Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A view from the provinces

-Bisou-walk podcast of the morning: Leonard Lopate on the NYU expansion plan. Not entirely the show's fault that there was no pro-plan guest, given that they evidently did contact NYU and not get anyone (too bad they didn't seek out the university's most contrarian grad student), but they did manage to get three guests opposed, presumably going through more than one channel. There are valid criticisms in the mix (what will the expansion be used for?), as well as heaps of nonsense. One of the guests - I think this was the professor - was criticizing NYU for using non-grad-student adjuncts. Fair enough. He then referred to said instructors as - I quote - "unqualified," asking why anyone would go to NYU to be taught by adjuncts. I beg your pardon? This was also the only point in the show that Lopate actually questioned the view of one of his guests, as opposed to offering tepid devil's-advocate statements. Lopate pointed out that some of these adjuncts are amazing teachers, leading this guest to reply, again, a quote, "Some of my best friends are adjuncts."

Missing from the conversation was a sense of what the Village these days is, which is, increasingly, a playground for the rich. And by "rich" I don't mean middle-/upper-middle-class NYU undergrads. I really doubt if that's who's sustaining that stretch of Bleecker Street that's all Marc Jacobs and French-import boutiques. I mean bankers, European socialites, and so forth. And what is the "character" of the neighborhood? Is it the low-rise buildings, composed of $3,000/month (or more these days?) studio apartments? Or is it the historical role of the area as a place where, for example, gay and/or quirky kids flee to from small towns? If it's the latter, it's hard to see how, these days, the Village without NYU would be of much use. If it's the former, then fine, it's so very tragic that college kids and their profs live in unsightly towers.

I mean, it wasn't completely missing. Lopate did bring up the NIMBY question (again, as quasi-counterargument), and mentioned that some of the plan's critics' critics accuse them of elitism. But the counterargument - that some of the area residents live in rent-subsidized apartments - gives just about no picture of what's really going on. Unfortunately, perhaps due in part to the university's own PR fumbling, the narrative that's sticking is that there are on the one hand these old-timey, of-the-people Village-as-village residents, and on the other, a corporate behemoth.

-Commentary does not know the difference between Greater Park Slope and Greater Williamsburg.

The New York Times notes, “The boycott would be largely symbolic, because the co-op carries only a half-dozen or so products imported from Israel, including paprika, olive pesto and vegan marshmallows.” It’s possible if you have not recently been to Brooklyn, that sentence may strike you as absurd.
Unclear what about these ingredients would strike non-Brooklynites as "absurd" - we do have items beyond Wonder Bread out in the provinces - but anyone who thinks the hippie-inflected, practical-shoe-wearing crowd on Union Street is "trendy" is, I suspect, unfamiliar with either the area or the concept.

-I had one of those indefinite amounts of time to kill in the city that demand a visit to Sephora. There, I tried to figure out what "highlighter" makeup is. I'm still unclear. It sounds as if it would be a magic product that makes you look amazing even on days when you're feeling sort of eh, but ended up with a sparkly left hand and a sense that $20-and-up packages of goo with names like "Orgasm" are probably as snake-oil-ish as they seem.

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