Saturday, January 30, 2010

#4



In The Ghost Writer, Nathan Zuckerman was a young author just getting his feet under him. In Zuckerman Unbound, he has had a smash success with a novel largely about jerking off. Fame and fortune aren't all they're cracked up to be, however. Nathan is hounded by an obsessed fan with photographic memory, he receives death threat mail from fellow Jews who think he's portrayed them badly in fiction, his third marriage has crumbled, and Nixon is president. He has sex with a film starlet and she turns out to read Kierkegaard and fuck Fidel Castro from time to time. Things couldn't possibly be worse.

I haven't read Roth in a while, and returning to him is like going back to a favorite place after a long absence. That voice is so appealing, and moves convincingly from perverse humor to despair with appalling ease. I'm always tempted to read him all at once, but resolve to savor these books slowly. There's no one like him (well, no one except perhaps Stephen Dixon, or Stanley Elkin). A great book.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

netflixed



A moving and entertaining exploration of the transformative power of creative expression. "It's hard out here for a pimp," indeed. Terrence Howard is exceptional as a pimp with hip-hop aspirations and a great hair-do. A keeper.

Day #85

No school today--professional development for teachers today and tomorrow. I took a personal day today and will use sick time tomorrow; this is what my IST at the Book told me to do during the January professional developments, and I think it's a good plan. I have never been to a useful professional development, and this is my 3rd year in the Baltimore City school system. Besides, I have yet another cold/sore throat.

The big news from today's faculty meeting (I heard through FB) is that the March is being zero-based. This means the entire staff has to re-apply for their jobs. The Big Cheese apparently told everyone that 50% of the staff will be let go as "incompetent" based on standardized test data, and once that happens they will be ineligible for re-hire.

Sounds like bullshit scare tactics to me--how can they shit-can half the staff as "incompetent" and then say everyone can reapply for their jobs? What criteria measure "incompetence"? The acting principal has been in my room exactly once this entire year, and never gave any feedback. No faculty member has received feedback following their formal observations in the Fall. Some big wigs from headquarters have moved through the school from time-to-time, but nobody has been in the building long enough to say someone is "incompetent."

Word from the Mrs. is that the Book wants me back, and at least two other schools (a good middle and a challenging and impressive charter high school) are asking what my plans are for next year. What to do, what to do?

Onward.

#3



Not reading much in terms of books these days, but I'm reading a lot of journals and mags, of which I have a backlog (catching up on Cabinet and Lapham's Quarterly takes some time if you fall behind).

Finished Vance's The Palace of Love fairly quickly, however. The Demon Princes books are a bit formulaic, but still evince an imagination fervid as it is fertile. What Vance does with his formula is always impressive. Here Kirth Gersen goes after the 3rd of five Princes who wrecked and imprisoned the inhabitants of his home world. Viole Falushe is a futuristic DeSade, but only in spirit. Turns out the proprieter of the galaxy's Playboy Manse is impotent due to an adolescent fixation. When a teenage crush object spurned and humiliated young Falushe, he became a soul-less beast of unimaginable cruelty. Even cloning his young love gives him no surfeit, and Kirth makes sure Viole will never sate himself in a satisfying climax.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day #84

Since the first couple weeks of school I've been trying to get Priceless tested for special ed services. She is incapable of writing her own name. There is no way she belongs in sixth grade. I've been watching her carefully to try and figure out how she got this far, and her MO is pretty ingenious: she's quite crafty at moving her eyes around and copying work from a variety of papers. She'll copy #1 from one student, #2 from another, and #3 from a third. She's incapable of reading, but she can copy letters and shapes reasonably well.

And when I say "incapable of reading," I don't mean that she's a couple years below grade level. She is literally incapable. I knew it the first week of school, and submitted a form for testing. Nothing happened.

Then, her behavior went off the rails a couple weeks ago. Apparently Priceless has had enough of the frustration, and she's decided to force the school system to help her. I had a parent conference with her mother and father and the first thing they said was "she doesn't belong in regular ed. She can't read the TV Guide."

So today Priceless was tested. She is below kindergarten level in reading and writing. Her math skills are immeasurably low, off the charts.

I love Priceless. She is one of the most charming and pleasant children I know. She is strong and athletic and lovely, and when the boys call her names or make fun of her I wish I could knock their blocks off. I will miss her when they take her out of my class, but she needs help beyond what I can provide in that gonzo 2nd period class.

