Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get up on the floor

Get up on the floor, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

Day 71

I'm always surprised at how quickly the violence unfurls. I'm standing in front of my classroom door at 2:25, because my sixth graders always go nuts and try to get out of the classroom early. While I'm fending them off a girl is trying to egg on some minor drama between two others. It's so petty and ridiculous that I'm not paying much attention, particularly given the two girls involved are not known as fighters. One is bookish and quiet and the other is way laid back. Next thing I know the instigator grabs the bookish girl's hand and slaps it into the laid-back girls face, and the fight is on. Laid back quickly batters bookish into a defensive crouch, and then bookish is on the floor with her shirt over her face flailing wildly (laid back has a fistful of her collar, and pulled the shirt up over her opponent's eyes). I burst through a crowd of screaming giddies just in time to see laid back knee bookish sharply right in the nose through her shirt. I hear a disgusting squelching noise and then I'm between them and barking at the cheering crowd to back off. Then I'm pulling bookish out the door--she's still throwing punches and has no idea that she's flailing at me instead of laid back.

Because bookish is half-white they're all packing her: white princess can't fight, cracker got what she deserved, the field hand beat the mistress, etc. I spent 15 minutes after school writing up incident reports, but the administrator wasn't even in the building today.

Three days to Spring Break. I am so wiped, I can't gin up any enthusiasm. It's all "read your book and answer questions" bullshit right now, because the kids are DONE after the MSA. I'm a let them slide until after Spring Break, when I start getting them ready for high school (whether they like it or not).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 70

Added to "plucking," "stinging," and "snuffing" is the latest Rumsfeldian craze at the March: "meat checking." This action, which consists of a sharp fist to the male crotch, is particularly disruptive. The victim clocked in the balls inevitably ends up on the floor in agony, with much groaning and choking and "oh man, ohhhh, maaaann, ooh, ugggggh," etc. Of course the rest of the class has to comment, laugh, and point--and inevitably there will be three or four suckers who go down during each period. Bye-bye, 28 minutes of of instructional time per class!

This activity has been around all year, but since it's been given a name now, it appears to be spreading. Unlike with the other forms of torture, no one warns their victim before a "meat checking," as in "I'ma pluck you!" Surprise is important.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Some time ago I read a short book by Rudolf Steiner called How to Know Higher Worlds. He advised paying close attention to the thoughts and feelings which arise from seeing a dying plant or a seed, and to note how the moon and the sun make you feel. I considered the book a curiosity for the most part, but it had a powerful impact on my dreams for a time.

Gary Lachman's wonderful short intro to Steiner makes me curious to dig deeper. It's hard enough to find an individual who has both an artist's and a scientist's soul--Steiner was both, with the added benefit of being a mystic who read the Akhasic Records and spoke daily to the dead. Lachman breezily recounts the life of one of the 20th century's more interesting polymaths, and while sympathetic to Steiner, Lachman is quite willing to play devil's advocate and to suggest one take Steiner's occult beliefs with a grain of salt. One can think biodynamic farming is great without necessarily believing that Steiner saw Nietzsche's soul hovering over the philosopher's catatonic body, for instance.

Steiner's wide-ranging philosophizing produced biodymanic farming methods, eurythmy, Waldorf and Camphill education, The Anthroposophical Society, and a couple Goethanums. He even wrote a book on the esoteric importance of bees which is beloved by hive keepers and which predicted the currents global honey bee crisis.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 68

I endured a terrible week of unruly kids playing dice in my room ("Yo Mr. G, I just won six slugs off Tae!"), fights, sarcasm, and "packing," "riding," "plucking," "stinging," etc. and plan to use this weekend to recoup.

Ellen Cherry kicked off our Friday by kindly sharing the loot she got for playing Center Stage's happy hour tonight-free ticks! I would suggest you repay her by pledging to support WTMD via her band page.

I enjoyed "Tis a Pity She's A Whore," but thought the lead actress was out of her depth. The rest of the cast were good to rather good, and I liked the direction and staging. The play is of course ridiculous what with its incest revenge plot, but gouts of blood are always cool. It's strange that it's been a decade since I vowed to stay away from Center Stage for ten years following a couple straight seasons of crap--we used to get season tickets annually until I got fed up and decided if I wanted to be bored to tears for two hours on Sunday I could resume going to church, and for free. But tonight's show was entertaining.

