The No Cheers Reference Blog of Bar Lovin’ (With More Ego Than is Necessary).

So, I had this idea…

I was going to write a trilogy of appreciative articles about specific spots that I’m particularly fond of in Carrollton, Georgia. On a whim I’d submitted an enthusiastic piece about the Highland Grill to a local paper called Squared. They accepted it and were kind enough to intimate that more wouldn’t be unwelcome. I followed up with a rambling and meandering prose-ode to Underground Books that was warmly received immediately prior to the folding of that paper. I posted that piece here and gave it to Underground to use as they see fit.

Before I’d heard of the demise of squared I’d penned approximately one and a half of my pseudo-review style approach for The Alley Cat bar. It sits now in all the cyber-dust of all my I-don’t-really-care-for-it writings. It edged towards a good point, but missed the mark. It might have worked for a public consumption publication, but it wasn’t what I really liked writing.

I don’t care much for journalism. It could be my distaste for objectivity. It could be my love for dear, old Hunter S’s Gonzo. It could be as simple as knowing that I couldn’t spell out “fuck”, regardless of the context. I enjoy certain limitations in writing, revel in them even; but there’s seven words, at least, that I don’t appreciate being taboo. Choosing not to use them is something that I’d rather reserve for myself, and I may not use them further in this piece; but, they could appear. We can embrace that possibility. Further, we can run with the thought that this is not journalism. I’m no journalist. That should be evident thus far already.

What I do like writing are these ridiculous phrasings that strike me in some manner (hoping, of course, that they strike someone else as well: “The moon tonight is round and full, brilliant, glimmering between whisps of clouds like a white-cotton panty shot in front of the nudie-tent at the fair.”) See what I mean? Even if I sound like I’m ripping off Tom Robbins (maybe, especially if I do) I like the feel of that. Strong journalism has little need of white-cotton panty shots. Shame, that.

I’m currently listening to Neil Young’s soundtrack to Dead Man (of which Robert Ebert once accused as sounding like a man continually dropping his guitar) and I’m wondering how I might write of Alley Cat to a few people who probably won’t make it there. The soundtrack is incongruous, to say the least. Interspersed with Neil dropping his guitar are conversations with Iggy Pop and Billy Bob Thorton, Johnny Depp reading Blake poetry, and sounds of car-doors and motors, all made for a fantastical wild west story told by Jim Jarmusch.

Journalism be damned. I’ll meander as I choose. You’ve been warned.

The Alley Cat is comfortably crowd-beaten and worn in a manner that reminds me of old rock and roll’s incorporation of honky-tonk; the feeling of something new-shaped to a long sense of individuality and sub-culture. There’s an immediate comfort there for a certain sort of mind; say, that mind that knows the comfort of a dirty David Lynch red, lit by a make-shift lamp and shifting hallways. Alley Cat and this Dead Man soundtrack coalesce for me. They both feel appreciated, but only in that sense that allows instant kinship of seemingly divergent ideas. Lovers of Alley Cat may not be of that David Lynch red-loviness, but I have the sneaking suspicion that they’ve something of that side-ways glance of appreciation towards things missed by all too many. Alley Cat, I think, may well be made of people (and, what’s more, people that might possibly, just maybe, be outside your norm- and what could be warmer?).

I could describe Alley Cat for you. I could tell you the words on the walls (Lynchian red or not). I could delineate paraphernalia above the bar, seemingly innocuous, meaningless, and rife with history all at once. I could talk of personalities. I could talk a little history, name a name or two. I could, in a pinch, resort to journalism. And where would we be then? Not here, decidedly. I could even bastardize Nick Cave: Alley Cat hangs the mermaids from the streetlights by their hair. That either swings or it doesn’t for you. Sorry if it doesn’t.

The owner plays classic rock predominately. I can appreciate this, but he’s got more working behind that, as we’ve talked music briefly. Behind his barfly brow, he’s got that subculture draw. I like the way he connects. He knows more than he lets on, I suspect. His ownership proves itself beyond mere deeds.

Here’s something fun: I never address him by name. I’ve heard him called by at least two different names. I don’t know which name I’m suited to call him. What I assume to be a college kid had asked me once what his name was, as he had given him three different names on different occasions. My esteem grew. I love a fuck-with.

I like my nameless friend (and friend he is, as I need no acknowledgement of reciprocation; his feelings toward me are merely moot). I’ve sat at that weathered bar and had that conversation that engendered understanding. Alley Cat is people. Busy nights and regulars relegate me to a
certainty of non-persona. I begrudge none of this. One on one pervades with this owner. He’s good people, and, I suspect, he loves individuals. Everyone is welcome at Alley Cat, don’t you doubt it. You’ll be welcomed there (and the menu will appeal).

Alley Cat is one of those rare (all too rare) locations that hold each to their own.

The best of you is possible there. I can vouchsafe this. Trust me to few things, but trust me to the best place to be yourself comfortably. Alley Cat is people. Alley Cat will accept you. After all, they let me in, again and again. It’s built already on the strong souls that love it, but it accepts each and every knows a treasure when it’s found,

Alley Cat is made of people.

Not for nothing; RIP, Mia:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjLSjsu6eEg

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged

Underground Books

Note: This piece was to originally be published by the now, sadly, defunct Squared magazine out of Carrollton, Georgia.

The lady taking my blood pressure stared intently enough at the gauge, listening through her stethoscope, before turning her face up to me in a look I found all too reminiscent of what I received from the dean when I showed up to my Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony wearing a dress. She started again, wearing even less of a poker face, before scurrying out to gather another nurse so that I might receive that same stare in stereo…two more times.

“You need to go to the hospital right now,” she said.

“Can I make a quick stop first, or am I likely to keel over in the parking lot?” I asked.

Grudgingly they acquiesced that I could run my fool’s errand as long as I got to the ER quickly for what they assured me was excessively high blood pressure.

I went and got my book.


My favorite quote pertaining to the importance of books and reading is, sadly, unprintable in this medium. The quote comes from the ever questionable John Waters*. The gist of the quote is the rather simple admonition that should you meet someone out and about and go home with with them, upon finding they own no books, do not engage in physically amorous activities with them. If you’ve seen Pink Flamingos you’re that much closer to the original sentiment.


I’m inclined to agree with the above paraphrasing and all too tempted to add to it by typing the statement: “people who read are better than those that don’t.”

Now, I don’t necessarily believe the previous statement to be true (I’m an each to their own strength kind of cat), but I’m increasingly curious as to what arguments might be presented to refute it. I’ll stand by it for the moment. Refutations can be presented to Squared via email and I recommend any and all grammatical inconsistencies just to keep things hopping.

