Saturday, September 30, 2006

The very pants my friend was returning

When Kramer sells his life story to Peterman, one of his more riveting tales is of getting pants dirty while in the park on his way to return... those pants. "The very pants I was returning." I operate on that level of logic myself--as evidenced by my having just sent reading for class to the printer on the opposite side of the computer lab rather than the one right behind me--but that's not the point. The point is that I just got the very same pants my friend Chelsea showed me she'd bought but decided to return. If she were not twice my height, that could well have saved me a trip to Urban Outfitters.

Now that my printing (among the documents: "An Essay on the Physical, Moral and Political Reformation of the Jews," an article from 1789 denouncing gratuitous midday trips to Urban Outfitters) is complete, off to read, uh, the very pages I was printing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Feels like a Friday

An elderly Irish woman, near a local church, once famously asked my mother, "Is it Suuuhnday?" And the answer, alas, was no. Well, all day today, I've been convinced beyond a doubt that it's Friday.

While most college students in America today know that Thursday is the new Friday, that the partying begins a day before it does for those in the real world, at the University of Chicago, you're likely to find yourself with some 9am class Friday mornings that ruins the whole thing. Not that there's much of a "whole thing" for those without Friday morning classes, so no loss. In any case, I'm used to the idea that Thursday is the old Thursday. But some combination of being completely exhausted and having a bunch of people encourage me to go out drinking tonight (seems I decided against, sleepy!) gave me the impression that this absolutely had to be a Friday. Then I saw all these Orthodox Jewish men on the subway, well past sunset. How odd, I thought. Have they changed the rules? I don't remember what enlightened me, although it may well have been the sudden recollection that I have library duty tomorrow morning (a fact that I mentioned to maybe five different people today, but that I myself was able to forget quite easily).

Books or something

Matthew Yglesias tagged me to discuss books. I feel like I've seen this meme before, but am too tired to Google my archives. This is the rare moment in grad school when I'm not actually reading a book, so here goes:

1. One book that's changed your life.
Bernard Lazare, Le Fumier de Job.

2. One book that you have read more than once.
Many by Philip Roth, seeing as that's about all I read pre-college. Portnoy's Complaint. Oh well.

3. One book you would want on a desert island.
Ernst Pawel's biography of Herzl.

4. One book that made you cry.
Don't think that's ever happened.

5. One book that made you laugh.
The beginning of Absurdistan and of that Jonathan Safran Foer book. All Adrian Mole. Some of Swann's Way is clearly witty and amusing. I'm sophisticated enough to appreciate this, but not to respond to it the way I do to, say, Seinfeld.

6. One book you wish had been written.
All the one's I've ever started. If it doesn't exist and I want to read it I should probably write it.

7. One book you wish had never been written.
Some guy from Stuyvesant apparently wrote a novel about it. I wanted to write the Stuyvesant novel, but if it's been done... That, and Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Nickel and Dimed. Mighty annoying and smug.

8. One book you are currently reading.
This amounts to which classes I'm taking. Lots of French literature, 1700-present. Everything else can wait. One assigned book I especially enjoyed was Montesquieu's Lettres persanes.

9. One book you've been meaning to read.
Every single thing about French Jewish history and every single thing on the MA reading list. It'll happen, just not all this evening.

You know listening to Israeli rock while typing in French is a problem when.... have to stop yourself from putting "az" in as a preposition throughout. Il a fait quelque chose, az elle a fait quelque chose d'autre. As in, goodnight, y'all.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Good evening, dear readers. I'm going to be up all night! I feel relatively sure of what I'm writing, and am enjoying writing it, but it's been a good while since I've used a French keyboard. Until I remember where the letter "m" is, it's gonna be a slow process.


Photo: Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

I want it now!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Proust's letters, abridged

Tonight Adam Gopnik spoke or possibly is still speaking on Proust's letters, at the Maison Francaise at NYU. Problem is, although my cold's basically over, I now have a cough. Which meant a constant tension of a not at all literary variety. "This is interesting." Followed by, cough. "I had no idea!" Cough. "Maybe I should leave... but this is so cool!" Cough. "There will be wine and cheese afterwards!" Cough.

