Monday, February 28, 2011
If you hadn't noticed, there was a hell of a fierce debate going on about federal funding of public broadcasting. In 1971.
Why, we could have the specter of taxpayers funding a fourth network! Both on television and on the radio. We hear they're very liberal. Not friendly at all to conservative values.
And what about localism?
Tsk, tsk. There's something very un-American about this whole pointy-headed enterprise, I tell you.
It's a fact that popular culture -- the boob tube, music, movies, celebrity worship -- drive and shape our larger Western culture.
TV gets into our brains -- puts ideas in there -- and our brains begin to think different things.
Movies tell us stories, and we respond to them, and our beliefs shift.
Music goes to our minds and our hearts, and it affects what we think and what we believe.
One way or the other.
WHAT COULD go wrong?
What could go wrong with a culture that takes its cues from popular entertainment -- from Hollywood, from the music industry, from the celebrity biz -- when lots of those faces on the screen and voices in your iPod belong to people who are out of their f***ing minds?
Really, what could happen?
All right, let me take this tack . . . what can we learn from this?
I'll start. I'll tell you what I've learned from Charlie Sheen today.
I've learned that this is 42:38 of my life that I can never, ever get back. If you want to waste nearly 43 minutes of yours, that's your own affair. You've been warned.
. . . Kirk Douglas.
Let me just say this: I want to live to be 94 years old. And at age 94, I want to be screwing with the minds of a bunch of people half my age.
I also want to be funnier by half than all the people half my age (or a third my age) trying in vain to follow my act.
And I want to be flirting with all the young gals.
AND I'D LIKE to think I had some small role in causing one of them to drop the F-bomb on live, worldwide television.
Just like Kirk Douglas.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Hello, everybody, this is your action news reporter with all the news that is news across the nation, on the scene at the 1974 Academy Awards. There seems to have been some disturbance here. Pardon me, sir, did you see what happened?
"Yeah, I did. I's standin' overe there by the paparazzi, and here he come, running across the stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, behind David Niven, nekkid as a jay bird. And I hollered over t' Ethel, I said, 'Don't look, Ethel!' But it's too late, she'd already been incensed."
Friday, February 25, 2011
Starting this week, you have to dial 10 digits to listen to 3 Chords & the Truth.
Frankly, we've run out of numbers in the 402 area code, driven no doubt by the world's desire to come to Omaha, by God, Nebraska, pick up a phone and "reach out and touch someone." Someone, of course, being the Big Show.
What else could it be?
Anyway, because of the extreme popularity of 3 Chords & the Truth -- and musical programming such as this week's ode to the telephone -- Nebraska's 402 area code is all full up. Thus, we welcome our new number to dial by -- 531.
THE NEW area code will be rolled out inside the existing 402 area, with new phone lines getting the 531 designation starting in about a month. But as of . . . right now, we're all 10-digit dialers around these parts.
And without a doubt, this fast-fingered, extra-digited sign that we've arrived -- that eastern Nebraska is big-time now -- can be laid at the World Wide Webbed feet of the Big Show.
You can thank me later.
OH . . . what the hay. Thank me now by clicking where you need to click, listening to the podcast, then getting all your friends and family to do the same.
Because I'm aiming at a new goal for my neck of the telecommunications woods -- 13-digit dialing.
It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.
This TVNZ report tells the story of Canterbury Television, destroyed in Tuesday's Christchurch quake.
If you think about it, the tragic story of a little TV station on the south island of New Zealand is the big story, only made small enough to get your brain -- and your heart -- around.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Meet the Ford Pinto -- new for the '71 model year.
Look at that baby! It's "a little carefree car to put a little kick in your life."
When it's something you want to hear, it's "edgy."
When it's something you don't, it's offensive and violates some flavor or another of unspecified "values."
In New York, this pro-life billboard highlighting the inconvenient statistic that 59.8 percent of pregnancies among non-Hispanic black women there end in abortion is offensive.
“The ad violates the values of New Yorkers and is grossly offensive to women and minorities,”the city's public advocate, Bill de Blasio, tells The New York Times. That's because, in the big city, telling minorities that we're eradicating most of them before they can emerge from the womb to become a "social problem" for white people is much more "offensive" than the actual eradication of most minorities before they can pop out of Mama's belly and start troubling Caucasian advocates of tolerance and open-mindedness.
FOR INSTANCE, take Times judicial reporter Linda Greenhouse (please), who's so tolerant of pro-lifers -- particularly Puerto Rican, Democratic pro-life officeholders -- that she lets no stereotype go unmolested in the push for better demonization.
You want to know the one instance when it's permissible to call a Latino Democratic pol "nutty" in New York City? This is it. And a state senator, no less.