Cha and I hit the Single Carrot Theater party after, where we put stuff in a time capsule, wrote on the floor, and then danced with an insanely enthusiastic group of hot Chinese law students. Then we looked at some art and went back to the dance floor and some blond chick asked me to dance and then immediately turned her ass into my crotch and tried to grind me. Sorry, no!

My life is strange.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Gary Webb dared tell a shameful story in the San Jose Mercury News about the CIA conspiring with drug cartels to fund the Contras in the 1980s; a lot of the easily available coke which helped destroy many inner city communities was green-lighted by the likes of Ollie North and his crew of gung-ho yahoos fighting for the "moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers" in Nicaragua (or Honduras).

Alexander Cockburn and Jefferey St. Clair first off show what happened to Webb for daring to speak the truth: he was savaged by fellow "journalists" like windbag Chris Matthews-guys who typically toe the Establishment line-and without cause. None of his attackers bothered to check his story, they instead relied on government sources who were hostile to the release of this information in their attempted debunkings. Unfortunately facts don't matter, and Webb ended up fired and dying of self-inflicted shotgun wounds. Cockburn is typically acerbic as he quotes all the breathless muck in the media at the time about "conspiracy theories" and "urban paranoia" and the outrage at the very idea that the CIA could ever be involved in anything under-handed, particularly under that soft-headed kindhearted fascist Ronnie Reagan. None of the major media at the time bothered to report the fact that the CIA's own internal investigation confirmed that Webb was right.

And then Cockburn and St. Clair fill in a little backstory, demonstrating that the CIA was involved in drug-running and torture and Mengele*-style medical experiments from its inception, often with unwitting US citizens as victims. The detail is a little overwhelming, particularly if you've read Killing Hope by Blum or The Politics of Heroin by McCoy and know a lot of this stuff. But it's always good to refresh one's knowledge of covert misdeeds by the "good" guys, funded by your tax dollars. As Noam always said, these operations are only "covert" in the US-the rest of the world knows what's up, but the US taxpayer would never condone this shit, hence the designation.

*Klaus Barbie was only one full-fledged NAZI war criminal on the CIA payroll

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 67

Ugh, the kids are NUTS. They broke my door off its top two hinges, the tore down my Notorious BIG poster, they ran amuck in the halls! They sit quietly through the MSA test for two hours and then they go BONKERS all day.

One of my sixth grade girls showed me a picture on a cell phone of an obviously adult erect penis. I was like "Oh, no," but didn't say anything except "PUT THAT AWAY!" because I'm sure she was showing it to her classmates all day.

"It ain't my phone, it's ******'s," she said. And then she said "That's her daddy!"

I honestly think the child thought that made it OK somehow.

So I had to run downstairs after school and file a report about 11-year old girls with pornographic (or possibly worse) material on a cell phone. Best case scenario? The pictures were downloaded off the internet. I shan't speculate on the worst case.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


An un-hysterical approach to an interesting subject by Gary Lachman, the former Blondie bassist turned scholar of the Western esoteric tradition. I'm not surprised to see a blurb by Colin Wilson on Lachman's latest, because Lachman is likely to inherit Wilson's mantle as sympathetic yet typically cautious cataloger of the mysterious and magical.

Lachman of course deals with the famous politically active hermetic organizations: the Knights Templar, the Masons, the Illuminati, the Rosicrucians--but what differentiates Lachman's book from others in the field is its lack of gullibility. He doesn't make the extravagant leaps others make to prove that Group X is behind everything. This is not to say that Lachman drains the fun out of conspiracy theories either. He's read the Baigent and Leigh books, the books about Himmler and the Holy Grail, and he knows the myths and popular beliefs in depth. That he spends time debunking the junky theories of others is to his credit: he could likely sell more books if he concluded that Dick Cheney was a shape-shifter from Betelgeuse (and little evidence would be required to make the case).

