Lost Angeles

"Division of the Barrios & Chavez Ravine", a portion of Judith Baca's Great Wall of Los Angeles. This panel depicts the struggle by the City of Los Angeles to evict the last of the stragglers from land that would eventually become Dodger Stadium, along with the fracturing of the Latino Barrios by the construction of the freeways through the eastside of Los Angeles.

“I know that this is a historic sale, but importantly a new chapter for the Dodgers and the city,” he said. “And what I said to Earvin is the same thing I’ve said publicly for a long time: The Dodgers are an asset, they’re a community asset. And the reason why it matters is because the Dodger brand, like the Laker, Clipper brand, like the Trojans and the Bruins, like the Galaxy and Chivas, are a brand associated with the city. But particularly the Dodger brand is something that people feel very, very connected to.” — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villagairosa

Note to Angel owner, Arte Moreno:  the mayor of the City of Angels did not include the Angels in what he associates with sports in L.A..

For all of his faults, the Mayor can, at least, read a map.  So can my 4-year-old.  Yet the assault on geographic logic continues by the Angels’ insistence that they play in Los Angeles.

And after 2 days of nearly wall-to-wall coverage of the Dodgers’ sale in the Los Angeles Times, you can’t help but notice that the Angels’ signing of Albert Pujols failed to generate page after page like found in today’s Sports section being turned over to the reaction over the 2.1+ billion dollar transaction.

Naturally, the Angels felt that they had to hit back.  Angel OF Torii Hunter:

Hunter isn’t sure the Dodgers’ sale is as powerful a statement as what his team has done.
“I’m pretty sure people are pumped up that the right guys own the [Dodgers] … that’s a great buzz,” Hunter said. “But it’s what you do on the field that matters. We haven’t started the season yet. Whoever does it on the field will get that buzz.”

Um, No.

If the Angels win, as they did in 2002, then Orange County gets all abuzz.  It’s not going to necessarily feel that way in Hollywood, Chatsworth, San Pedro, Venice, and, especially, Elysian Park.  In fact, the Angels’ insistence on what they did in the offseason as somehow making their brand count within the city limits of Los Angeles, was quickly ignored when the Clippers traded for Chris Paul, shortly after the Halos acquired Albert Pujols.  That created buzz.  I’m sure, as a matter of fact, that the excitement surrounding the purchase of the team was bolstered by the presence of a former Laker among the ownership group even more than the fanbase was happy that Frank McCourt was done.

It is as Cyn notes in the 1988 film Working Girl: Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna. Never will. Ultimately, like it or not, Arte Moreno can’t turn Anaheim into Los Angeles.


Clothing Article

I don’t see how an article of clothing can be indecent.  A person, yes.Robert A. Heinlein

If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies….Albert Einstein

Looking for an old lesson plan on a table near my classroom’s desk, I glance up along the wall, distracted by a photograph of last year’s 6th graders.  I pause and notice:  several of the boys are wearing hooded sweatshirts in the back.  Because I had chosen to keep the tone of last year’s photo more impromptu and casual than I had in the past, I didn’t have a problem with the boys keeping the hoods up on their hooded sweatshirts.

And unlike Geraldo Rivera, the only times I ever chose to lecture them on their hooded sweatshirts was when I asked them to remove them in class, as I did my own caps, because we were inside rather than outside.  If anything, I found the hoods annoying from a “manners” standpoint, I never suspected that any of these boys were going to turn into the Unabomber, even if their behavior at school was less-than-exemplary.

But in the midst of the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida, attention was immediately focused upon what the boy was wearing that night, in the rain, as a possible reason for his murder, as if somehow the hooded sweatshirt is, in and of itself, a target.  (Over this past rainy weekend, while at Disneyland with my little girl, the rain caused quite a few hoods to get broken out, my girl and I included…as Latinos, I was thankful I was at Disneyland in California rather than the Magic Kingdom in Florida, for legal purposes, obviously!)