The coughing won out in the end. I'm assuming that the second I left, the discussion switched over to the subject of the Dreyfus Affair or Proust and Freud, i.e. whatever would have most interested me. But so be it, I spared a very chic audience from catching a cold not nearly as elegant as Proust's, what was it, tuberculosis? that led, much like his madeleine, to all sorts of wonderfulness.


Why exactly do Judt, Mearsheimer, and others have to come to NYC to discuss "The Israel Lobby" on the same night as a professor's coming to NYU to discuss intellectuals and the Dreyfus Affair? Quick, scientifically-oriented readers, find some way for me to clone myself by Thursday. I'm serious!

Monday, September 25, 2006

The "Hannah Arendt" backpack, only $34.99!

Tonight co-blogger Molly, non-blogger Alex and I briefly explored the area of town which I believe is called Green Witch Village. It's new to me, but it seems quite nice. We went to the Belgian Beer Bar on West 4th Street, where I had the smallest and most raspberry-flavored beer ever to exist, thus permitting further reading this evening. So very, very much to read. It's awesome! Next up, Sans-Culottes, which of course refers to those of us who have yet to find a suitable pair of the new gray "skinny jeans." I have a whole theory re: skinny jeans, but due to impending reading, I will just say that I find it odd that the GAP sells "Audrey Hepburn" pants. How are these things related? Because people are suggestible-- call pants "skinny" and people will buy them, even though every last person looks thinner in flared than tapered jeans. Suggest that a pair of pants have something to do with Audrey Hepburn, and, well, you get the idea. I'm already down for the skinny jeans, if only because they are of course this season's silhouette, but would also go for, say, a "Hannah Arendt" backpack, should such a thing exist...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fame, loosely defined

Exciting news: the closest thing I have to an academic publication (but give me a break, it's my first month of grad school!) is now online, and--seeing as this came out last year-- presumably went online sometime between now and the last time I'd Googled myself. It's about Philip Roth and the University of Chicago, and thus will be of interest to Rita and no one else.

One-track mind

Was the French Revolution not all that different in a long list of ways from early political Zionism? The idea of the revolution's leaders coming from the ranks who thought they were the oppressors only to discover--horrors!--that they are among the ranks of the oppressed?

Unrelated, but I'm delighted with my new black ballet flats. At $39, they were about as much as a low-ranking noble title. I'm also sneezing a lot less than I was yesterday, so between that, the ballet flats, and the new (mis)understanding of the French Revolution, I feel absolutely fabulous.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Busman's holiday

After a solid chunk of time devoted to French sociology, I decided to take a break and read about the apparently ginormous disparity between the number of French scholars studying America and American scholars studying France. David Bell notes:

Of the roughly 100 French universities and graduate centers in the humanities, fewer than ten presently employ any historians of the United States at all. The principal French center for North American history, CENA, currently has 46 members and associates, of whom less than a third hold full-time faculty appointments. By contrast, the North American Society for French Historical Studies has 886 members, of whom the large majority hold full-time faculty appointments teaching the history of France.


Now, part of this could well come from the fact that French history goes further back than U.S. history. Part may come from the fact that digging into Parisian archives can involve breaks to get flan and Petit Bateau t-shirts, whereas breaks from looking at archives in rural America might mean the occasional trip to get a corn dog at Sonic or visit a megachurch. Another factor could be that many in the U.S. see ourselves as hyphenated-Americans, and thus become interested in studying the first part of the hyphenated identities held by so many of us. A French grandparent might lead an American to become obsessed with French history and scarf-arrangement, whereas an American grandparent might have no particular impact on the interests of a French person. And finally, America is just more familiar to the rest of the world than any other country in particular is to Americans, such that a French person with an interest in America can park himself in front of some Seinfeld or Friends episodes and take a trip to the GAP, whereas an American with an interest in France might be forced to do something as radical as, say, open a book, take a class, and so forth, to get some sense of the other country.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Le weekend:

1) Spicy food, sleep, and tea, plus a hefty helping of "Seinfeld" and Sudafed. Last time I had a cold, I attempted to kayak in the Hudson, thinking if I went about my business, it would disappear. That approach was less than successful.

2) Reading up the wazoo! To be combined with pastries, coffee, and maybe a bit more Sudafed.

3) Get tickets for the Stuyvesant 5th Year Reunion and the Israel Lobby-fest.