Believe it or not, I sat down to write about Underground Books; but, oddly enough, the book mentioned above in the high blood pressure fiasco didn’t come from Underground. I’d ordered it online. It’s a sequel to a book that I purchased at Underground. You see, Underground doesn’t really do special orders on current and otherwise easily available books. It’s not their niche. If that upsets you, you’ve not met Josh, the ever-pleasant owner of Underground (seriously, so consistently pleasant that I’ve little doubt he could keep his cool and polite manner indefinitely in a Flat Earth Society convention).

Here’s the rub: I occasionally shop at Underground with a specific book in mind, but, more often than not, I like to empty my head a bit and peruse. I like to see what’s crept in while I was away; to see just what it is that I didn’t know I was looking for, to find that ever elusive new author that I can never understand how I’d never found before. And I like a nice place to meander in while I search them out. Underground delivers on all fronts, often making me feel as if I’ve failed somehow when I don’t walk out with at least one book.

I, myself, love character and Underground Books, just around the corner from the world saving Highland deli, has got character and charm to spare. The space itself is warm, a soft descent from street level, now coffee scented with old vinyl often crooning you ever forward, ever backwards amongst the myriad comforts of pages. Those better people of the reader community know the welcome of a new author, that beckoning ebb and flow of the mere possibility of a new book. Umberto Eco has said that an unread book is more valuable than a read book, but you knew that didn’t you? Of course, you did. They’re all right there. Just look under the wedding gift of the arch of books (further testament to the decency of character inherent there: anyone who might receive such should be weighed and measured as someone worthy of such a gift) or ask anyone working, or any of the regulars for whom Underground has had an appreciation night (with a superb band that my soul, bettered for reading, is battered all the worse for forgetting their name**).

I’ve always loved book stores (especially used, voraciousness always comes at a cost), but Underground has a comfort beyond your usual haunts (Gods help me, if they served beer with a noise rock soundtrack I might never leave). With hours like 11-ish to 7-ish you can rest assured inside that door is something beyond the mere making of a living.

Chances are, if you’re one of the better people always searching out some new books to add to the libraries of your past, you’ve already shopped Underground. If you’re further obsessed with the character and individuality of a comfortable space you’ve been back. But, if you’ve missed it (or even single and hip to advice from someone like John Waters) maybe you should visit.

Be a better person. Make better children.

*Apropos of nothing, but fun: my buddy Shawn Murphy, currently acting in New York, was once watching an interview with Mr. Waters when his father, who grew up in Baltimore, wandered into the room and stared at the screen for several seconds before making one of those odd chuffing sounds that emit from all of us at random moments of sudden mental cohesion and said, “I know that guy…I used to beat him up before school.” As Vonnegut was wont to say, “So it goes.”

**Mayhayley’s Grave. Dig:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp31Y56mvcw

Posted in Uncategorized

The Cover Letter That Almost Got Me a Job

Dear Sir or Madam,

My resume, I feel, and I think you may agree should you take the time to look over it, has a very nice layout. It looks sharp and the left handed column of achievements adds a certain savoir faire, if you ask me. The font, sizing, and spacings are respectable and even, quite possibly, very professional. When printed on that parchment-like paper in which ink seems to languish upon it veritably pops. My resume, however, just isn’t my friend in this particular instance.

For example, nowhere on that suddenly questionable document does it state that I spent some time as an assistant teacher to lovely group of second graders while attending a magnet school for the performing arts, studiously learning to differentiate strophe from antistrophe, commedia dell’arte, Russian realism, or even that troubling bout of Theatre of Cruelty; nor does it make mention of twenty-six credit hours in a college semester devoted to theater studies with active participation in four separate performance pieces. Also missing from this increasingly nefarious attachment are my occasionally lauded writing (MacEzra.com, should you be interested) and editing credits (NerdStreetJournal.com), or of that one instance of being acknowledge as being in the top one percent of student actors in Georgia.

Not that my resume is entirely lacking. It shows that nice, old faction of Phi Beta Kappa honors society, the proud inclusion of a Mensa membership, and the co-writing and acting in two award winning short films. But, that’s just not quite enough, is it?

Herein lies the rub: on paper, I’m not your man. But, in practice, in physicality, in reality…

To wit:

Minimum Bachelor’s Degree in Music, Theater, Education or related field.
Sadly, I fail you here. I’m short a degree, but not on knowledge.

Music, performing arts, or theater production background is desirable; knowledge of opera a plus.
My theater background is plentiful and ongoing. I’ve never lost interest in the arts and, while my knowledge of opera is not as extensive as I’d like, I can tell you that I wish Donizetti had written more than one really nice aria.

At least 2 years work experience in Education, Community Outreach, or Customer Service.
Twenty years in retail, I feel (after what seems forty years in retail), covers all of this in manners not even imaginable by people who have not worked extensively in retail.

Excellent written and oral communication, including public speaking.
You should hear me speak. You really should. Though not quite basso profondo my deep tones evince a warmness that is worth noting. My diction and enunciation should not be overlooked, either.

Patience, flexibility and friendly attitude.
I can, upon request, supply character witnesses of people that don’t like me that will never denote a lack of these attributes. These three points are ingrained in my philosophy.

Ability to work with many different kinds of people in potentially stressful situations.
Twenty years in retail sales and management. Ask me in for an interview and I’ll tell you some stories that you, as a reasonable human being, will doubt fully their authenticity.

Strong organizational and problem-solving skills.
I love solving problems. I like resolving situations. I enjoy work that requires thought. I do, however, believe that a messy desk is a working desk. Piles make sense to me.

Ability to meet deadlines and manage many projects simultaneously.
One Thursday in March of 2007 I had an hour-long lunch break with no phone calls to resolve any issues requiring my attention. I spent those moments in Ruby Tuesdays over sliders feeling a bit lost.

Good sense of humor and grace under pressure.
At the risk of hubris, I’ve got that. Ask me about that Heisenberg joke; it always makes me laugh.

All else aside, I’m interested. I long ago decided that art will always have a place in my life, regardless of what pays the bills. I’d like, very much, to blend my personal draw to the arts and my professional life. The aspect of incorporating a mantle of educator only sweetens the pot. Not calling me is a potential disservice to us both. I hope you’ll consider a man of resonant voice and thought that may not seem (on paper) to fully fulfill the parameters presented.

I attach two examples of my writing as I figure, “in for a penny, in for a pound.” I pray my ‘voice’ of these pieces does not invoke any sense of limitations, as these were written with other goals in mind.

Thank you (sincerely) for your time,
MacEzra

Posted in Reading and Writing

Five Ways the Internet is Lying to Us

I find the very idea that I would ever argue against the internet completely preposterous. As a pornographic panorama of information-wielding bits and bytes nearing infinity or some garden choked Eden of Golgotha it’s more than an input junkie such as myself could have ever hoped for in this lifetime. The internet’s previously unprecedented acceptance and methodical urging of semi-sensical meandering towards questionable knowledge, welcomed distractions, and utterly blessed inanities warms the very cockles of my heart and makes a single discouraging word stick in my throat (like that weird little tickle that a cough won’t catch, which Google will happily land you on methods to treat at home).