Much of the conversation over choice of dress is reminiscent of a conversation my father had with me years ago before I left for a summer on the East Coast for summer school when I was still a high school junior.  Growing up in West Texas in the 1930s and 1940s, he’d experienced racism as a Mexican-American youngster.  His worry, prior to my stepping on to the plane, was to remind me that I might run into racial ignorance, and that if a bigot confronted me in anger, insisting I was Puerto Rican rather than Mexican-American,  I shouldn’t necessarily see fit to correct the misconception.  He was concerned that I would find myself trying to educate the potential bully rather than extricating myself away from that bully.

Sometimes though, we can be shocked at how much ignorance is out there, resulting in a suspension of disbelief that can, in the most extreme instances, prove fatal.  Take, for instance, the Iraqi woman murdered in the San Diego area over the weekend:

Hanif Mohebi, director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that many Muslim women in the area were worried that Ms. Alawadi had been targeted because she wore a headscarf in public, as many observant Muslim women do.

“The majority of the community that wears scarves are concerned,” Mr. Mohebi said. He cautioned against a rush to judgment before the police had finished investigating. Still, he added, “the community has gone through some hate crimes before, and the assumption the people have is that they’re going through one now.”

Reflecting back upon my purpose in sharing my students’ own thoughts on what it means to be “the darker brother”, I feel like my father must have felt when he was lecturing me 30-odd years ago about trying to educate an ignorant person about the difference between a Mexican and a Puerto Rican.  Will any of it really matter to someone who would be inclined to judge a person entirely based upon their appearance?  Or, in the case of Shaima Alawadi or Trayvon Martin, murdered over how they dress?  Looking at my class photo from last year, how terrified might have George Zimmerman become–even though they were only 11-12 years old–had any of those boys decided to walk down his street?

Company is Coming

Yesterday’s little concert by our school’s Glee Club was ostensibly themed around songs with the word “America” in them, sung by members of our school’s very heterogeneous student body.  This is a student body that looks like America does today, even if that thought somehow threatens the cultural comfort of those who’ve become threatened by this “hazier shading” of America, especially in light of all that is going down across the country over the last month.  While the “legally justified” murder of Trayvon Martin down in Florida occurred first in the timeline, it seems as it has become a final, ugly manifestation of the more underlying issues that appear to be corroding our society’s bonds of appropriate behavior.

And it’s not the only one.  Since the boy’s death at the end of February, March has seen less deadly, but nonetheless ridiculous behavior by people apparently threatened by other people of color.

Take, for instance, this behavior at the NCAA Basketball tournament last week:

Members of the University of Southern Mississippi band chanted racist taunts at a hispanic Kansas State player during the schools’ NCAA tournament game on Thursday.  After point guard Angel Rodriguez was fouled late in the first half of the second-round game, a few band members showered the freshman with cries of “where’s your green card?”

As if things could get any more ignorant, the basis for the band’s racism was itself misguided. Rodriguez was born in Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States. Even if he hadn’t grown up in Miami and starred for a high school basketball team in that city, he’d still be an American citizen and have no need for a green card…

Even earlier this month, at the Texas state basketball tournament:  

This month, a CBS News station in San Antonio reported on a high school basketball team’s celebration, which was marred by what appeared to be a racially motivated chant of “U.S.A., U.S.A.” by fans after a mostly white team defeated a team of mostly Hispanic players. The local schools superintendent apologized for the chant. “Obviously we were disappointed that this happened,” the superintendent, Kevin Brown, told the station. “That’s not who we are as a community.”

Cal's Harper Kamp, holding an image of teammate Jorge Gutierrez aloft at a game at Haas Pavilion last month. Gutierrez, the Pac-12's Player-of-the-Year, came to the United States illegally at 15, but currently attends Cal on a student visa.

Then there is my own Golden Bears, the Cal basketball team, led by its guard and Pac-12 Player-of-the-Year Jorge Gutierrez, whose own story is easy fodder for members of either of the above groups to exploit .  By losing its play-in game last week to South Florida before the opening round of the NCAA tournament,  I am actually somewhat relieved that we were spared further embarrassment by one school’s fan base taunting yet another a basketball player on their opponent’s side for their perceived immigration status.

Even at this stage in this country’s history, the level of simple ignorance about race relations is stunning to me.  Raised in the Orange County of the late 1960s-early 1970s, my experience growing up was eventful by being uneventful.  My friends growing up were a mixture not unlike a war movie in terms of racial inclusiveness.  I was also helped by a mother who would remind my sister and I that being born in America made just as American as anyone else.  And as we’ve become even more multicultural, I can look around my classroom at any point during my day and see the polyglot mixture that California has been, and will continue, to become.

