Jonathan Sterne’s Resources for Academes

For years, Jonathan Sterne has maintained a collection of links on academia and professionalization, simply titled Academe. He recently updated the links, including some new material on how to deal with campus rape culture, a challenging but relevant theme.

While publishing a collection of links might seem antiquated, I would prefer that this information remain on the web. As a webpage, it is more permanent than a stream of shared links from a Twitter or Facebook account, where immediacy and ephemerality prevail. A valuable reference such as this one should always be available. I also like that it embodies an enduring aspect of the World Wide Web: to openly share information.

Thank you for sharing, Professor Sterne.

And it looks like another scholar, Jie Qin, has similarly been collecting links for those looking for research and teaching jobs in Communication and Media Studies.

Long Island City Has Three Breweries

Three breweries in Long Island City: Big Alice, Rockaway, and Transmitter are all within a manageable walk from each other.

Three breweries in Long Island City: Big Alice, Rockaway, and Transmitter are all within a manageable walk from each other.

It still amazes me how in the decade since I moved to New York, there were almost no noteworthy breweries in New York State, save for Brooklyn Brewery and one or two more. Today, however, there many more than I comfortably count, such as Sixpoint, Singlecut, Captain Lawrence, Keegan, and Greenport Harbor. In Long Island City, we appear to be following that trend. We now have three breweries whereas a couple of years ago we had none.

The other day, while hanging out at my favorite hostel/work-space/trivia-night, I saw a postcard showing the three Long Island City breweries: Big Alice, Rockaway, and Transmitter. Placing them on a map like that was an invitation, almost a challenge, to visit all three of them.

All three are within a long but manageable walk from each other. You could also visit all three by biking to each one, as I would almost invariably do.

Brewery Location Taproom Hours
Big Alice Brewing 8–08 43rd Rd Friday, 5:00 – 8:00 PM.
Their Facebook page lists their hours as 5:00 – 7:30 PM.
Rockaway Brewing 46–01 5th St Thursday and Friday, 3:00 – 8:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 – 8:00 PM
Transmitter Brewing 53–02 11th St Friday, 5:00 – 8:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00 PM.
Their website lists their Saturday and Sunday hours as 12:00 – 6:00 PM.

You can visit each brewery, one at a time, or take a Friday evening and hop to them all, as their taprooms are all open on Friday evenings. If I get around to visiting all three on a single day, I’ll post a report here.

Coffee and Indoor and Outdoor Music

Seasonal creep

It’s when someone tries to hurry along the next season when we’re still in the midst of the current season. Some examples include Back-to-School sales in July, Christmas decorations in October, and Valentine’s Day swag right after New Year’s Day. I’ll even add registering for spring classes in the second week of the fall term.

I’ll admit that the weather this summer has been downright pleasant, temperatures in the low 80s with very low humidity, which hasn’t resembled the sultry summers of late. But yesterday, August 15, it was downright autumnal. Not only was it chilly enough for me to wear a sweatshirt when I saw the Boogaroos at the free outdoor show at the South Street Seaport last night, there were other signs of autumn:

  • There were NFL football games were playing on the big screens at bars across the city,
  • At one of those same bars, I saw a sandwich board easel advertising Oktoberfest beers,
  • On Thursday, I was handed a beer list that included four pumpkin beers,
  • Yesterday afternoon, I swore I saw NYU students beginning to move in to some of the dorms along Washington Square.

I really hate fall, despite the pleasant weather in September and early October. It signals the end of my lighter-than-normal workload, the end of softball season, long bike rides before more difficult to schedule, greenmarkets approach the end of their flavorful harvest, everyone is watching football, and I revert to wearing long pants. But before summer gives way to fall, here’s a few events still going on before it all ends in about two weeks.

Sadly, because the semester is about to start and I have work to do, I’ll probably miss all the outdoor stuff. Dang!

