Saturday, December 5, 2009

Random Rants and Snark II: Everybody's A Critic

Just because you shouldn't say it doesn't mean it isn't true.
"I am not a victim" he sings. He's not a singer either, it seems. Still, I listened attentively as one of my least favorite interviewers interviewed a singer/songwriter I'd never heard of before, hoping that the next musical interlude would be better than the last, and make suffering through the excruciating interview worthwhile. I actually sympathized with Terri Gross! Vic Chestnutt's responses were typically a bit, er,uh... unnuanced at most, and he used the word "strange" a lot to describe his creative process. In the hands of a gifted interviewer and editors, the pain could have perhaps been lessened, but, given the circumstances, the interview was as bad as the music. The lyrics croaked against a backdrop of curious though evocative arrangements reminded me of the self-indulgent slurry I wrote as an angst-ridden adolescent (and I've got the journals to verify it.) This guy's thirtysomething I guess, and he has a record deal for this?
He is a quadriplegic as a result of his driving drunk. I'm guessing that the backstory is the actual story here. That's too bad.

Snuggling up with the right to free speech feels all warm and cozy, like velour on cold toes.

And just because it's true, doesn't mean you should say it.
As I struggled to explain to my toddler pumpkin why you shouldn't say "That man is very fat!" really loud while pointing from his seat in the grocery cart at a fellow shopper, I felt sad; like I was introducing the end of innocence. Until then, he'd learned by parroting back the things adults had encouraged him to, physical descriptors usually, taught like every other baby (to some degree or another) in the western hemisphere-Dog. Cat. Big. Small. Man. Lady. Fat. Tall. Until then, his effusions had elicited mine: "Good job!" "Yes, pumpkin that is a big dog!" Having to explain to him why saying "That man is VERY FAT!" is not the same as saying "That man is VERY TALL!" was sad but necessary. It's our job to give them roots and wings, and that means civilizing them, passing on society's value judgments, so they're not rude, crude and socially unacceptable. It is, as they say, what it is(sniff, sniff).

Education, is what it is.

Recently, I spent a considerable amount of time in an urban school setting with mostly young, eager, and white aspiring teachers and mostly black elementary school aged charges in Shaw, a neighborhood so dubbed in downtown northwest DC. It was a very educationally enlightening experience. Among the things I learned:

1. re Teaching in DCPS--IT IS NOT AS BAD AS YOU HEARD. It's far, far worse. You know that friend of yours who's a teacher that you haven't seen in awhile? Love 'em up(at least shoot 'em a text); have groceries or Chinese food delivered. Chances are, they're suffering, and would really appreciate the act of kindness. Some, ever dedicated, would prefer you adopt a class or support classroom projects instead.
Teaching is, depending on the age of the kids; laborious, physically intensive, humiliating, emotionally and physically draining, psychically and physically threatening work. Sporadically, it's even rewarding. The chicanery and buffoonery at DCPS, ever prevalent even in the era of the much (and often) ballyhooed Michelle Rhee (check your local listings)adds insult to injury: barely survive as a civilized being-- what with the sleep deprivation, exhaustion and dayslong kid-inflicted humiliation, and all-- and then not even get paid the full pittance you're due for the privilege?! Oooooh, my spine shivers.

(I wonder if the hundreds of teachers laid off a few weeks ago were the same ones who didn't receive full pay during the first pay period this school year? Naah, too sensical or efficient for that bureaucratic morass on North Capitol Street.)

2. It's the parents that need teaching, not the children! Seemingly little nuggets of information like, why a bag of peanuts and a bottle of water from the corner store by the bus stop is a much better breakfast choice than a honey bun and bottle of fruit punch, go a long, and potentially much longer, way. Imagine the behavioral implications of nutritional aspects in the classroom; little, malleable, still-new brains learning how to conduct themselves and control sundry body parts and processes, fueled by refined carbohydrates and assorted chemicals coursing through their bloodstream. Multiply by 20; add 1 inexperienced, overworked teacher. What do you get?
(That's assuming eating breakfast was even an option, of course.)

Finally, just because you don't say it, doesn't mean it isn't true:
He brought over Sam Adams; she only had pilsner glasses. The relationship was doomed before its start.


Monique said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monique said...

Yes, I do enjoy text messages from long-lost friends, even if I don't have time to reply. And of course, all teachers need food to keep us going through these 15 hour days.


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