If you ask me, the first sign a nation's on the road to oblivion is when it's more offensive to bemoan the extermination of 59.8 percent of a city's African-American children than it is to exterminate them in the first place. Think of it this way . . . we fought a bloody civil war a century and a half ago for this?
At least Jefferson Davis would have had enough sense to look at the LifeAlways billboard, sadly shake his head, then bemoan the senseless loss of perfectly good free labor. Which says a lot about us today, doesn't it?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Big One came last September for the Canterbury region of New Zealand.
Above, a scientist discusses what happened on Canterbury Television's morning program, Good Living. What host Megan Banks could not know -- and what geoscientist Pilir Vilamor couldn't predict -- was that it would happen again, with such devastating effect, in just a few months.
Tuesday's quake in Christchurch was "just" a 6.3 on the Richter scale, compared with the 7.1 in September, but it struck with blind ruthlessness. Hundreds may be dead, with nearly a hundred of that already confirmed.
And 15 of the 25 staffers at Canterbury Television -- CTV -- are missing somewhere in the rubble of their pancaked studios, Radio New Zealand reports:
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said it has been a "dreadful day" for rescue teams, and that about 75% of the city had now been covered by searchers on Thursday.
However, no survivor has been pulled from the wreckage of collapsed buildings, including the CTV and Pyne Gould buildings, since Wednesday afternoon.
Mr Parker says rumours of survivors being found alive in rubble on Thursday are not true. The search and rescue operation is happening in a "pressure cooker environment" and it easy for onlookers to get false hope, he says.
More search and rescue crews are due to arrive from overseas on Thursday night joining teams already working from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia. The operation will continue overnight on Thursday, he says.Prime Minister John Key said on Thursday there are no survivors from the CTV building. Work had resumed there earlier on Thursday after there were concerns that the nearby Hotel Grand Chancellor might collapse.
Police estimate up to 120 people were in the devastated building which housed a language school, a regional television station and a nursing school.
The language school, Kings Education, said on Thursday it feared nine staff and 37 students students remained inside. A further 35 students are unaccounted for. The school has students enrolled from Japan, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea and Saudi Arabia.
AMONG THE MISSING -- now presumed dead by authorities, says the New Zealand Herald -- is Jo Giles, longtime CTV presenter, competitive pistol shooter, motor-sports enthusiast, onetime political candidate . . . and mum.
One of Ms Giles' daughters, Olivia Giles, said her family was pulling together to cope. "We're all supporting each other and still all hopeful. The main focus is just Mum."
Ms Giles' son James Gin said conflicting information yesterday about the chances of his mother surviving made it tough.
"We hear there were 15 people alive which was amazing, then within 10 minutes we find out that was false. To be honest I don't know what to think. Of course we hope we see our mum again."
ANOTHER WHO LIES somewhere beneath what once was CTV is Samuel Gibb -- journalist, devoted husband and "the last person that deserves this":
His wife, Cindy Gibb, struggled to accept the news that there was no hope left of her husband coming out of the collapsed CTV building alive.THE EARTH SHOOK under Christchurch on Tuesday. Technically, experts say, it was just an aftershock from last fall.
"I don't know anything else. I just need my husband back," she told the Herald.
"I'm too young for this to happen. It's not supposed to happen like this. Sam's just the best person in the world."
To those who did not survive it, to families whose hearts and lives were ripped apart by it, to a television station laid waste because of it, to a city that lies in rubble after it . . . that was no mere aftershock.
In New Zealand this week, the earth shook, and whole worlds came crashing down. Nothing will be as it was.
Punking a governor like Wisconsin's Scott Walker -- not to mention exposing his real agenda -- is about as good as it gets.
Maybe not as good as punking Fidel Castro (definitely not "one of us" in the Walkerian continuum of "us" and "not us."), but pretty dang good.
From the Chicago Tribune:
On a prank call that quickly spread across the Internet, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was duped into discussing his strategy to cripple public employee unions, promising never to give in and joking that he would use a baseball bat in his office to go after political opponents.
Walker believed the caller was a conservative billionaire named David Koch, but it was actually a liberal blogger.
The two talked for at least 20 minutes a conversation in which the governor described several potential ways to pressure Democrats to return to the Statehouse and revealed that his supporters had considered secretly planting people in pro-union protest crowds to stir up trouble.
The call also revealed Walker's cozy relationship with two billionaire brothers who have poured millions of dollars into conservative political causes, including Walker's campaign last year.
Walker compared his stand to that taken by President Ronald Reagan when he fired the nation's air-traffic controllers during a labor dispute in 1981.
"That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and led to the fall of the Soviets," Walker said on the recording.
The audio was posted on the Buffalo Beast, a Web site in New York, and quickly went viral.
Editor Ian Murphy told The Associated Press he carried out the prank to show how candidly Walker would speak with Koch even though, according to Democrats, he refuses to return their calls.
