Post Academic

The Post Academic Guide to MLA in L.A.: Part 2, If You Can Get a Ride

Posted in First Person by Arnold Pan on January 7, 2011
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Last time, we offered some tips about what to do and (mostly) what to eat near the MLA convention site downtown.  Just to follow up, it looks like 9th and Hope is a food truck stop downtown, since the Roaming Hunger map shows a few trucks queued there.

At this point of the conference, you’re probably eager to get out and about a bit, especially since it’s also a Friday night.  You might be done with your interviews by tonight, had your fill of going to panels, or just want to get away from networking central to catch your breath.  Here are a few tips about what you can do around town, provided you have access to a car or are willing to pay for a cab–don’t know how much it costs to taxi it from downtown to, say, Hollywood, but I wouldn’t suggest paying a fare to go to Santa Monica or the West LA.

"Amoeba Records Hollywood" by Gary Minnaert (Public Domain)

Below are a few relatively easy junkets you can do if you have some time to kill.  Whether you can walk ’em is pretty subjective, though I pretty much end up driving from one place to the other, this being L.A. and all.  Anyway, you won’t be able to get to these places without a car, whether you’ve rented one or are bumming a ride, so you might as well just worry about parking instead of walking.  Again, click the links to get specific addresses and info on the locations listed.


Amoeba Records: The Hollywood Amoeba is probably the best record store anywhere, even though I’m partial to the original one in Berkeley.  Forget stuffing your luggage with half-priced scores from the book fair, and save space for stacks of CDs, vinyl, and DVDs from Amoeba.  If there’s music your looking for and you can’t find it anywhere else, they’ll have it at Amoeba — the used section itself is probably bigger than any other record store.

Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles: Just down Sunset towards the 101 and a short turn down Gower is Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.  It is pretty as advertised, fried chicken and waffles, which you can have either sweet (with syrup) or savory (with gravy).  The waffles are awesome by themselves, as is the fried chicken, but you just gotta eat ’em together.  The menu is stacked with tons of great soul food, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve gotten the same Scoe’s Special every single time.  Maybe, though, you should eat first, then shed the calories with record shopping.

Thai Town and Dinner with Thai Elvis: Or if you’re really into one-of-a-kind pop cultural phenomena, you might skip Roscoe’s and go up a big block to Hollywood Blvd and check out Thai Elvis at the Palms Thai.  If you go at the right time, Thai Elvis will serenade you with classic sounds while you eat pretty good, affordable Thai food–actually someone I know who’s a foodie says it’s some of the best Thai food he’s had, but he was also sloshed when he told me this.  Plus, once you’re on Hollywood Blvd, you might as well take a nice drive past all the touristy sites, like the Capitol Records building and the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland.  You can see the Hollywood sign so that you can check that off your to-do list too.

More mini-trips, after the jump…


The Most Common MLA Sensation–and It Doesn’t Involve Drunken Hook-Ups

Posted in The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on January 7, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWhile perusing the MLA scuttlebutt, I noticed a theme, which is … nausea, the scourge of the academic. This feeling rises all too often during events like the MLA.

For example, Bardiac isn’t going to MLA because it is chock-full of fear: “The whole conference is brimming with it, from arrogant a-holes to terrified and desperate folks, there’s a definite odor of angst and desperation. Just thinking about it makes my stomach churn.”

Come to think of it, that sounds like a bunch of job fairs and networking events, but what is truly upsetting about the MLA is that the education industry has boomed … yet there aren’t enough jobs. Just asking what’s wrong with that picture can result in a tummy ache.

Speaking of churning stomachs, Erica Daigle over at the Huffington Post has a friend who declared after a bad MLA result: “I give up. And I might vomit.”

Daigle has a remedy, and it isn’t Rolaids. She writes, “… no matter how much time you’ve invested, money you’ve spent (whether it’s yours or not), and pages you’ve written, there is no shame in leaving a familiar path when you’re tired of endless roadblocks. There is always another way, even if the gods of academia don’t tell you about it.”

Please remember Daigle’s words. Whatever you do, don’t act desperate. Interviewers in all realms can smell fear, and they love it. It makes their job easier because they can cross one more candidate off the list. And stock up on some Dramamine before you start your interviews. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride, but you will find a job–whether it’s in academia or not.

Image of what is called a “vomiting bowl at the toilet of the brewery restaurant” by SJU from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license. Yeah, we keep it classy.

The Post Academic Guide to L.A. for MLA: Part 1, Downtown

Posted in First Person by Arnold Pan on January 6, 2011
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In an effort to be helpful without being (too) snarky, we at Post Academic want to offer up a semi-local guide to L.A. for MLA.  We’ve been following the #mla11 tweets about folks grabbing food between sessions, and we wanna make sure you’ve got more choices than the monstrosity that L.A. Live apparently is.  A couple of caveats: One, I’m pretty much allergic to alcohol so I’m not much help with bars, though I’m guessing most of MLA’ers are subscribing to the tradition of the hotel lobby drink and the cash bar circuit.  Two, I’m not super-familiar with Downtown; for more recommendations, check out the LA Weekly restaurant guide.  Three, you could just do the typical touristy stuff if you have time–like find your way to the beach, go see Hollywood, Beverly Hills, etc.–and that would be fine too.

