There being a bucket-drumming busker in the neighborhood, which is rare (and welcome).
The tininess of the Hanukkah section at Michael’s.
How the Lincoln Yards development [11-29-18] has given me a deeper perspective on “shop local.” I had always tried to support small businesses because I wanted to “give” money to people who are closer upstream to the goods/services they sell than corporate managers are (the Michael’s visit above notwithstanding). But now I see that it’s also about how our physical world looks on an immediate, neighborhood scale. Businesses that own land have profound control over the lifestyles of people who live near them (e.g. by granting/withholding access to particular goods or services) and how it feels to live there (e.g. by changing the material landscape). If small businesses wield that power more responsibly, then they’re even more important than I thought.
On some level I wonder whether big businesses should have any presence outside of commercial districts in the first place. If your idea of home extends also into your neighborhood, then it’s weird to think that a national or global organization—a group of people that don’t live anywhere near you—would have any control over how your home is constituted. But I’m not sure that a restriction like that would be helpful, since it would effectively make a world where businesses can only serve the people who live immediately around them, and even some of the most righteous brick-and-mortar small businesses want or need to serve people farther than that (think of a family-owned regional restaurant chain). (Plus, the distinction between “residential” and “commercial” area doesn’t really exist in dense places like Manhattan. Plus, maybe that concept of “home” is too expansive. Plus, lots of people just want a Starbucks on their corner.) Maybe a better solution isn’t a ban on big businesses in residential areas but instead better oversight over which businesses are allowed to use land there (beyond zoning laws), how they use it, and how much of it they can amass.
Visiting my grandpa Zaid in the hospital and watching him sing through narcotic pain meds.