AT ONE POINT during his conversation with Not Koch, the cheesehead-in-chief was sounding quite the revolutionary, in an aristocratic, send-in-the-Pinkerton-agents-to-bust-some-union-heads Andrew Carnegie kind of way:
YEP, it's your moment, all right, governor. A great big "OOPS!" moment.
On the call, Walker said he expected the anti-union movement to spread across the country and he had spoken with the governors of Ohio and Nevada. The man pretending to be Koch seemed to agree, telling Walker, "You're the first domino."
"Yep, this is our moment," Walker responded.
So . . . the Obama Administration literally is taking the law into its own hands and decreeing heterosexual marriage, in effect, discriminatory.
Meanwhile, 6,000 years of civilization just texted to ask "WTF?" as America's cultural war just "kicked it up a notch."
Probably a big notch.
The details come in this report from NPR:
I REALIZE I'm not a constitutional lawyer, and I don't play one on the Internet, but what the hell does the definition of marriage have to do with not throwing gays out of the military?
The decision announced Wednesday represents a big victory for gay rights activists.
Obama's Justice Department has been arguing to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act for two years in courts all over the nation. Government lawyers said they were acting out of a sense of legal precedent, not moral obligation.
Everything changed Wednesday when Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress that Obama had determined that the administration can no longer defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.
"After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny," Holder said in a statement released Wednesday.
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said Obama himself is still "grappling" with his personal view of gay marriage but has always personally opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as "unnecessary and unfair."
From now on, the Justice Department will no longer fight to support the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in court. But the government will continue to enforce the law across the executive branch unless Congress repeals it or a federal judge throws it out.
The definition of marriage predates not only the constitution of the United States but also western civilization itself, leading me to wonder whether this has more to do with the king's new clothes than civil rights and constitutional order.
As much as the nekkid-as-a-jaybird monarch wanted to believe he had a fine new outfit, it just wasn't so. There is a difference between delusion and reality -- one which "progressives" think they can wish away just as facilely as they do the normative definition of matrimony.
Legally, if the administration unilaterally decides that a law that has been on the books for 15 years -- one which it has been defending for all that time -- suddenly is constitutionally indefensible merely because times have changed and the law is slave to societal whimsy, shouldn't it, logically, be asking what other laws are invalid because they make distinctions based on gender or "conventional" notions about the right role of sexuality?
Shouldn't Holder's Justice Department be filing civil-rights lawsuits against every local jurisdiction that allows men to go topless but forbids women to? Shouldn't we be eliminating the legal tyranny of laws based on what may well be outdated concepts of "underage" sex?
And don't we owe fundamentalist Mormons and traditional Muslims a big apology and a legal free pass to marry however many women as they will?
THE ONLY WAY out of this, I fear, is just getting the state the hell out of the marriage business altogether. Give any two consenting adults a civil union if they want one, and leave marriage as a religious matter.
Barring any reassertion of authority by society's dwindling cadre of "grown-ups," America will not end well, though end it will.
Frankly, I don't know why Glenn Beck is all head up about the pending global takeover by the coming Islamic caliphate. If and when it arrives on our shores, I predict we'll be about ready to embrace a little order -- any kind of order -- to make the mayhem stop.
Here's a question that scares me, frankly: Is mine the last generation to "get" the cultural assumptions that underlie the hilariousness of all the Jack Benny gags in this four-decade-old episode of The Lucy Show?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Dear Louisiana T-shirt purveyors:
You might find it helpful to stick to tried-and-true subject matter for your sartorial creations. For example, LSU (spelled L-S-U) is always a winner. Likewise, you can't go wrong with "Geaux Tigers" (spelled L-S-U).
Also, gastronomic subject matter generally is safe. You know, gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya (spelled ???????) and "Suck da heads."
You might, however, wish to avoid more complex subject matter, such as politics, socioeconomics, religion (apart from WWJD, spelled W-W-J-D) and Louisiana or American history. For instance, take the T-shirt design above.
Can you spot what's wrong with that shirt?
Think Louisiana history class. Eighth grade. I'll wait while you look confused and then flail about on Google.
Oh, dammit to hell, here's a hint: The parishes north of Lake Pontchartrain and east of the Mississippi River are called the Florida Parishes for a reason. What is it?
Monday, February 21, 2011
Back in 1976, the music really did die in Omaha.
That's when, on Sept. 2, just after midnight, the Federal Communications Commission ordered legendary Top-40 blowtorch KOIL off the air. As in canceled its license.
According to the commission, Star Stations owner Don Burden did very, very bad things. According to Burden and his employees, political and business enemies railroaded the Omaha radio tycoon.
Nevertheless, the flagship Star Station -- KOIL -- was toast after 51 years on the air. So was its sister FM station, KEFM. So were Top-40 giants in Portland (Vancouver, Wash.) and Indianapolis.
