Hello from New York City!
It’s hard to believe it, but I think I’m in love with New York. Maybe because it’s such an awesome urban space, or because it’s such an iconic image of America, but regardless of the reason, I think New York is hard to beat. (And I’ve been wondering to myself all day: “Why did I wait almost 25 years to come here?”)
Another interesting observation right off the bat – these are my opinions of New York, and it has even been a cold, rainy day. But, hey, it beats Seattle…
Anyway, I thought I would report on how amazing the AAG conference has been so far. On a trip like this in the past, I would probably not be posting every day so if that trend continues, this may also be my ONLY post about AAG. We’ll see how it goes.
First thing about the AAG conference today – if all conferences were this fun and intellectually stimulating, I would go to them as often as possible. However, I think today is probably a statistical outlier, because I’m not sure that this many cool things usually happen at once. Perhaps a little more elaboration?
- Registration at 10 am was painless. Whew.
- After registering, Karen and I meandered over to Rockefeller Plaza to kill some time. We saw the LEGO store (Mecca?), the ice skating rink, the outsides of Radio City Music Hall and NBC Studios, and we strolled through parts of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s bookstore and Saks 5th Avenue.
- When I went to sessions, Karen successfully had fun on her own looking at several places and shopping. She wasn’t kidnapped and didn’t get lost. Double Whew!
- The first two conference sessions I attended, two discussions on the role of race in critical geography, were incredible. It was a near-perfect integration of a variety viewpoints from around the Geographic discipline and from outside fields like Ethnic Studies and American Studies. It had a good balance of young scholars’ perspectives and older, “big name,” professors. It had a nice balance of male, female, white, black, Asian, and Latino voices represented. Sure, that does mean that some voices were not included, but there were only 5-6 participants per session.
- After these sessions came my presentation. The session was one of the last sessions of the day, which generally are not that well-attended, but I didn’t mind. There were about 25 people in the room, including my wife and the four other presenters, so that’s roughly an audience of 20. I’ve had bigger audiences at my first two professional conferences, but whatever. I decided to give this talk extemporaneously (Mrs. Freed and Dr. Collard at UTM would be proud) instead of read from my paper, and it went better than I expected. I finished in 12 minutes (out of 15 allotted).
- After my session ended, the day really took a turn for the best. I set up a meeting with Dr. Ken Foote, professor at Univ. of Colorado and all around amazing scholar, by email before the conference. My advisor, Micheline, was one of his former students at Colorado, and she told him over the winter break about my thesis work. (My thesis is closely related to his research, as his book Shadowed Ground was the first thing I read to start my research.) He, Karen, and I got to talk for almost an hour. At the swanky VIP lounge of the New York Sheraton hotel. On the 44th floor. (!) The best part was that he was very friendly and down-to-earth. (And, oh, by the way, he also happens to be Past-President of the AAG. No big deal.)
- After our meeting, the rain had basically dried up, so Karen and I strolled down Broadway to Times Square. I know that a Leftist scholar (generally opposed to capitalism) like me should probably have a different reaction to Times Square, but the place is completely mesmerizing, on a personal level, and fascinating, on a research-scholarly level. Too cool.
Even though I had to drop off my camera for repairs (more about that here), today may be hard to top for a long time…
Until next time my friends and loyal readers,