Apr

6

OfficeHop: Contemplations, Coffee, and Façades

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If Barnard’s psychology Professor Robert Remez had a spirit animal, it would be the Sphinx. The one perched on his desk, he explains, reminds him to “maintain an eloquent silence, but it’s not working.” Lucky for Bwog, the eloquent-but hardly silent-professor shared his office for one of our more scholarly features. Katheryn Thayer stopped by his office hours…

Professor Remez’s office in Milbank has a view of the 1 train’s tunnel entrance and Joe’s tall cafe windows. From his fourth-floor summit at the corner of Broadway and 118th, he watches trains emerge at street level and vanish underground, often inviting toddlers from the psychology research center to join him. The activity is “endlessly amusing, to a two year old, and to me.”

His other favorite view, he recalls with nostalgia, gazing out at the towering NoCo, was of the tennis courts that once filled that corner of the campus. When the trains rushing out of their subterranean portal failed to relieve writer’s block, he would turn to the east window and watch bad tennis, waiting for one of the players to lob a ball onto Broadway. Apparently this happened with surprising frequency.

His penchant for unprofessional tennis aside, Remez welcomes the new building. He says he schedules meetings there and “though I haven’t yet cultivated voyeurism for the café [like Bwog has], I do have a good vantage point.” Professor Remez spends much of his time here in quiet meditation, slowly and thoroughly peeling a grapefruit from his bowl of fruit, making Fairway Santo Domingo Coffee in his French press (better than Joe!), or flipping through his book of Mao quotations. This is symbolically bookmarked with a fake $50 bill and placed in a mug featuring a picture of his renowned linguistics professor, Arthur Abramson.

This is not to say that Remez whiles away all his time in his office, peacefully snacking and waiting for class to start. He has spent about a third of his professorship chairing various boards and has the alcohol collection to prove it. Administrative responsibilities frequently required him to preside over cocktails and ceremonial events, thus the champagne, brandy, whiskey, and kosher wine hidden away in his office. The only spirit on display is a small bottle of “poison”—a label cheekily hiding a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin. A few years ago, when the going got a little tough, on especially bad days he would announce to his assistant, “I’m going back to my office to take poison.” His assistant decided to give him a gift that might feel like poison, but with more temporary effects. Good call!

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2 Comments

  1. YESSSS  

    LOVE REMEZ

    I want that man to voice-over my life.

  2. hi!

    I dig your nail polish.

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