THE FEDERAL "death penalty" made news across the country. It was all over Broadcasting magazine (here and here) and the other trades.
And the Mighty 1290 was no more . . . for a while.
KOIL came back to the Omaha airwaves in December of '76, with a new owner. But never again was it truly mighty.
And soon enough, all that was left were the call letters, parked by corporate owners on another frequency, a robostation spitting out whatever the satellite and the automation dictates.
See, some things are worse than death.
McDonogh 35 High will have to remain batty for a while longer.
The variety of bat infesting the New Orleans school, you see, is an endangered species. You can't harm a little bat hair on their little bat heads. And now, apparently, the "exterminators" have to . . . not do that.
Instead, they have to catch and release all the remaining bats. Meanwhile, the endangered kids inside McDonogh 35 have to hope they don't come down with bat-scratch fever. Or something.
NOW, don't get me wrong. I don't want to kill the little endangered winged mammals -- bats have their place in this world, albeit not inside somebody's kid's school.
On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice if our society placed the same emphasis on the health and well-being of its children as it does on that of a bat?
Apparently, we can move heaven and earth not to kill the winged love children of Grandpa Munster, but -- in Louisiana, at least -- no one can lift a finger to make sure kids have clean, well-maintained and bat-free public schools.
In the Gret Stet, among other places, you have to pay the "private-school tax" for that. That's because, when it comes right down to it, we don't give a bat's ass about our children -- or the future they represent.
MAYBE INSTEAD of worrying about the bats in McDonogh 35's belfry, the now-kinder and gentler "exterminators" ought to be trapping the McDonogh 35 student body . . . and safely releasing it far, far away from the Gret Stet of Loosiana.
Doesn't Joe Scarborough know that rational discussion is a communist plot? Doesn't he know that the future is all about heat, not light?
Doesn't he know that every Democrat, pinko, America-hatin', godless son of a bitch needs to be eradicated? And Carl Bernstein? WTF?!?
If that boy -- who, by the way, already is suspect for hanging around with the daughter of JIMMY FREAKIN' CARTER'S national-security adviser -- ain't careful, right-thinkin' folk are gonna start to say he's a socialist.
Never mind, it's too late for ol' Pinko Joe.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Before ABC had Good Morning America to wake up its segment of the television audience, it had a little something called AM America.
And on this April 25 back in 1975, Saigon had been surrounded by the North Vietnamese army . . . and Stephanie Edwards wasn't faring too much better amid a Monty Python offensive in the ABC studios in New York.
The boys were plugging their new film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail as, no doubt, the American breakfast-time audience consumed "ham and jam and Spam a lot."
Saturday, February 19, 2011
It was only a matter of time before the bat-s*** craziness of my home state extended to . . . bats. And s***.
In New Orleans, McDonogh 35 High School's flying-rodent problem has been well known for a while now. In fact, it made the TV news in January (above).
Plans were hatched (none of them, sadly, involving input from Grandpa Munster, who knows bats better than your average ghoul), and Orleans Parish School Board officials spoke earnestly about the school's winged dilemma.
On the television, doctors gravely noted that people can, like, catch stuff from being around bats -- and their droppings. Rabies, for one.
Of course, this wasn't deemed a problem, and district officials noted that a student was far more likely to die falling through a floor or when a ceiling caved in on him.
OK, Orleans school administrators didn't actually say that. It well could be true, but that's because the McDonogh 35's falling-down problem just might be worse than its bat-infestation problem.
Anyway, that was last month. Plans hatched. Anti-bat blitz promised. Students thought to be perfectly safe -- just so long as you didn't actually think about it.
NOW WE fast-forward to Friday's TV news.
It seems students are protesting outside the school and are refusing to go inside. Now, why might that be? Guess.
Actually, WWL television didn't have to. Let's go to the videotape . . . and the Channel 4 story below:
Students at McDonogh 35 High School refused to go to class early Friday morning, saying they are fed up with problems at the school, specifically bats in the building.IF YOU'RE shocked, you must not be from Louisiana.
Students and parents say there have been bats inside the school for months and they've begged the principal to do something about it with no results, so Friday students stood outside the building demanding action.
Outstide the school students chanted, “No more bats, no more bats.”
Organized and determined, these high school students said enough's enough. They were teaching the first lesson Friday morning, and it was the right to protest. They say the school building is old and falling apart, and they've been living with that but say now its infested with bats and they can't learn.
“When I walked out the class and turned the corner,” said student Tatiyana Nodoselski, “I saw a white bat and it was coming toward me. It was in my face and I forgot the wall was behind me, and I ran, and it forced me into the wall. I just panicked.”
Parents share the frustration and stood alongside their kids demanding something be done immediately.