4) Track down a pair of black ballet flats and a gray-ish pair of the new "skinny" jeans, at grad-student-friendly prices, something very doable what with my extensive knowledge of this city's shopping options, still with me from back in the day when I cared.

5) Ponder but ultimately reject the possibility that black ballet flats and the new "skinny" jeans count as educational purchases if you find yourself in a French department.

6) Monty Python and the friggin' Holy Grail!!!

7) Ponder but ultimately reject the possibility that, what with the "I fart in your general direction" scene, tickets to this clearly French-historical movie might count as an educational expense.

Franco-Japanese fusion

Tonight was grad student sushi night, by which I mean that between the hours of, say, 5:30 and 11 pm (and possibly still) a whole bunch of us prepared and consumed vast amounts of sushi. And soba noodles. And edamame. And, in my case, nori. We decided to replace Thursday drinking night with some other activity, since it turns out--shocking!--that as the term (I began typing "quarter" but stopped myself) progresses, brain cells had best be conserved.

For whatever reason, these Thursday night gatherings tend toward the all-female. Which is all the better when I'm determined to spend the evening with a tissue in one hand and a piece of seaweed in the other. Although among grad students, anything goes, so I doubt if coed-ness would have made much difference.

Tonight one of the other girls at the party informed me that she knew I had a blog, and asked me first what I do, which in my sudafed-fueled state confused me, but she then asked what I blog about, to which I answered "my innermost personal thoughts." I meant it to be ridiculous, but in a strange and incredibly dorky sense, it's true.

On an unrelated note, this has without a doubt made my day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Le Reg me manque, trois

Just spent a good part of my lunch hours (grad school:1, real world:0) with a friend from class, trying in vain to find a spot to plug in his computer. Not only are books barely visible in Bobst, but outlets are few and far between. And not to be overly negative, but Mamoun's falafel was not all I expected it to be-- no better than Hyde Park's dreaded Nile-- although my classmates seemed to like it. Which makes me think the negativity has more to do with waking up and realizing that a) I have a cold, not a terrible one, but enough to make coffee sound unappealing, and b) I would thus have to explique Proust, in French, in a barely-caffeinated state. It went far better than I expected, by which I mean I didn't pass out midway through. I must give credit to Dean and Deluca, which has a 10% NYU student discount, not to mention amazing doughnuts and tea.

As I watched a crumb from my Doughnut mix with the Earl Grey, you'd better believe all kinds of things happened.

Is our models eating?

Why bother wasting space, even virtual space, to ask the general (albeit NYT-reading) public whether fashion models are too thin? Is there possibly any new ground to cover with this discussion? No, they don't look healthy, no, they don't tend to follow especially healthy lifestyles, but until we ask ourselves, "Is our rock stars too stoned?," perhaps we'd better suspend judgment.

That said, it's kind of amusing that laws keeping models normal-sized have come onto the scene-- will this lead to extracool, underground fashion shows filled with real models? Or will we all finally learn to accept ourselves as beautiful no matter what size, thereby adding to the confidence of every adolescent girl out there, thereby-- give it 20 years-- fixing that whole "no women in science" problem once and for all?

The Village

In David Garrioch's fabulous book on 18th century Paris (shout-out to my 19th Century France class!), much is made about how, early in the century, Paris was not so much a city in the modern sense as a network of village-like neighborhoods. As in, plenty of urban density and filth, but not so much anonymity, not so many gay pride parades, and so forth.

The same thing happened to me!

New York, specifically the Village, is just that. At least if you spent your first 18 years in Manhattan, went to a college whose graduates flock to Wall Street, and currently attend graduate school at NYU. What this amounts to is, I walk down the street, and I know everyone. Everyone. It's bizarre. OK, I do not know the 14-year-old models who've just arrived from Lithuania, but everyone else hovering between, say, Broome Street and Union Square, I can place without so much as Facebook as my guide.

It's great in many ways, don't get me wrong. Conveniently enough, a good number of these people I see and know are also people I like. And what with the blog and all, I could hardly claim a preference for anonymity. All I'm saying is, NYC as I experience it has very little in common with the way 20-somethings here are supposed to.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

That makes two new pieces of clothing I cannot wear in public

First, American Apparel's silver lame leggings. Then yesterday, Nick dragged me into the West West Village to see a giant poster in Marc Jacobs of Naked Rufus, which was impressive. Turns out for $20 anyone can own a Naked Rufus t-shirt. Perhaps, in combination, this outfit would cancel itself out. Perhaps not so much.