I love the internet. Seemingly, so does the majority of the world and some of those other cyberspace loving folks have helped to allow some rather glaring irritants into my electronic eye. (By the by, I’ll praise them later for muddying the waters, but now is for condemnation.)

Here’s a small, personal cross-section of how the internet is lying to us:

1. Forgiveness is essential to moving on. Nope. Forgiveness is great for moving on, but you needn’t forgive another person a wrongdoing to get past it. If you’ve been wronged by another there’s not a reason in the world to justify their behavior with your expectations of decency. What you do need to do is move past the occurrence without allowing it to continue to consume your efforts in a life that you find decent. You may need to forgive yourself for your complicity in the situation, but distancing yourself from a harmful person is more than enough to grow from the experience. Forgiveness may be divine, but people tend to define things through their opposites. Loving a certain behavior because you’ve dealt with its counter is not a sign of weakness, allowing it to recur and govern your life is. Hate as much as you like, but do so idly. Love actively.

2. Recognizing signs of indiscretion. Be aware, but be aware that hindsight is so much more encompassing. We project. We find exactly what we’re looking for. Twenty signs that your lover is cheating on you or that your best friend is lying to you are all well and good, but you’ll never be sure until after the fact. Every relationship is an island of shared experiences between two people. Recognizing white elephants in small rooms is a quality of perception generally reserved to perceptive people after the fact. We’re all experts when it comes to history, but every one of us is forging a new route through whatever every day. Don’t beat yourself up for seeing something later. Everything is later. Present tense only exists in literature. The rest of us figure it out after it’s already happened.

3. Nice guys finish last. No, they don’t. Nice guys are just nice guys. If they’re finishing last, they’re in the wrong race. If you perceive niceties as a weakness take a moment to consider that the cat before you may well be able to brain you like a baby seal, but does not do so as it’s not really polite. (It’s entirely possible; I’ve hung out with those cats and they tend to be groovy as hell.) If you’re lamenting that your friend is always dating the wrong people chances are that you’re merely misplacing your feelings as logical solutions to another’s emotions. Emotions are not logical. Even logical people are not logical. We are, largely, governed by emotions. In retrospect we may find inconsistencies and failings in our approaches. Being nice to people is rarely one of those things that classifies as a failing. Dicken’s didn’t entirely amend Great Expectations to allow Pip to end with Estella, but those of us that had those impossible crushes know: Pip was never going to marry Estella. Estella wasn’t merely wrong for Pip; she was a pain in the ass who could never have made him happy. Pip was a nice guy, but never quite grew up. As an amendment to my original statement, nice guys may finish last, but a nice man will not. A truly nice man won’t even whine about it.

4. Honesty is the best policy. Honesty is not a bad policy, but there are insanely numerous situations where it’s just not tactful. Sometimes, lying through your teeth and merely being supportive is the way to go. After all, just how much do you really know about anything? When a dear friend has obviously gained something from some artistic endeavor that leaves me in the lurch, who am I to point out that I find it to be pure drivel and seemingly formulaic? Situations and relationships dictate the level of your honesty. I don’t like lies; they taste oily, but I get them. I understand. Situationally. Telling me that you’re honest with everyone automatically makes me wonder if you’ve any empathy or if you’re one of those folks that simply know so much more than anybody else. There are friends of whom I respect their honesty and there are honest people that I suspect of merely being lightweight sadists with superiority complexes.

5. If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. This one makes my bile rise. The person that penned this little nugget of wisdom apparently studied little Buddhism or never bothered to extrapolate the scientific theory of relativity into the realm of consciousness. Or never heard of personal reality tunnels. Or, seemingly, had no respect for other trains of thought and tenets different from their own. Maybe they simply considered vociferousness and assurance of knowledge as measures of decency and thought while, quite possibly, condemning any acceptance of societal, cultural, and/or personal differences as weakness and ignorance. Maybe the person that proliferated this irritatingly glib and thinly veiled aphoristic horse-shit was just an asshole. I might forgive this guy. I might not. Honestly.

Posted in Uncategorized

Assholes abound.

If anger and hubris simply tasted better to me chances are you’d know my real name and face for a series of seemingly over the top responses for seemingly equally innocuous events. “In today’s news, a local man is accused of attacking a mother of three for ‘standing in the aisle of a supermarket, blocking traffic while talking on her phone’ and immediately thereafter attacking a man for leaving a cart in a parking space instead of walking it to one of the designated spots.” “Here’s one you won’t believe, Brenda: a man today is charged with beating another patron at a symphony concert for applauding before the conductor stepped down from the podium. It appears that this same man has also been charged with verbally accosting a patron at a movie theatre for checking their FaceBook page during the film and once forcibly ejected an audience member from a play for speaking too loudly during the performance.” “Later tonight listen to what this local man says about having his tires slashed for being double parked in front of a busy convenience store and why police think it might be related to another man’s damage to his car while playing loud music while pumping gas…”

Believe it or not, I’m not an intolerant man. Far from it, in fact. Like Woodrow F. Call, I, too, hate rude bahaviour in a man, but I will tolerate it. I’ve spent a fair amount of time not only trying to see the bunny in the famous duck bunny picture, but also looking to see if I could create a giraffe or fish in the midst of it, just in case. You see, I like different approaches and views. I love interpretation and subjective thoughts. Grey (or gray) areas thrill me. I’ve developed an occasionally ridiculous disinterest in yes/no, right/wrong, is/is not approaches and philosophies. Be forewarned, when someone speaks to me using absolutes a part of my brain checks out and starts daydreaming (and I fear I tend to daydream quite a bit, which, I further fear, is a form of intolerance unto itself).

‘Experts’, I fear, limit too much precisely because they know too much.

The point I’m so meanderingly driving at is that, as much as I believe in my own answers, I’m aware that they’re merely my own answers and not yours or his or hers or that guy that insists that I’m being close-minded by not more appreciating Metallica. I try, believe it or not, to think of you as I react in the daily desiderata, both yours and mine.

Here’s a desired and all too appreciated thing of mine, a pretty tasting ambrosia, honey-sweet on my tongue, a hubris so dessert-rich that my toes curl and I salivate Pavlovian at it consistently: according to a small number of tests that may or may not be ethnocentrically biased I test better than approximately 98% of Americans. On some charts, which may or may not be unfairly skewed, I roll a six and a five and land on the genius square. Be it ever so humble, my egoism wallows in this like so many heiresses at a day spa. Lest I paint myself so tolerant and loving of contrasting points of view, know here and without question that I’m far too prone and far too often tempted to “prove” that I know better than whatever random person in whatever random situation that may crop up. I’ve long since seen that it’s built into me to be a pain in the ass simply because I’ve read up on some things that others haven’t. I’m overly proud when I can talk of Baudelaire’s original French and red-shift in regards to the perceived curvature of space with random strangers that don’t leave their carts in parking spaces at grocery stores. Make no bones about it, I can be an elitist prick when the cards are down and the chips are counted.