How does a child slip through the cracks for this many years? I can't help but think she's simply being passed on from grade to grade by people too lazy to fill in an SST form.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 83

I can't believe we are still not quite halfway through the school year. UGH!

Today we met with the family of the kid who pushed me. As expected, the administrators failed to file the paperwork Friday, so nothing happened. What should have been a 45-day suspension is now down to 3 days because of delayed paperwork. Next time the Big Cheese gets all up in my grill about not completing my data binder or changing my bulletin boards on a schedule I'ma say "Yo, you didn't do the paperwork on that punk ass bitch who put his hands on me, and it turned his long-term suspension into a long weekend." This kid is liable to put a chair in someone's cranium because he got away with it this time.*

I kept several kids for long detentions yesterday and today. Yesterday I made them listen to Hindustani classical music--flute and sitar ragas, vocal ragas, long tabula solos--and the same punks were back again today for more. So today we listened to 45 minutes of Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys. Tomorrow I'm thinking Frank Zappa, Sun Ra, or John Denver. Or Penderecki.

The kids are really chaffing under the "teach to the test" stuff we're doing. The Maryland State Assessments are in March, and the school big-wigs are in a tizzy about raising scores because our school has failed to meet No Child Left Untested standards several years in a row. If we don't improve substantially this year we can get zero-based, which means the administrators get shit-canned and the teachers have to re-apply for their jobs. Of course we don't have any administrators: our "principal" is really an acting vice-principal who is retiring anyhow this year, and our only true vice-principal was shit-canned from the Book last year after failing to stop the bleeding over West Side. We have been doomed to fail because we are short about 20 special educators and nobody is giving us the funds we need to hire up. But still the higher-ups run around with their hair on fire making sure I'm re-teaching main idea and literary analysis skills for the billionth time to kids who can't read or write grade-level sentences. Kafka couldn't script this shit.



*His father and mother to their credit made their son make eye contact and apologize to me, after he tried to lie and say he didn't do it. The videotape proved otherwise. The father hugged me and thanked me for how I handled the situation.

Monday, January 25, 2010

#2



I try to keep my reading material relatively high-brow for the most part, but occasionally I like to bottom feed. I enjoy conspiracy theories, books about aliens, true crime, hauntings, etc. In Nothing in This Book is True, But It's Exactly How Things Are I've plumbed the absolute depths. This is by far and away the worst book I have ever read. It is confused, pointless, meandering, and achieves spectacular new degrees of non-sequitur. Next to this a book like Intruders by Budd Hopkins is The Golden Fucking Bowl, and Whitley Striber's Communion is À la recherche du temps perdu.

But even a piece of shit like Frissel's can be accidentally entertaining at points. I like the stupid ass excursion into the Eye of Horus trainings inflicted on priests by Akhunaton, and the long story about Grey Aliens from Mars taking over half of Atlantis was rather amusing.

Reminds me of Uncle Area 51, who when drunk on vodka bloody marys will first disparage minorities, and when that's finally out of his system he'll tell you about the Philadelphia Experiment and his buddy who ended up embedded in a bulkhead 30 years in the future for a while. Or about the German homeless guy who used to come into the bookstore and call me "Mr. Communist Man" because I was always tasked with ejecting him. He said he was running for Congress in North Carolina, but for some reason chose Towson, MD as his base of operations. One day as we were ejecting him for annoying patrons he complained that we were destroying his 'files.' The 'files' were a bag of coat hangers and a hand-written list of every US president including party affiliation and eye color.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

netflixed



I was totally sure this would suck because it had all the earmarks of that crashing disappointment "The Blair Witch Project," and one of the stupidest titles in cinema history. "Paranormal Activity"? Give me a break. It reminds me of the days in the late seventies when grocery stores stocked "generic" novels with titles like "romance" and "western" and "action."

