Last Sunday I drove forty-five minutes to see Twin 1 perform in a choir. I was happy to do it, and I’d happily do it again; rest assured few are those for whom I would ever thusly inconvenience myself.

That evening I was settling into my chair with the paper when I got a text from my friend Owen: Still on for tonight?

My stars, I’d forgotten that we had tickets to a show! I was exhausted, for Twin 2 had kept me awake half the previous night with various nonsense. And the club is in Allston, which, from where I live, it’s pretty much easier to get to New Hampshire. Plus: Sunday night.

What follow, Gentle Reader, are musings on the show.


Continue reading “Rocktober”

School of Rock


The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.

-Jean Piaget


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What keeps this teacher awake at night isn’t Common Core State Standards or 21st Century Skills or Educating the Whole Child or Social and Emotional Wellness or etc, it’s this: what am I doing to help the next Johnny Marr?

Here’s what Marr had to say about his teachers in his autobiography, Set the Boy Free:

He was an eccentric man who brought a big green parrot called Major to school with him every day. Major was a big talker and had a cage in the classroom, and every hour Mr. Quinlan would let him fly around the room, causing mayhem and landing on pupils’ heads.

Eccentric man? Check. But I don’t have a parrot, dammit.

Continue reading “School of Rock”

Real Estate

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Johnny Marr’s displeasure with a certain philosophical declaration* got me thinking about another one you hear a lot these days: “The reality is…”

This makes me either want to ask which simulacrum of life I’ve hitherto inhabited, or gratefully embrace its utterer for having dispensed the red pill.

Mostly, alas, I find it creeping into my speech.

I was confronted with reality the other day when I read a word I’d forgotten.

Upon first encountering realia, years ago in a teacher textbook, I thought: C’mon. That’s not a real word. Because, if you know anything about Education, you’ll concede it’s not always kind to the English language. The most I’d have been willing to concede is that it’s a word, but in the way “Schweppervescence” is a word.

Per usual, I was wrong again. Realia is even Latin and all.

Now I’m kind of taken with the word. It has a nice Brasilia-esque ring to it, evoking a domain of the authentic.

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*I still think it is what it is, but he’s Johnny Rootin’-Tootin’ Marr and I’ll shine his shoes whether they are or aren’t.


Mimic Men


I went to see a Bee Gees tribute band recently. Pardon? Did they play “Massachusetts”? Well yes, because we’re in… Ah! You were starting a joke.

There was a time in my life when I’d have considered going to see a tribute act indicative of Error, and said time may, in fact, include the present, but let me tell you: I really enjoyed the show. I sang along happily* until intermission, whereupon I went home and straight to bed. (Hypnos demands my daily tribute at about 9pm.)

Stayin’ Alive is the second tribute band I’ve ever seen. The first, years ago, was a Smiths act, Sons and Heirs, whom I saw because 1) they were playing roughly a seventy-five second walk from my apartment, and 2) Gary the Excellent Bartender told me that they were a lot of fun. (Also, the Smiths are my favorite band, and I have neither a DeLorean nor flux capacitor.)

And by gum: Gary was right! The first thing I noticed walking into the hall was that everyone seemed in a really good mood.** And not in a hipster ironic way (it being Brooklyn and all); there was an atmosphere of merry anticipation. I’m not sure what happiness means, but I looked in their eyes…

Then the band took the stage, and in roughly seventy-five seconds I was, along with everyone else, singing at Sheila to throw her homework onto the fire. It was revelatory. I went home hoarse.***


*My favorite was “I Just Want to Be Your Everything.” (Fine, OK, it’s an Andy Gibb single. Say, though. You want to read something funny? This line from that song’s Wikipedia entry: “The track is a fairly dramatic love song, with the singer declaring his unending passion and stating that without her, he would die.”)

** Reminds me of something a wise man once said:

*** And here’s where it gets “meta,” as they say in hipster Brooklyn: the Smiths’ bassist was there. Andy Rourke – for it was he! – even took the stage to play “Bigmouth Strikes Again.”**** He was doing a DJ set afterward, but I went home [See: Hypnos, above].

**** Perhaps the Smiths song I like least.


Vivian Nicholson

 “Sharing cigarettes, just holding one another and loving one another. That was when I had everything.”


I got to the Sunday paper only yesterday – such is the vida loca I live – and, upon arriving at the obituary pages, thought “Wait, I’ve seen that face.” Sure enough, it was the cover star of the Smiths’ estimable single “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.”

If you haven’t heard it, listen at least for the outro alone. I can’t think of a lovelier interplay of guitars on a pop single. (Also, Johnny Marr – for it was he – apparently wrote the song in an hour. How’s your day going so far?)

Continue reading “Vivian Nicholson”

King & The Mighty I


“I wanted every 50-minute class to feel like half an hour.”

Stephen King’s instructional goal is a sterling standard for teachers and (scaled accordingly) songwriters.

And while he and Noel Gallagher are two whose work I’ve regrettably stopped following (the former’s out of loss of habit, the latter’s due to disappointment), when I encounter an interview with either, I read it.

Mr. King makes a lot of sense to me in this one. (Except that response to the Oxford comma question. Huh?) His point that teaching great literature should not be at the expense of students’ despair was not lost on me, as my high school reading regimen was to skim Cliffs Notes for assigned books, thereby freeing up time to devotedly read King’s. Continue reading “King & The Mighty I”