Le Reg me manque, deux

Someone got here Googling "hyde park miserable." While I don't disagree, I'll say this much: At Bobst today, I was sitting in a chair in an area very comparable to where I studied at the Reg. And I got so comfortable, so involved in the underlining of my reading, that I looked up and was shocked to discover that rather than facing the Quad, I was looking right at the Empire State Building. And it was like, what's that doing there?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Only to find Gideon's Bible

Tonight, as co-blogger Nick, co-UChicagoer Jena, and I were walking down Hudson, we had a bit of an altercation with the cops. Specifically, we saw that a large, loft-style building was surrounded, with some people inside, and with plenty watching the proceedings from across the street. What was all this about? As we approached the action, one of the cops lifted a massive gun, didn't quite point it at us but not far off, and ordered us to cross the street. Which needless to say we did. Nick asked some of the observers what was going on, and it turned out it was not, as we'd suspected, a hostage situation, or anything similarly dramatic. What had merited the major police presense, not to mention the threatening waving of the gun, was that a raccoon had climbed onto a ledge of the building.

Now, not to get all gun-control-crazed or anything, but isn't it maybe not so fabulous that we live in a society where the presence of a raccoon on a ledge is sufficient reason for a cop to lift a large gun at passersby?


He's all over the internets! A London Times news story about how his children's remains are moving-- much like plenty of living people-- from France to Israel-- leads to several other stories worth reading.

French elections, in "Haaretz"

Daniel Ben Simon in Haaretz is declaring it 1789 in France, thus conveniently turning my break from reading about the French Revolution into still more reading about the French Revolution, which reminds me why I study what I do. It's all everywhere!

Ben Simon worries that Le Pen will keep getting more popular, that the extreme left and right in France will take over, and that the Fifth Republic is kaput.

During the upcoming [French] elections, the question of the national identity of the country will be at stake. Quite a number of Frenchman fear the spread of the Israeli and American models, which replaced officialdom with a federation of identities and interest groups. Sarkozy is seen as someone who is liable to unite them around the fading values of the Republic. The question of religion will come up as well: One hundred-and-one years after its separation from the state, many Frenchmen are afraid that religion is returning to center stage. The law prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols inside schools did not calm the fever of the return to religion that has seized the large local Muslim community. There is a genuine fear that if the Muslims manage to organize themselves into a communal-ethnic structure, other communities are likely to follow suit.

Do many in France really think about their goverment in reference to the Israeli goverment? Or is that just something thrown in there for Haaretz readers? Regardless, I find it interesting that Haaretz would devote so much space to a story about France's government, a story that has nothing directly to do with Jews or Israel. I guess it's just implied that there are 600,000 Jews in France, and that enough people will care to read the thing. I did, for one.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Are liberals all neocons?

When a boy discovers he likes other boys, he is not gay, but merely "confused." Along those lines, according to Tony Judt, those liberals interested in fighting terrorism are not, say, interested in keeping the free world free, and perhaps extending freedom to other nations where things aren't so hot for women, gays, religious minorities, and so on, but are also "confused." Much as Walt and Mearsheimer believe America would not help Israel but for its own confusion, a confusion that is, like all wars, like Astroturf, the fault of the Jews.

The obvious problem with the beginning of the article is as follows: it is illogical to say that liberals have changed without at least looking at the possibility that the other side, the object which Judt would have liberals fighting, might be what changed more drastically. Could it be that liberals no longer fight "them" on "the" issues because the "them" and the "the" aren't what they were in the 1980s?

Judt nevertheless declares, and seeks to understand, "[t]he collapse of liberal self-confidence in the contemporary US." "Self-confidence" can thus be used in a sentence as follows: "Flamboyant singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright lacks the self-confidence to sleep with the scores of heterosexual women lusting after him." When people fail to do as you'd prefer, it is because they lack confidence.

