Tag Archives: high school

High School Reunion Musical

Someone told me once we never grow
beyond the point we turn the age eighteen:
what insecurities we carried then
still manifest themselves throughout our lives.

That makes those speeches every June
(you know the ones that say life’s just begun)
much more than naive lies, and still the truth:
depends on just how much you would believe.

I wonder if it’s like the weakling boy
who overcomes his limited physique
by spending endless hours in the gym
to change the image in the mirror,
but never runs quite fast enough to flee
the sickly shadow he would leave behind.

Could be the “eighteen” theory’s full of shit;
What would the world be if we never grew
beyond the high school notions that we held
to be so absolute and crystal clear?

A playground laid out on a global scale,
with territories marked in black and white,
a constant “them” and “us” dividing up
the haves from the have-nots, and so forth.

We must evolve.  I’d like to think we do,
although it often takes ten years or more
to come to terms with who we thought we were
(in contrast with what we had yet to prove).

How many of us reach the other side
with anything but memories left alive?

14 SEP 2009

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Graduation Day Approaches

My daughter graduates from high school tomorrow. This momentous occasion reminds me of the dreadful speeches I had to sit through at my own high school graduation, some 22 years ago. You know the kind of speeches I’m talking about, the ones where the valedictorian or student with perfect attendance or what-not gets up and stammers through some sappy, saccharine set of sentimentalism and invariably ends with some kind of prayer-cum-schoo l fight song-inspirational ditty that’s supposed to make this particular nerd somehow respected and/or admired by the rest of the graduating class, if only for a matter of minutes. The speech, and I must say I’ve heard it in various incarnations both at my own graduation, my younger brothers and sister’s graduation, and those of several sets of cousins, goes like this:

G is for gratitude …
R is for respect …
A is for achievement …
D is for dedication …
U is for unity …

and so on, with each letter receiving a focus of about 10 minutes of drivel that usually ends up with everyone feeling like their nose is a little browner, the school board is a little less evil, and the teachers really are going to miss the departing devil class one more time.

But these speeches invariably don’t offer any kind of insight into what the real world is like, or what students can really expect once they’ve left the safety of their parents’ nest and tried to find their way in the reality of paying for themselves. So maybe the speech should be more like this.

G is for groveling … which is something you’ll need to learn well, in order to make your way in a society that discourages genius, looks down on free-thinking of all sorts, and uses social and peer pressure as a means for ensuring conformity with a standard you probably will never live up to.

R is for retirement … which is something you’ll be looking forward to for the next 30 or 40 years.

A is for assholes … who you will encounter not only as employers, but as co-workers, neighbors, roommates, professors, on the commute to work, at the gym and even occasionally in your own home.

D is for debt … which from this day forward you will be encouraged to live with.

U is for underappreciated … which reflects the way you’ll feel, particularly if you are not a white male, but even then on occasion.

A is for aging … the process of which you have already begun, but like “no payments due until next fall” will not recognize for the ballooning mortgage on your life it is until you are too far gone to recover.

T is for time … which you have, until this juncture, taken for granted, thinking in relative terms that in your short lifespan, 10 years is more than half your life, and thus a long time. Ten years from now, you will be wondering where the hell the decade went, and why most of your dreams are yet to be achieved. That, my friends, is relativity.

I is for intimidation … the method by which most employers, co-workers, neighbors, roommates, professors, and other individuals classified under A above will attempt to coerce your vote, support, volunteer labor, hard-earned cash, and yard maintenance equipment.

O is for overworked … a state which you have yet to fully experience, having to this juncture most likely not been responsible for producing food, or the wherewithal to purchase food, for yourself or your dependents.

N is for never … the point in time at which you will be able to sit back, reflect on your laurels, and feel better than you do right now. So enjoy it while it lasts. Once you’re old enough to drink legally, there’s not much excuse to do so.

23 MAY 2005

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Biography in Song, continued

OK, here’s where it’s going to get tricky. After high school, with full time employment, my album purchasing power increased dramatically. A lot of energy was spent building a record collection. I’d go out and buy complete catalogs (yea, a fool and his money are so soon parted). The years 1983 to 1985 consisted of the following milestones:

David Bowie, Every album from “Hunky Dory” through “Scary Monsters”
Bob Dylan, Every album from “Bob Dylan” through “Empire Burlesque”
Otis Rush, Right Place, Wrong Time
Electric Flag, Long Time Coming
Buffalo Springfield, Retrospective
Spyro Gyra, Morning Dance
AC/DC, Highway to Hell
Black Sabbath, Every album from “Black Sabbath” through “Heaven and Hell”
Led Zeppelin, Every album from “Led Zeppelin” through “Presence”
Doc Watson, The Essential Doc Watson
John Hammond, The Best of John Hammond
The Beatles, Complete Half-Speed Masters, “Please Please Me” through “Abbey Road”