In my defense, lest I now come across as too much an egotistical right-rotten bastard, I wish it to be known that my role model, my aspiration, arguably, the goal in my life, is the kind drunkard, the fantastical and utterly fictional Elwood P. Dowd. I love his exuberance. I love his acceptance. I love the way every day is something to be appreciated and every person someone to be known and loved. I love the way he’s found himself back at youth, unfamiliarity, and wonder. And what I wouldn’t give for friendly Pookah…

All this said (or at least written), what galls me most and grinds the gears of all my attempted acceptance is not ignorance. I’m reminded daily of my own ignorance (truly, don’t doubt). I can’t begrudge such; there’s simply so much in the universe that it’s currently possible to know that it seems to me that taking someone to task for their ignorance is akin to blaming them for the amount of melanin present in their body. Sure, you can study, read, learn, even tan, but ignorance is only present in regards to the situation wherein it arises. We’re all born in ignorance and I’m not convinced that we ever completely escape it. What drives me to distraction and cranks up that cantankerous, sputtering, and incongruously angry engine to daydreams of violence in a self-proclaimed pacifist are observed accounts of disregard and obvious disrespect for strangers.

Let’s take a side-bar here. Violence, in itself, does not bother me, per se. I find it rather natural. Violence in nature is not only abundant, but even copious. I believe that certain situations are only solved through violence. While I, myself, prefer to avoid it I don’t find it in the least unnatural. Further, I don’t find rudeness or poor behaviour inherently bad or see it as a detriment to humanity. Sometimes rudeness is not only called for, but, quite possibly, the best, and sometimes only, response to certain situations. In fact, I occasionally love a well-placed and thought-out act of belittlement and/or beat down. I’m okay with that.

But.

I’m generally offended by people disregarding the well being of other people of whom they have no knowledge or dealings. I may well assume, in meeting you in a mall store while buying pants (that I tend to wear too high) that you’re not very bright or not well read or that you believe things that strike me as ridiculous. Whatever my assumption, however, I will treat you with a courtesy that I would hope would be extended towards me. Whatever I may know, I’m certain that I’ve misjudged before and even more certain that I have no working knowledge of your history, your experiences, or even how you treat your dog (or kids) at home.

In short, I don’t know you. Need I really expound on this?

Here’s where this whole thought started: I am currently learning six years old. I now know precisely dick about six years old. As Morphine says, “There’s no map and there’s no clue…”

So, the kid is six and his sister is graduating high school and when it’s time for him to get ready he doesn’t understand why he has to dress up, why he has to comb his hair, why he has to go to such a boring event, be troubled in his otherwise easy day, and why his mother is getting upset with him for continually voicing these complaints and dragging his feet on getting ready. Maybe, just maybe, he’s wondering why I’m silent during all of this.

While we drive to the civic center to see this particular landmark of her daughter’s life I’m composing a speech in my head. It’s my plan to make six years old better see why we dress up, why we comb our hair, why we sit attentively at events that seem boring, but are solemn to others. I’ve got aspects of respect for others’ achievements planned in this speech; handy, but unverified, accounts of how some of these families are seeing someone from their family graduate high school for the first time and how it’s rude of us to detract from these proud moments just because we don’t know these people. I’ve got a whole bit in my head on how it’s beneath us to take away from someone else’s joy and pride in an accomplishment simply because we’d rather be playing a video game. “The game is always there for later,” I hear myself saying, “this is the one moment these people get to see this occur.”

“I recommend pleasant,” says Elwood.

When we get there I’m asked to remove my hat before I even gain admittance into the lobby of the event. I appreciated the implied solemnity. The ceremony commenced, the school band played Pomp and Circumstance (which should be remembered later in this rant) and lovely girlfriend’s daughter does a bang-up job on her introductory speech, speaking well and clearly, respectfully, rehearsed and poised (better, I dare say, than the valedictorian; and my pride is glowing, strong, and ridiculous as I’ve not reared her, but it’s there, all the same*). The principal then takes the dais and asks the audience (some thousand-plus guests of some three hundred graduates) to please hold their exuberance until the end, allowing every parent to hear their child’s name called in our current rite of passage into (or near, at least) adulthood (there’s an argument that as we get older we mature slower; it makes a bit of sense to me).

At which, rather dignified, point the vast majority of the audience then blew my speech of respect, honor, poise, and deference to the appreciation of an event towards strangers to that dear six year old boy completely to shit.

By logical approach, relevance of knowledge…utter, utter shit.

Clap, yell, holler, hoot, scream, squeal, even fucking noisemakers, man. A group of all ages absolutely disintegrated my argument to a six year old (from whom I expect such behaviour) on why we don’t all act six years old; which is to say why adults don’t succumb to the desire to act as stubbornly egocentric as children. Can you feel my pain?

Seriously, can you? This question frightens me as much as the idea of ‘experts’; equally defining, equally limiting.

Now, to be fair, I don’t remember much of my own graduation. I don’t remember feeling all too solemn about it, but neither was I going to fart during the proceedings. I knew some people saw it as special. I saw, too, the importance of allowing it to be so. Regardless of how I felt or still feel, I always believed some things to be important, in some manner, to some person, and I’ve often felt that it was imperative of me to not let that person down.

Now, again, maybe I was just obeying authority, but I feel that I was respecting something beyond myself, even if I didn’t fully agree. Westboro Baptist Church believes that they’re doing right (I’ll give them that), but I tend to remain silent in funerals in respect for the family and to try my best to respect event that are pivotal to whomever. Who am I to judge a baptism (or anything, for that matter) as erroneous when it matters to those involved?

My graduation, twenty-five years ago (and I was not baptized), is beside the point; it’s as obsolescent as Betamax at this time, but that crowd…that crowd…

That crowd disappointed me extremely. I counted only three student’s names of that some three hundred that I couldn’t make out, but three student’s parents wouldn’t have heard that name announced as an achievement of years of their parents’ labor and possible urging, pushing, tutoring, and gods know what. Take a moment. Who knows what these parents may have gone through to get their child to this point? It doesn’t matter if they did or didn’t. They might have. Until we know that they skipped every moment of merit they deserve our respect of trying. Defaulting to the idealism of parents wishing the best for their children seems to me a decent approach.

Then again maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe it’s not a big deal. Maybe the guests of those three students weren’t let down by that crowd. Maybe the guy behind me who wore his hat throughout it all didn’t step on anyone’s toes as cheapening the event, but in my ears, clanging with every name and diploma, was the complete and utter disregard for people with whom those clamoring could not envision as having the same pride and utter joy as their own; a complete lack of concern for anyone else attending for precisely the same reason they were there: to celebrate a child’s or loved one’s accomplishment.

