Friday, November 30, 2007

ratty wharf

ratty wharf, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

A lovely day to avoid homework and stroll around the water in Fell's Point.

Dark satanic sugar mills

Dark satanic sugar mills, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

In belated honor of Blake's birthday, the dark satanic Domino's Sugar mills at the Inner Harbor.

Day 62

My hair was getting bushy, so I shaved it off. Just like last time, this amused the kids or disgusted them. Nat Turner, who told me I looked like a toad last time, said "You a skillet. You look like the old frying pan." Yasmine said "I don't like you like that." Yasmine herself is bald as a billiard ball. She wears a short wig on top and a long fake pony tail in back. I know she's bald because she was in a fight last week with a 7th grade boy who ended up running down the hall with Yasmine's hair pieces. Half the kids at Booker T.--including most of the girls--have shaved heads, and yet I get a hard time for it. Perhaps I'll buy some fake hair too.

I attended my first IEP meeting. Candi is a wonderful and quiet young girl who rarely gets to first period on time. We had an administrator, two teachers, a social worker, and a special educator in the room. Candi is so shy she wouldn't speak on her own behalf. Occasionally she nodded or shook her head. Her parents are supposed to be included in the process, but her mother is hospitalized. Terrifically obese, Candi's mom is about four months into her ninth pregnancy, and has breathing and mobility problems. Lukie and I met her earlier in the school year when we were trying to get Candi to show up to school on time, and it was obvious that the woman was incapable of raising the kids she already had.

The subject of lateness came up as we discussed educational interventions to help Candi. Candi only spoke once during the entire meeting, in response to "Why are you late every morning?" She said she had to take her baby brothers to school before coming to Booker T. While her mother is in the hospital this 13-year-old is taking care of six younger siblings. Alone. I thought about making her do a fourth draft of her memoir essay last week because she didn't have enough detail, and felt like a heel. She wrote about trying to keep her older brother out of prison by teaching him to do the right thing. He had two strikes already. She's got all this stuff on her plate, and it's amazing we get any homework out of her. I certainly couldn't have handled such a workload at that age. I couldn't do it now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A quarter millennium of cleansed perceptions

3 Quarks Daily informs us that today is William Blake's 250th birthday. I was scarred for life by a doctorate-level class on Blake and Shelly and New Historicist Criticism while earning that first MA nearly 15 years ago. I'll skip Los and those pesky Emanations and in place of some verse about Jerusalem on England's shore I'll post an image. Have a happy, Bill.

like a lead balloon

The Contrarian keeps posting about Led Zep. And making me laugh.

I adored Led Zep. I wore their LPs out. To this day, when I hear a Led Zep track, I still hear the pops and scratches from those old LPs in my memory. As much as I loved them and for as long as that love lasted in my blasted mis-spent youth, I can't generate an iota of excitement over the idea of a reunion show. Mostly because I wore that shit out. But also because I saw Jimmy Page on tour with Jason Bonham on drums in like 1986 or '87 at the now demolished Cap Center near DC, and that ranks as one of the worst musical experiences of my entire life. It was worse than one of the musical variety shows they have at amusement parks with painfully earnest Lawrence Welk singing of hit song medlies by pudgy guys and gals in what appear to be fast food restaurant uniforms. With styrofoam hats on. The only other concert for which I paid money that was nearly as awful as Jimmy Page live was Eric Clapton at the Cap Center in the late 80s. He played "I Shot the Sheriff" for like two hours, with that standard yawn-inducing solo he always plays for 1 hour and 53 minutes. And then Phil Collins did "In the Air Tonight" and it was mercifully over.

Jason Bonham as a drummer is at about the level of Tommy Lee, whose greatest claim to fame (as a drummer*) was sitting in a drum kit that rose into the air and spun upside down. At the Cap Center show Jason played his drums by remote control from the front of the stage. The lights were down and there was some kind of loud thumping sound that resembled good drumming--the crowd became interested, and the lights came up and Jason Bonham was standing at the front of the stage, pointing at his drums with his sticks. That was the only interesting thing that happened on the drums during the whole concert, and Jason Bonham had nothing to do with it.

The only other interesting thing to happen that evening was Jimmy Page falling off his stool drunk while trying to remember "Kashmir." He was playing it with a bow, and dropped the bow, tried to pick it up, and fell off the stool. In those crazy bell bottoms.

