If you only read one book of academic sociology this year…

I know, I know, big if.

But why not consider my pal David Grazian‘s new book On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife? You can read this with your serious sociological frowny face on, or you can just enjoy gaping at Grazian’s research subjects (a rainbow coalition of party-hungry Penn undergrads) as they detail their tactics and rituals for navigating Philadelphia nightclubs, and their fables about what happens there. Big slabs of unwitting self-revelation to be found, as here:

I ordered a martini in order to look cool, and I ordered it dry because I wanted to look like I knew what I was talking about. “Vodka, or gin?” she wanted to know. I chose gin. She inquired, “What kind?” I chose Bombay. She replied “Bombay, or Bombay Sapphire?” I asked her if I said Bombay Sapphire, because if I didn’t, I probably meant Bombay. She asked, “With olives?” I wanted to wring her neck! This b****! This stupid b**** is treating me like a f***ing idiot! I know what a f***ing martini is! I said “Yes.” What she assumed is that I know nothing about alcohol. What she did not know is that I have my bartending license and knew perfectly well that unless specified, martinis come with gin, not vodka. I also knew that I should take this question as a condescending insult, unless I was just being analytical, and she was the one who did not know what she was talking about … f***ing idiot.”

The emotional turn after “With olives?” is really something special. I’d like to see Al Pacino read this aloud.

Another high point: Grazian obtains and reprints the “LaBan Memo,” a four-page protocol prepping the employees of Barclay Prime for the arrival of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s supposedly anonymous food critic, Craig LaBan. Something to think about the next time you don’t like a restaurant as much as the newspaper did. Trust the unhustlable Chowhound instead.

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One thought on “If you only read one book of academic sociology this year…

  1. […] night we had dinner at the thoroughly enjoyable Santorini in Greektown. Having just finished Dave Grazian’s book about the urban nightlife hustle I was uncomfortably aware that the general air of carefree Mediterranean revelry was carefuly […]

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