Am I so old? Is this a dated idealism? Have I lost touch? Do I expect too much? I’ll yell and even hoot at a concert. I’ll take off my shirt and vest at a party. I’ll say fuck in front of the k-i-d-s. I’ll even take the last hot dog at a picnic, but I do try to not take away from another’s experience simply because I won’t see them tomorrow.

Previously I’ve talked about instituting four legal clubbings a year. One smack with a blunt, heavy object every season for whatever reason. I’m convinced that a polite manner towards strangers would necessarily ensue. Again, I could be wrong (I often am).

I’m sure I’m a little too idealistic. The crush of crowds funneling towards a narrow stairs at that event would never, ever turn into a revolving cascade of “no, no, after you,” but…Jesus, have I become so cranky? Can I have become so naive?

Here’s my deal: when I’m dealing with you I promise to keep in mind that your situation is beyond me. I’ll keep second guessing myself before jumping to the conclusion that you’re just another asshole until and unless you prove yourself to be just another asshole. In return for not being an asshole to you I would absolutely love for you to treat me the same. Here’s the kicker: it costs none of us nothing; not a goddamned thing except some occasional moment in line at a supermarket and in a parking lot or two and we get the added benefit of focusing our energies on those that are, indeed, proving themselves to be just another asshole.

Can you dig it, brothers?

And three more childrens’ parents get to hear their children’s names called out to a thousand people at graduation, reinforcing the lesson to a special six year old that people he doesn’t know and will not see tomorrow or the next day deserve at least the reasonable doubt that their wishes are just as important as his on some level.

*And, Jesus, Gods, Loki, Coyote, and who knows what, how do you commend a girl that you love whom you did not raise, did not sire, were not there for any of her youth? At nearly forty I know now that love is not limited by giving. At nearly forty I know that eighteen and six is even further from me as when I wanted to dye my hair blue to my current state of being okay with grey (or gray). For all my six and five rolls of the dice, I’ve no clue how to project this love with the assurance that it needs to be benefited from. I can only point and say, “Look! Look! There it is!”

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Save WRAS

Dearest readers, those of you round the Atlanta area may well be aware of the recent plight of Georgia State’s WRAS 88.5 (Album 8Smilie: 8). For those that are not aware, Georgia Public Broadcasting and the owners of the FCC license for 88 (not the students) have made a deal for $150,000 that allows GPB to broadcast their programs over the air during the hours of 5 AM to 7PM, relegating the 100,000 watt student run station (indeed, the highest wattage of any student run station in the world {a distinction now shared with Georgia Tech’s WREK}) to proceed with its long time platform (it was founded in 1971) to late hours and on-line streaming. GPB’s news and talk platform will run those hours just a few frequencies away from the Atlanta Board of Education funded NPR station on 90.1.

Bah and fie, say I. 88 has long represented something special to me (even when I was complaining about them like I did here). I love 88. They’ve long represented something sorely lacking in much of the radio I’m continuously finding reasons to avoid; namely: variety, freedom, change, and surprise.

My car doesn’t stream online radio and 88 has been the first preset station on any vehicle of mine since I turned 16. Even if I wanted to change it, there’s no other station that could couch that spot. I’ve surfed our radio and found it lacking time and time again. I’ve no intention of letting GPB take that away from me with some kind of squatter’s rights arguments without some kind of stance, however Quixotic it may be. I still think tilting at windmills is noble.

I’ve no delusions of grandeur (well, damn few, at least). Mine is not a column followed by millions; my voice little more than a bird fart in a forest of chirps and chirrups. Nor am I a neophobe, fearing change at every turn. If 88 falls prey to unwelcomed programming in those hours that I find it most convenient to listen, I’ll make do. I’ll get by.

I will, however, ask that if you have any interest or concern that you add your voice, name, or indignant consternation to the effort of keeping something so youthfully vibrant, esoteric, subcultured, so strongly individualistic that it has influenced an entire multi-cultured city for over 40 years alive, strong, and continually shifting through generations and generations of programers and deejays proudly disseminating the likes of which get shared few and little places else.

I encourage you to pen whatever comes to mind. I encourage you to sign this. I encourage you to write to any of these folks. I’m not a fan of anger, but if it winds your sails, blow vehemence. If you’d like, I welcome you to copy and paste the following, altering as you need, and sharing as you see fit.

Dear Madam(s) and/or Sir(s) at GPB,

I’m writing concerning what I fear to be an gross oversight in regards to the purchasing of air time on 88.5 fm. I’ve no misconceptions of the legality of your endeavors. You’ve committed not even the slightest tort in your procuring of key hours of air time in the Atlanta radio market. Even the fact that this procuring occurred without the knowledge of the heart, lifeblood, and soul of the unavowed operators of said frequency is without legal recrimination. You are absolutely and without a doubt within the proper parameters of the law.

But, you see, you never contacted me.

It’s important that you know; that you’re fully aware. I own Album 88. It belongs to me. It’s mine. It has been since a young unsteady hand turned the dial on my radio (when radios had dials) far to the left of those collected megahertz and found a space that took that hand and assured me that Hamlet wasn’t blowing smoke when he told Horatio that there was more in Heaven and Earth than was dreamed of in his philosophy. Ghosts resurrected on that channel and new voices bellowed through thin speakers in cheap cars, at questionable parties, in stolen moments between homework, love, and that endless endeavor to find out just who it was that was trying to do those things.

Under my ownership Album 88 has befriended and alienated more than I could count, has loved and adored, surprisingly, more and more year after year. Under my impeccable tutelage 88 has remained so frighteningly young and exuberantly curious as to garner the fear of those that succumb to the certainty of age (a lesson learned so well that my dear child of 88, taut and unforgiving, feels the need to remind me of daily; “Mere years,” 88 says, “don’t excuse your sudden exclusion”Smilie: ;). 88, as my progeny, as a product of my concern, as a continuation of my legacy as I egoistically see fit, has embraced and supported so many as to make CBGB, of now critical fame, redden in shame.

You should know, further, that, in this age of information overload, I’m well and fully capable of not only finding fair and balanced reporting but, also able to field throughout the myriad of fair and balanced reporting to find the balance of all said reporting. I can do that. I like to think that others possess this ability, as well.

I do not threaten. I don’t like it (it’s heavy-handed and not conducive to positive action, I fear). I do know, however, that GPB on 88.5 is not a news source for the likes of me. I wonder at the current efficacy of boycotts. Regardless, I simply will not be able to endorse such by any effort of my own.

I don’t begrudge you. I like what you do, I really do. I’ve no doubt that you’re good people. I wish you well. Elsewhere. I can’t be too clear on this. I wish you well in spaces otherwise not occupied by me and the radio station I own and love.

Obviously, Album 88 will never belong to you. Neither will 88.5 MHz. That belongs to me…and others. I know. We’ve bonded solely through ownership of it. They know who they are.