Page can't play live. He's abysmal. Plant should stick to singing countrified duets with far better singers. John Paul Jones should keep doing whatever he's not doing now that he's not playing bass or groovy blues keyboards. I fully expect the mighty Bonzo Bonham to continue doing what he's doing; that's as it should be.

*his true claim to faim is unveiled in that video. You know the one.

Day 61

No sleep last night. Felt strange, wired, tense. Finally gave up around 4am and simply got out of bed. Read half the current NYRB sitting bleary-eyed in the chilly kitchen with a cup of coffee, and likely absorbed a third of what I read. Did the same with Harper's.

School was miserable today. Strangely I didn't feel tired, but the kids have been abominable all week, and I was front-and-center teaching first and third periods today. I had to drop a ten-pound teacher's edition text from over my head to get their attention at 8:06. I simply could not get control of the class. They were shouting, pushing, laughing, wrestling, throwing things. I had Lukie and two special educators in the room and we could not reign them in. When the text hit the floor it made a loud crack that drew them all up. "Thank you," I said in the sudden silence. For the first time all eyes were on me. We were able to move on with The Diary of Anne Frank, but I lost control again before the end of class.

Third period was worse. I couldn't get them to sit and shut up for the first ten minutes, and depleted my entire bag of tricks trying to do so. Finally I took the same abused teacher's edition and slammed it flat on the chalkboard with as much force as I thought was possible without breaking the slate. That got their attention. It also got the attention of the principal and the school police officer, who rushed over and opened the door. "What was that?" the Principal asked. I gave them the "I don't know" shoulder shrug and left it at that. The kids behaved for about ten minutes before completely falling apart again.

Some days it's just like that. The last time I ran these classes solo the kids were darlings. I guess the novelty of having the new guy take over from time-to-time is wearing off. Now they want to test me and see what I'll tolerate. It's hard working from somebody else's lesson plans. Were I completely in charge I'd have a quiz for them to do, and as soon as they got out of line I'd make them close their books and do it while I sat at the front of the room and called their houses. All in good time.

I could have it worse. They respect me more than the math or science teachers, or the social studies substitute they threw books and staplers at yesterday. She was hit in the face by a thrown cell phone, but came back today anyway.

The school year is one-third done. Whew.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


No Country for Old Men is the darkest, most violent Coen Bros film since Blood Simple, and it surpasses the earlier film on both counts by a fair piece. I saw it last Wednesday night and have mulled it over a great deal since.

The script sticks remarkably well to the book, and what changes were made were mostly sensible given the time constraints of a Hollywood film. The cast are all bar none excellent in their roles. There are moments of great beauty and delicious suspense.

And yet I was curiously dis-satisfied after. Perhaps reading the book literally the day before was a mistake? Maybe I should wait a while and see it again before passing judgment, but I'm not sure at this point that I care to see it again*. Is No Country for Old Men a new Deliverance? A corn-pone Goodfellas? I'm conflicted. There's a bit of monologue spoken at one of his victims by Anton Chigurh in the book, and a key confession by the Sheriff that were expunged from the script. I think they need re-insertion for the film to work a bit better.

Or--don't read the danged novel and enjoy the ride.

*I would, however, care to see Blood Simple again.

[image credit]

Monday, November 26, 2007

None seen, none heard, none spoken

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Baltimore Landmarks, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

Something called the Schmap Guide is going to use a couple of my Flickr photos in their upcoming Baltimore update. This is the most exciting thing to happen to my Flickr account since that cave ecosystem scientist used several of my photos from the Yucatan on his website.

Someday I'll have time again to walk around with the camera and take more pictures. Hopefully not blurry ones.

Day 56

The day before Thanksgiving. The students read their memoir essays in front of class today. Lots of "bangin'" fist-fights, lots of "the time I got locked up for stealing cars," lots of "my boyfriend and me was fussin'."

Some essays were rather excellent. One young lady wrote about testifying at the trial of her father's female killer. Another described the death of her baby cousin from SIDS. One young man described going to jail for sexual misconduct after having sex with his girlfriend in the girl's locker room. In sixth grade.

We had a good time celebrating the students' writing. Even the nasty fist-fight which broke out in the hall couldn't get us down.

The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn.