Langston Hughes

Which brings us to Langston Hughes and his poem, “I Too”.  While the school’s Glee Club was learning to sing their songs about America, I’ve been trying to get my 6th graders to understand how Langston Hughes might sing it.  These past couple of years, I have used Hughes’ poem in my classroom as a way to teach Response to Literature; more specifically, I am showing my students how to write Literary Analysis using poetry.  I struck upon the idea of using Jackie Robinson’s biography as a way of introducing the larger concepts of the Civil Rights era:  not as something that emerged along with Martin Luther King, but as a wholly organic movement that predates Dr. King, and Robinson, and whose emotional awakening is found in sentiments expressed by Hughes in “I, Too”, written in 1920s, and likely intended as a wake-up call for brethren of color.

And I think my students get it.  In their own words.  First NL, who intuitively tries to perhaps provide a thought for those among the Southern Miss band or the Texas high school basketball fan base about how hyper-perception of skin color can often make you blind to a larger reality:

…he’s telling us that just because he is a darker color, he isn’t different from us.  He also says that nothing can hold him down and that he wants to be free of discrimination.


The speaker uses the symbol of integration and segregation.  The table is where only whites were allowed…when the blacks have to be in the kitchen to eat while whites are at the table, it’s segregation.  They have to be separated from each other.  But in the end he is saying that they shouldn’t be separate, he could go sit with them because [African-Americans} have their own rights.


He expresses how they judge him [by] his looks; they treat him like an Alien, like a different species, like he’s a book. But as he said, he is also an American no matter how he looks, no matter how he is.  No matter how he is treated, he is an American too.  As he said in his poem, one day he will sit [at] the table…


[The poem] is about him wanting to be treated fairly, and that they shouldn’t treat him unfairly just because of his skin color.  He’s also saying that one day he is going to stand up to them and they will realize that he is strong and deserves better than that, and that he will make them regret what they have done.  He wants to have freedom and fairness like the others, not just depending on what skin color you have…

RS, who turns the speaker’s words on their head with this perception:

Thinking about this made me imagine how will I act if I was white back then.  Would I be evil or good?  Am I going to be nice or mean?  I don’t really have an answer for that yet, but soon…

KM, who tries to put herself in the shoes of a contemporary African-American:

[Hughes talks] about how black people were treated, and how [this] treatment changed over time.  In this poem, Langston is explaining how he gets treated differently because he is “the darker brother”.  Langston shows how back then “darker” people weren’t really welcome to eat together [with whites] “when company comes”.  He tries to show how some “darker” people don’t take it to heart.  They “laugh and eat well, and grow strong”…what I think he’s trying to show the reader is how “darker” people really couldn’t argue back because white people didn’t care and would just beat them.  So then, I think Langston tries to show by saying “Tomorrow”, he was saying in the future and how things would change and they’ll be at the table.

SS, himself an immigrant with a cultural history and experiences unique to him, making his perspective particularly poignant:

In American, the [poem} is about how black people are not treated right.  He is saying that he has the right to do anything and do what whites can do too.  Like in the [poem] he said, “They send me to eat in the kitchen, when company comes but I laugh, eat well, and grow strong.  He is trying to say that he is tough to stand up to them, that he does need to listen to them [and] what they say.

JR builds upon SS’s experiences, given how the dominant idea of culture in this country often looks upon “otherness” not in terms of Black/White but anything not considered “American”:

When it says “I am the darker brother”, it says that he’s being judged or discriminated by his skin color, by his culture.

HLG gets the subtle shift of perception that Hughes provides the reader, when he talks about what his words directly imply for America, echoing SS’s sentiments about an African-American who is tough enough to stand up to them:

When Langston says “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes.  Nobody’ll dare say to me, ‘Eat in the kitchen’.  “Then” he menand that, he knows he will sit at the table with everyone else, he won’t be sent to the kitchen ever again just because he has a different skin color.  He says, “besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am, and be ashamed”, meaning that they will be ashamed of how bad they have treated him.  And how rude it was to send him to the kitchen, just because of a different skin color.  They will be ashamed.