But I was pleasantly surprised--or unpleasantly surprised--in a good way. "Paranormal Activity" is like a really good episode of a bad TV show I sometimes enjoy called "A Haunting," but without the cruddy cheap thrills. The premise is entirely ridiculous, because no muthafuckas in they right minds would stay 30 seconds in a house after collecting physical evidence of demonic visitation, and nobody would sleep with the lights off and their fucking bedroom door open either in that situation. But in horror films you automatically suspend disbelief anyhow and accept the rules as they are. I had fun with it, though it brought back bad memories:

When I was 9 years old my mother married my stepfather and we moved from my grandparents' house to his house in Reisterstown. My bedroom was in the basement of the new place. One night I woke with a crushing presure on my chest. I could barely breathe and was trying to scream but nothing would come out. Suddenly I started doing involuntary sit-ups of a ridiculously violent nature, and the entire bed shook like a wildebeast was tramping around. Then as quickly as it arrived the pressure was gone and I screamed bloody murder. My stepdad came downstairs in his saggy tighty whities and put me back to bed and let me sleep with the light on. His kids were by that time all teens and he probably thought "Jesus, what have I gotten myself into with this one?" This experience is of course not uncommon--it's in fact archetypal--and though I'm a skeptic crazy phenomena have happened regularly throughout my life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day #80

I'm trying to finish up some reading with my last period class; they're always rowdy because it's last period and they are fired up for the end of school because they are children and they have to sit for 90 minutes straight four times a day without recess or gym. They are easily distracted, and some jackass is flashing the lights in the hallway. I go outside and there are two 8th graders I don't know crouched on the floor with their hoods up, flicking the switch. Ms. G the AP is down the hall and she says "Mr. Godfrey, find out who those punks are flicking the lights!" I approach them and they creep off toward the stairwell.

"I don't know these children," I shout back.

"Take a picture, then." I approach the boys and advise them to clear out the hallway because Ms. G is going to nail them. They ignore me. I go get my Kodak YouTube camera and I start recording. By now the boys are back at the light switch and they have their hoods down. They see me filming and jump up. One of them pushes me. I can see from these boys' eyes that I need to make careful decisions. Normally if a kid pushes me I drop him on his neck, but these kids are expressionless, tight-eyed, and I don't know them. I shout "You best not come at me like that outside my room! Get away from the door!" And I keep walking toward them with the camera out. They cover their faces again and move away, muttering "We're gonna fuck you up and break yo damn phone bitch." I keep shouting "Roll out! Roll out! Roll on out of here, get away from my door!" Then I call the office and report them, but nothing happens, which is typical. Ten minutes later at dismissal they are still outside my room. I am joking with the hall monitor about a kid pushing me and she says "I know that boy, show me the video" and I do and she calls the director of our Emotionally Disturbed program. He is at an all-week training and apparently these were two of his kids who flew the coop because he was out. This man doesn't play--he throws 350 around at the gym like it's a balloon or something. I once walked past the cafeteria when the ED kids were having lunch and a kid flew through the swinging doors and 8 feet across the hallway before landing on the floor because the director threw his ass. The social studies teacher later said that this boy was serious bad news and that I was lucky he didn't attack me. Then he said write up a report and he'll get 45 days for assaulting faculty.

We'll see. Three years back several students bashed a teacher's head in with chairs and desks at my school and they were back in school the next day. That teacher is still getting reconstructive surgeries.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day #79

As an insomniac, it's not uncommon for me to go to sleep at 10:30 and wake up at 1:00am or 3:00am and find myself unable to sleep. I'm typically too tired to read at those times, or to do any kind of work, but I can sit and watch infomercials sometimes.

I think I have this problem because when I was young I found myself most productive and creative between the hours of 1am and 3am. I'd do most of my writing then. Now, practical concerns prohibit me from writing at that time, but my unconscious says "fuck you" and wakes me up anyhow.

I've become better of late at getting back to sleep. I wake, look at my clock, and then manage to sleep until 4:40 or 5:00am, at which time I just get up for work. This morning, however, I slept all the way until my alarm at 6:00, which never happens. It fucked up my whole day. I felt rushed and sleepy. Here's how it happened:

I thought I awoke as usual at 1:00 am and looked at my clock, but actually it was part of a dream. In the dream I could tell I wasn't going to get back to sleep, so I got out of bed and got in the car and drove off to Gettysburg and thence to Fairfield PA. My maternal grandmother, dead nearly two decades, was at her house. I got in the back seat of her nasty old green Oldsmobile with the green sparkly plastic seats and she drove me into Gettysburg to buy vitamins. People were staring at her when we stopped at red lights because she was wearing that silly hair covering many hard-core Protestant women out in the PA sticks wear to church.

Then, somehow, I was in an episode of 30something, hanging with the cast. We were in Seattle, however, rather than the show's setting of Philly. I was impressed with Seattle, never having been there in real life. There were gigantic rocky formations with buildings on them which I knew would collapse in a heartbeat with the slightest seismic activity. And there were gorgeous old stone buildings with ornate sculptures and roses everywhere. Dream Seattle is an awful lot like Rome. I even thought "why do I live in Baltimore when I could live here?"