I would like to see the film version, so ordered the book and read it in a day. No Country for Old Men is fairly typical Cormac McCarthy. The setting is more contemporary than usual, and the vernacular less Scriptural, but the violence and the prime movers of plot are familiar, as are the themes. The novel lacks a white-hatted hero; those who come closest to this ideal are dispatched gruesomely. One is left wondering if the brutal killer Chigurh has a point when he explains his own morality, his method of living: "I have no enemies. I don't permit such a thing." When contrasted with the "good" characters in the novel, Chigurh comes across as pure and focused and certainly the least troubled by conscience.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Henry the VIIIth I am I am

So last Friday my right big toe started hurting like it was all banged up and twisted. I couldn't move the joint at all and anytime the toe touched anything (including sheets or pillows) I felt a sharp, nigh unbearable pain. At school I was hobbling around like a club-foot trying to chase teenage boys. Saturday the pain got worse, and I started wondering what the hell I did. I had no memory of smashing or twisting or straining my toe, and could not account for this peculiar recurring injury. The same pain had happened for a day or two about three months back.

Then it hit me. Doc H at my last physical had said my uric acid levels were elevated, so I figure I'm suffering one of the many family curses passed down through my maternal blood line: gout.

Shit is no joke. Toe pain is one of my least favorite sensations, and this shit is throbbing constantly, and has been for four days. I haven't had a sip of booze since Friday because beer and red-wine are the worst for gout, and I have drunk ten glasses or more of water a day hoping to flush my system but the shit still gnaws away. Today I woke up and my left foot was starting to hurt also. Nothing helps: ice, hot soaks with salt, Tiger Balm, Ben Gay, Formula 451, crack, crystal meth, smack, mescalin.

I don't even eat rich foods or a lot of meat--I've inherited my elevated uric acid levels, thank you very much DNA. Tiny needle-shaped crystals form in your joints. AND, as an added bonus, there's the likelihood of kidney stones and eventual crippling recurrences. Great.

Why couldn't I get an attack of gout AFTER Thanksgiving? I can't get through the holidays without booze.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Listing badly

Surprisingly, B'more wasn't in the top ten on the most recent list of America's Most Dangerous Cities.

We did make this list, however. Doesn't bode well for the newly rehabbed properties on my block.

Day 55

Breakfast in Amsterdam, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

This morning I saw two of our first period kids in the hall during class. I tried to coax them into the room, but they weren't interested. Ten minutes later I could smell weed coming up from the stairwell. Montrise was telling a story about throwing chicken in the air. Seagulls would fly down to get the chicken and he would shoot them with an air rifle. He mimicked the noise they made, and how they flopped over in mid-air. He stopped his story and shouted "Dag, where the smokers at?"

The entire second floor reeked of primo green. I opened the stairwell and it was like the car in Up in Smoke. This is the dark stairwell where adults don't go. The handrails are down on the steps and the floor is sticky like an adult theater after Paul Reubens drops by. As soon as I opened the door there was a rush of students out the downstairs exit. I didn't see who they were, but within minutes Keyan and Will were lying on the floor outside of class laughing their asses off. Then Will tried to scale the ornate Victorian molding on one of the arches in the hall. "I'm a rockclimber, muthafucka!" he shouted. Keyan's eyes were red as prison jumpsuits. Mr. C lured them into math class with a bag of Cheetos from his goody locker.

During planning period one of the language arts intervention teachers came into class as Lukie and I were grading papers. "It smells like chronic up in here," she said. "It was us," I replied. "Yeah, we had to take the edge off," Lukie said.

The intervention teacher said "Are you serious? You need to tell me next time. My source dried up a couple weeks back."

As I was grading papers I read a suspiciously excellent one. As soon as I got home I Googled one line I remembered--the entire essay was from Bud, Not Buddy.

Out of the Auden airy

"Propaganda is the use of magic by those who no longer believe in it against those who still do."

W.H. Auden, De Droit et de Gauche

Found in this month's Harper's

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Chuckles hooked me up with Levon Helms's latest. I'm digging Dirt Farmer a great deal. Levon's voice is raspy as the wind through a dried-up corn field in October, but he's still got strength in his pipes and certainly has loads of character. Throat cancer can't slow him down. Love the sound on his drumkit too.

Devil in the overabundant details

Dear Erik Larson:

Read Steven Hart's book. Learn how to write a work of non-fiction with concision and humor. Learn how to keep yourself under 400 pages, and how not to fool around with novelistic cliches.

