Ben Franklin is buried next door. Betsy Ross's house is around the corner. The U.S. mint and the Liberty Bell are spitting distance from here. It's almost enough to make me want to buy an embossed copper postcard of Independence Hall, located just down the street. The Boss, Bruce Springstein, sang about this place but I don't recall any references to these definitive landmarks. Day 2 of this year's meetings of the American Sociological Association is winding down with four underpaid graduate students squeezed into two undersized beds in the Holiday Inn "Historic District" (it's cozy and a great way to get to know someone in a hurry). I left downtown for the first time today just long enough to see my pal Richard's old high school, bus stop, and neighborhood. The colonial trimmings I saw along the way are an odd sight in this 21st century city - a throwback to the wealth, handiwork, and idealism of a bygone time. Once again I am a tourist, but this time I'm the one marveling at the riches of others - it's an expensive place, I'm finding. With no research in hand this year, I find myself looking ahead to next year and a year's worth of dissertation research to talk up. I can't help but to try to conceptually place myself and my ideas somewhere in the inch-thick convention program guide, teeming as it is with esoteric academic specializations. There is no perfect fit - perhaps as it should be - indicative of the professional and theoretical work that awaits me. In the slower moments of some presentations I'm left to wonder, maybe I should give it all up for a life of democratic idealism and a small printing press to produce Founding Fathers trading cards?