I found two aspects of Politics and the Occult particularly interesting: the Left and Right wing aspects of occult organizations' involvement in politics, and the political views of individual occultists+. This makes for some fascinating reading, particularly when Lachman spends quality time on figures whose work I admire: C.G. Jung, Mircea Eliade, and R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, for example.* There is perhaps another book for Lachman in his exploration of the conservative, neo-fascist features of many academics and theorists who investigate or promulgate the occult.

Fun stuff. I've read two of his tomes, and will certainly add more to the stack of Lachman by my bedside.

+I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the idea that Joseph Campbell, C.G. Jung, and Mircea Eliade are "occultists."

*Of course these cats are not really politicians, though Jung and Eliade are described as such on the back of the book? The young Eliade turns out to have been politically active in distasteful ways, however, as was the younger Jung.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 65

Having a child throw a chair at another student during first period can set the tone for your whole day. Fortunately the chair merely broke my Target box fan and knocked over my speakers-it missed the student target and upset my LCD projection screen, but no real harm done. KayBee got himself a couple days suspension for that stunt, but before he left he came upstairs and apologized and said "Holler atchoo later, G!"

I spent the rest of the day putting my hands on rowdy kids, pulling them apart, pushing them, setting them in their chairs, carrying them across the room, pinching their trap muscles painfully, etc. I know what can happen to classroom management after the MSA, and I'm establishing myself in ways I haven't used since I left the trenches at the Book.

3rd period two dopes started wrestling next to my LCD projector and laptop, in the middle of a horseshoe of desks and tables. I was outside this horseshoe by the door to the classroom, and kicked tables out of my way, grabbed each goofball by the neck. Kids were shocked. "Dag, he ain't playin'. He bangin' n****z!" they said, and sat up straighter. "Why he go batshit?"

I drove a student home the other day when it was raining, and now every day different kids are waiting for me outside, asking for rides home. Right now I'm cool with it, but it's going to get tiresome soon. Today I drove into particularly wretched East Side territory, the kind of spot you need colors flying to be comfortable in. But I like to see where my kids live.

Day 64

At the Book last year, the school descended further and further into chaos after the Maryland State Assessments were over. There are signs that things won't be much different at the March. As soon as the two morning sessions of the Reading assessments were done, the kids went totally haywire. Hall monitors, administrators, and educators could only go with the flow as best we could. Even the cops were at a loss. Stampedes in the hallway, fights in classrooms spilling out into the corridors, students playing their latest game, stabbing each other with safety pins, nail fails, and pencils (the call it "stingin'," and say "Yo, I'ma gonna sting you..."). I keep warning them about MRSA, but they don't care. I'm about to show them some horrifying and disgusting pictures if they keep it up.

We'll see how it goes today--I'm hoping a lot of kids just decide to stay home and take a long weekend: I'm tempted to do so. It's supposed to be nice today, after all.

Next week we have two days of Math Assessments, and then the following week we'll have the Science Assessments. The week after that is Spring Break, which I need badly. Cha and I are flying to New Mexico for seven days of Southwest adventure.

June is suddenly not so far off after all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MLS @ Ireland's Four Fields in DC

From Saturday night. We had a crowd of drunken enthusiasts in the palms of our hands, and I loved every minute of it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 63

pooped! long day yesterday, in bed @ 1am, up at 6, at the grocery store buying mints and juice packs @ 6:30, in school re-arranging desks and prepping for the tests @ 6:45. Got my homeroom through the first 3-hour session, then had a 45-minute language arts class with them, during which it was impossible to keep them quiet. It was 70 degrees out and the test was done and they were done with school after the test, and weren't doing anything, they announced, until the next day's test session. Any suggestion that we use the time productively was regarded as "trifling" at best and "petty" at worst.

KB threw a magic marker at Aviary and hit him in the eye, precipitating a rare crisis. KB is a jerk and a goofball whose behavior and academic performance have dropped precipitously since Term 2, but I have a soft spot for him because he was one of the few kids in my first period class and homeroom to give me a chance the first month I was at the March. He talked to me, did his work quietly, and always yelled at kids who were disrupting class. Now he's always disrupting class, and the kid he hit with a marker is a corner boy who "don't play," a kid who respects me but rarely comes to class. Aviary jumped up and pushed KB and I got between them, my back to KB. I had to make sure to keep the burlier boy in sight and checked; Aviary is a big kid but he wasn't getting past me, and he knew it, so he sent a signal to KB by pausing to take his coat off while talking smack. This communicated the fact that Aviary was serious, and that he couldn't get past me, but he was nonetheless truly going to kick KB's ass, and that KB best recognize it. I took the coat signal as a chance, and turned to KB (who was red-faced and nearly crying in fright despite being taller than Aviary and a big-talker) and told him to get out of the class. Surprisingly, he did--usually a student will take a substantial beating rather than allow himself such humiliation.

