Day 400: Thank You

As the process of writing my dissertation nears its end, it may be time to begin thanking those persons and institutions who made the whole process possible, bearable and occasionally even fun. Today, I would like to thank Chicago’s fantastic indie coffee houses. You have given me much joy, necessary caffeine, free wi-fi and a psychologically healthy work atmosphere for a long time now. You indiscriminately house the masses of poor graduate students and allow them to be “social” (i.e. fight isolation by having a common workspace), provide them with a living room (since most of us live in studio apartments) and in certain cases even feed us for free by giving away day-olds at closing time (at which point it is VERY clear that only grad students are left in the building). So, my thanks today go out to: Intelligentsia (on Broadway–used to be indie at least, still kinda is, but definitely has the best coffee), Dollop (a fantastic place with good coffee, good people and a great atmosphere for studying), Pick Me Up (not as great if you’re in it for the long haul in terms of studying, but good and cheap food), The Fixx, Filter (at least back in the day when you could still smoke there) and, of course, my current home Noble Tree (which is where I am writing this post while enjoying a large glass of Metropolis dark roast–aaahh…). In fact, here is a short segment on Noble Tree Coffee & Tea that was recently featured on Metromix TV (you can see me working a few times and my friend Eugene was even talked into commenting on their coffee/food). You can also see the video on Noble Tree’s chronology site: http://nobletree.tumblr.com/

Day 384: World Pillow Fight Day 2008–Chicago Event

March 22, 2008 is World Pillow Fight Day. A number of cities around the globe are organizing events you should definitely attend. Pillow fighting is a recent phenomenon that emerged out of flash mob culture and has become increasingly popular. Most major cities have local “Pillow Fight Clubs” and organize events regularly. Some of the most popular events are the annual Valentine’s Day pillow fight in San Francisco (video below), or the biannual pillow fight organized by Columba University as a means to relieve stress before finals week.

On World Pillow Fight Day all events are synchronized and should start at the exact same time. Here the website and a list of events in major cities:  http://www.pillowfightday.com/index.php.

Join me and many others at the Chicago event:

March 22, 2008 @ 2 p.m. in front of the Art Institute of Chicago (Monroe & Michigan)

Bring a feather pillow, a trash bag, and lots of peace and love. Spread the word (without using paper).

If there need to be wars in the world, this is what they should look like!

Here the 2008 SF Valentine’s Day pillow fight:

and one of the early ones in SF:

Day 383: Almost

But still not yet. We’re still in the Blochian phase of things. I am still holding my breath. However, the Blochian phase is really not so bad. After all, forward dawning is not just the location of utopia but also the birthplace of desire and enjoyment (or so I’m told by people who evidently are not as chronically impatient as I am–but I can see what they mean–it also explains the link between pleasure and pain when considered from the perspective of the paradox of desire). Less cryptically: the contract is in the mail. It will get here by the end of next week. Only then, once my signature is actually on the paper, will I allow myself to celebrate, and only then will I reveal what has happened/is happening/will be happening. Should the contract get here before next weekend and should all go well and should I have signed it by next weekend, all of Chicago’s north side better put on a helmet, because this boy has a lot of celebrating in him that needs to get out (for a detailed discussion of why this is necessary see Bataille’s discussion of the concept of squandering excess for an economic system in The Accursed Share, Vol.1) . But until then the official part line remains: no congratulating and no celebrating yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Day 374: Packingtown Review Contest in Critical Writing

Department of English, UH 2027 MC 162, University of Illinois at Chicago, 601 S. Morgan,Chicago, IL 60607

www.packingtownreview.com

Packingtown Review Prize for Critical Response 

Acclaimed poet and UIC alumnus Paul Hoover has donated his poem “The Windows (Speech-lit Islands)” to Packingtown Review’s contest for the best essay on the poem. This poem can be accessed via the contest page at http://www.packingtownreview.com/contests.

Please submit a critical response between 1500 and 2500 words discussing Paul Hoover’s “The Windows (Speech-lit Islands)” in light of the poet’s aesthetic and in the context of contemporary poetry.

The winning critical response will be featured in the first issue (November 2008) of Packingtown Review alongside the poem, as well as on the Packingtown Review web site. The winning author will receive two copies of the journal.  Two runners-up will be posted on the Packingtown Review web site.

The jury will consist of the current editorial staff of Packingtown Review.

The deadline for the submissions is March 31, 2008 (postmarked). Winners will be announced on the Packingtown Review web site on May 31, 2008.