This book had a lot of promise, but it simply sputters along for more than two-thirds of its tedious length.

You don't need to create a two-page aside ievery time you wish to name-drop a famous person who went to the Chicago World's Fair. MANY famous people went--BFD. Stick to your subject. Or, even better, pick a subject, instead of trying to write about fifteen or twenty of them.

Thank you.


I rendered myself incoherent and tried to watch these films. La Jetee intrigued, but I passed out halfway through and didn't have the energy to go back. A sci-fi film done in black and white still shots with voice-over. Didn't make enough of an impression to warrant starting again.

Sans Soleil, however, is something else. Kind of like Godfrey Reggio's stuff, but sewn together with an interesting epistolary form; the female narrator reads aloud letters sent from her male friend, who may or may not be the filmmaker, or an extraterrestrial visitor, or a Lacanian, or some combination of the three. The subtitles in English can't unfortunately be shut off, and the translation of the subtitles is often dramatically different from the voice-over. I tried turning the French voice-over on, but was still distracted by the English subtitles. And yet the film is quite good and I was deeply interested by almost all of it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 54

I've seen some crazy shit at Booker T., but never expected to see Hassan's bare ass in the hallway.

Hassan is about six-foot-three in height, and likely weighs 300 pounds. He's not only the largest student in the building, he's the largest human being. He may, in fact, be one of the largest mammals in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

I have seen Hassan walking calmly down the hall with six of his classmates on his back. I have seen him in a fit of pique reduce a row of lockers to rubble. Hassan is a good-natured kid, and often helps teachers get rowdy classmates under control. But he is severely emotionally disturbed, and has blown a fuse from time-to-time. I often wonder what would happen if Hassan snapped.

Why did I see his bare ass? Because of Will. Will is the school's number-one ladies' man. He's always asking about my shirts: where I bought them, how much they cost, do I have to iron them, etc. "You get that at L.L. Bean?" he'll ask, or "Yo, that shit tight. You buy that at Banana Republic?" Yesterday he saw me wearing a jacket: "My man working the blazer today. Where you get that?" I told him the Target sale rack and he said "naw, naw, my man better than that." I wasn't lying. This morning Will told me I had to stop walking around teacher-style with my hands on my hips. "You gots to stop that. You needs a swagger."

Will said he was going to drop Hassan like a rock. "I can do it. Nobody else here can do it, but I'm gonna drop that muthafucka." Sure enough, as I was trying to keep my third period kids in line on our way to the cafeteria I saw Hassan stroll by. The floor shook, the lights blinked. Sixth graders fled in terror. Just as he was turning his bulk to the side to fit through a door, Will flew through the air and landed on Hassan's back near the shoulders. Hassan toppled like a cut giant sequoia, and both boys went down hard on the deck. Because everyone at Booker T. wears their pants baggy as a circus clown's, Hassan's insane big top drawers came all the way down and he was lying on the hallway floor with his bare ass in the air. Forget keeping kids in line at that point. There was mass hilarity. Will, who'd ridden the great beast to its doom, had fallen hard on his own family jewels. It took them both a while to get up.

"I told you I could do it, Mr. G." Will gasped, clutching his wounded self. And then, reverting immediately to form: "Where you get them pants?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Hitchens, in one of his few remaining tolerable roles (that of lit. critic), on the passing of Norman Mailer:

His masterpiece, at least in my opinion, is Harlot's Ghost (1991), a historic fictionalizing of the national-security state that came very near to realizing the Balzacian ambition that he had conceived for it. What a shame that it was so dismally received by the critics and that he never delivered the second volume of it that he had promised. Instead, he frittered away a good part of the last two decades in half-baked essays and fictions on liberation theology—of all sorry things—and callow stuff on George Bush as the macho man gone wrong.

I think Mailer penned enough trash to have busied an army of mutant paper-eating goats for millennia, but I, too, loved Harlot's Ghost, and lament its lack of a sequel.

Elementary, my dear Rhodes

Dion Fortune fictionalizes the experiences that led her into an occult career. "Dr. Tavener" is based on the guy she met working as a psychoanalyst who first interested her in psychism and secret fraternities. Fortune herself is Taverner's apprentice Rhodes. The tales are quaint, sort of Conan Doyle meets Arthur Machen or M.R. James. I enjoyed some more than others, but liked them all well enough. The formula is simple--Taverner is a sort of early 20th century House, M.D. Nobody else can cure the cases he's confronted with; Taverner puts himself into a trance state, reads the Akhasic Records, and discerns the karmic imbalance and how to fix it.