"He a punk," one girl said. "Why you let him leave, Mr. G? He ain't gonna change until he get beat like he needs." (this sentiment was later echoed in precisely the same language by a hall monitor).

Another girl said "His bark is worse than his bite." I asked her what kind of language that was, and she said "That be a idiom." Never one to pass up a teaching opportunity, I asked her if she could think of a simile for KB's behavior, and another girl said "he folded like one of grandma's sheets!"

I love my kids.

Later in the hall I saw KB on his back exposing his neck to Aviary-he might play A-dawg but he knows his place in the pack is pre-determined.

It's over

The weekend from hell is over! Four gigs in five days, and now back to work in the am at 7, ugh. I'm deaf.

This video is from Sunday at Lucy's, a clip of one of Drew's original tunes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I've only read a couple Neil Gaimans, and I always have the same reaction: I'm interested in the characters, but none of them is particularly appealing or sympathetic. It's hard to explain, but it's like my amygdala ceases to function when I read Gaiman and I have no emotional attachment to the people in his stories. I have therefore only an intellectual involvement, so I tend to avoid him. But when I heard there was a Newberry Award winner about a boy growing up in a graveyard I couldn't resist, because I grew up playing in a graveyard behind my house in Stewartstown PA.

I enjoyed the book, and thought it had some fine and clever moments, but once again I was more interested than truly involved. I couldn't have cared one way or another if the fates of the characters had been tragically different. Bod Owens can't hold a candle to the likes of Wilbur or that girl in Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Lucy's is a much nicer place to play than Mick's. The food is about a thousand times better, the atmosphere is about a thousand times better, and they actually pull a quality Guinness. It's the best pint I've had, in fact, since I was in Ireland almost a decade ago.

We played there last night for the first time, and even with Riverdance at the Hippodrome across the street, there were never more than a couple dozen people in the bar, but we got a pretty warm response during set 1. For much of set 2 there were only a very enthusiastic drunk guy and some wait staff in attendance--and Matt and Jeremy, who pulled roadie and paparazzi duties. But we got paid and we got free food and drinks; and when I say free food I'm talking lamb t-bone and cheese plate--quality stuff, not the Alpo that other dive serves. We're booked for a Friday and a Saturday show this spring at Lucy's, and hopefully we can get a crowd in there. The space has a richer, warmer sound.

Three gigs down on the weekend from hell--one more to go! Back to Mick's on St. Patty's Day after getting spoiled for a couple days elsewhere. But we're getting a fat chunk of change for Tuesday night duties. Pray for us.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Halfway There

Last night we had our show at Ireland's Four Fields in DC. I was a bit apprehensive playing in a new town and in a venerable institution on St. Patty's Day weekend.

These fears were not allayed when we arrived to see dozens of guys in green suits with green pinwheels and green hats and a packed house.

We set up on the tiny stage and we KILLED them. People were dancing, singing along, fist-pumping, screaming--it was awesome. They loved the Irish stuff, the rock covers, the originals, and even the song we played that we'd never played before. In particular, they loved the cello, and they kept chanting "cello! cello! cello!"

So it was a smash, and it was much more fun to play there than at Mick's where they always want us to turn down.

Tonight we're at Lucy's, across from the Hippodrome. At the Hippodrome tonight is the last Riverdance show--look out!

Thanks to Cha for making and selling T-shirts last night! Thanks to Raj and Rob for coming down from B'more and bringing friends to support us. Thanks to Jeremy for flying in from Iowa to see all four shows this weekend (and for being a roadie). Rock!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

rocking the nation's capital

Tonight Move Like Seamus heads down I-95 to Ireland's Four Fields. We're playing four sets from 9pm-2am, the second in a series of four St. Patty's weekend shows. We had a pretty tight show last night at Mick's so we should be hot tonight--drop in if you're in DC. If you're in B'more take the Marc and get potted.

