Author: Aubrey Hicks

Total geek. I love reading, listening to music, drinking copious amounts of coffee or alcohol, watching too much TV, cuddling the dogs and cats. I laugh too much and cry at sappy commercials.

A dismal 2049 to look forward to …

Not a week for finishing things. It was a hard week. Beginning with late night Sunday news from Las Vegas … being glued to the news all Monday, followed by a scare at USC. Everything felt on edge, a little too bright, a little to brittle. Breakable and fragile. It was a week for hugs. For discussing solutions with smart…

Hard to find the words

This Monday is particularly hard to get this started. Another mass shooting, another round of “if it wasn’t a white man” and “now isn’t the time to debate policy.” Without knowing what motivated this man, this white middle aged man, we won’t know if it was religiously or politically motivated. I hope they find some reason, the senselessness feels overwhelming.…

#TakeAKnee to Take a Stand

Well, it’s officially Fall. While it doesn’t seem like most of the country feels the cool, crisp, breezes yet, LA is finally seeing a bit of a cool-off.

Monday, September 25, 2017. Last week in review.

Reading: from Jane Austen to Claudia Rankine. From sports and racism to empathy and storytelling.

Power vs Empathy: Yapa’s debut novel

I’m looking forward to more from Sunil Yapa. His debut novel, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, is thought-provoking and heartbreaking. Yapa takes us back to Seattle, 1999, on the first day of the WTO meeting and the protests that turned into the “Battle of Seattle.” Using multiple points of view, he delves into the question…

Ptolemy Grey, physician-assisted suicide, and the Kantian question of the future

This conversation is one of the things I like about my job. I wish more people could have these kinds of discussions. Perhaps we wouldn’t be so averse to real questions of end-of-life decision-making if more people had time and luxury of thinking about the big questions. I’ll just add that Danielle was a hold off too on this point…

8 film companions for the great Drought

So … reading Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner was intense. The great and terrible history of the American quest to tame the desert is one in which the intentions never matched the outcomes. It added one more thing to my guilt load. Discussing this with a few other women, we had the same reoccurring thought “what should we do?” I don’t know. I live…

Review: Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner

Marc Reisner’s book Cadillac Desert covers the history of water in the Western United States. The book looks at the first white explorers to the grand dams, powerplants, and canals of the US Bureau of Reclamation. Reisner took great pains to document the political machinations through 1986. It is a deep dive into the transformation of the American West from…

Work-life: On Such a Full Sea

More from my work-life …

This conversation contains spoilers – how do you talk about this amazing novel without talking about it?

One thing we didn’t get to talk about is the nature of the narration – what is actually known in the novel and what is the narrator making up? What are the stories we tell ourselves? How do they both give us hope and keep us compliant in an unhealthy world filled with inequality?

The “we” of Lee’s novel can only say for sure that Fan left B-Mor (and what a lovely name, be more … what? Dutiful? Compliant?). Once she leaves, there seems to be little evidence that they could actually follow her journey. So they ask themselves, why did she leave duty and home and safety, and what will she face outside these walls?

This novel takes scissors to so many cultural knots … my whole world view unravels in the face of this “we” who both need the hope of escape and the safety of what they know. Is this how history is made?

Neighborhoods, Nostalgia, and Gentrification


This is a podcast that I produce at USC, this edition features Raphael Bostic, Sarah Mawhorter, Brettany Shannon, David Sloane, and Tess Thorman

We chose the book A Neighborhood That Never Changesby Japonica Brown-Saracino. My guests explored how nostalgia and authenticity play a role in how people move into, and out of, neighborhoods.

In the book Brown-Saracino studies residents in four neighborhoods, redefines types of newcomers and how they interact with the standing neighborhood and neighbors. This ethnography, while not the easiest read, has much to say to for anyone interested in the places they live. Place matters – what happens when you move into a place? What happens to the “feel” and “physicality” of the neighborhood? Who else does your decision affect?

The podcast is on iTunes as well, you can listen here or download.

Next Month …

17707526I’m excited about next month’s pick, On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee . This is one of my favorite novels, set in an unsettling near future. This brilliant novel will begin a two month-long look at how envisioning the future is necessary to thinking about the present, and in our line of work, planning for a better future. I planned to be a discussant on this edition – this is a favorite read from last year, but it turns out that I’ll be away for a bit and have to miss it. But you’ll get to meet Jeremy, our amazing student who graduates this year – his last hurrah.