Thursday, September 29, 2005


I may have mentioned that I am now teaching high school (one of the reasons for my long hiatus...teacher training and new baby) along with attending graduate school. Well, the school I teach at is an inner city continuation high school with a predominantly Latino population. For those of you who do not know, continuation schools are for students who, for one reason or another, have fallen far behind in their course work and, as they have expressed a desire to graduate, are willing to finish each course they need on an individual contract basis. I am one of two English Language Arts teachers and the Theatre Arts teacher (my inner city kids are incredibly shy...it makes the job quite difficult most of the time).

That being said, one of my students came to my class afterschool to let me know of his plans. You see, he's a 16 year old Latino who loves video games and action movies and has a desire to make something of himself. The trouble is, he has been told that the only way he can afford to go to college is to join the armed forces. Now, in quieter times, while I still may attempt to discourage this as there are other options for continuing education, I wouldn't be as angry about it. You see, a recruiter told this kid that there was no way he would be going to Iraq. He was guaranteed an assignment in Kansas. This recruiter told him it was his only real shot at college. Now I tried to explain to him that he had other options and that, perhaps, he should speak to a veteran of the current conflict before making a decision, but he seemed pretty determined to accept the word of the recruiter.

I just have to wonder if this is a standard line of BS that recruiters give poor high school kids. How many are assured that the current war is not in their military futures? I told this student to get the recruiter's guarantee in writing, but, again, there was no real talking to him about it. He is determined to wear a uniform. Perhaps it is the influence of the media combined with his poverty class fatalism.

I hate that war seems to be the best option available to some of these kids and I hate that they are being sold a false bill of goods. I hope that by the time he turns 18, this conflict will be over and that he may stand a chance of going to Kansas (which is not really a place I would wish upon anyone, either).


Friday, September 09, 2005

Presidential Prayer Kids

Speaking of this site, I am really quite sickened what these people think is important for children to pray for:

You may know about how President Bush loves to exercise and stay fit. Since developing problems with his knee, he has taken up mountain biking. Last weekend he get together with champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, and the two men enjoyed a fun time on the property at Prairie Chapel Ranch. Pray for the President to enjoy continued health and fitness, asking God to grant him strength for every task.

Kids should pray for Bush to exercise? People are dying due to this man's incompetence and children are being asked to pray for his ability to ride a bike? What is wrong with these people?

So what else should kids pray for? How about:

You've probably heard your mom or dad talking about high gasoline prices. Pray that things will get better so that the financial burden on many Americans will be lessened.

I know some people pray for lower gas prices, but what kind of fucked up values are these people teaching their children. Why don't they pray that Bush's friends stop gouging the U.S. consumer at the pump. They should reall be more specific about how gas prices can be lowered. Really get God to target the right folks.

I also read this so-called letter:

I am a PPT Kid. We study the weekly emails in my preschool. I like the pictures! I cut out the pictures of the people to pray for and glue them on a card. Each week I pray for those people and ask the Lord to help them make good decisions and grow closer to Him. We pray for our troops and our president. Our Junior Church class is having a celebration to welcome home some soldiers in our city.
--Grace, age 4, Indiana

Now, unless Indiana has the most kick ass preschool in the nation, I somehow doubt a 4 year old has this kind of grasp of English grammar. Kids that I teach have a hard enough time writing a coherent sentence at the high school level. I just don't buy that a four year old girl is quite so eloquent at such an early age. So I must believe that these people have made up a four year old girl. Are there any actual kids in this PPT, or has this insane organization invented childrens' testimonials in the hopes of getting gullible (and not so much)adults to help create a goose-stepping set of Bush Youth?

Pray for these children that they survive this indoctrination and eventually learn right from wrong.


Michael "Brownie" Brown!!!

Apparently, doing a "heck of a good job" is Dubyaspeak for extreme bungling. I guess, under these terms, Bush is doing "a heck of a good job" as well.

You've got to read this from the "Presidential Prayer Kids" website (did you know such a thing existed?).

What happens in our country when there is a disaster? Well, lots of good neighbors come to the aid of those who have been affected, but we also have a special department in our government that helps too. It's called FEMA—Federal Emergency Management Administration, and it's a part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Michael D. Brown is the Director of FEMA, and along with his team, he works to bring the help needed after a disaster has struck. FEMA is in charge of helping people before and after a disaster like a hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake. The governor of a state must ask for help, and then the President "declares" an official disaster for a particular area.

Growing up in "tornado alley," Michael D. Brown was raised in Oklahoma and had a basset hound named Roosevelt and a dachshund named Eisenhower. When he was a boy there were many tornadoes and he recalls a time when he went into his grandparents' storm shelter during a particularly big one! He enjoyed fishing, hiking and camping as well as debate, speech and history classes in school.

