What's that? You want to know what I've been reading lately? |
I'm a double graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- in June 1999 I received my undergraduate degree from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and in February 2000 I was declared a Master of City Planning. I live in North Cambridge, Massachusetts, although I'm originally from Syosset, Long Island, New York. I used to drive a 1987 Dodge Diplomat, but in May 1999 acquired a silver Mazda Protege. In July of 1997, I drove a Red Line subway train in Boston (although not in revenue service). That was fun. Now I work for the United States Department of Transportation, right across the street from my MIT stomping grounds.
|At MIT, I learned a lot about communities. Studying city history and theory, and living in Cambridge, has turned me into a proud urbanist -- although, thanks to my Brooklyn grandmother, who introduced me to New York and the subway when I was but a toddler, I think I always was one at heart. Transportation -- especially urban transit -- is of particular interest to me; I believe transit is an important ingredient in successful communities. Perhaps, then, it's not surprising that I ended up at the Transportation Department. |
Planning seldom fails to absorb me; it could be transportation planning, project organization, public administration, the structure of a campaign, or anything that lets me set some exciting new enterprise in motion. I've learned much of leadership -- in the past few years especially -- and my evolving philosophy incorporates three interesting principles: power (or the illusion of power) begets support, not the other way around; effectiveness is more important than efficiency; substance must be accompanied by the correct attitude in order to accomplish anything.
I am a writer. My work includes columns for The Tech (MIT's campus newspaper), my thesis (the predecessor of which was curiously acclaimed), short stories, miscellaneous odds, essays, and ends, and a couple of plays that linger in untyped purgatory. Some of my commentary has attracted attention in rags such as the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Boston Phoenix. I guess if you write enough columns, people start to believe you.
I never really became an orthodox city planner or urban designer, but I am a designer nonetheless -- of graphics, information systems, and publications, among other things. Elegant design, the clever and innovative use of graphic and textual techniques, is usually foremost in my mind, no matter what I do.
Working for the Transportation Department as a federal agent (I figure that since I work for a federal agency, I'm properly called a federal agent), I like to joke with my friends that I work for them. In reality, I do feel that my work is in the public interest, and I am pleased to be able to avoid the corporate culture that pervades modern America. I like to consider myself a citizen rather than a consumer, and I am in the process of determining how best I can begin to beneficially participate in the public sector and the political arena.
While at MIT, I never really believed I was there. It was always a surreal experience to walk across Killian Court on a cloudless day; the Great Dome seemed part of an eternal landscape I was merely being permitted to visit. I miss living at MIT's East Campus dorm; a 20-minute walk would have me on Newbury Street, or on the Esplanade, or in Beacon Hill. |
But now I'm a resident of North Cambridge, busily trying to acquire the atrocious accent that so endeared the nation to Tip O'Neill. I quite like it. The second floor of a triple-decker on a tributary of the mighty Avenue Massachusetts is no less than ideal for a plucky MIT planning double-grad, and I feel fortunate to have been able to avoid unpleasant compromise. Somerville's trendy Davis Square -- complete with T station, movie house, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops -- is but a brisk walk away.
I identify with Cambridge these days, but I suppose I'll always be a New Yorker at heart -- at the very least, I'm told I drive like a maniac. (Hmm. Cantabrigians drive like maniacs, too.)
Nov. 2, 1977: I'm born, fully developed, keenly intelligent, witty yet commanding, 6'0" and 155 pounds -- just as I am now. |
c. 1982: My elementary school principal declares that I will one day attend MIT.
Jan. 20, 1985: Ronald Reagan is re-inaugurated, though I quite clearly remember voting (though arbitrarily) for Walter Mondale in my second-grade Junior Scholastic poll.
June 1988: I begin my five-summer association with Camp Echo, in upstate New York. I design a commemorative plaque for Cabin 13, signed by all my bunkmates, that is several years later destroyed by fire.
January 1991: My mother breaks her leg. I watch the beginning of Operation Desert Storm while sitting next to her white plaster cast, on her bed.
June 1991: At Harry B. Thompson Middle School, I deliver my second commencement speech, which is favorably received.
Spring 1994: I fail to win the New York State Forensic League championship in Humorous Interpretation, garnering only a piddling second place.
August 1995: I arrive at MIT thinking that I might one day be some manner of engineer. Engineering classes, however, turn out to be sponsored by the letters B and C. (I exaggerate, of course. ... Hmm.)
January 1996: I attend Super Bowl XXX in Tempe, Arizona. A PC is set up outside the stadium, displaying NFL.com's new web site. I surreptitiously telnet to my Athena account to check my mail.
June 1997: I visit California; San Francisco's transportation system amazes me. Returning to the East Coast, I make a brief stop in Las Vegas and illegally (I'm underage) gamble a quarter in an airport slot machine. I lose.
October 1997: Scott Krueger, MIT '01, dies of alcohol poisoning. The Institute is never the same again.
Dec. 31, 1998: I spend New Year's Eve at the Manhattan apartment of child actor Danny Pintauro (of "Who's the Boss?" fame). He's literally the friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of mine.
June 4, 1999: I receive my first MIT degree. One of the first two dozen graduates, I must then sit for two hours in the blazing sun with nothing to do but annoy the people around me.
Nov. 2, 1999: On my 22nd birthday, I learn that the Cambridge City Council campaign of MIT colleague Erik Snowberg -- which I managed -- has come to an inglorious conclusion.
January 2000: An RAF pilot on the Glasgow-London train tells me of his training craft, a fabric-and-wire biplane. His preflight check: "Kick the tyres; ping the wires."
February 2000: A quick visit to Iceland. I drive past a tour bus, buried in snow on the side of the road, identical to the one I'm on.
Jun. 2, 2000: Pomp and circumstance at MIT for my second and, presumably, final degree go-round.
|Oh, there are the glib answers -- to make a difference, to have fun, to see the world. To win the contest of existence by telling the best stories, to try to make sure my fast-paced life doesn't run off without me. Probably, though, I'd be happy merely to live long enough to outgrow my fear of death.|
|It takes discipline to sit down and write all this stuff; therefore, I find it difficult to do. While I was a student I could claim that I didn't have much free time, but that was really never true, for I did have time. I had time to do my work, to socialize, to learn things outside my classwork, and so do I still have time to do what I want. Never believe anyone when they tell you they don't have time for something.|
|I'm a doodler, a banterer, a kvetcher and a bit of a neat freak. Star Trek and British comedy are usually pretty cool. I've developed a familiarity with exotic cuisines and an appreciation for a variety of music, but sometimes nothing beats Glenn Miller over macaroni and cheese. I play baseball/softball, tennis, squash, and hockey; I walk, jog, swim, and cycle; I sing, strum a guitar, and toot on a recorder. One day, as an orchestrator, a director and a master planner, I will form my own world-conquering enterprise.|