friend. Hours went by. I mixed in water between drinks so my actions remained socially acceptable. I had been drinking a local IPA (made in nearby Greenport, if memory serves) until I switched to a pretty pink concoction featuring tequila. There was too much salt on the glass, so I ordered the next one without salt. Perfect. One more of those pink drinks would have put me over the edge.

The bartender was a young man who was friendly and attentive. He never got annoyed with us. We asked him where to go next and he suggested a dive bar, the very place he planned to visit when his shift ended. We never made it. We did the smart thing by crashing just after midnight.

While at the bar I spent a lot of time looking at a red wall. I love how Almond is set up. The dining room is good size, in the shape of a square, from anywhere in the dining room or anywhere at the bar you can see everyone and everything. It's comfortable. I didn't find anyone or any part of it snooty or buttoned up. It was come as you are casual or dress nice if you like, kind of like a lot of society these days. I wish I'd taken a picture of the red wall. Was it wallpaper?!?! I wasn't expecting to write about Almond so I didn't take field notes. I wish I had taken notes on my phone and some pictures. Some people say to be present and put down your device. For one night in my life I was something along the lines of present but damnit I should've been active with my phone. My memory isn't what it used to be.

My location at the bar was adjacent to the host(ess) stand. A pleasant young woman was hosting for most of the time we were there. I turned to her and made a reservation for the following night. I knew I had to get back for a sit down meal.

We kept our commitment and returned for dinner the next evening. I ordered the Korean style short ribs. They were delightful. They were served with rice and kimchi. I think my favorite part of the meal was the kimchi. I also ordered smoked carrots. For some reason I thought I should have carrots instead of fries. The carrots were fine but they weren't fries. Life is short. Order the fries.

My brother was going to order spaghetti with lobster. I encouraged him to do so. "That's the move, that's the move." But he opted for a special: ravioli stuffed with ground pork, I believe. Twenty-four hours in my adult life I removed my sociologist cap, so, as established, I didn't take notes. I tried his ravioli and they were delicious.

A highlight was when a man walked in with someone, his daughter perhaps, and both of them were wearing baseball/softball shirts with the restaurant's name on them. Where I'm from, youth sports teams are usually sponsored by little pizzerias or a small company that does electrical work, but I guess things are different in the Hamptons. It was then that I noticed some kid art affixed to a wall near the entrance/exit of the restaurant. I like a place that sponsors a team and has kid art.

For dessert we had ice cream and some awesome chocolate thing served in a small mason like jar. I think the technical name is Pots de Creme but that's not in my cultural capital wheelhouse. Again, the lesson here for ethnographers or real food writers is to take detailed notes.

When I go out to eat, I like to be comfortable. I don't like to be in a place that feels too fancy. This was my "just right" kind of place. You're allowed to get slightly rowdy at the bar, and you can show up the following night to have a quiet meal. The staff were all friendly and seemed to enjoy working there. It's the kind of place I'd like to be a regular. I'm not a regular at any place, and that kind of bums me out. Oh well. I hope to get back to Almond some day to do some drinking and eating. The end.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Notes from the Weekend

Yesterday, Saturday morning, 8:30. An early soccer practice for our 10-year-old. I didn't mind taking him to practice. It was a beautiful morning, 70 degrees. I had a chair in my trunk and brought a book in case I might do some reading. I also had in mind that my favorite donut place was about 100 steps away. Coffee in a Styrofoam cup kind of place. 

I was the second parent to arrive. The first parent was helping to warm up his son, and then my son. I chatted with him from a short distance while setting up shop at a picnic table. The rest of the team all showed up suddenly, most parents dropping off their kids, taking the opportunity to do errands or whatever for an hour plus. One parent stuck around, and she walked over to the picnic table, and we started chatting. Then one more parent showed up and stayed around, and he joined us, and eventually we were all seated on one side of the table. There are times I like socializing with people and there are times I prefer to shy away and do anything other than talk to humans. I was glad I was feeling social. There was something about this conversation on a peaceful Saturday morning that hit the spot. It was all pleasant, all positive, just a good chit-chat with parents mostly about parent stuff. I've been a baseball and soccer parent for a bunch of years now, and it might have been the most enjoyable small talk I've ever had with my youth sport parent peers. If not the most enjoyable then surely in the top 5. 

Today, Sunday morning, I was at the grocery story in the 7:00 hour, and on the way home my window was down and I turned up the volume very high when the Alvvays song "In Undertow" came on the radio. Sitting at a red light I recalled being 21 and dancing at my favorite college bar to Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way". More than 20 years later letting loose is having the window down enjoying indie rock while driving through town. 

One hour ago I took my 7-year-old for ice cream. I wanted him to have something fun to do while my wife is with our 10-year-old at a birthday party. I instructed him to hold his cone up straight, warned him to hold it with two hands. Three licks in, the one scoop of ice cream fell to the ground. He started crying, cone still in hand. A nearby teen witnessed the incident and suggested the five second rule was in effect. It was a funny remark and I said "I hope so". I left it to my son to decide after I picked up the ice cream with a napkin and placed it back on top of the cone, as if it never fell in the first place. "You want this one or a new one?" As I surveyed the ground, noticing a decent amount of bird shit, I have to say he made the right choice in asking for a new cone. I asked for a dish this time, and paid up. He made it through the ice cream this time without a hitch. 

Much more happened during the weekend, but I've already used up 18 of the 30 minutes I allotted myself to compose this weekend wrap. Going to give this a quick proofread and make sure 7-year-old is in pajamas, as bedtime is fast approaching. 

The end.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Picture of the Day (Goodbye, Toys R Us)

Those of us immersed in suburbia are accustomed to an extensive selection of big box stores. It's an interesting development to see some of the old school ones close. This Toys R Us is located about 10 minutes from where I live. I was thinking today about how, in my suburban life, time is often measured in how long it takes to drive from point A to B.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Race and Public Space

Been thinking a lot about the recent arrests of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. This isn't a full post on the matter. I'm just starting to build a class session in my head for the next time I teach my Social Psychology course. Race and public space. Race and racism in everyday life. Here's what I have on file for now, to be developed into a class session.

1) Robin Roberts' interview of the men (Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson) on Good Morning America.

2) Jamelle Bouie's article "White Spaces," in Slate. He quotes Elijah Anderson in the article.

3) "Being Black in Public" - also in Slate, an interview featuring Jamelle Bouie, Gene Demby, Aisha Harris, and Tressie McMillan Cottom.

4) "Beyond Starbucks: How Racism Shapes Customer Service" - Alexandra C. Feldberg and Tami Kim. In this New York Times article, the authors state: "Over the past two years, we have investigated discrimination in customer service by conducting large-scale field experiments in the hospitality industry. We have repeatedly found that front-line workers exhibit racial bias in the quality of customer service they provide."

5) "Who's Really Welcome at Starbucks?" by Vince Dixon

6) "Race, Space, and Belonging" by Neeraj Rajasekar. Includes a listing of pertinent academic articles.