I had strange dreams while reading them. In one, Julio kept giving me light bulbs, which I either lost or dropped. Then he tried to sneak me into a meeting in a Masonic hall on the top floor of a bank. I suppose this means that Julio is an Adept and that I am ready for initiation, but I am not yet consciously aware of that fact. I always wondered why he was boiling lead in crucibles fifteen years ago.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Instead of completing the enormous unit plan assignment due tonight in Curricular Methods class, I'm watching post-apocalyptic French cinema. The Time of the Wolf is a strange entry in the post-apocalyptic genre; it's subtle, quiet, and beautifully shot. Imagine Day of the Dead without zombies, or Children of Men with rampant pregnancies, or On the Beach without "Waltzing Matilda," or Lord of the Flies without the conch, or The Road without roving bands of cannibals.

Of course post-apocalyptic books and films don't need monsters to be tense and troubling. Humans can be rather wretched to each other under the best of circumstances, and when the thin veneer of law and order vanishes, they can be downright despicable. Especially in France.

The Time of the Wolf is almost too subtle for its own good. Without a powerfully redemptive scene for a particularly loathesome character, it might have failed. But I give it a thumbs up. Isabelle Huppert stars, after all, in her least sexy role since The Piano Teacher, which was also directed by Michael Haneke.

Godard's Le Weekend is still my favorite post-apocalyptic French film. The Hermes handbag scene kills me every time.

Day 51

Lukie and I were discussing just this morning how nice it had been that there were no recent fights. Ooops.

Third period. We're talking about "Character-Changing Events." The kids are brainstorming ideas for a memoir assignment. We're having a good time in class, joking, teasing, and trying to outdo each others' stories. There are some good ideas for memoirs. Suddenly I hear the undeniable sound of a building fight in the hall--a chorus of shouting, an eager encouraging cheering. I see TR jump out of his seat and before I can get to the door he's out in the hall. I peep out behind him and see a ring of kids with a lot of bustling in its midst. I pull the door shut and call for the police. Lukie sees the look I give her. She darts over, opens the door and slips into the hall. I pull the door shut again, and have 22 students pushing on me to let them out in the hall. I keep both hands on the knob, pulling it toward me. The kids are pulling at my arms, trying to get by. Some of them are pleading "Please Mr. G, let us see."

TR comes back and I open the door to let him in. "They ain't fightin' no more anyhow," he says. Everyone is returning to their seats. I look out to see Lukie with her arms around Rasheer, and another big 8th grade girl backing toward me. Rasheer is a moose. She's about 180 pounds of packed muscle, and is severely emotionally disturbed. If her one-on-one assistant is in school, she's a charming child, and quite bright. But her assistant is a lazy piece of shit who shows up about 50% of the time, and is not present today. As I'm looking I see Lukie lose her grip on Rasheer, who charges like a bull with her head down. Her quarry grabs Rasheer by the hair extensions. Beads fly everywhere. Then the punching starts. This is no traditional girl-fight. This is a beat-down.

I've been told not to intervene in fights now until I get "crisis intervention training," so I put my arms on either side of the doorway with my back to the hall and determine that none of my kids are getting out of class. Again I've got 22 kids pushing on me, this time without benefit of a closed door. My fingernails are scraping along the painted cement blocks but I don't budge. Rasheer is landing heavy blows just behind me. One of the combatants scratches me, drawing blood down my left arm near the elbow. I turn my head away from the fight and look over my right shoulder at the cheering mob of students who've spilled out of the other classrooms. There are administrators, teachers, and finally a police officer in the mix. I see Tony Wheelie fly through the air over his classmates' heads and land with a thud. Hammerhead is on the floor getting pummeled by three other guys. I note that Lukie also has bloodied elbows; she is trying to grapple Rasheer behind me while avoiding the flying fists. Mr. C. has a death grip on some kid's arm, Mr. H. is employing the Marine Corps choke hold on another. I start taking blows in my back from Rasheer. She punches like George Foreman--no accuracy, but a lot of force.