Interestingly, Judt argues that Europe is chock full of Bush-supporting liberal intellectuals. Judt finds four in all of that continent, one of whom, Oriana Fallaci, has died since Judt's article was written. If there is in fact a "trend," not just a handful, of European liberal intellectuals in favor of the War on Terror, Judt does not provide any evidence thereof.

Now we come to the point of the article, the Israel-bashing. Judt explains that liberal intellectuals who support Israel do so not because Israel is a democracy, or because the Jewish nation ought to go on having a state, but because they are weak and confused. "One of the particularly depressing ways in which liberal intellectuals have abdicated personal and ethical responsibility for the actions they now endorse can be seen in their failure to think independently about the Middle East." How is support of Israel evidence of a "failure to think independently"? Isn't the definition of independent thought that it can lead anywhere? Independent thought is critical thought, but critical in the sense of analysis, not in the sense of, if Bush says it, it must be wrong.

Judt discusses "Israel: a country which for fifty years has rested its entire national strategy on preventive wars, disproportionate retaliation, and efforts to redesign the map of the whole Middle East. Since its inception the state of Israel has fought a number of wars of choice (the only exception was the Yom Kippur War of 1973). To be sure, these have been presented to the world as wars of necessity or self-defence; but Israel's statesmen and generals have never been under any such illusion." I'm not going to discuss whether all those wars were "of choice," and will leave that to commentors, if they're up for it.

Next, Judt reasserts the Walt-Mearsheimer hypothesis, that the US and Israel are effectively the same, that the US is led by Israel, and what with Israel being evil and all, now the US is a mess.

"The alacrity with which many of America's most prominent liberals have censored themselves in the name of the War on Terror, the enthusiasm with which they have invented ideological and moral cover for war and war crimes and proffered that cover to their political enemies: all this is a bad sign."

So if liberals do not do as Judt thinks they should, it has to be because they are censoring themselves. It cannot possibly be that they are saying what they think.

There's a problem with Judt's argument that today's liberals are pushovers. Why, if liberals do as Bush says, do liberals support gay rights, gay marriage, the right to choose, the right to doggone it get some birth control... and so on. The divide between conservatives and liberals on many social issues remains strong.


Diary blog

It goes something like this:

French sociology.


Discuss France, Jews, and boys with French Jewish boy, who ought to know.

NYT men's fashion supplement multimedia slide shows.

French sociology.

French Revolution.


I was intrigued when a friend at NYU told me the Upper West Side was going to turn into one great big Israeli music festival--"Jewzapalooza"-- all day today. (How is this day different from all others?) But I'm going to go have my own personal Israeli music festival at the library. Of the headphones variety. I find that this one especially angry-sounding Israeli rock song, on loop, is conducive to reading about the French Revolution, the same way that the KRock station was conducive to doing math homework, way back when. I don't know why certain pairings work, but I'll chalk it up to one of those which-wine-with-dinner mysteries.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Silver leggings!

Got 'em. Space-age clothing is the only clothing cooler than francophilic, punkophilic, AND mod. The question remains: will these have the same fate as the hot pink leg-warmers? As in, will they ever see the light of day?

Friday, September 15, 2006


I just got a French Department email about a conference--"free and open to the public"-- that's to be held at the University of Pennsylvania about--yesssss!--Jews in France. Then and now. Historical, political, and literary angles. Yes, I am excited. This is kind of like if Rufus Wainwright announced not just an upcoming concert, but his impending heterosexuality.

I guess this makes me engagée

My post at Jewlicious that led to me getting accused of following Hitler has now made it to the big leagues.

That said, the French library is now open, so I am reading Montesquieu.


For the first time ever, I just met the famous Ariel Beery, whom I managed to convince to enter a French building, despite his reservations, for a few minutes, despite his busy life saving the Jews from ourselves. It was a moment of Francophilic-Zionistic triumph.

Francocentrism: better than Facism!

Last night I had the great joy of attending a gathering which included both French Studies and Jewish Studies graduate students. The Jewish Studies kids asked me why French Jews, and after I gave a somewhat tipsy explanation, they accused me of having a "Francocentric" take on Jewish history. Unlike some other accusations, this has a fair basis in truth.

