Academic journal article Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies

Florestan (from Conversations over Stolen Food)

Academic journal article Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies

Florestan (from Conversations over Stolen Food)

Article excerpt

From antiquity to the present, social theory has often fused critical and creative discourse, esoteric and exhibitionistic tendencies. Socrates and Diogenes first announced many of their most radical propositions in the Athenian marketplace. Thoreau sowed his solitary beans while remaining (as scholar Stanley Cavell suggests) just barely within his neighbors' view. And now, as archivists of evanescent urban experience, as grazers of the public space, we have recorded forty-five-minute dialogues for thirty straight days around New York City.

Flalf these talks took place at a Union Square health-food store which, for legal reasons, we call "W.F." Other locations included MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera House, Central Park, Prospect Park, and a Tribeca parking garage. For this special issue on villains, we present the first dialogue.

7:43p.m. Friday, December 30

Union Square W.F.

[First minute garbled]

A: .. .scone and bagel, told her I'd already purchased them. I paid for a turkey burger (three dollars ninety-six cents). I held in my gloved hand a kiwi, and as I peeled off the glove I wrapped the kiwi in the glove. I put the gloves in my hat and put that in the cart-then I grabbed a bowl of spinach, baby spinach, organic of course. That cost a dollar five. So so I did spend more than hoped: 5.01 altogether.

J: But getting a considerable...

A: Yeah. A full meal.

J: And allowing us to have this conversation.

A: Correct, which at eight dollars might seem extravagant. It would mean the night had to end immediately. When I bought the turkey burger, or selected the turkey burger, the cashier, I mean deli guy, said he sensed I want to party tonight.

J: And this is your idea of a party right?

A: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. We've seen people we know. There's that man I have a crush on. There's the boy I saw. A former student stepped into the aisle. Her name's Fong.

J: Fawn, is that right?

A: F-o-n-g. Like fang.

J: Oh Fong.

A: Fang with an O.

J: I've read an email she once sent you.

A: Extremely polite.

J: And as as I remember, you said a great student.

A: One of my best.

J: A hard worker and talented.

A: It frightened me in the bread aisle. Fong craved discipline and I pictured her disciplining me tonight. So have you adjusted to being back, back back in New York?

J: That's tough, let me tell you: it's an expensive city. I could never return if you hadn't arranged...

A: Happy to do so. Can I interrupt one sec? Does this have saffron, or curry or something?

J: I don't know what's all...

A: [Muffled] out later.

J: in Royal Ginseng tea. Though I've stashed the box...

A: With aromatic...

J: right here. Here's the list of ingredients.

A: Maybe cinnamon bark?

J: Cinnamon bark you've tasted.

A: Honeybush. Licorice.

J: Black pepper.

A: Possible. But sorry, I shouldn't interrupt. New York seemed more...

J: It's an expensive city; I couldn't move back from Providence if you hadn't arranged this cat-sitting gig. Still the place needs work. I didn't get good sleep. The cat would jump from floor to windowsill, rattling a shade, and then leap down again rattling the shade, and I woke so often, and the apartment faces the BQE. Sharon claimed she lived in the heart of Clinton Hill but but her building stands on the edge of Fort Greene. That makes a huge...

A: Yeah.

J: difference. Traffic roars by nonstop. When trucks speed past it sounds as if they'll tear through the room. The studio costs $1210 a month-which seems incomprehensible considering it's nowhere near subway stations, too close to highways and contains a cat active all hours of night. Though I guess her landlord...

A: Oh, will you have to maintain this the secrecy?

J: No I made a joke, implying the landlord should charge less considering a cat stays active all hours. …

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