School’s almost back in session. Our students have begun to return to the city in droves, which terrifies — perhaps even terrorizes? — people in multiple neighborhoods. What those neighbors don’t realize is that those of us (adults and families, that is) who live in student residence halls are utterly relieved to have our own students back and the “summer associates” — the khaki-clad douchebags from everywhere else who are only here for the summer as interns, and who love to leave beer cans in the elevator on their way out for the night — scurrying back to the Big Country. Seriously, I know NYU and New School students have a bum rap, and some of them deserve it. But many of the people I live among and teach are eager to be here and to engage with the city in a meaningful way. Maybe the nice ones self-select into the courses and buildings I inhabit.
Anyway, in a different context today I was musing about the phrase “welcome back,” and how for me — like many who grew up in the 70s — it inevitably makes me want to break into the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song. The show’s opening shots of a graffiti-covered F train in Brooklyn were among the most lasting images of New York that populated my imagination before I finally visited the city in my late teens.