Episode 6: Fruitcakes, folkways and photo ops

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I discovered Claire Stewart’s book during a random Google jaunt and was thrilled to see she was a CUNY faculty member. I quickly acquired and devoured her book, which is a mashup of history, anthropology, sociology and popular culture – my favorite kind of stew. I visited her at City Tech where we recorded in the conference room of the Hospitality Management department, and afterwards she gave me a tour of the impressive kitchens and dining room (those enviable, enormous standing mixers!) where the teaching and learning and cooking and dining happens. I got the chance to meet other faculty in the program, and as a student in a chef’s toque came into the faculty offices with a plate of gorgeously plated food of some kind, I privately noted how extremely different their workday is from mine. I also got to sample some delicious, freshly-baked-by-students Danish. Claire and I discovered that we share an interest not only in the intersection of food and culture, but we geeked out about our love of digging deep for information and are both mystified that everyone doesn’t think research is the most fun activity in the world (Nancy Drew did figure in this conversation). We’re also both grateful that we were able to finally find the ideal place to satisfy our intellectual and employment needs. Thanks, CUNY! You can learn more about Claire’s professional experience and writing here.

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Episode 5: “Dope fiends” take the stage

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I took a vicarious walk on the wild side with Barry Spunt, author of Heroin, Acting, and Comedy in New York City (Palgrave Macmillan 2017), a companion to his Heroin and Music in New York City (Palgrave Macmillan 2014). His meticulously well-structured books contain the messy, dangerous, passionate, tragic stories of dozens of New York City denizens from the music and entertainment realm. They read like mesmerizing oral histories. We talked about his research and writing process and praised the holy New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. We did not talk (much) about the Boston Red Sox.

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Episode 2: A Pas de Deux*: Two Social Movements

I had the pleasure of a relaxed yet stimulating conversation with Barbara Katz Rothman about her book, A Bun in the Oven: How the Food and Birth Movements Resist Industrialization. In the spirit of resistance, rather than recording in the confines of an institution, we met in Barbara’s NYC apartment, replete with the ambient sounds of traffic and jackhammering in the distance. Earbuds or headphones are recommended for the full effect.

There are several ways to summarize the complexities that Barbara delves into in her book, but I especially like this quote from deep within chapter 9 which gets to a part of the heart of it: “​That tension between larger social systems and individual choices is the grand philosophical question of all time, the issue of free will. And it is the focus of the sociological imagination – how much of what is experienced as so deeply personal is actually structural.”

Enjoy the interview – AND the book!

* Listen in to hear BKR discuss the significance of Frenchness.

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Episode 1: “A sociologist walks into a bar…”

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Here is the first installment of what we hope will be many more conversations coming your way.

The title of this post is lifted from the Wall Street Journal review of Richard’s book by William L. Hamilton. It was too good not to reuse.

Before you listen to my interview with Richard Ocejo, why not take a moment to listen to him sum up his book here?

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Done? OK, then you’re ready for the interview. Enjoy!

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