Syllabus for Experimental Film, Fall 2014, Now Available

In recent years, it’s been pretty regularly expected for my fall classes to begin before Labor Day weekend. It’s something I despise, but since I have little power over the academic calendar, all I can do is complain out loud.

This year, however, only one class begins before Labor Day weekend. Experimental Film, a course at Pratt Institute begins on Thursday, August 28. That is less than two weeks away!

After a slight moment of panic, I updated the syllabus for the Fall 2014 semester, and it is now available on my professional website. As always, here’s the course description:

Experimental Film surveys the major avant-garde film movements of the twentieth century. We will closely examine the films and theories of the film and filmmakers that challenge the dominant commercial cinemas of Europe and the United States.

A nice thing about teaching this class at Pratt Institute is that the department always markets the electives throughout the institute. Here is the poster they designed to pitch my experimental film class.

Posterdesign new 4 1512

Yes, that’s a frame grab from L’Age D’Or (1930), one of my favorite Buñuel films from his surrealist era.

Immersed in the 1960s with Jacco Gardner

Over the last week, I’ve been in a pretty melancholic mood so I’ve been working long days and listening to music throughout most of that time. Upon the suggestion of a good friend, I’ve been listening to Jacco Gardner.

Immediately, Gardner’s music comes across as psychedelic, a throwback to the 1960s, which coincidentally is the period I’ve been immersed in as I write a dissertation chapter. You can choose your favorite artist to compare Gardner, such as The Zombies, Cat Stevens, Syd Barrett, but it’s not an exact replica of that era, either.

Jacco Gardner has two releases from 2013 easily available. His full-length album, Cabinet of Curiosities, is available on iTunes. In addition, a single bears an appropriate title for this time of year, The End of August is also available on iTunes.

New Yorkers can catch him for free with the Boogarins tonight at the South Street Seaport, part of the Seaport Music Festival. If tonight’s no good, Jacco Gardner is also playing tomorrow night, August 16, at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, where it seems there’s at least few good shows for me to catch each month.

Dear United: It’s Not Me, It’s You

Chart showing that I have flown Zero Premier Qualifying Miles flown and Zero Premier Qualifying Segments flown, with Zero Premier Qualifying Dollars spent in 2014

Summer is almost over, and while in the past I was flying a ton on United, visiting family and friends, this year the situation is very different. I haven’t flown a single revenue flight on United this year.

But it’s not like I have been flying on the other guys, either. My diminished travel is due my trying to save money and because airline consolidation has made flying very expensive. Even on the competitive JFK-LAX route, it’s hard to find a flight for less than $400. Not too long ago, I remember easily finding an “L” fare in February for about $240 roundtrip.

The other thing factor is that flying on United is kind of miserable these days.

Since the merger, they’ve made a lot of cuts. Some I accepted as reducing redundancies, but others changed my whole reasoning for sticking with one airline. They’ve gutted the frequent flyer program for leisure travelers like me. Over the years, United has been following Delta’s lead in making flying less pleasant, such as requiring us qualify with dollars spent on tickets, tying our frequent flyer “mileage earnings” to dollars spent instead of miles flown, taking away our pillows and blankets, and devaluing our miles when we go to redeem them. They could at least follow their lead on the good stuff, too, right? Why not improve the clubs and provide some decent snacks and palatable booze for free? Why not finally add WiFi to the entire mainline fleet? Why not, at the very least, make a goofy safety video?

Last year, I only had a handful of revenue flights before Labor Day: a roundtrip to Louisville, Kentucky and a five-segment vacation/mileage run to Burbank. However, I flew a bunch in the fall to Paducah, to Indianapolis, to Memphis, to Nashville, and a six-segment trip to Burbank (via Washington and San Francisco on the outbound, and via San Francisco and Cleveland on the inbound). All those flights added up qualifying for Silver status, not only with miles but also on segments.

This year, though, I shop around since there’s no point in remaining loyal.