Since I seem to be locked out of the French building at the moment, I'll add a bit of substance to an otherwise rather pointless and purely self-referential post. My cousin Caroline Glick has a lot to say about Israel-Europe relations. She cites a statistic, via FrontPageMag, that "on average, Muslims attack Jews in Paris 12 times a day." I wonder if this is true, but more, how it could be measured if no one in France is officially any particular religion. Caroline discusses England, and also Europe in general, but to continue on the Francocentric note, here's what she has to say about France:

These attacks against Jews in Europe are accompanied by ever increasing official hostility towards Israel on the part of European governments. On the second day of the war with Hizbullah, Chirac felt comfortable alleging that "Israel's military offensive against Lebanon is totally disproportionate." Chirac then acidly asked, "Is destroying Lebanon the ultimate goal?"

Chirac's remarks opened the floodgates for anti-Israel propaganda throughout Europe. They were followed by the barring of El Al cargo planes carrying weapons shipments from the US from European airports. That prohibition still stands.

From the moment Chirac launched this unjustified diplomatic assault against Israel, his government began acting as an agent of the Lebanese government, which itself acted throughout the war as Hizbullah's mouthpiece. So from the second day of the war, the groundwork was already laid for UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which treats Israel and Hizbullah as equals and lets both Syria and Iran off the hook for their central roles in Hizbullah's illegal war against Israel.

Uh, great. Enough Francocentrism for the moment, here's Caroline on Europe:

It is absolutely clear that in the coming years, Europe's hostility towards Israel and the Jewish people as a whole will continue to rise.

How then, is Israel to contend with Europe? As Israel's largest trading partner, relations with Europe are vital to Israel's economic well-being. So it is clear that Israel cannot simply turn its back on the free world's Achilles heel.

At the same time, given Europe's hostility, it is similarly obvious that the direction of the Olmert-Livni-Peretz government's policies toward Europe must be reversed. Rather than enabling Europe to increase its influence in the region, Israel must take every step possible to minimize Europe's foothold in its neighborhood.

Israel should use Blair's exit from the world stage as an opportunity to lock its doors and shutter its windows before any new European friends can come inside.

While this might make me a bad UChicago grad, I don't see the value of Europe and Israel getting along as a mainly economic issue. The West, that entity anti-anti-Semites are supposed to be so fond of these days, consists largely of Europe, not just of the square mile around Zabars. Getting along is not a matter of trade, it's a matter of attitudes, not to mention national survival. I understand that the point of Israel is that Jewish fate is no longer in European hands. But the Jews are doomed if we interpret the fact that we are by definition in an ideological space between Islam and Christian Europe as a reason to accept being hated. We are a people like no other, but so are all other peoples. We can be a nation and get along with other nations. This doesn't have to entail "like me, like me!" politics, but it also doesn't have to mean denying all claims of international connection other than economic.

As for Caroline's main point, re: European presence in the Middle East, I have to check again on the French building, so I'll let commentors go at it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I do like spaetzle and strudel...

A fellow blogger has insinuated that I am the next Hitler. That's a mighty amusing accusation, one I'd just love to respond to, but my homework for tomorrow is something along these lines. When I'm done summarizing Proust (actually an explication de texte, and what with Vichy and all, perhaps I dig this hole that much deeper), maybe I'll write a post pointing out that I'm not all that much like Hitler, but maybe I won't bother because the whole thing's just too dumb. Proust, by the way... Jewish. Half, and not religiously, but what do you think Hitler's take would have been, eh?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"Le Reg me manque."

At the dorm where UChicago students in Paris tended to stay, graffiti in the phone booth said the above. And I'm feeling it right now. Bobst is close but not quite. I kept nearly telling people I couldn't stay long at this event because I had to get back to the Reg, then reminded myself that the Reg is far, far away, in a land with much worse food, much worse winters, but a whole lot better places to be a bubble-residing graduate student. Not that it's that distracting that, between the department and the library, there are about 1,000 places to purchase leggings, the new "skinny" jeans, and skim cappuccinos, but you get the idea. That said, I'm reading up the wazoo, so if you never hear from me again, blame my irrational desire to get edumacated.