"The only thing we want to do is protect our children, this right here is our future and if they dont' care about it, we care about it," said Gail Greathouse, a parent.
Orleans Parish School Superintendent Darryl Kilbert said bats are common problem in older buildings in blighted neighborhoods. He said they will close the third floor of building, at least through Mardi Gras, to let pest remediation continue.
What is shocking, though, is that parents and students cared enough to actually raise hell. That may be a first.
Obviously, all that flappin', swooping and screeching must have driven them, uh . . . batty.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Join the revolution.
Claim the power.
Stand up for your rights. And stand with 3 Chords & the Truth in the revolt against suckage.
No longer will we tolerate sucky music (as if we ever did here). No longer will we tolerate those who tolerate sucky music.
We will take to the streets, and we will raise our digital players high, and will will crank the Big Show the hell up. And a world o' suck will not be able to withstand it.
REMEMBER, you are the musical change you have been waiting for. Don't suck, and don't mess around with them what do.
Music for the people!
Down with suck!
Long live the revolution!
Death to the suck mongers!
The eclectic, united, will never be defeated!
Musical diversity now!
End cultural hegemony of the corporate reactionaries!
IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.
Now it's Bill Monroe who has passed from this mortal coil, another media grown-up who hasn't been -- and can't be -- replaced.
Monroe died Thursday at age 90, leaving behind a legacy as the first news director of Channel 6 in New Orleans, and as Washington bureau chief and moderator of Meet the Press for NBC television.
The Times-Picayune's obituary tells the story of a career defined by integrity . . . and guts:
A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: First, picture a television station running regular editorials, thoughtfully delivered. In many markets -- despite the death of the "Fairness Doctrine" decades ago -- that's difficult enough right there.
In 1950, The New Orleans Item, one of the city's two afternoon papers, hired him as an editorial writer. Mr. Monroe had had print experience as a New Orleans reporter for the United Press wire service before he went to war.
Four years later, when WDSU was looking for a news director, Mr. Monroe applied for the job -- and landed it. When he joined the NBC affiliate, it was six years old.
The news staff amounted to "three or four people who just read the news," he said in a 1998 interview. "Early television reporters were converted from newspaper reporters."
Mr. Monroe hired a fleet of seasoned journalists, including the reporters Alec Gifford, Ed Planer and Bill Slatter, and the photographers Mike Lala and Jim Tolhurst.
By that time, the station had already made a name for itself in 1951, when it covered U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver's organized-crime hearings in New Orleans. Five years later, after Earl K. Long was re-elected governor, Mr. Monroe sent Gifford and Lala to Baton Rouge to show what he felt would be an interesting legislative session.
This was long before open-meetings laws, but nobody said anything, Mr. Monroe said in the interview, because everyone seemed to believe that someone had given them permission.
"We were there a week and a half before we were challenged," he said.
Long tried to have them removed, but the New Orleans delegation resisted because they had become stars.
"That experiment "put people in touch with the Legislature in a way they hadn't seen before," Mr. Monroe said in the interview. "The Legislature came alive. We got more letters for that than any other thing we did."
During that period, the station started airing editorials that Mr. Monroe wrote and delivered. The station stirred up controversy when it called for calm during the civil-rights period, when New Orleans' public schools were facing desegregation.
There were about 50 editorials related to the civil-rights movement, Mr. Monroe said.
The station's call for calm "appealed to the common sense of a lot of people in New Orleans," he said, "but that mild message, in the context of the times generated a bit of hatred toward the station."
Mr. Monroe said he received death threats, and advertisers threatened the station with financial ruin if it didn't back off. But station owner Edgar Stern Jr. stood firm.
For the editorials, WDSU won a Peabody Award, broadcasting's most hallowed honor, and a national award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association.
Then picture a news director adamantly advocating for a wildly unpopular position . . . just because it's the right and responsible thing to do. Picture him doing this some half a hundred times over the course of a year or so, despite hate mail and death threats.
Now picture the station's (most likely) corporate owner stand behind the station's wildly unpopular editorial stance despite advertisers' threats of an economic Armageddon.
I lost you a step or two ago, didn't I?
That's because the grown-ups have left the building. The loss is all ours.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
My life, in song.
And hey . . . uh . . . uh . . . uh . . . podna, why did I walk into this room, again?
If you can't denounce Nathan Bedford Forrest -- and a Mississippi effort to give the Confederate cavalry general, reputed war criminal and early Ku Klux Klan figure his own commemorative license plate -- you'd just as well secede from the Union.
You'd think that. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, however, is looking like he wants to lead the Union. If Barbour were to win in 2012, the White House might be just that, indeed.
I wonder whether President Obama would have to leave the inaugural festivities through the "colored" entrance?