Officer Black sprays mace. Rasheer freaks out. "I need my one-on-one!" she shrieks. As she reaches for her phone Black grabs her around the neck and slams her to the floor. Both girls are bloody. The plastic cuffs come out.

And then it's over. The new long-term sub for Miss R is appalled. "It only took ten seconds to escalate from two kids to fifty." She is shaking. Her suit jacket is torn. I shrug. Blood is dripping down my arm onto the floor. "That's all it usually takes. Just be glad there were no knives."

Funny how this was all new to me three months ago. Now it's just another day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 50

The kids are nuts. Nat was wearing pink sunglasses, a purple hoody, and a cap that said "Wasted." He was dancing in the hall. TJ was humping a black crate we use to hold classwork folders. The crate sits on top of the radiator, and TJ was moaning and slapping it on the sides. "That crate all right," he said. "I showed it who's boss." Shakeera laughed at this, and Moneesha called TJ a clown. TJ said "Shut up Diana Ross." Montrice managed to put paper airplanes made out of 1X1 colored Post-Its in the ceiling. We got very little teaching done in first period.

We had an assembly for eighth grade today during second period. The Baltimore City Police planned to do a gang awareness presentation. It took 43 minutes to get the assembled students quiet. As soon as they shut up the police officer said "I can't show you the presentation because you wasted all the time I had with your foolishness." After that it was chaos for another fifteen minutes until we cleared the hall.

During third period some of the kids in the back of the class were laughing and I could not see what was causing the commotion. I finally got to the back of the room and realized that Lukie's new laptop was on screensaver mode, and she had pictures of the teacher karaoke night from a few weeks back cycling on its 17 inch HD screen. The kids had seen Mr. C chugging a beer, Lukie and Miss Soule hugging each other and singing, a close-up shot of Miss T.'s ass, a picture of all of us dancing with beers in our fists.

We're not going to hear the end of that any time soon.

See you in ten years

I had a reasonably good time at the 20th class reunion. It's amazing how many people look like they're fifty years old already.

Some guy kept talking to me about how much I helped him in school, about working with him at the supermarket, and about my '78 Chrysler Cordoba. I had no idea who he was, even after reading his name tag.

Drinking one Coors Light is drinking too many Coors Lights, and I drank seven or eight of them before switching to Cabernet Sauvignon and then buying a Guiness at the after party. Oooh, I had a rough Sunday morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Now a Lt. Colonel

W/Lt. Colonel Schmidt, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

Two tours in Afghanistan, and four in Iraq. Hates Rummy and Cheney and Wolfie, but still thinks W. did the right thing taking out Saddam, despite poor management and planning.

A reasonable turnout

A reasonable turnout, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

And yes, the DJ played "Free Bird."

The Old Crew

The Old Crew, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

And suddenly they're all grown up.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007


Tomorrow is my 20th high school reunion. Can't generate much enthusiasm for the whole affair. There are some people I would like to see, but most of them I see already. The others are likely not to come to the event at all.

I guess I'm curious--who's bald, who's gray, who's dead? I know somewhere between 15 and 20% of my classmates have succumbed to drugs or related illnesses. Pretty surprising for a rural high school. There were a lot of future coke and junk users in my class apparently.

I don't feel like someone going to his 20th high school reunion. I still feel like I'm in my late 20s, somehow. Guess I should wake up and smell the whiff of steady decay. Hopefully the DJ is good, and the wine.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


A tale to bring tears to the most jaded eye.

[found at The Opinion Mill]

Day 49

Montrise. He's yammering away during class. I try to shush him about a billion times, but that never works. Finally I sit next to him.

"Montrise, you promised me that once the second quarter started you would be a new man," I said.

"I know," he told me. "But y'all turned on the heat and now it make my chest hurt."

He turns to Nat and Rasheer. "Yo I took that toy and I hit my baby sister in her eye wid it."

"Montrise," I say, "You banged your sister in the eye piece with a toy? That's cold-hearted. You a straight-up G."

Now everyone calls Montrice "Straight-up G." Even Nat, who actually is a Straight-up G. Montrise is more like a cartoon squirrel.

