A miserable dude’s guide to FREE STUFF published on Shareable.net
Living in America’s second most expensive city can be taxing. Brooklynites work long hours just to afford basic needs, let alone the elusive and presumably high price-tagged Good Life that so many have flocked to the city in order to find. The notion of being a cog within the metropolitan machine often lead me into a bleak mindset. Perhaps it was this sort of feeling that gave rise to my interest in a course called Death offered by the Public School last summer.
On the morning of the class, I awoke on the couch of a friend’s Bushwick apartment. I biked 5 miles to the Greenwood Cemetary in South Park Slope, finding 15 others assembled near a central pond. The lush cemetary held the graves of New Yorkers who had chosen to assert their creativity against the grey and unforgiving city. These were people like the radical street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, labor leader Paul Hall, and Peter Cooper, the founder of the free university Cooper Union. As I sat in the cemetery listening to Jonathon’s lecture on Socrates’ notion of the afterlife and a philosopher’s quest to learn how to die, I felt strangely at odds with the grim subject matter.
Even in Plato’s Phaedo, which was that class’ topic, Socrates had an idiosyncratic glibness in the face of his execution — his mind happily ruminating on his life’s work accumulating knowledge and virtue. An inspiration, an urgency to do more while amongst the living overcame me, a feeling entirely brought on by the knowledge that my presence there had been supported by an improvised network of mutual aid.
I had acquired my copy of the reading in a trade with the Williamsburg bookstore Bookthug Nation. The bike I had ridden to the class had recently been in a minor scrape on the Williamsburg Bridge, causing a wobbly wheel which I was able to true at the free cycling repair workshop at Time’s Up!