Then I woke up and looked at my clock but it was still in the dream. My clock in the dream read 4:30, and I was amazed at the dream I'd just had about Seattle, and decided to get out of bed. Immediately I was in a train station and exploring the back rooms there. I had a fascination with trains as a child, and this obsession came back and then my alarm went off for real and I was terribly confused because I thought I was already out of bed, and this confusion lasted all through the day today, with students shouting and throwing things and jumping on my neck, but unfortunately the alarm never went off.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

illimitable dominion over all...


Had I known in advance, I'd have snuck a bottle of cognac and some roses onto Poe's grave myself. It is, after all, only a mile or so from my house!

Day #77

I'm nearly half-way through my contractual obligation to Baltimore City Schools. I'm wiped out when I leave the building every day, I feel overwhelmed and hopeless 90% of the time, every new idea and strategy quickly comes apart, all my clothes are marked with ink stains, I put up with violence and continual disprespect. I wonder if I'll stay after next year?

Hard to say. As tough as teaching in the City is, I'm certain I'd hate teaching in the County more. Who wants administrators and parents up his ass every day? And they pay less, too! So if I don't teach in a public school, what the hell else would I do? I'm tired of drifting from job to job. I'm not going back to that adjunct faculty bullshit, that's for sure. I guess I could get a PhD, but that's a rat race too, with little reward at the end.

So maybe I'll end up deciding to hang in Baltimore for a while longer. If I get my shit together and take the Praxis in French I could teach another subject and mix things up that way, and perhaps moving to high school would help make it palatable for a bit longer. Of course after 4 years of dis-use my French language skills are in the shitter...but the amount of reading/grading/planning required for English classes is a real drag. How do people do it?

Maybe after B'more I'll find another type of teaching challenge, maybe on an Indian reservation, or at an international school, or on an overseas military base school. I need to start thinking about it because if I'm going to look for another gig after the 2010/2011 school year, next summer is the time to start planning.

#1



Hey, look! I finished a book for the first time in a month.

When I read about the Gormenghast novels before deciding to tackle one, they were often described as 'Dickensian.' I suppose that's due to the huge number of characters and the fact they are set in a gigantic crumbling manse.

I would call Titus Groan 'Melvillian,' however, because the narrator's voice and the characters are damned peculiar, and the style shifts regularly from breezy and humorous to Gothic and morbid at a moment's notice. Melville, however, had concerns about good and evil (at least in the couple of books with which I'm relatively familiar); Mervyn Peake lets very little light into his dark palace.

Most of the characters in Titus Groan are neither good or bad. Their roles are limited by their place in the functioning of the castle Gormenghast, which for centuries has been ruled by the Groan family. The cook cooks, the keeper of the gallery dusts sculptures, the Earl's chief assistant fulfills his duties. When a male heir is born to the 76th Earl at long last, things begin to go haywire, and an unexpected struggle for power and influence begins.

I'd recommend this with qualifications. It's a very moody, atmospheric novel, and surprisingly interesting. But it is tedious at points, with dozens of pages dedicated to characters climbing around on roofs or climbing walls. I may wait a while to tackle part two of the trilogy. I must admit, however, that I'm quite interested to see what happens next.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day #78

man, after two days off sick I will still quite weak and woozy, but the kids cut me no slack at all. They were clinging on me, jumping on me, hugging me, asking where I be at--I very quickly had to get back in the swing of things. By second period they were frustrating me and seriously getting on my nerves and I lost my cool a bit and called some kids "dummies," which i hate doing, but it always gets their attention, and they were justified in saying back "we ain't dummies," to which I responded "then stop acting like you are." And we were cool again.

But despite the desperate, cloying neediness, it's nice to feel needed, and to be missed. The kids said rumors were going around that I got locked up or was dead, because G. don't take no sick time.

Go RAVENS!

We're off this evening to impose on John and Leesha in Manhattan for a couple of days...over and out!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

interlude

please excuse the short hiatus here, result of a viscious flu which struck @ 1am Wednesday and is now finally allowing me to eat solid foods such as crackers and toasted bagels.

I return to work tomorrow ten pounds lighter and concerned about the state of my class room.

This weekend, off to NYC.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day #76

Hey Moe! is a wild man. He'll tell me at the beginning of class that if he doesn't get his way, I won't get any teaching done. Then he'll start running amok until I either send him to the office or stand in front of the room with his head under my arm (for some reason he enjoys this--he's like a duckling or something with his head under a wing--if he stirs all I have to do is knock my knuckle on his head and he'll stop and stand still).