We got our first taste of what might be in store for us Tuesday last eve: a clan of drunken young hotties twirling dizzyingly before the stage with full pints sloshing on the floor. Craig the manager followed them around with a towel, mopping up, but they didn't notice. One leaned in to talk to me mid-song and said "sorry I put beer on your instrument." Then she slipped down the stairs to the bar and cracked her head on the floor. A strapping young lad accompanying them whistled and clapped and jumped, screaming at the top of his lungs "Awesome fiddle dude! Awesome drum man! Kick Arse!"

After the Pogues and Flogging Molly covers Craig asked us to play something "downbeat."

Day 60, Pt. II

I was in the English Faculty Chair's office at the end of the hall perusing catalogues when I heard "Bitch, you wanna fight me then get outcho chair and shut your mouth and do something." I turned to Mrs. G, who is a mammoth, and who recently pummeled into the floor a 7th grader who punched her. When the girl's mother came to the school after this incident she also threw a punch at Mrs. G, and Mrs. G pummeled her into the floor as well.

"Mrs. G," I said, "we got a situation." Already a crowd was forming in the hall. I sprinted down just in time to see Liberty Bell and Tootsie squaring off, two burly girlies charging each other. Bell had her head up and fists ready, Tootsie had her head down and was starting the over-head swinging of suburban girl fighters. When I got to the scene I pulled up--I can't go restraining girls without forethought, particularly very busty girls, and this hesitation gave Bell time to land a thudding uppercut into Tootsie's nose. Then Bell grabbed her hair and wrenched out a weave which she waved like a scalp. Beads and hairpins went flying. Mrs. G arrived, and then Mrs. M the 6'6" hall monitor. Tootsie clocked Mrs. G in the face with a scud missile punch, sending her glasses flying. As I was useless now, I dove for the glasses and started haphazard crowd control.

Gradually Mrs. G and Mrs. M got the bloodied and fuming gals apart. It took about 20 minutes to get children back into classrooms and into their chairs. Mrs. G said "You got there in time to do something--why did you stop?"

I said I didn't have crisis intervention training, and that I worried for a moment about touching girls inappropriately to prevent a fight. She had a good long laugh at this, and I did too. Back at Booker T. I would have never paused, I would have done what I needed to do. I still feel a bit unsure of myself at the new school sometimes.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 62

So the standardized testing under No Child's Behind Left Untested starts next week, and lasts through the following couple of weeks. It's stressful, exhausting, and many kids capable of passing will crack under the strain. But once it's done we can relax a bit, and I can teach my kids more of what I think they need to know instead of what academics and politicians somewhere think kids need to know.

I ordered $800 in stuff for my room: dictionaries, thesauri, a CD listening station with 6 headphone sets, some art supplies, etc. The Big Cheese gave my order back to me and said I didn't spend enough money. Woah, Nellie. She's working hard to ensure I stay at the March next year. I'm going to re-submit with more bling. I want a disco ball, a laser pointer, and a wireless Jeopardy game with score keepers and screen and automatic timers. And a Taser.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Resting Up

So I stayed in instead of seeing Watchmen. Ellen Cherry even rung up and invited me out to see a cool band at a cool space record a record live, and only a dunderhead would say no to that. But I need to rest, and to be lazy, while I can. Here's why:

Friday, March 13th @ 9:30: Move Like Seamus @ Mick O'Shea's

Saturday, March 14th @ 9:00: Move Like Seamus @ Ireland's Four Fields in DC

Sunday, March 15th @ 8:00 Move Like Seamus @ Lucy's Bar

Tuesday, March 17th @ 6:00 Move Like Seamus @ Mick O'Shea's

That's a lot of gigging in a short span of time. Lots of late nights and early mornings and transporting and setting up and tearing down gear, etc. The glamorous life of pub musicians! But we're going to kick some ass; we learned 7 songs, we tightened up several others, and we're going to be wearing our new T-shirts. Look out!