TR and Billy fought round two today. TR got the better of Billy this time, so Billy bit TR on the arm and then stabbed TR in the forehead with a pair of scissors, drawing blood with both wounds. This violence was sufficient to have both students cuffed by the police and taken out of Science class, but for some reason neither was arrested nor even put out of school today. I think it's because they've already been suspended too many times. Once you achieve the suspension limit we have to keep you in school because otherwise you're not learning. Of course now these kids have even less reason to behave in school. We can't put them out, we can't detain them after school, we can't physically restrain or beat them, we can't fail them. So TR was back in class for Language Arts with a bandaged forearm and head, and Billy sat next to him at the same table.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Good Lord

Alexander Hamilton was the last guy shot by a sitting Vice President before Dick Cheney blasted his buddy full of buckshot a couple years back. Hamilton might have been a lousy duelist, but he was prescient when it came to impeachment:

“The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” [emphasis mine]
From the Federalist Papers, #65

"Comparative strength of the parties" is eloquent Founding Father speech for "pussies will always get beaten, even if they have Reason, Morals, a strong Majority, and the Law on their side." The Democrats are a bunch of pussies. If you look up "Reasons for Impeachment" in the Federalist Papers, there is a picture of Dick Cheney. The Founders knew about him from the writings of Nostradamus. Or Publius. Whatever.

The Democrats suck. I hate them. Dick Cheney is ranked in national opinion polls just above colo-rectal cancer, and they are afraid to go after him. There is ample evidence that Cheney is corrupt and unfit to serve. He's a war monger, a war profiteer, a liar, a cheat, a hypocrite, a felon who shot his friend after drinking too many Schlitzes and covered it up, a draft-dodger, and he can't even stay awake during Cabinet meetings.

But Pelosi, Reid, and Hoyer want to protect him from the oh-so-powerful Dennis Kucinich. Oh my God. What a trainwreck. Throw the bums out! And don't get me started on Feinstein and Schumer. Jesus. Fuck them.


Didn't have to work this morning, but woke up early anyhow. Walked over to Beth Am to vote. Voted Green for City Council Pres, but all the other candidates were unopposed Dems, or virtually unopposed in the case of mayor. I wrote in friends for these slots.

Got a lot of homework done this morning. Big presentation today in Multiculutural ED on GLBT issues in the classroom, and then that class is finito. We started Technology for Teachers yesterday, which meets for four hours twice a week and which will hopefully be less Kindgergartenesque then the other courses so far. My Tuesday night class meets only two more times, and the Saturday class wraps up on December 8th. If I can get through the huge final projects for these classes I will be in good shape. December and January are relatively light months. The Spring is light in terms of graduate classes, but I do have to take over Lukie's classes full-time and write my own lesson plans, etc. That oughtta be a blast.

I'm tired, and wish I could be lazy. But the next three or four weeks are simply jam-packed.

Monday, November 05, 2007

yard dog

Readheads Winery

Listen to your Hart

Can I get an "Amen," brothers and sisters?

Day 45

I must admit I was getting cocky. I mean, crazy stuff has happened at school the last two weeks, but it's the same crazy stuff that always happens. I can handle that! The crazy stuff had become routine.

Any student of literature knows what happens when a protagonist exhibits such hubris: A Rude Awakening.

I'm kneeling down helping TR with his graphic organizer. Tollia asks to go the bathroom. I tell her she can't go because we have a fifteen-minute rule--nobody is allowed in the halls fifteen minutes before or after class change. She begs me, and Lukie says "Tollia you know better." A teenage girl busts into the classroom. "Tollia, who is the boy who be fuckin' wid you?" she screams. Behind her comes an adult woman, swearing at the top of her lungs. "I will fuck up the mother fucker in this room who is messin' with my baby. Who the fuck is messin' with my daughter?" Behind the woman is a large teenage boy with the air of a gangbanger, and a red kerchief on his head. I jump up as Lukie gets in the woman's face and says "This can't happen in my classroom. We need to take this into the hall."

"Bitch I am telling you somebody fuckin' with my daughter in here and we are going to jack him up. I got my other sons and their cousins on they way here." I pull the lever and call for the school police. I get in front of the gangbanger and start walking him back toward the hall. Now other kids in the classroom are taunting the woman and she is threatening them with physical violence if they don't leave her baby alone. Some of them she is calling out by names. "I know whey you live," the mother is screaming. Some of the kids say "yeah we know whey you live too, bitch!" Tollia is mortified, and slips into the hall. Lukie gets the mother and the son and daughter out the door and I step into the hall with them and shut the classroom behind me. Tollia's mother is screaming about us not protecting her baby. "You don't protect my baby from that boy I am bringin' a crew up in here to fuck him up. He will leave school on a stretcher." I tell her I had no idea anyone was touching her daughter, and that had I known I would have dealt with the situation. "We can't have adults in this building threatening kids," I say, and the mother gets in my face "What would you do, bitch, if it was your daughter?"