"Walt Disney Concert Hall" by Carol Highsmith (Public Domain)

But like I said, I think we can come up with some more choices than L.A. Live or room service, even if it means you need to take a cab or bum a ride.  We’ll start with downtown now, then cover some sites of interest that’ll definitely require a car tomorrow, once you’re starting to feel a little stir crazy stuck at the convention.  For exact locations, click on the links to the sites’ sites.

Stuff within Walking-Shuttle-Short-Taxi Distance

Mexican Food!: There are two Los Angeles institutions within walking distance.  If you’re staying at the Bonaventure or up that way, there’s Border Grill’s downtown outpost.  Foodies will know that Border Grill is a pioneering gourmet Mexican food.  Closer to the convention hub is El Cholo, which specializes in hearty, greasy, yummy Mexican classics.  You know, just what you want right before an interview or giving a paper at a session.

Downtown Walking Tour: After eating the heavy Mexican food, you could check out some of the interesting architectural sites downtown, from the Bonaventure (made theoretically famous by Jameson’s Postmodernism) to Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.  In particular, walking around/through/inside/on top of Disney Hall is really fun, actually better than taking in a performance, since the seats feel tight and the decor looks 80s.  Plus, you can feel like your on the set of some of your favorite L.A. movies, whether it’s L.A. Confidential at City Hall or Blade Runner and Die Hard near the deserted skyscrapers or the random greenspaces of (500) Days of Summer.

Chinatown: You won’t be able to walk there and it can seem quiet after dark, but L.A. Chinatown is a nice combination of kitschy and hip.  You can grab on-the-go pastries and Boba tea at various bakeries or take some time and have dim sum.  Phoenix Bakery has always looked pretty cool, though I’ve never been there.  Late night, there’s a fun live-band karaoke bar called Grand Star Jazz Club.  And if you don’t want Asian food, nearby is Philippe’s, The Original, the self-proclaimed home of the French Dip!

Little Tokyo: A little bit closer to convention central, but probably not all that walkable is Little Tokyo.  The blocks around Little Tokyo are really walkable and offer up lots of good food choices, like sushi, ramen, and lots of frozen yogurt.  There’s also some two great museums worth spending some time at: the Japanese American National Museum and the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. (There’s also the main MOCA across the street from Disney Hall on Grand, but the Geffen Contemporary is more fun, I think.)  The Japanese American National Museum includes the must-see internment camp barrack, along with interesting permanent and rotating exhibits.  The Geffen Contemporary houses a lot of hip exhibits — in the past, it featured the big Murakami show and Gregor Schneider’s Dead House U R installation.  And apparently there has been a big brouhaha about some graffiti art that was commissioned by MOCA, only to be whitewashed.

Food Trucks: What would a trip to L.A. be without sampling its latest, greatest food innovation, the food truck.  And as luck would have it, the grandaddy of all food truck, Kogi truck, will be serving pretty close to MLA at 9th and Hope for Friday dinner, 6:30 PM to 8:30.  Unfortunately, some of my other favorites — Grilled Cheese Truck and reality show stars Nom Nom Truck — aren’t headed to downtown.  But a lot of trucks congregate in the same area, so maybe you’ll find some others near Kogi.  Otherwise, check out the Roaming Hunger LA site, which has a real-time map of where the trucks are, provided you’ve been able to figure out the downtown landscape well enough.

Tomorrow, we’ll give you some suggestions for some fun destinations you can head to, if you can spare a few hours away from MLA or if you want to celebrate finishing your interviews.

Last-Minute MLA Interview Checklist

Posted in Ask an Academic by Arnold Pan on January 6, 2011
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If you’re getting jittery because your MLA interviews are but hours away and you’re too paralyzed to do anything but read Post Academic for some reason, you might as well take a look and tick off what’s on our handy little checklist below.  For real, nuts-and-bolts advice, check out this great post from On the Fence by our blog friend Eliza Woolf and this piece from Inside Higher Ed by Claire Potter (aka Tenured Radical) on MLA and AHA convention interviews.  One note of caution about Tenured Radical’s piece: Do prep your dissertation spiel, but be forewarned that it’s not always the ice-breaker question and might appear in a less explicit form, at least for MLA interviews.  Just be flexible and don’t automatically go into rote memorization robot mode right when you step in the room — my first ever interview question was to describe my best undergrad experience, which was not anything anyone prepared me for.

1. Do you know where to go for your interviews and when? Think this one’s obvious?  I had a friend who once missed an interview because she had the wrong time written down.  Also, hotel suites can change, so check in at the job information center and maybe have a contact email/cell number ready.

2. Did you turn off your cellphone? Once you know where you’re going and everything’s set, be sure to turn off your cellphone.  The Search Committee might take calls to, you know, make lunch plans, but you sure as heck shouldn’t.

3. Did you bring a pad of paper and pen? Like we wrote last time, look interested!

4. Did you bring your sample syllabi? And be sure to bring enough for everyone!

5. Do you have your prepped questions for the search committee? Committees usually give you a chance to ask questions.  Use the time wisely to catch your breath and take control of the interview for at least a little bit.  Good questions also show that you’ve done your homework.

6. Did you bring your emergency bottle of water? If you’re a germaphobe like me, bring your own water.  And if you’re not, bring your own water because they might not have any for you.  You can always take a sip and use it as a time-out to collect yourself — just don’t do it *too many* times.

7. Did you pee? If you did bring your own water, don’t drink too much of it!  And be prepared in advance in case you do.

Good luck!