Monday, September 11, 2006

EU and Israel, BFF

Almost every day, someone asks me what I will do when I grow up if academia doesn't work out. My answer is typically something along the lines of work involving France-Jews-Europe-Israel, perhaps in some capacity involving improving EU-Israel relations. Such a position, I always assumed, is unlikely to even exist, putting it somewhere near "tenured professor AND world-famous popstar" on the list of things I might be hired for. Well, turns out the thing exists. According to the European Jewish Press:

A pan-European pro-Israel body, aimed at deepening relations between the EU and Israel, is to be formally launched this week in Brussels. The new organisation, called “European Friends of Israel”, comes at a time when relations between Israel and the Europeans have been rather tense in the framework of the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah. It will work at the level of the 25 EU member states plus the two future members, Bulgaria and Romania.

Not bad!
Dimitri Dombret, if you're ever looking for interns or something...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

October 7

Why is that date so special? Two reasons: It's both the Stuyvesant High School five-year reunion and the annual Dachshund Oktoberfest. The 'fest is, conveniently enough, held right outside NYU's library, which means I can combine taking tons upon tons of pictures of the canines with doing work. I'm tempted to make some remark along the lines of how a Stuyvesant reunion and a festival of dachshunds aren't necessarily such different events, but I'll restrain myself.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Quote of the weekend

From the ever-relevant Gawker:

"While our own New York fashion week begins its weekend of anorexia-friendly fun, the Australian Fashion Week is still roiling in the aftermath of its own little Dreyfuss Affair. Seems that designer MaraJoara decided to champion "real women" by putting a few size 8-12 models on display along with the tiny waifs who can't keep their pants up over their skeletal pelvises."

One "s," but I'm not complaining. NYU grad students AND the Dreyfus Affair mentioned in one week, by a NYC media and gossip blog? I've never felt hipper.

Grad students: dorky or intimidating?

Tonight, after seeing Benjamin Netanyahu give a rather kick-ass speech, I went to redeem my free cappucino (or cappucoino, or something, the voucher had a typo) at Aroma, that ever-more-famous Israeli coffee bar on Houston. The free beverage was part of an event hosted by Gesher, NYU's pro-Israel group. I tried my darndest to make some friends outside of my new and fabulous grad-student circle, but the moment I dropped the phrase "grad student," I-- who happen to look a bit undergraddish, and could initially "pass"-- was pretty much avoided. According to the guy I spoke to briefly at this event, either NYU grad students don't go in much for supporting Israel or they (we) don't go to these events because they (we) don't want to mingle with the young'uns. My theory? Maybe, just maybe, the undergrads find us just the tiniest bit intimidating. Or dorky. I mean, both are true.

Which brings me to the point of this post. It is absolutely awesome to be a grad student. I will now list the reasons:

1) No required science classes. OK, this is not true for science grad students, but you know what I mean.

2) No required gym classes.

3) No orientation-week swim test. The horror.

4) Wine and cheese seem to figure prominently.

5) Tons of interesting work. And no science requirement will mean there's time to complete it.

6) Assigned reading from the UChicago Western Civ series! I never took Western Civ, so this is very exciting for me.

7) Tons of other people almost as geeky as I am! OK, not quite, that takes a lot, but they're quite cool all the same.

8) I can wear all the elbow patches I want without feeling like a poser.

9) Same goes for blazers, tweed, and overworn clothes of all kinds.

10) A chance to be older, wiser, and, on occasion-- and unintentially!-- intimidating.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Quote of the day

"It's back-to-school time, and there's at least one lucky NYU grad student who'll be spending the week doing more than just contemplating the best angle from which to hit the Bobst library floor."

-- Gawker, on popstar Shakira's quest for an NYU history grad student-tutor.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The people have spoken

And when le peuple speak, you'd damn well better listen, unless you want your head chopped off. So, a bit of English.

My new favorite thing in the world is Google Calendar. I've gone from a year of being not all that busy (except for that whole working/applying to school part of the year) to being ridiculously busy, to the point where I am literally running through the streets with no particular endurance or fitness goal in mind. As I was running to the subway station one of many times today (second-favorite thing=unlimited monthly metrocards), a man on my block told me to slow down. "I'm in a rush," I told him, and something in my tone seemed to set him straight. "OK."