Sadly, what I fear you’ve not yet realized, and will one day bite back with surprising tenacity (I’m, quite frankly, hoping not too far in the future), is that many of us that own 88 own you, too. Making us choose children is a dangerous game.

Right now, Album 88 likes me, maybe even loves me. You see, adoptive benevolence ensures such. 88 is mine. Your claim of ownership is legal, but not moral. Your mistake has repercussions that rattle the window panes. You’re affecting more than is measured in market penetration and general decency. We need these things; we do, we do. We’ve all raised 88 to be something outside ourselves. We may not agree with the choices it makes, but we’ve given our best to add to the beauty of what once taught us that some things are outside of our norm.

Sincerely, with some fear, without animus, with this acceptance (that 88 taught me),
MacEzra

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The I’m an Idiot Diatribe.

It’s been a week and the general furor and guffawing has slightly abated in regards to two inches of snowfall in Atlanta turning to ice and immobilizing a ridiculous amount of people.

Now, I’m not here to set any records straight about whose fault it was, defend Atlantan drivers’ abilities, relate seemingly esoteric formulas for inertia, traction, and the freezing point of water. The alert, the government sound bites, the lack of public transportation, the attempted exodus of some million commuters have all been fully documented at this time. If you’ve somehow managed to miss any of this, a google search will offer more than you need to know.

Indeed, a google search may even turn up an article that avers that the Atlanta gridlock was actually due to racism. I’d link the article, but, quite frankly, I’d rather not contribute to any perceived success of that particular author. I read that article twice and I’m still trying to find a coherent and cogent reasoning to such a hypothesis.

Instead, I’d like to take a moment to talk about geography.

I’m a suburbanite, living where the folks in the ATL like to refer to as OTP (outside the perimeter). I’ve more than once found myself stymied by the fact that someone inside the perimeter of 285, upon learning of just where I reside, deriding my intelligence as obviously no IQ of any merit would choose to live anywhere but within the boundaries of some kind of hub. You with me so far? I have actually been accused of general stupidity for living in what some consider “the country”. (Please regard again the statement above of a rather suburban atmosphere wherein I purchased a home.)

Years ago, one night in a bar on an Alaskan cruise, I met a charming woman from the North East, toeing a Canadian border. We chatted agreeably for some time before she heard I was from Atlanta. “Nobody south of the Mason/Dixon line is intelligent,” she told me. I proffered my Mensa card and inquired as to hers. Didn’t matter. I was now a moron and she was no longer inclined to talk, pointedly telling me that I cannot be intelligent in any manner because I chose to stay in Georgia. Mind you, this was not a pick up attempt or anything other than two people chatting inconsequentially. It still galls me.

Fast-forwarding to poor planning and response to a snow storm in my beloved, international city and I’m once again inundated with the perception of the world towards the south as a racist, idiotic, inbreeding program with the overt intention of locking out any alien or new ideas, people, innovation, or art.

I’m at a bit of a loss here as to quash the idealism of southern racism. I’ve seen it here. I’ve seen in it in Florida. I’ve seen it in Vegas. I’ve even seen it overwhelmingly on Twitter in response to a Coca Cola ad on the Super Bowl (as near as I can tell, without any real amount of effort on my part, not centralized in my home state).

A coworker, again years ago, told me that his life’s goal was to move to Sweden where all the girls were incredibly hot. We took a moment to discuss genetics and the likelihood that ugly just might be a universal issue. He acquiesced to the idealism that maybe Sweden is not completely populated by large breasted blonde women with limpid eyes the color of the sky in Eden.

Now, arguing that you are not, in fact, stupid, and quite smart is in itself not at all smart and a losing battle. If you find yourself uttering the statement that you’re a very smart person chances are that everyone in the room will immediately doubt and find fault with just that statement. And, here again, I find myself arguing that I’m a well-read, eloquent, and rather intelligent person. Hearing myself say it and knowing that I live in the south, even I’m inclined to doubt the veracity of that stance. I simply must be a Bible thumping, homophobic xenophobe that questions equality, rights, evolution, and the possibility that transplants from other countries are American after moving here and having the audacity to keep their traditions and languages while endangering our children with their mere presence.

It’s worth noting at this point that I feel that every person is inherently prejudiced, just by the nature of the human brain and the actual definition of prejudice. We pre-judge situations based on our experiences. It’s the way our brains work; our brains like patterns and tries its damnedest to impose them, regardless of the logic or lack thereof.

Now, my pattern-forcing grey matter tends to look for decency and acceptance. I tend, therefore, to notice patterns of decency and acceptance. Maybe, I am a moron, my synaptic firings blocking out a massive amount of overt racism and obvious lack of cognitive abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I notice stupidity: in my home town, state, country, and world. Should we meet extraterrestrial intelligence, I’m betting that they’ve got a couple of groups on their home planet that they hope don’t introduce themselves to us first.

I don’t expect to solve a single thing with this piece or even alter a perception or two. I just wanted to take a moment to espouse the wish that we could finally get away from the practice of downing lumped groups simply because they have an abode in an area outside our own. I’d like very much to get away from the ridiculous response that the location of your house, apartment, or shanty is an indication of your mental acuity. It seems to me infinitely healthier to work on disliking people for the inherent stupidity that resides in all of us and how firmly we seem to grasp and greedily adhere to it.

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Fifty Shades of Ochre

Regardez vous, you most delicious reader you, if you’ve stumbled here resting puritan orbs where I’d welcome prurient sight. Those of Summer might avoid this one. Those of Winter might not see. And those of Spring might need to come back later.

The moon tonight is round and full, brilliant, glimmering between whisps of clouds like a white-cotton panty shot in front of the nudie-tent at the fair. She grins down through the crispening air at our seeming nascent sensuality. She is older, she’s seen more and seen it more often. Relax, good old Luna is not so quick to judge.

Spring sets all the birds and bees to buzzing and baiting, all the ovine beings to bleating, all the youth to reeling and feeling and feeling and feeling. Some speak of Spring as an aphrodisiac, the time of lovers. Their math may be off. I’ll not judge them.

Spring, I’m certain, is (if you’ll forgive me the use of complete assertion and assurance) just the unwinding, the final release of intemperate blood open to wallow in the warmth of the outdoors once again. Spring is the youth card in the Tarot deck, naive. Summer, a little older, more masculine, more extreme, likes to drip and seep. Winter, well, we’ll get there eventually. We always do.

Autumn likes to fall.

Right now, as the nights cool and sharpen their nipple-tipping touch, bodies know where to find their warmth and comfort. In their deciduous burlesque, all around us Nature adorns and drops her seven veils in a dance so maddeningly slow motion as to seem a tableau of almost nefarious temptation. While Dionysus prepared for his final fling I’d like to believe that Pan is just oiling up his pipes, but it feels wrong. I could be mistaken, but I think Pan is a summer cavorter. I can see that goat-stilted wild man at home in the ochres and oranges, rutting madly among the fallen leaves, steaming the air with more than his stink, but his brand of laughter is suited more to a humid green, I fear. This bothers me more than it should. Pan should encompass more of the feminine for me. Truly nefarious should be more far-reaching, all encompassing. To borrow a phrase, I’m just saying.