GIVEN BARBOUR'S tin ear on all matters racial -- and given his "moonlight and magnolias" nostalgia for the good ol' days of the South's bad ol' days -- I don't think that's an entirely unfair question. Let's start with a CNN story on the gubna's license-plate shuck and jive:
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour refused Tuesday to denounce attempts to create a special license plate honoring a 19th-century Ku Klux Klan leader.SO IS Adolf Hitler. I eagerly await Barbour's non-denunciation of some Mississippi neo-Nazi group's future bid for a commemorative plate for der Führer.
"I don't go around denouncing people," Barbour told reporters Tuesday in Jackson, MS.
When asked by a reporter what he thought about the KKK leader in a historical context, Barbour gave a terse response.
"He's a historical figure," Barbour said.
Actually, the CNN report didn't even begin to cover Nathan Bedford Forrest's greatest hits. That Forrest was -- and is -- so revered in the South tells you something Not Good about the place.
In an effort to show you the true breadth of the Mississippi governor's moral cowardice (if not outright moral depravity), let's go to this New York Times obituary of Forrest, circa 1877:
A story is related of his reprimanding a young Lieutenant with such severity that the latter, stung beyond endurance, drew his pistol. Forrest deliberately walked up to him, and using his great physical superiority to the uttermost, literally cut the young man to the ground with his bowie-knife, and then coolly wiping the bloody blade of the knife, mounted, and rode off as if nothing had happened.
It is in connection with one of the most atrocious and cold-blooded massacres that ever disgraced civilized warfare that his name will for ever be inseparably associated. "Fort Pillow Forrest" was the title which the deed conferred upon him, and by this he will be remembered by the present generation, and by it he will pass into history. The massacre occurred on the 12th of April, 1864. Fort Pillow is 65 miles above Memphis, and its capture was effected during Forrest's celebrated raid through Tennessee, a State which was at the time practically in possession of the Union forces. Gen. Sherman had started on an expedition from Vicksburg, in February, through Mississippi; he was to be supported by Gem. Smith with a cavalry column, which, marching from Memphis, was to join him at Meridian. Sherman's march from west to east across the State was so rapidly and skillfully done that it was a mere promenade. The Confederate commander, Gen. Polk, could make no effective resistance to him, but he bent all his energies to preventing the junction of Smith's cavalry column with Sherman. For this purpose he ordered all his cavalry to join Forrest, and intrusted that commander with the task of heading off Smith. This was done most effectually, for the conduct of Gen. William Sooy Smith seems to have been marked from the start with utter inefficiency. His start from Memphis was made late enough to give Forrest time to collect all his forces for resistance; the march of the Union cavalry was an utterly disorganized one, so that when, on the 22d of February, it reached Okalona, 100 miles north of Meridian, discipline seems to have been utterly relaxed. Here Forrest's cavalry met them, and at the first charge the Union forces were practically routed. Everything fell into utter confusion, and Smith had to retreat, pursued by the enemy for 10 days over the wasted country through which he had just advanced. Forrest now saw his opportunity for a raid into the heart of Tennessee. The garrisons there had been weakened by the concentration of forces for the Spring campaign, and he had nothing to fear in the way of a superior force. Late in March he passed into that State, and the route of his advance was marked by outrages and brutalities of the most cold-blooded character. He captured most of the small garrisons on his line of march, in each case summoning the defenders to surrender under a threat that if he had to storm the works he would give no quarter. On the 12th of April he appeared before Fort Pillow. This fort was garrisoned by 500 troops, about half of them colored. Forrest's force numbered about 5,000 or 6,000. His first attack was a complete surprise, and the commanding officer was killed early in the engagement. Still the defenders fought so gallantly that at 2 o'clock the enemy had gained no material advantage. Forrest then sent in a flag of truce, demanding unconditional surrender. While the flag was flying, Forrest's men treacherously crept into positions which they had been unable to take by fight, (a trick they had played at other places,) and thus were in a situation to make the assault which soon followed under every advantage. After a short consultation, Major Bradford, on whom the command had devolved, sent word refusing to surrender. Instantly the bugles sounded the assault. The enemy were now within 100 yards of the fort, and at the sound they rushed on the works, shouting "No quarter! No quarter!" The garrison was seized with a panic: the men threw down their arms and sought safety in flight toward the river, in the neighboring ravine, behind logs, bushes, trees, and in fact everywhere where there was a chance for concealment. It was in vain. The captured fort and its vicinity became a human shambles. Without discrimination of age or sex, men, women, and children, the sick and wounded in the hospitals, were butchered without mercy. The bloody work went on until night put a temporary stop to it; but it was renewed at early dawn, when the inhuman captors searched the vicinity of the fort, dragging out wounded fugitives and killing them where they lay. The whole history of the affair was brought out by a Congressional inquiry, and the testimony presents a long series of sickening, cold-blooded atrocities. Forrest reported his own loss at 20 killed and 60 wounded; and states that he buried 228 Federals on the evening of the assault. Yet in the face of this he claimed that the Fort Pillow capture was "a bloody victory, only made a massacre by dastardly Yankee reporters." The news of the massacre aroused the whole country to a paroxysm of horror and fury. A force of 12,000 men was sent against Forrest, under Gen. Sturgis, who so wretchedly mismanaged the affair that he was utterly routed by him. Another column was sent against him in July, under A. J. Smith, which met with scarcely better success, and the next thing heard of Forrest was when, on the morning of Aug. 18, he made a sudden and daring raid through Memphis, escaping with small loss.