Adjunct Teaching: Procrastinate or Else

Earlier this summer, low enrollment cancelled two of my courses at Fordham. I was slated to teach two new offerings, The Broadcast Industry and Digital Media and Cyberculture. The two were so new that no one had taught them at Fordham before, which is probably why students didn’t enroll and the class was cancelled. I had kept thinking about materials for these courses in the back of my mind, but I never prepared a syllabus or ordered textbooks. I learned a some time ago that, because your course can be cancelled due to low enrollment, you have to be prepared to trash a syllabus you worked on over the summer. It’s better to wait until August to create that syllabus.

After the classes were cancelled I was assigned to teach TV News and Today’s World, a stalwart course of the undergraduate curriculum that I’ve never done before. A few weeks later, I was asked to fill in for a professor on medical leave and cover his Introduction to Media Industries. I was happy to do that because this is a course I’ve done many times, as recently as this past spring. I went from having two courses to zero, and then back to two. In addition, another professor was granted some course relief (sounds nice, doesn’t it?), and I was asked to cover his Introduction to Electronic Media course. Because I consider him a friend and because I have also done this course in the past, as recently as the Sandy-shortened semester of Fall 2012, I happily took the course, provided I was relieved of TV News and Today’s World.

That’s exactly what happened. At the beginning of the summer, I dreaded the thought of creating two new syllabi for courses I’ve never taught before. That’s a lot of work to do over the summer, and I was even preparing to ask for a raise when I went in to sign my contract. I was also anxious about the new courses because I suck at doing a class the first time around, or at least it feels that way to me. But then they were cancelled. With these personnel issues that arose over the summer, and that our department chair had to handle, I was able to not only substitute for two full-timers who couldn’t teach their courses, helping out the department with crucial staffing issues, but my overall workload will be much easier with these tried-and-true courses.

Sometimes, it pays to procrastinate.

We’re in the Photo

Last year, my brother and I rode in the fourth annual Trek Breast Cancer Awareness ride in honor of my mother, who has twice beaten breast cancer. Although the ride is national, individual bike shops organize rides in their cities. Last year, we rode from Two Wheels, One Planet in Costa Mesa, California, as that was en route from my brother’s place to Legoland in Carlsbad.

I wondered if the ride would happen again this year, as I longed for some pleasant memories, so I checked their website.

I not only saw that this year’s ride will be on October 11, again over Columbus Day Weekend, but also that my brother and I are in the photo that the shop features on their website.


We’re at the front of the pack. I’m wearing a grey t-shirt and riding a red Serrotta that I rented upon arriving in Southern California, and he’s right behind me decked out in a pink t-shirt and socks.

I talked with my brother, and we will very likely ride again, provided I can find an affordable flight over that weekend. Since it looks like that I won’t be riding in the Hilly Hundred this year, which falls on the same weekend, and I really want to ride with some family. There’s another ride in Ventura which not only includes a 10-mile and 25-mile route, but also a 75-mile loop to Santa Paula. My brother prefers to ride in Costa Mesa so he can go to Legoland again after the ride. If it’s miles that I’m after, I guess I could bike the additional sixty miles to Carlsbad and meet him there.

Why It’s Worth Overpaying for Coffee

Coffee Brewing

As much as I love getting a bag of freshly roasted specialty coffee, it is painful when you take a 12 ounce bag of coffee to the counter, hand the cashier a $20 bill, and save for being asked if I need it ground, getting nothing back in change.