But his behavior has been more ridiculous than ever of late. Today his mom brought a bag to class after I phoned her up for the umpteenth time. Inside was a loaf of bread, a packet of corned beef, and two Pepsis. "Here is Hey Moe!'s lunch for the next few days. If he don't act right I want you to eat it in front of him."

All day I threatened Hey Moe! He got out of his seat without permission: "I'ma eat your food!" "NO!" he'd say, rushing back to his chair. He started folding up a paper football: "I'ma eat your corned beef!" "NO!" Paper football in the recycling bag, just like that!

Of course I don't eat beef. But I can give his sandwiches to other students. I'll use any trick available.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day #75

Meeting after school today for the Language Arts teachers. We have to teach to the tests for the next two months: no novels, no literary fiction, nothing of value. Everything has to be the bland sort of social studies or science informational articles found on the tests. Any fiction must be clear-cut and a couple levels down from grade level for skills practice. Any writing must be Brief Constructed Responses. Yawn. If that's the case I'm not teaching anything. I'm setting up stations around the room. The kids can move in groups from station to station, reading here, writing there, working on web quests over yonder. I'ma sit back and watch them practice and tally their scores at the end.

The only skills we haven't covered yet are drama and poetry, and I'll tie those up this week. From now on it's rehearsal for the No Child Left Behind data dump.

AFTER the test we'll do some creative and fun stuff. You know, like learning.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

dream

after a long hiatus, my dreams have been particularly vivid of late. here's one from this morning:

I'm at band rehearsal, but I can't get my guitar tuned. Someone has taken the strings off and put them back on out of order. The lead singer is losing patience, the drummer has a short time-frame, and the cellist borrowed my car to go to a sorority reunion. We are learning a Christmas song, even though it is January. Rehearsal is not successful.

I leave my guitar there and ride my bike toward home. I can see the entire City from the hill we are on, and I notice it is pitch black except for the headlights and tailghts of cars. I stop at a convenience store but it is closed because of the power outage, and someone steals my bike. The cellist in the band is there. She has taped a large cardboard sign on my car which reads "This is not my car! It is inappropriate to write on it!" There are Greek letters in black magic marker all over its tail and doors and roof. I can make out "ανθρωπος" and "Ελληνική" amongst the typical tripartate combinations of Greek sorority designations. We talk briefly and then I continue my walk.

I follow a train line which runs down the middle of the street. Quickly I am the only white person around. Small chidren playing on the tracks are picking up chunks of cement and rail spikes and flinging them in the air. Some come close to hitting me. Soon there is a peculiar bazaar on the tracks, with ornate carvings, gold chains, and sizzling unidentifiable meats in abundance. At this point the figures around me are not merely of indeterminate race, but they are of indeterminate specie. It is like "The Horror at Red Hook." I wake.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

netflixed



Given the choice between lobotomy or seeing (500) Days of Summer again, I would unhesitatingly choose lobotomy. I spent 90 minutes waiting to see what all the fuss was about, but nothing materialized. Just another stylistic pastiche of Amelie, with music-video vignettes cobbled together by hipsters intent on sharing their preference for things like The Smiths, Hall and Oates, and actresses whose affected lack of affect is cloying enough in holiday films featuring elf costumes, but far worse in starring roles with too much screen time. Fuck this movie.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Day #74

We had a two-hour delay today. I rolled up to school about 8:30 (didn't have to be there until 9:30, but I had stuff to do), and there were dozens of kids milling around outside. I told them "y'all don't have to be here until 9:30, go back home!" But they hate being at home. They'd rather stand around in the cold for a couple hours.

Only about a third of the students showed up today, rendering all lesson plans moot--what's the point of teaching something new and reading ahead in the book if most of the kids aren't there anyhow? The classes were all dramatically shortened to boot, and student behavior was even more off the hook than usual given the short day and imminent weekend. So today was a throw-away.

I made them do warm-ups and then let them play with my laptop and the other PCs in the room. Some kids worked on Study Island, others went to Primary Games. The ones on my laptop played with my iTunes, and dilligently wrote out a list of hip-hop songs they said I need. Apparently having only one Gucci Mane track renders me culturally inconsequential. The kids in my second period class asked me where the "nasty" videos of my wife and I were stored on the computer. There are no boundaries with these kids.