Truth be told, as the digits sink in Fahrenheit or centigrade, dear old Priapus (oddly enough, associated with bees; is anyone taking notes?) stirs at my altar. The chilled, star-filled nights with the moon waxing and waning and waxing again lead me more to the satyr-like rompishness that colors the serious only in youth or secrecy. And I wonder: youth and secrecy; are they dependent or do we open more in age? Bah, another blog…

Autumn. Even that word, with its erroneous ‘n’, speaks of an attempt at seduction. Nudity is heightened by obscuring. Salome didn’t drop that last veil to reveal (forgive me the steal) the peachfish. She knew, like dear Luna rolling majestically feminine around the world, that nudity is not the real reason for the burlesque: anticipation. Trust the myths, I say. Veils dropped are knowledge gained. Autumn knows the build to nudity and to play the game mischievously. Red and gold and orange, moister, somehow, than her counterpart of Spring, Autumn paints the face of our sub, un, and conscious with a wide sweep of cold air, putting to pasture that goat god stink that hung around so many secret pools, nooks, crannies, and crags of summer weather, revealing not the peachfish, but that profound desire to connect while the world spins in a fashion completely unbecoming to one smaller than Gaia. Venus is appreciated, but her volatile and rather vulpine glow belies her attempts at the very history of her name. She has no fall. Half a shell just doesn’t cut it here, I fear.

Ah, this weather stirs in me the parts that might be shamed; the taboo thoughts, the romp and laughter, the hot-tub nights, fires at twilight, and the confusion of love that I do so love. The soldiers of Summer, so long at the door, have retired to their weary beds. That cherubic innocence of Spring is now aging in that self-same wonder of that perilous moon (“Luna, Luna,” morosely intones that man with his lantern; he’s not worthy of her as Luna allows, she does not acquiesce without longing) dusting our dreams of what the man in the moon might really be doing there. Autumn, in its abeyance to the natural (what isn’t?) role to the (again) masculine decimation of Winter, welcomes the curves of your body, the edges of your desires, the folds of your psyche, the itch of your sexuality, and the twitch of seemingly limited and limitless humanity.

Carve your pumpkins, mock those evil spirits (they’re all human, by the way), give your thanks, but relish in the seasonal spin of Gaia’s Mardi Gras, the ancient party before the lent of Winter. Go love. It’s a great season for it.

http://youtu.be/gjH7KRz8aQk

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I Know It’s True…I Saw It In My Head.

Here’s a fun fact or three:

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
A steel rod of one meter measures 3.2808399 feet.
One ton weighs two thousand pounds.
This grass is green.
Murder is morally reprehensible.

I welcome and hope that any given reader hits these respective “universal facts” with the incredulity of any such statement allowing Miley Cyrus’ recent actions to have an immediate and measurable effect on the general expansion of the universe. (It’s worth noting that when blue shift becomes the norm in the whole light spectrum of the observable universe I’ll adapt that statement to “the contraction of the universe.”)

I may have to start with a rant, but, let’s try this instead:
Water boils at sea level, here on Earth, at 212 degrees American, dependant on air density. We were almost there on a factual level.

Any measure of one meter can be converted to a certain amount of feet, assuming that that measure is moving at the same speed during both measurements. Einstein fucked up that ideal of constancy with his rather pleasant (I feel) thought experiments and seemingly implacable math. Speed has been screwing with more than tweakers, it seems, since the birth of the universe.

Americans figured amputating a couple of letters would equate to 2000 pounds. A French tonne weighs in at 2200 pounds. The moon disagrees. Saturn guffawed and scoffed with gravitas. Gravity, it would appear, hates absolutes even more than me.

Green is relatable solely through the rods and cones of human eyes based solely on light refraction and absorption of whatever object we’re gazing, glassy eyed, over. Green is no more intrinsic to an item as is weight, speed, or boiling temperature. Besides, how many people asked why the grass was blue? According to certain sites, it was about 8% of men and about 1% of women.

Ah, murder: see, time, place, tribe, nationality, political idealism, and/or religion. I’ve no intent to take on morals and ethics here and now. You’re welcome to throw them in the comments below (again, welcomed), but I’m skipping that front. I put it up there only because five is more aesthetically pleasing to me than four, but I really didn’t have an interest in dealing with five “facts”.

No matter what you think, you are wrong. Inasmuch as I can define truth, the previous is a true statement. Much like me, you are now relegated to the realm of knowing shit about shit. Welcome. Take a look around. Make yourself at home. Sorry about the soundtrack.

Your years of experience, your trials and condemnations, your lessons, learnings, observations; your very knowledge of cause and effect are entirely suspect and not to be trusted. We might have blamed Socrates for this, but Aristotle bears the full mantle of this one, I feel and fear. I bet that bastard would have just loved Ayn Rand.

One day Heisenberg was driving along swiftly in his car when a cop stops him and asks: Sir, do you know how fast you were going there? Heisenberg replies: I’m afraid not, but I can tell you exactly where I was.

Can we really apply quantum theories of particles to the larger scale of human experience? I see no reason why not. If you’d argue that Einstein’s theory of relativity has no bearing on human experience here on Earth I’d ask how fast a ball is thrown to a friend on a moving train and I’d tell you to stop watching the pot at about 211 degrees Fahrenheit or we’ll never get to the tea.

What kills me here is that we’re not even dealing with areas of faith, belief, philosophy, or taste. Some Roman cat quite some time ago (relatively speaking, of course) admonished that “one must never argue matters of taste.” Yet, here we are Pope time 2013 and someone out there is absolutely certain that I’m simply full of shit. The “fact” that they’re absolutely correct has no bearing on this rant…or maybe it does. At any rate, I’m amazed at the seemingly inexhaustible ability of random people to completely disallow another’s different point of view in even the most subjective of experiences.

A judge decides to change a child’s name because said judge doesn’t like the idea of a child called Messiah. Personally, I think it’s a great name. I’d call him or her Messy for short. It’s cute to me. I’m almost sorry the term “white-hispanic” didn’t work its way into the general lexicon of media led “search” for “truth”. These news items are all old hat and all but passé now, of course, but the number of people that I ran into that “knew” enough to be so self assured in their assertions as to allow them the hallowed status of “facts” astounded me.

Which brings me to two new theories about humanity: assurance of knowledge will continually slow the way towards understanding, abysmally gapping the bridge of deeper connectivity and that people aren’t wearing enough hats. It’s there to see if you look for it.

Assurance of knowledge is such a bitch because, historically, people don’t like to be wrong. We’re hard-wired for it somehow; which is funny when you think of it. We’re so often full of shit and only wander into the oasis after jumping into so many mirages. We know. We’re sure. We’ve seen. And, “Oh, we forgot to carry the one,” we sheepishly say, “Sorry ‘bout that.”