Thrillist’s Dan Gentile had Lorenzo Perkins, a coffee instructor at Cuvée and executive council member of the Barista Guild of America, brew and taste ten different “second-wave” brands of coffee. For those who are smart enough to avoid knowing these three “waves” of coffee, here’s a brief primer. First-wave coffees refer to your father’s canned coffee, such as Maxwell House, Folger’s, and Chock Full o’ Nuts. My parents drank Taster’s Choice for most of my childhood and switched to brewing Peet’s in a press pot only about ten years ago. The second wave refers to more specialized brands such as Starbucks, Peet’s, Seattle’s Best, and Lavazza. I’m not sure where a brand like Illy fits in, which is served at theaters, museums, and other institutes of culture, but it comes in a can, already ground fine. The third wave refers to the hand-picked coffee beans that are directly sourced from a single farm with the occasional blend that has been carefully “curated.” The coffees in each wave also vary in price. Whereas a single sixteen-ounce can of first-wave coffee costs about five dollars at the grocery store, a one-pound of second-wave coffee will cost about a dollar per ounce. As I mentioned, third-wave coffee costs about 50% more, and it’s not unusual to pay about twenty dollars for a twelve-ounce bag.

Are you Down to Brew?

Are you Down to Brew?

Perkins’s tasting and his findings redeemed my silly spending habits. It’s worth overpaying for coffee. He found that Starbuck’s coffee, which I used to consider to be pretty good and will settle for while on the road, smells “gnarly” and tastes “smoky, but not ashy… actually kind of endearing,” and upon having the initial smoky flavor subside, it tastes “very bitter and astringent, but not in an unpleasant way.” For the longest time, I used to be a Peetnik, a delivery subscription to Peet’s Coffee. I always liked their coffee, but having become used to fruity third-wave coffees, I can’t drink it anymore. Perkins found that the coffee did have a nice “dark chocolate” aroma. But it let him down in the flavor department. He said it tasted like a cigar, “not a great cigar, more like a Philly. But there’s some sweetness — bittersweetness, but still sweetness — despite tasting super dark.” He also noted that “the darkness would lend itself well to cream,” reaffirming my belief that most people drink coffee as a delivery vehicle for milk and sugar.

Perkins also sampled a third-wave coffee, from North Carolina’s Counter Culture. Here, he noted an aroma of “green pear and cucumber” that seems more familiar to those of us who have been to tastings, known as “cuppings” in the barista world. And the flavor was more suited to hand-picked beans, noting that it was “really juicy and acidic, with a peachy flavor and lots of sweetness.” Doesn’t that sound better than a cigar from the local bodega?

And if you’re wondering if he liked any of the first-wave coffees, he did appreciate the venerable Chock Full o’ Nuts, although he thought Maxwell House tasted “like death.”

I’ll raise a cup of Stumptown’s Burundi Kayanza to that!

A Little Dab Will Do You

There’s been a lot of road milling and repaving going on lately in South Williamsburg, particularly on Driggs and Berry. Many bicyclists have noticed because we cross those streets along South 4th Street, a vital access route to the Williamsburg Bridge. As I biked to the bridge this morning, I rode over a small but thick pool of tar. Predictably, the sticky tar covered portions of both my tires.

Before I rode over the bridge, I tried to get as much of the tar off as I could. As anyone who rides regularly knows, the tar would pick up any bits of glass or sharp rocks and hold them there until one of them punctures my tube. But because I like to travel light, I didn’t have anything to remove the tar. I had to use my hands.

Had to take some tar off my tires this morning. At UCSB, we learned that it comes off with baby oil. "A lil' dab will do ya." #collegeknowledge

As a UCSB alumnus, I know full well that the best way to remove tar from your skin is to use a bit of baby oil. You don’t need much, just enough to dilute the tar. Since there’s a drug store on nearly every block of this city, I stopped in to a Duane Reade and picked up the smallest bottle I could find. For $1.09, plus tax, I had my solution at hand, so to speak. Rub a quarter-sized dollop of baby oil into your hands and the tar comes right off. Be sure to have a cloth or paper towel at hand to clean up the mess.

A friend of mine suggested that I could use gasoline.

That might be good option, should this happen again, except for two reasons:

  1. Where can you find a gas station in Manhattan? There are almost none left.
  2. Sure, I would have been free of tar on my hands, but now I’d have gasoline on my hands. How do I get that off?

Besides, with baby oil, my hands are clean and moisturized. And they’re soft as a… well, you know…