Six Faces got moved from Gen Ed to self-contained pending testing for emotionally disturbed as of today. Yesterday she told my class "You can do whatever you want in this school and nothing happens. I do what I feel like and I'm still here!" I told her something was about to happen and she didn't believe me. This morning as they took her away to the other side of the school she was crying and telling us she was sorry and that she would act right if we let her back. After 5 months of stabbing, kicking, bashing, stripping, cussing, running, dancing and otherwise disrupting classes, she has had several opportunities to act right.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Day #73

video

One of the coolest things about being a teacher is having an MO. Mine includes sneaking up on you in the stairwell where you're not supposed to be hanging out and taking video.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Day #71

Six Faces cussed me out and stormed out of class. She had an IEP meeting three weeks ago where heavy evidence was presented that she needs to be moved out of the general ed setting and into the emotionally disturbed wing. She had broken a child's two front teeth, sexually assaulted the phys ed teacher, and put on a strip-tease for fellow students in the locker room just in the previous couple of days. Her mother even requested she be moved to a self-contained setting, and still she sits in the gen ed class room. What needs to be done?

Last period she was confronted in the hallway because she had no pass by The Price is Right. The Price is Right is one of the toughest teachers in the building. She scare me to death. Six Faces cussed at her and The Price is Right was having none of that. Next thing I know Six Faces is kicking and punching and The Price has her by the arm and the fight is spilling into my room.

Like I said on the report I prepared for her IEP meeting: danger to self and others! This child needs more direct services than she receives in gen ed. She is very intelligent, but is incapable of controlling her impulses, even under a barrage of meds. Her impulses are violent and sexually aggressive. When she's in class no teaching can happen for anyone. It's getting ridiculous.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Day 70

Today wasn't nearly as taxing as I expected. The kids were talkative and energetic, but no worse than on a typical day--I feared conflagrations! I tried to ease back into the discipline instead of barking orders. We had a chill review day, trying to re-establish things we learned right before the Blizzard of '09 shut us down early for the holidays.

It was actually pleasant to see the kids again after a long break. They are so emotive and excited and eager to show off their new shoes and clothes and binders and bookbags that it's hard not to feel a bit of nostalgia for the holidays.

Of course not all the kids get stuff at Christmas (and some, of course, don't celebrate it). Many of the most marginal kids didn't show today, the biggest behavior problems, the ones whose home life is a perpetual struggle. I have a feeling these tough kids couldn't bear coming in and hearing or seeing what others got. Maybe I'm wrong, but the few hard cases who were in school today were actively bullying kids who got new shoes, trying to tear them down.

I drove Webster home after school and he said "Mr. G I think these bullies be packing* our new shoes and shit 'cuz they didn't get nothing and they takin' it out on us. It's like when we analyzed character in that book; I know what motivates them." We talked about this for a few minutes before pulling up to the intersection of North and Greenmount, where a pair of junkies were lighting a pipe in full view of heavy daytime traffic, right at a bus stop full of middle and high-school kids. "Look at them junkies," Webster said. "I wonder what would happen if I ran over and hit that pipe out they mouths?"

*"packing" is an East-side colloquilism which means to criticize or ridicule

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Year We Make Contact



Had a pretty chill New Year's by our standards: no big all-included night at a swanky restaurant or club; no hot DJ; no live band; no Auld anything. We went to a party after 10, mingled a bit, danced for 20 minutes, then rushed downtown to see the fireworks. We arrived just in time for the opening barrage.

The initial sequence was so spectacular that an enormous thick cloud of smoke a mile high formed over the Harbor. All subsequent incendiaries were launched into this cloud, making them difficult to discern. On the pier there was much grumbling from the gathered few who braved the chill rain; but I actually found the show more dramatic because of the thick smoke. It looked quite apocalyptic, like photos of distant nebulae taken by Hubble's zoom lens, but alive, with bright bursts hidden behind screens of moiling dark matter, only a few sparkly tendrils cutting through. Fun! The display was akin to that at Fort McHenry in 1812, and went on almost as long. After the fireworks we went home and played Word Twist on Facebook. But after a two-hour deep-tissue massage during the afternoon, it was hard to do much else.

2009 can suck it. Aside from travel to New Mexico and Peru and the disappearance into rapid obscurity by G.W. Bush there were few positives, and far too much turmoil and tragedy amongst friends and loved ones. 2010 will be different--that's my only resolution.