BUT WHO AM I to criticize? Obviously, Mississippi is a place, like the rest of the South, where it really is true that "old times there are not forgotten." This extends to Southerners' license tags.
Too -- judging by election results -- Mississippians obviously think Barbour is a cracker-jack governor, which is fitting on so many levels my head is starting to spin a little.
If only the rest of America had the luxury to "look away, look away, look away" from these ugly ghosts of Dixieland. Tragic ghosts that aren't quite ghosts, being that they're not quite dead.
I'm bored, like Iggy Pop.
Now I'm sick.
Naw, I'll bore myself to sleep at night instead.
Definitely . . . I'm bored. I'm the chairman of the bored. I'm bored over being sick of 1979. No doubt the 1980s will be boring, too.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
At the tender age of 30, suburban Philadelphia English teacher Natalie Munroe found herself at the heart of the fall of Rome.
It was right there before her in her Central Bucks East High School classroom.
"My students are out of control," Munroe wrote in her blog Oct. 27, 2009. "They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying."
Then the entry got good . . . or bad, depending on whether you're reading it or living it:
In the past week alone, I've written up 4 separate students--one for dropping the f-bomb in class, one for repeatedly saying "s***tin'," one for crafting a pencil topper made from paper clips into the shape of a man and woman having sex, and one for being disrespectful to me (Me: Stop tapping. Him: (ignores and keeps on tapping. Another student tells him to stop but he still doesn't, indicating that if he didn't stop when I told him to, he wouldn't stop for this kid either. Another student then kicked the back of the first student's chair. Me: "I DID tell you to stop that already!" Him: "Yeah, you were ignored." Me: Do you want me to write you up?" Him: "Go ahead." Me: "Done!")OBVIOUSLY, there's a problem here. Unfortunately, what's so obviously problematic isn't that "(k)ids today are out of control." It isn't that "teenagers are complete asses." It isn't even that "(t)here's no respect for adults, for authority, for teachers," or that "(p)arents won't allow anyone but themselves to discipline their kids, but THEY don't do any disciplining either."
Then there's the kid in the other class who wasn't happy with the score he earned on his test. (Nevermind that I told kids what to study in preparation for this test, or that I offered to move the test to Wednesday instead of Tuesday to give them more time to study but they voted to keep it on Tuesday.) So this kid earned a 54% on the test, having lost 2 points for not following directions, 7.5 points for being unable to match the names of characters and settings with the story names (which is the easiest section on the whole test if you've simply read the stories for lan's sake!), another 10 or so on another section asking him to match definitions to terms... really, the kid just didn't study enough.
The issue was, though, that his test grade brought his overall grade down significantly (because he had an A, he had farther to fall), from an A to a B. He approached me last Wednesday when I handed back the tests and wanted to know if we did second-chance learning. No, I told him. He wanted to know if he could do some extra credit. No, the English department doesn't offer extra credit, I told him. On Thursday he approached me to find out how many more points are on the marking period because he wants to be able to pull his grade up by then. I told him the assignments I know I'll be grading prior to that time. On Friday he emailed me and explained that he was unhappy with his score and again asked for extra credit or a chance to make up his test, citing that he must have been having a bad day and was very upset that his grade dropped so much. He then approached me the same day in class and wanted to discuss the email. I explained again that the test is done and he needs to move forward, just working as hard as he can before the marking period ends to recoup points, but that he could not do other work to make up the grade. On Monday there was an email waiting for me from his mom weighing in on the no extra credit/no retakes policy and intimating that the test was unfairly weighted as it brought her son's grade down from an A to a B. I responded to that email sharing the information about where he lost points on his test (indicating that he should have studied harder), explaining how it's unfair to kids prepared the first time around to have an opportunity to make up the points somehow, defending the weight of my test which was 67 points and was the culmination of 3 weeks worth of work, and giving her the heads-up that college courses often base their grades on 2 tests and a paper. Today this boy visited guidance during my class. I'm not positive that it was about this grade issue, but I suspect it may have been. I did not, however, receive any emails from guidance trying to get me to modify my stance, so perhaps it was simply a coincidence. Frankly, I really want the issue to drop because it's rather annoying me that I've had to have the same conversation about this issue as many times as I have. What it comes down to is this: you did poorly on your test for whatever reason; you may end up with a B because of it; move on and try harder next marking period. It really isn't the end of the world. Maybe the next time I announce a test and give insight into what should be studied, I will be taken more seriously.