Details to follow …

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Idols and Influences, continued

OK, so the previous set of idols and influences ended with 1977. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring the subsequent years and the albums/artists that shaped my world as a Musician. Included will be the following, identified in chronological (i.e., the year I discovered them) order:

Here’s the high school years 🙂

News of the World, Queen
Aladdin Sane, David Bowie
Passions of a Man, Charles Mingus
Giant Steps, John Coltrane
Harbor, America
Five Live Yardbirds, The Yardbirds
Only a Lad, Oingo Boingo
Brain Salad Surgery, Emerson Lake & Palmer
Never Mind the Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
Bayou Country, Creedence Clearwater Revival
We Sold Our Souls for Rock and Roll, Black Sabbath
Fragile, Yes
New Values, Iggy Pop
The Wake of Poseidon, King Crimson
The Best of Lou Reed, Lou Reed
Double Fantasy, John Lennon/Yoko Ono

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Declining an RSVP

We have killed two decades with our lives;
Clocks and pocket-watches, notebooks and meetings
have spoken to us in the language of Ur,
a Babylonian-Chaldean moonmist frenzy of words
and tired metaphors.

In twenty years you’d think I might’ve found
some calling, or at least a claim to fame,
instead of still wide-eyed, casting around
without reknown or fortune to my name.

But life is how it happens, more or less;
the roads you travel lead to different ends.
To me, the truest measure of success
is measured not by wealth, but by your friends.

Now, I have made acquaintances and lost
their names and numbers; others I forgot;
for memories too accumulate a cost,
and keeping all means more space must be bought.

It’s not as if I don’t have extra cash to spend
(though extra is a matter of degree)
but rather that I try to live now, not depend
on sentimental hopes or history.

Right now, they’re meeting in some suite —
those people that were my old high school mates —
and rather than by their standards admit defeat,
I choose the world that is, and trust my fate.

For what is it they want, some way to reminisce
while failing to acknowledge things have changed?
That window to the world that no longer exists,
and peering through that dark glass seems so strange.

I cannot walk a backward way, and seem to not have grown;
the world from where I came holds me no more.
Besides, in this new place I am not here alone,
but have a life that is worth staying for.

20 AUG 2003

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The class struggle …

This week is “Spirit Week” at our daughter’s high school, and of course, as one of the beautiful people, she is anxious to participate in as many of the events, as enthusiastically as possible. I think it’s all well and good to have “school spirit”, to be proud of the environment in which you have been (usually somewhat abitrarily, but in this case, via testing in and living in the right parish) placed in order to further your education that you might have life, abundantly, with more than a minimum wage job. However, I am reminded of the somewhat harsh attitude that the “beautiful people” have towards those not quite so blessed, physically, socially or gracefully. And as I remember back to my own high school days, I am offended by the “Dress Like a Nerd Day” and other such high points. To make it fair, I think they should also have “Dress Like an Ignorant Project Dweller” … that way, those nerds (and oh, I remember being one oh so well) will have less to write in their grudge books against the day when they run Microsoft and can refuse the ex-cheerleaders and footballers a job. But that would be too close to home, IPD day. They would have to walk through neighborhoods where some of those people live, with their straighened hair, vinyl clothes, prison-quality tattoos, gold teeth, hair nets, bad weaves, and so on. And the beautiful people might not be so beautiful after that experience. At least with the nerds, they are safely betting that no one is going to challenge or offer to beat them up.

The problem, of course, with Dress Like a Nerd Day is that the people that they are making fun of don’t lack fashion sense because they have an excess of brains. Their concern is not with appearance first, which of course is a direct and harsh affront to the beautiful people who favor substance over style. They dress for comfort, and dress more cheaply, because their parents (bless ’em every one) decided that their children would be better off having $200 worth of books rather than $200 sneakers.

But the beautiful people will have their way, of course. And the terrible thing is that the only people who are interested in “dorking” themselves out and dressing “nerdy” are those people who could wear potato sacks and still look good. They aren’t sacrificing anything by dressing down (except, as earlier noted, the potential for a second interview with the Bill Gates of the future). They are not dressing up as geeks to proclaim unity of the intelligent masses. They are being, as of course, teenagers will be except when it directly affects their own, personal sense of well-being, mean-spirited, cruel and ugly. The geeks know it. And most of the teachers do to – because most of them have been there on the receiving end.

So what’s my point? Who the fuck knows. It just irritates me that some things never change. Oh, yeah, I forgot. Some things do. Beauty fades. Styles change. Substance remains.

Life is good, after all 🙂

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