Research: Fieldwork

I’ll be going to Brighton Beach for my fieldwork. To prepare, I made a few lists of things to keep in mind as well as my game plan for the day that I go:

Places to go

  • Volna (3145 Brighton 4th St.): This is where locals drink vodka in the morning and order seafood and just sit and talk. It’s an outdoor cafe with lots of seating. I’ll probably order a drink or small snack and sit here to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations.
  • M&I International Food (249 Brighton Beach Ave): This is a Russian market with lots of foods that have Russian or Ukrainian packaging of some sort, meaning I probably have no clue what I’m buying unless the food has pictures of what’s inside. I’m going to pick up a few snacks I’ve never heard of and try to decipher what they are.
  • Julia’s Boutique (3077 Brighton 1st Place): Brighton Beach is known for it’s glamorous and mysterious nightlife, and lots of the locals come to Julia’s to get gowns and jewelry. Apparently the women who work there speak very little English and although I probably won’t buy anything here, it’ll be interesting to try and have a conversation with the store owners.
  • St. Petersburg Bookstore (230 Brighton Beach Ave): This bookstore has books written primarily in Russian. I want to find a cheap, old book written in Russian to potentially use for my Studio project should I choose to go with my old book idea, but it’ll also just be interesting to flip through books written in another language beside English.

To prepare

  • Take the subway! The Q (downtown) from Union Square goes to the Brighton Beach stop
  • Bring around $20-$30 in cash for the grocery store and lunch/snack at the cafe
  • Go with friend or roommate. Brighton Beach is an unfamiliar area and although it’s safe, friends help when it comes to navigating
  • Look up a few common Russian words: please, thank you, sorry, etc.
  • Pack notebook and pencil. Take photos on iPhone.

In terms of the writing I’ll be doing about my excursion to Brighton Beach, I want to imitate David Foster Wallace’s format of writing by including dates and times and direct, almost dry observations of what I’m experiencing. I don’t know if I want my tone to be as sarcastic and critical as his, but I want my piece to be more informative and journalistic. I would be drawn to reading a piece like this if it was marketed in such a way that I felt like I was getting the inside¬†scoop on a cool new place in NYC. I’m assuming a lot of younger people don’t know a ton about Brighton Beach and I want to write in a way that makes this place appealing for young people to go, and to make them feel like they have the inside scoop on a cool “underground” place. This will hopefully be an interesting viewpoint because Brighton Beach and it’s immigrant community have been around for so long, but I want to make it seem fresh, new, and covetable.


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