The contest is open to the public and there is no fee.

Please mail your submission to our journal address or e-mail it to: contest@packingtownreview.com.

Day 370: NIU Shooting and UIC Threat

Another shooting. Another set of guns that were legally purchased. Another round of useless arguments about gun control that leave the status quo unchanged due to assinine arguments that claim that the problem will be solved by teachers carrying guns to defend themselves and their students.

Here a massmail we just received at UIC:

SECURITY ALERT FROM UIC POLICE

This afternoon, an anonymous e-mail was received by a number of people at UIC,
threatening violence on campus sometime this spring.

While we have no way of knowing at this time whether this is a genuine threat, the
UIC police department is pursuing it very seriously. A full-scale investigation is
underway in conjunction with the Chicago police, and patrols on campus, already
stepped up in the wake of Thursday’s tragedy at Northern Illinois University, have
been increased further.

In the meantime, all campus operations will continue as normal. However, we ask
everyone to be attentive, and as always, if you see criminal or suspicious activity,
please notify the UIC police immediately at (312) 555-5555 (or 5-5555 from campus
phones), or, if you are off-campus, dial 911. For general questions about safety and
security, the number for UIC police is (312) 996-2830.

Please also be aware that an update from me on campus security in the wake of
yesterday’s shootings at NIU was transmitted earlier today and should be arriving in
e-mail boxes sometime tonight or in the early-morning hours, and already is posted
on the UIC Emergency Information page (link on the UIC home page). This note gives a
further overview of security measures in place on the UIC campus.

Sincerely,

XXXX, Chief of Police

To all those opposing gun control: what am I to do in the face of a threat like this? Should I arm myself, just in case there will be an attack? Even if this were the logically correct thing to do, consider this: I am not a U.S. citizen. I educate your children and am one of those people who will not be able to purchase a gun to defend themselves from those people you refuse to disarm for reasons I do not comprehend.

There is no reason on earth why any civilian in any highly developed country should carry a gun. There is no reason why civilians should have access to guns, especially not legally. It will never be impossible to get a gun, but we can sure as hell make it harder. If you do not agree with this logic, we must also stop trying to regulate access to illegal drugs and instead provide all cilvilians with methadone syringes–in fact, if we claim that regulating guns makes no sense because people will always be able to get their hands on guns we would have to abandon any commitment to law and justice just because people will always be able to break the law. Most highly develped countries understand this. How long will fanatical devotion to tradition (which in the U.S. actually just describes cultural practices that are little more than 200 years old) stand in the way of logic and progress?

Day 369: I’m Back…

… in the country. Turns out that traveling the north via airplane in February is not a good idea. Fundamental realization arising out of this trip: Dramamine really works.

Other really disturbing news about the U of Illinois: yesterday a U of I sociology grad student opened fire at a lecture hall at Northern Illinois (which he previously attended). Here the latest version of the reports we’re getting: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080215/ap_on_re_us/niu_shooting

Day 352: Things Are Happening

I can’t really talk about what specifically is happening, since I don’t want to jinx it, but there may be at least a little bit of excitement in the future for me.

Other than that I am writing a lot–an article I am hoping to turn in by the end of this week, as well as dissertation stuff (putting the finishing touches on the first few chapters).

Giuliani and Edwards dropped out of the presidential race today.

The temperature here in Chicago dropped over 50 degrees in 9 hours yesterday (one of the most significant drops in temperature ever–we were below zero this morning and are still only slightly above that mark with windchills reaching minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit). I stupidly did not check on the weather online, so I left the house with a light jacket (and without any gloves, hat, scarf, decent shoes,…) when it was still in the upper 30s. After sitting in a coffee shop working for about 6 hours, I wanted to walk home last night at about 10 p.m. only to find that the outside had radically changed without letting the inside know and without asking it for permission. What I encountered when leaving the coffee shop was the most severe snowstorm of the season and the effect of the above-described temperature drop. Awesome! Consequently, the 20 minute walk home was accompanied by insane laughter on my part for the last 5 minutes, since I was honestly as cold as never before–ridiculously so. Result: I actually got pretty serious frostbite on my hands (which I used to periodically cover my face in order to keep the wind-induced tears in my eyes from freezing) and on my ears, which have already begun to peel. But I am not complaining. This is exactly why I love Chicago. Who wants to live in one of those entropic states where every day is the same with a stable temperature of 78 degrees?