With his team at FEMA, Michael Brown doesn't just help when things go wrong, he also works to keep people safe in case a disaster happens, by providing training for firefighters and emergency managers and a flood insurance program, along with many other things!

Mr. Brown followed his dream to be a lawyer and went to law school after getting his college degree and was an attorney in Colorado and Oklahoma. He has been a part of FEMA since 2001.

So now we know he was qualified to for his position because he had a couple of cute dogs and remembers big tornados. It all makes sense now.


Thursday, September 08, 2005


We've had progressive radio in L.A. for a few months now in the form of KTLK which carries Air America and Jones broadcasts (KTLK used to be a sports talk station and still carries Clippers games...ugh!). I am amazed that in L.A., the capital of gridlock, liberal radio does not do better in the ratings (at least as Arbitron posts them).

Although KTLK has put up a few billboards, I mostly see advertisments for another station that has the strangely offensive slogan "Liberals may not like it." I guess this is truth in advertising, but I am still offended because they are basically saying that they are making no attempt to appeal to more than, what is in Los Angeles, still a small market of listeners. We do seem to send more Democrats than Repubs to elected office down here.

I think KTLK could do better if they had better marketing and I would think an outfit like Clear Channel, who owns the station along with all the billboards, might do more for its bottom dollar (but it is Clear Channel after all). What they reall have to do, however, is push their personalities. There's no reason that Stephanie Miller's face shouldn't be on billboards. People might listen just because they think she's attractive. Why don't they play up the "celebrities" such as Franken and Garafalo? Why doesn't Randi Rhodes take her self-promotion machine out here to the number 2 market? If the public don't know these people are on the air, they can hardly be blamed for not listening.

More than any of them, however, I would recommend they really push Mike Malloy. If you haven't had a chance to listen to his show, you're missing one of the really great radio voices we have right now. His show is smart, caustic and engrossing. Sometimes when I get home late at night, I sit in my car and listen to the end of one of his segments before shutting off the car and going in to kiss my wife and son. He's really that good.

I don't know how pig bastards like Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly originally got people to tune into them, but there must be some kind of playbook out there which can help the progressive stations do a better job of promoting their stars.


From Kos:

'Nuff said! (or does this "say 'nuff?")


Friday, September 02, 2005


In 1992, I was attending Loyola Marymount University as an undergraduate Theatre Arts major (I now attend LMU as a graduate in English Lit). At the time, I began studying playwrighting with a nun who ran a new plays festival in New Orleans. I learned through some other students that she brought one or two select students to work as interns at that festival and, as I had always wanted to go to the Crescent City, I did everything I could to be one of those students. Well, as things worked out, I was the only student to be invited that summer. I left Los Angeles in late May for a three month working vacation down south. Now, some might say that planning on spending the summer in New Orleans is rather insane. Well, my opinion of the people of that city is that they were rather insane, but really just some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of living and working with. I was living at Loyola University in the Upper Garden District across the street from the lovely Audobon Park. I would take the streetcar down to the French Quarter everyday where I would go to work at the Southern Repertory Theatre, a poorly designed stage in a mall next store to a Mrs. Field's cookies (the nice people at Mrs. Fields would give the theatre all of their unsold cookies every day...I gained a lot of weight that summer). The people I worked with took me all around the city and the state. I drank in French Quarter bars listening to JFK conspiracy theory from Jim Garrison Jr. I got stoned on a balcony in the Quarter where I was led to believe Tennessee Williams had written one thing or another (he wrote something everywhere there!). I visited swamps where the kudzu overran everything. I drank in this beautiful unique and wonderful city (literally, the humidity was insane!). I still count it as one of the best times of my life.

And now, sadly, it will never be the same. They may drain the water and rebuild things and clean things up, but it will never be the same.

Tom Waits sang:

Well, I wish I was in New Orleans
I can see it in my dreams
arm-in-arm down Burgundy
a bottle and my friends and me
hoist up a few tall cool ones
play some pool and listen to that
tenor saxophone calling me home
and I can hear the band begin
"When the Saints Go Marching In"
by the whiskers on my chin
New Orleans, I'll be there

I'll drink you under the table
be red nose go for walks
the old haunts what I wants
is red beans and rice
and wear the dress I like so well
and meet me at the old saloon
make sure there's a Dixie moon
New Orleans, I'll be there

and deal the cards roll the dice
if it ain't that ole Chuck E. Weiss
and Clayborn Avenue me and you
Sam Jones and all
and I wish I was in New Orleans
I can see it in my dreams
arm-in-arm down Burgundy
a bottle and my friends and me
New Orleans, I'll be there

I don't have to tell you to give something or do something. I can only tell you there was this place I loved with people I loved. I pray for all of them.


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