I've in the past considered myself an afficionado of bad horror films--but I'd never seen Trilogy of Terror. This is near the summit of bad horror. There are actually some terrifying things about this flick: Karen Black's performances, William Nolan's dialogue, and the after-school special production values.* What was Richard Matheson thinking? He penned some good Twilight Zone episodes, and the source material for two craptacularly entertaining movies I loved as a child: The Omega Man and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

The stories here seem yanked from his sock drawer (but no! at least one was published in Playboy).

Matheson likely read the '60s equivalent of Freud for Dummies before scribbling these tawdry tales. Did anyone not see through the second installment within two minutes?

*Oh, and the seventies decor in that Zuni Fetish Doll-infested kitchen? Truly terrifying!


Decisions, decisions

According to today's Sun, the Senator theater is about to be foreclosed upon, barring some last-minute miracle check from a Hollywood bigwig with cash to spare in Great Depression II.

Because I have gigs every night this weekend, tonight is the last time I'd be able to get to The Senator before its possible shut-down. Unfortunately they're showing Watchmen, and I've about reached the limits of my tolerance for comic and graphic novel live action actualizations. If I don't go and the Senator does shut down, I'll feel miserable for missing a last chance at the best movie house in the Mid-Atlantic.

Argh, but I just don't feel like it. Is the movie worth it?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I don't often wish that I had someone else's life, but man, do I wish I had Patrick Leigh Fermor's! I read his delightful ruminations about monastic life last summer, and now I've tackled his youthful pilgrimage afoot across entre-WW Europe. I can give no higher praise to a travel book/memoir than to say that it makes me want to visit those places I've not seen (Prague, Hungary) all the more, and it makes me desperate to re-visit the places I've already seen (Melk, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, etc).

Fermor is amazing at putting history into context, and lavish with his philosophical and literary allusions. Fluent in Greek and Latin and French, and non-chalant about striding into Germany and learning the language in 10 days--what a dude! He knows architecture, the migratory history of pre-historic peoples and beasties, and is quite capable of pausing his book for several pages of art criticism on Breughel (Elder or Younger) or Cranach (Elder or Younger). In other words, Fermor is My Main Man. And I have several more NYRB volumes of his stuff to go, woo-hoo!

Later in life he became a war hero to boot. A pleasure to read.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 60

Had my formal observation today. The Big Cheese sat in my room for 90 minutes, getting up occasionally to go yell at someone in the hall. I did what I usually do--lots of modeling, arts integration, connecting content to real life, a PowerPoint presentation timed out with assignments, etc. She ate it up, and told the kids at the end of class: "You got a good teacher. He knows what he's doing. You fail, it's on you. You gotta stop talking too much, and stop being lazy." She told me in the Office "I am proud of you. It was a pleasure to sit in your class. Order anything you need for your room and I will approve the funds."

It went smoothly because with her in there the kids were all on task. As soon as she left I had to start writing names on the board.

Last period two of my sixth grade headaches were up to no good. Speares and Lohan were doing their white girl imitations, which were funny about 3 weeks ago the first time they did them. Now, not so much. They came in, hands on left hips, right hands held up, out, and to the sides like Egyptian figurines with purses on them. "Oh my God, check out his SHOES. Check them out!" They said, then "Oh my God, check out his glasses! Tee hee hee." After about 30 seconds of this I pulled out my phone. "Oh my God," I said, "Check out their sad faces when I call their parents!" They sneered at me like real white girls and then continued, so I gave them detention.

Big mistake! At detention I told them they could clean my boards and floor and I would let them go early. "We don't want to go. We want our whole half hour!" they said, adding "Check out his hair, Oh my God! Tee hee." Then they told me about their boyfriends. Oh, Lord, give me strength. They're going to want detention every day. Oh my God!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Day 59

I'm supposed to be at school today, but have dipped into my 80-odd hours of accumulated sick time. After a gorgeous and very relaxing weekend I was struck again by the suddenly resurgent insomnia bug, and got absolutely no sleep last night. Typically this year I've gone into work despite sleepless nights or sickness, but I felt loathe to do so today. I feel weak and shaky and my stomach is upset. Maybe now that my sinuses/lungs are clearing I'm getting the flu?

I have a big formal observation tomorrow and I need to be well-rested and ready to go.