I say start doubting yourself every day. Be proud and driven, but keep that small voice in the back of your head calling you an idiot as an ally. That voice just might be right. And, in doubting yourself, you’ll find that the talking head on tv being an expert at anything might just be feeding you a line of pure, unadulterated shit; albeit, shit that he or she is absolutely convinced is a universal truth. You, however, will be much more fun for me to talk to in a bar when we wander into the general malaise of small talk and current events. Be a better person. Entertain me more than the guy who told me space travel is wrong because God didn’t build a ladder to the moon.

Or don’t. I’m just sayin’. I might be wrong.

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Half of Nothing Passes or The New New Math.

Stupid should, I think, hurt a bit.

I, myself, was a bit of the touch the stove kind of kid. My parents always picked me up, dusted me off, checked to see if I was okay, and then promptly laughed at me. The term ‘dumb-ass’ never really had to be explained to me. I had an inherent knowledge of that nomenclature.

In sixth grade in the scholastic Mecca of St. Cloud, Florida I was instructed, along with my classmates, to create a utopian society, replete with laundry soap based, three dimensional, topographical representations. Utopian impossibilities aside, my society was based on an underwater, dome-based city. I had no intention of making a soap map of Logan 5’s city under the sea. I refused in my portly pert manner. I got my first C in that class, having received an F on that assignment for not completing the task as presented.

I didn’t much care for that teacher and I’ve a sneaking suspicion that she didn’t ever really feel the need to put me on her Christmas card list as I furthered towards adulthood. That’s cool. She did, however, have every right to blast me on that assignment. I told her to go to hell in my way and she responded in kind. I’ll fault that old bat a few things from those prepubescent memories, but she’ll never receive recrimination from me for that grade. I deserved what I got on that dumb-ass assignment. Today, I respect her now more for that F than I ever did previously.

Do you have kids? Are they in school? Are they missing a bit in English or composition or in math, but still showing promise? C average, maybe? Are they doing their homework? They may not need to.

Here’s a lovely bit of something: certain schools have started the policy (and it’s sadly nothing new) of instituting the minimum grade of 50 for nothing at all. Let’s restate that: your child, in many systems, can get fifty points out of a hundred for doing precisely fuck-all. In simple mathematics a child turning in work of a hundred questions at a single point apiece can miss forty of them for a grade of 60%. A child turning in nothing at all (not even their name signed to a piece of paper, mind you) can (again, in certain systems) get a score of 50%.

Now, I didn’t play T-Ball, but I did participate in some Boy’s Club activities and those cats never gave me a medal for coming in last. When I heard of kids getting trophies simply for playing I balked accordingly to my generational understanding. Benchwarmers didn’t get congratulated. They got to hope to play in the next game.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, am I writing about this?

How about some parameters? I don’t exalt humanity without reason. Pythagoras worked some shit out. Socrates got a whole method named after him. Einstein looked at an elevator and stood the world on its ear. Stephen Hawking always found more routes into the house than his sister, admitted he was wrong about black holes, and wheeled himself soundly into the position of man not to be trifled with (preposition, I know, but that teacher balked me, too). Humanity’s all too prone to that weakness of character. The reason I don’t list famous failures here is that there are damn few worth noting. Failing is its own demise. Fucking up is only worth noting if you’re on Jersey Shore or some equally nefarious setting. We applaud it in the present, but rarely remember it for long. Stupidity tries, yes, but it’s built only for the short term (unless you’re Custer, of course; certain things linger).

Even Edison sang: I didn’t find a way to make a light bulb; I found a hundred ways to denigrate Tesla.

I’m drifting.

Rewarding our children is no mark of sophistication. Do you know that schools overseas will often pull the child to the front of the class to the chalkboard who don’t know how to solve the problem? Do you get that? The kid with the trouble seeing gets up and the kids who do know help out from the back. Something so intrinsically, so seemingly, simple to get the lesson across. (That’s a sentence fragment, should you be wondering, with a comma splice.) Damn it. 50% for being lazy…and an idiot. (Did you see it that time?)

My problems with public schools previously have always been a measure of art or of extrapolation as opposed to rote memorization. My problems have been related to the fear of the word “fucking” in Slaughterhouse 5 or of “Goddam” in Catcher in the Rye, or of Zeffirelli showing Juliet’s breasts. “Fuck all,” I thought, “are we all some kind of goddamned puritanical heathens?” Never did it occur to me, even as I did it, mind you, that not turning in my work would result in a partial grade, up to and even beyond the halfway point of effort. Back in my day we didn’t fail with an above average grade. In my day, we failed with aplomb. We failed with a measure of self-interest and defeat. By gods, we failed with a certain style. We didn’t fail half-assed and masted for warm weather. We stood the storm, argued, lost, and found measures of extra credit that would keep our argumentative asses out the same grade forever. We did what was required and our teachers mocked us in their haven of a smoke-filled, coffee-riddled teacher’s lounge.They did this, I like to think, so we wouldn’t continue to be the continual fuck-ups that plagued them in class and become the sort of people that they wouldn’t mind standing in line behind at the suddenly ubiquitous Wal-Mart. To borrow a phrase: I’m just sayin’.

Here’s my deal: if your child is lazy, then that’s cool. If your child has the ability to function while being lazy, then that’s super cool. Lots of smart people are lazy (it’s the draw of being really, really smart). If your child is both not smart and lazy simultaneously, then, maybe, they should be outed and ousted, pranced to the front of the room and pushed to raise not even to the cream, but, at least, to the passable portion of the crop. Kids have problems, they do. I’m hip to that, but if we don’t hold them to some standards they may well just become that jam in the society that holds up the lines at Wal-Mart. They are sponges, you know. Kids soak up far more than we give them credit for. Quit giving them credit for shit that we expect of each other every day. Bosses rarely give an A for effort. Again, just sayin’.

Your love of your daughter or your son is not in question…well, actually it is. Awarding children in any manner for not learning is no way to lead them to water or any form of intellectual pursuits. Feeling good about yourself at fourteen is important, no argument; but being an idiot at twenty-eight is a travesty. Making any child feel worthwhile for doing precisely dick is a tragedy. Typing just such a statement, while appealing to my philosophy of the infinite, saddens me terribly.

In my life, I try to be as kind and polite to any aberrations of decency and/or logic, questions of taste, intelligence, or any substance of qualifications of being, but I will never endorse a teacher allowing a student to slide simply because their ass is in a chair. If you do so, feel free to ignore me or to respond with any vociferousness you might conjure up with any hatred and/or vehemence that may or may not apply. I’d like to hear your argument for a half-assed free ride in the modes of thought and learning. I really would, but forgive me if I don’t respond. Idiocy, I can only hope, is its own isolation.

Idiots Rule

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