I turn to Tollia. "What happened?" I ask. She says Shaq kept putting his hands on her. I told her that she needed to tell a teacher immediately and that we would stop it. "Anyone touches you and you don't like it, I will jack him up," I tell her. She doesn't want to go back in the classroom. "Don't be scared, girl," her sister says. "I will fuck all them kids up myself if they fuck with you." Her mother says "Never be scared. You have brothers. You have cousins. They will fuck those kids up if I tell them to." Meanwhile I am slickly putting my key in the lock, pretending to unlock the door to let Tollia in the class, when in fact I am locking the door so I can shut it behind me.

The school police never showed up. This confrontation lasted ten minutes, and the class was a mess afterwards. The students were taunting Tollia for her mother's behavior and threatening to go over to the Family Dollar where she works and "fuck her up." Tollia looked devestated. Lukie spent five minutes talking to the class about all the different inappropriate behavior we'd just witnessed. Yasmine said "Yo Miss L, if she had hit you we all had your back. We'd a banged that bitch!" Tollia was crying and fled down the hall. Shaq looked like he'd pissed hisself.

Tomorrow is Election Day. A day off from this mess.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

the vomiter

I'd be interested to try ayahuasca, and likely in my medical kit have the necessary trimmings of banisteriopsis caapi and chacruna. What I lack is the fortitude for such an experiment. The idea of puking and shitting myself for ten hours in exchange for conversations with moon men and croc-headed Pleiadians is not as appealing as it once might have been.

But I can look at Pablo Amaringo's paintings of his yage experiences, and can read Burroughs' letters to Allen Ginsberg about finding and taking the brew in Columbia and Peru. The book is only about yage in a tiny way; mostly it's a charming travelogue by a first-rate cynic who seduces young mestizo boys and tries to score junk in rural Amazonian villages. The only beat novel I hate more than Naked Lunch is On the Road; the Yage Letters makes Burrough's reputation as a writer of merit more credible.

This new "Redux" edition contains Ginsberg's letters back to Burroughs, after Ginsberg takes the same trip and tries the same brew in the jungle. It also contains an interesting scholarly essay proving that Burrough's 'letters' were in fact fictional creations based in part on journal entries, correspondence, and notes Burroughs made for planned and never accomplished articles on the vine and its hallucinogenic properties.

Don't point that thing at me

Don't point that thing at me, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

Guiness in a Smithwick's glass

Friday, November 02, 2007

Move Like Seamus

Move Like Seamus, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

So Ellen Cherry and Thunder God are leaving the band as of December 15th. Get your tail down to Mick O'Shea's tonight or tomorrow and see them in Seamus while you can.

I'll be the drunk guy.


A charming confection with a sugary outer shell and not much for filling. Clever approach, that, as its subject is made a prisoner of Versailles and the ponderous routines and poisonous gossip of Court culture. The empty film mirrors Antoinette's empty life.

I like the way the film looks and feels, but had the same reaction to its predecessor Lost in Translation--worth seeing, but I don't need ever to see it again.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day 41

I'm on my way back to the classroom from a lame-ass professional development meeting. I decide to hit the head on the way. Competing Crips and Bloods grafittoes, downed ceiling tiles, a paper towel roll in the urinal and yellow with piss.

Somebody in the stall is saying "I'm a slap you with it, bitch, I'm a slap you with it." I'm washing my hands in the sink under the DO NOT DRINK sign when the kid comes out of the stall. A seventh grader. He's carrying a wad of twenties rubber-banded together. He runs out the door yelling "I'm a bitch-slap you with my G-stack! I'm a bitch-slap you with my G-stack, muthafucka!" He keeps shouting it all the way down the hall, waving the bills above his head.

He flashes that kind of money in the halls I guarantee he's going to get jacked up. Perhaps by the hall monitor or school police, or perhaps by an armed peer. Best to keep your G-stack under wraps or you'll lose it for sure.