Perhaps I need some shock therapy. Melatonin, valerian root, Nyquil, wine, whisky, zazen, Tai Chi, no caffeine after 9am--nothing works anymore. I'm going to go for a run and try to exhaust myself for tonight. Maybe I should bust out salvia divinorum for the first time in more than two years.

I worry about my kids; this is the first time I called out sick when they were in session. Will they have a quality sub? Will they get a sub at all? Will they be split up and told to follow other classes, burdening my colleagues? I shan't think about it. I spent three hours this morning writing lesson plans to assuage my guilt.

Saw Hollowboy at Fletcher's last night. They put on a really great show: very energetic, fantastic stage presence, rocking original songs blending punk attitude and rock/electro/dance elements. Very glammy. They've got "it," and might go places with a bit of luck. One song performed last night was reportedly inspired by your humble narrator's blog postings on the City schools. I'm humbled--the song kicked @ss!

MUST SLEEP. We have gigs Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Rest is imperative!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Science continues to "discover" knowledge known by the Ancients...


This little gem blew me away, and I might watch it again tomorrow. It's been a decade since I've seen a film I wanted to see again immediately.

Imagine Philip K. Dick and Terrence McKenna watching My Dinner With Andre and then writing their own sequel. The result is somewhere between The Matrix and Before Sunrise. Waking Life in fact contains a brief sequel to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset which alone makes it worth watching. It got me firing on all synapses, which is dangerous. I felt like Walter Benjamin on a hashish bender. I'ma gonna write my Arcades Project this afternoon. Or drink wine instead, and go see Hollowboy tonight.

I adored everything about this film, and plan to order it from Amazon ASAP. I'm going to do so via Steven Hart's site because he turned me onto it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Changeling is by far the finest film directed by Clint Eastwood, hands down. I think after one viewing that it may be one of the finest jobs directing I've seen. The period detail, the performances, the score (also by Eastwood), the cinematography, the pacing--all aspects of this film approach perfection.

So why did Slum Dog Millionaire, which is by no measure its artistic equal, clobber it at the Oscars and in the box office? Timing. People are tired of corrupt government scandals, they're tired of tyrannical politicians on the take, they can read the news about governments lying and manipulating the press, and these elements are the meat in Eastwood's stew. He's obsessed of late with the murky gray areas, the puzzling amoralities, the brutal realities of America's seedier past (and present). A shame, that, because Changeling deserves to be seen.

It is bleak, however, and treads the most painful territory. John Malkovich is only one member of a magnificent cast headed by Angelina Jolie, for whom I've never had any respect as an actor. Changeling changed that, and how. She is spectacular.

Friday, March 06, 2009


Kind of refreshing to see Jack Nicholson before he became "Jack Nicholson." But what a strange film! A concert pianist from an eccentric family of musicians runs off to man oil rigs and knocks up a dimwitted bit of trailer trash with big hair and loud clothes. He is too restless and discontented to settle down and quits his job and goes home to visit his ailing father. Along the way he has a laughably bad sex scene with Sally Struthers and then he boinks his sister-in-law.

I'm being snarky but there are good things about Five Easy Pieces. Mostly they involve Karen Black's legs and bosoms. I have a strange thing for Karen Black, and I'm not sure why? I think it's because a childhood babysitter used to cross her eyes and chase me around; when she caught me she would tickle me senseless. Perhaps I've fetishized girls with weird cockeyed looks ever since? Whatever. Mmmm, Karen Black.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Day 58

One week and one day until the No Child's Behind Left Untested Tests. The administrators are lunatic with unreasonable demands and expectations put upon them from above; I shrug off their repeated and ever-more-shrill and contradictory demands and just do what I was going to do all along anyhow.

The kids are like "Fuck this shit. It's 97 degrees in this room, and the Principal won't let me have any water. I'ma act a donkey all day." Which they do. Meanwhile, those few who are interested in high school and college some day huddle around my LCD projector and ask me questions.

I learned a new East-Side colloquialism today. A punk ass name of Dream Coat got his dollar stolen from him by Tomcat (she didn't get 5 days after all--typical). Tomcat refused to give him his dollar back and he kept whining about it and disrupting class until I said "Damn, Dream Coat, I will give you a dollar just to shut your pie hole." I took a dollar out my pocket, reached it over to him, and when he reached out to take it I said "psych!" and put it back in my wallet. Kids were falling out their chairs howling.