I classify remarks like this man's along with ones from strangers telling you to smile. Yes, it looks silly when someone in dress pants and a formal-looking jacket runs down the street, but you know, sometimes you think a talk starts at 6:30, but then you check your email at 5:45 and discover the reception before it begins at 6, and you've gotta do what you've gotta do. Why do people think it's OK to tell you to slow down when you're rushing off somewhere? Do women ever tell complete strangers to stop running? Does anyone ever say this to a man? Again, I see this as related to the request to smile, just a gratuitously annoying comment intended to be patronizing and cute. What's a silly girl like you rushing around like that for?

Game, Sexism, Match

Nick here. Yours truly was at the US Open last night (and briefly into this morning, thanks to the ultimately vain comeback of the rising Frenchman Gasquet), and something truly appalling started happening about 11 o'clock.

As the crowd thinned, and the Aussies, cheering on former US Open Champ Lleyton Hewitt (who needed the cheering) got more rowdy, a ballgirl took rotation. And whenever she ran out to retreive an errant tennis ball, the catcalls began. Loud cheering, whistling, and remarks which were less than flattering. When she was rotated off, jokes flew across the court about how "we want the ballgirl back."

The NYTimes US Open Blog makes an excellent point that there's a wide disparity in the outfits of ballguys and "ballbabes," so much so that I think back to the costumes on the original Star Trek. But what's sadder still is that we would allow this to happen. This is a professional sporting event, attended by a clearly high-class crowd, capable of containing its volume for long periods of time, paying for tickets, overpriced (though pretty good) food and merchandise), and having the endurance to sit through four hours Entertaining, yes, but not thrilling.

I'm disappointed the people of my new hometown, and I'm disappointed in Americans. Aren't we better than this? Can't we realize that this is just a girl who wants an opportunity to be on the big stage? Who just wants to do her job? Maybe I'm just oblivious to how prevalent this sort of thing is, but it's truly sad to see this happening in this day and age, and I hope the US Open responds by making ballgirls more common, and less an object of gawking. An organization that dedicates facilities to an African-American jazz artist, someone who died of AIDS, and a lesbian (and still living!) tennis player, surely can respond sensibly to this travesty.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Le "facebook" et l'amour

Avez-vous un(e) petit(e) ami(e)? Avez-vous un "facebook account"? Je crois que oui!

Mais il n'est pas une bonne idee de mettre toute sa vie sur le web. Pourquoi pas? Car on est jeune, les choses changent, et les amis sont souvent petits un jour et petits non plus le jour suivant. Les relationships "facebook" souvent ne durent plus que le temps il prend a les mettre sur le site. Neamoins, facebook, c'est la raison d'etre pour ma generation, donc on ne peut pas nous dire que nous devrons l'abandonner. Eh bien, que faire?

Je sais que je me repete, mais je vous raconte que je suis dans un "facebook relationship" avec l'equipe football d'Italie. Peut-etre que l'equipe, euh, je ne sais pas, l'equipe francais est* encore celibataire.

*subjonctif, ca va mieux, non?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ce soir... rencontrerai plusieurs autres etudiants de mon ecole. J'ai voulu ecrire, "shel mon ecole," mais je dois souvenir que le francais n'est pas l'hebreu, mais peut-etre que tous qui n'est pas l'anglais, ce soit a peu pres la meme chose... Et peut-etre que "ecole" ne soit pas le mot ideal, mais, euh, lentement, mes amis, lentement!

P.S. Si je fais des fautes (et betach, je les fais) on peut me le dire dans les "comments."

P.P.S. Les accents viendront avec les "keyboard stickers."

Des maintenant,

j'ecris seulement en francais. C'est difficile, mais necessaire. J'attends mes "keyboard stickers" et "French spellcheck," puis le lecteur "WWPD" va souffrir.

Friday, September 01, 2006

And WWPD becomes Gawker

I don't know if I have time for much blogging for a bit, so I'll keep posts to a minimum by sticking to celebrity sightings.

Julia Stiles, yesterday, Astor Place. Whatevs, as they say.

Paul Dinello, this morning, University Place. Super!

As it happens, I adore Paul Dinello, so of course I'd have to run into him, almost literally, while rushing off to my first-ever NYU advisor meeting, and so I did not have time to tell him about my love for his character Mr. Jellyneck.

In case anyone was concerned, no, I haven't yet seen the Olsen twins. They don't appear to be in this computer lab, at any rate.