No, the problem is that young high school English teacher in affluent Bucks County, Pa., said so. In her anonymous blog.
NOW MUNROE has been suspended with pay, escorted out of the building by the principal and a security guard, and just might lose her job. For being honest.
It would seem we can put up with a society of spoiled louts and incompetents -- Hey, Rome managed it . . . until it couldn't -- but what we can't handle is the truth.
And the truth, folks, is that a lot of your kids are a-holes and cheats. Ignorant ones at that.
If you doubt what I say -- or, more importantly, what Munroe wrote -- the comments on her most "notorious" post, left after some Central Bucks East students somehow came across the blog, serve as a rather bracing quod erat demonstrandum moment.
READ ON and be educated:
HELL HATH no fury like a teenager whose self-esteem has been assaulted. Especially those who have been raised by wolves.
I will, however, award a couple of points to the commenter who upbraided Munroe's condemnation of problematic students in her blog with some of the same profanity she found objectionable in the classroom. That would be at least a middling command of logos, while I found this aggrieved student's attempts at pathos and ethos less compelling.
Then again, my wife and I were volunteers in Catholic youth ministry before Munroe even was in high school herself. We've seen it all -- and that was at church. I can only imagine. . . .
Then again, I don't have to. We have the cache of a beleaguered educator's blog from the front lines of American decline. The date: Dec. 2, 2009. It sounds about right to me:
That brings us to today. There were myriad problems with today's class proceedings; so many, in fact, that I won't even bother to circumscribe them here. For the sake of relevance, I will note only those bits that concern this lad. First, when I was checking vocabulary and another boy didn't have his, I mentioned to the unprepared kid that this is the 3rd week in a row he didn't do his work. He asked if it would hurt his grade. I told him it would, a great deal. Then the other kid chimed in and said, "Yeah! She ruined my grade last marking period." I said, "I'm sorry... I ruined your grade?" "Yeah." "No. YOU ruined your grade. It was your actions or inactions which earned you your grade. I think it's time for you to stop trying to pass the buck to other people all the time, and start taking responsibility for your own actions. All you ever do it blame others for what happens to you. You need to own it." He told me I sounded like his mom and should stop saying things like his mom would say. Then, he had his head down for most of the block. When he did finally raise it, he took out paper and--surprise!--wrote another note. After my lesson, when walking past his desk, I confiscated the letter. He tried to hold the page down. I sternly told him that he'd better let it go because I was, indeed, taking it. He tried to tell me that I had no right--that it was his letter. I said, "Actually, it's MY letter. This is MY time in MY class, and this is now MY letter." I took it and put it on my desk. I didn't even look at it. Moments later, he came up to my desk and picked it up as though to take it. I said, "You'd better put that letter back on my desk and walk away." We had a reprise of the "It's my property" conversation, but I said, "I suggest you put it down now because if you leave here with that letter you are most definitely getting written up for it." He said, "I was just going to rip it up and throw it out." I told him that I would take care of it. He then followed me to the door saying, "I'm waiting to see you rip it up. I'm watching.... Rip it." The bell rang. I fixed him with a stare and said, "This is now my letter. I will do with it what I want. The discussion is closed. Get out of my room." By this time, he was in the hall and the girl was coming over from across the hall. He said something to her like, "Yeah. I don't have the letter--" I interrupted and said, "--I have it. Now go." Then SHE started in, trying to get it from me. She goes, "Can I have my note?" I said, "No. It's my note. Goodbye." She said, looking annoyed, "But it's mine. Can't I just have it?" Me, getting more and more pissed off, "The note is mine. He wrote it in my class on my time. You two are always writing notes back and forth and texting through class. It's going to stop. You aren't getting this letter." He sort of pulled her away and said something to her. I can only assume he'd indicated the contents of the note to her because she came back, told me that she'd asked him to write it, and some other bunk. I interrupted a final time, a nanosecond from writing this chick up, too, for arguing with me, and said, "I don't know what the note says. I didn't read it and don't really care what's in it. I won't even read it. But neither of you are getting it back and I'm not going to discuss it with you further." The boy latched onto that, saying, "You didn't read it? Good. Because you'd cry. But ok, if you don't read it, good. Deal!" and pulled the girl away with him.WHAT CAN one say? Apart, of course, from "We welcome our new Chinese overlords!"
Perhaps when they take over what's left of America, it will be safe for Natalie Munroe to teach once again.