"Dream Coat, you let Tomcat steal your G-stack it's on you," I said, and proceeded to teach my lesson. An 8th grader, bounced from his class to mine for poor behavior, said "Dag, Mr. G slugged him."

New terminology: to slug (v): to fool someone with false reward or recognition, to punk, to tease

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Day 57

I'm not one to abuse administrators by sending troublesome kids out my room every day. I like to handle my business (or not) on my own. Only in extreme cases will I put students out of my class with an office referral, because if kids know I rely on the Big Guns to bail me out, they will never respect my authority.

But there are lines which can't be crossed. Today in my sixth grade class Tomcat dumped water on another student: Verbal Warning. Then she threw a book and accosted another student and went on my Phone Call list. This set her off: "Why you teachers always be snitchin'? You always tryin' to get us in trouble, well I'm going to get 45 days for what I'm about to do to you if you don't get out my face."

I explained to Tomcat that her behavior was unacceptable, and that she was not the only student on my Phone Call list, and that she had been on my Phone Call list before but had earned her way off that consequence by doing right the rest of class. She mouthed off again, and I pulled out my phone and started dialing her number. This was pure bluff, because the number I have for her is, like many numbers of City school students, currently disconnected. But when I started dialing she ran over and put on her pouty face and whiny voice: "Oh Mr. G, don't call, please, please, they will take my phone away and I won't be allowed to go outside." Then she said "Fuck you!" and stormed off.

That is one of the lines. I wrote her an office referral for inciting a disturbance, physical threats to staff and students, and insubordination. She got suspended for five days, but didn't learn her lesson, because in the hall she told me "You got me five days--Me and my crew see you on the street you'll see what's up!"

Ah, getting cussed out and threatened with violence by 11 year old girls. This is why I signed up to do what I do.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fossil in Kansas

I'm amazed at the 300 million year-old brain found in Kansas; apparently it did NOT belong to Senator Pat Roberts!


Back in the early nineties I was still laboring under the mis-apprehension that I was going to be a fiction writer when I grew up. I was in Temple University's Master's program, and one of our visiting writers was Russell Banks. I got to lunch with him and Toby Olson, and partied one night with Olson, Banks, and David Bradley amongst others. Banks read some of my stuff and had kind things to say. Didn't encourage me to keep it up, alas--by my last semester in the fiction program I'd stopped writing.

At that time I'd only read Banks' Relation of My Imprisonment, which was a short hilarious spoof of Christian torture porn documents from the early Roman days. Shortly thereafter I read several of his books and liked them a great deal. When I met Banks he was writing Cloudsplitter and Rule of the Bone; Rule of the Bone, he told us, was the book he worked on when the "serious" book got too tiresome. I love those books, and hear that Martin Scorsese has signed on to film Cloudsplitter. This thrills me no end, because nobody does violence and spirituality and spiritual regeneration through violence like Marty. I hope he films it in black and white.

But back to Affliction, which I realized halfway in that I'd read before (it happens in middle age). What a great book. Nobody does small town woe like Banks, nobody so clearly understands the roots of redneck violence, and nobody has greater compassion for salt-of-the-earth types. When I read Affliction I read something quite similar to my childhood in Southern PA: the bleak New Hampshire town could be Stewartstown or Fairfield or Red Lion. When I read about Wade, I think I know him intimately, and can admire Banks' skill at capturing him so vividly.

A decent film was made from the book, but it's not as good as the film version of The Sweet Hereafter.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


It's funny--until I saw Josh Brolin play Bush I never understood how people found W. affable. I always saw him as baffled, rude, incurious, hypocritical, petty, and trifling. After seeing Brolin play him, I still see Bush in the same way, but I understand the affability more. I enjoyed the movie, but must admit to a soft spot for Oliver Stone's goofiness. I even liked his Alexander flick.

The movie is like a Henry James novel for dummies, kind of like The American, where a dim innocent Yank with a wad of cash gets duped by more sophisticated players and realizes it far too late in the game. If one were not witnessing a world set aflame by said dim innocent Yank, one could feel sympathy for him. NOT!