JG, normally quite reluctant to write in-depth responses, grabs upon the lesson hook I provided by using Jackie Robinson to inform his analysis:

I think what the poem is trying to say is that every[body] is a part of America.  It is also trying to say that everybody is the same; we should be treated equally.  Like Jackie Robinson, we should all be able to play the same sports, eat in the same place, drink from the same water fountain, and go to the same school.

HH, again:

Imagine yourself in the [speaker’s] shoes.  If I were him, I would think that I have the rights to do what I want to.  When it says, “They’ll see how beautiful I am”, I think that it’s saying [that] beauty is not just from the outside but the inside as well.  Also when the poet wrote, “Nobody’ll dare say to me, ‘Eat in the kitchen, then.’.  I think that he doesn’t want to accept the way things were.  And when he says “tomorrow”, it means that soon the way life was at that time would change.

Indeed, life at that time would change.  And one would think that life at this time wouldn’t have to revisit the same struggles to accept these fundamental cultural, racial, religious, linguistic, and social changes that have already begun to take place in society, even as there would groups dedicated to prevent what has already begun.  I didn’t put these ideas into these students’ heads, they were intrinsically understood, and Hughes’ poem gave flight to their ideas.  Witness this final student writing that I want to share, SL:

I believe he wants to stop racism so everyone can be treated equally.  So he thinks in the future there is no more discrimination against colored people.  His dream came true, there is no more discrimination against colored people.

One would think so, right?  Watching news these past few weeks, you get the sense that there is some unconscious need to lock that metaphorical kitchen door.  But youngsters like those who are in my classroom every day are the ones who attitudes are, I hope, the attitudes that will prevail.

My students, along with the ones singing about America yesterday afternoon, ARE the company that’s coming.  It’s time to get out of the kitchen.


Here's hoping that the preschool doesn't think I feed Kate this for her breakfast...

“Remember the days when you let your child have some chocolate if he finished his cereal? Now, chocolate is one of the cereals.” ― Robert Orben

“My daddy gave me M&Ms for breakfast!”

Uh. Oh joy.  Must. Gain. Control of the debate!  What the heck will her preschool teacher think?

“Katelyn, tell them why you had M&Ms this morning!…”

Flashback to last Friday.  With a sick child with the flu in tow, and a dosage of Tamiflu in hand, it’s dinner time.  Given how important that the medicine be eaten with food, I decide to give her the first dose after she’d had some blueberries.  Until I looked up some additional background information, I had no idea that the Tamiflu’s natural taste was somewhat nasty.   Worse, I didn’t get a measuring type spoon that normally comes with the medicine, I got a syringe, not unlike what I used for Dory, our dog, when she needed medicine.  But, figuring the drug manufacturer knew what they were doing (huh?), I decide the use the syringe to directly administer the first dose.

Now, prior to coming home, at the drug store, I asked that they flavor the medicine.  Usually I pick the flavor, but since Katelyn was with me, I give her the choice.  After dissuading her from Sour Apple, she chooses Mango.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t work.  For only the third time in her life, Kate ralphs up.  Up comes the medicine when I give it to her.  I assume that it was because I might have stuck the syringe too far down and kicked in her gag reflex.  She fights me when I give her another dose of the medicine, but I get it down.

5 days of this await.

The next morning, it begins again.  Even though, I have switched to using a shot glass rather than a syringe, Kate fights the medicine.  While she’s feeling somewhat better, both the wife and I want to strangle this bug early.  The duel begins.  This time, Amber had an idea.  She leaves the room, and comes back in with a few M&Ms.  For each sip, Kate gets candy.  It’s a struggle, still, but not as epic.  By the evening, small bits of colored candy are going down the kid’s gullet while she drinks her medicine.  On the next morning, Sunday, I’m pretty much just handing her full bags of either snack size Skittles or plan M&Ms.

Later on, while browsing the web, I read about how nasty Tamiflu tastes.  Generating some sympathy with a 4-year-old essentially drinking something that tastes like mango-flavored Dag Nasty Evil, I see that some moms suggest adding huge amounts of sugar-free Chocolate syrup.  Given that we didn’t have that, but did have surplus amounts of M&Ms and Skittles, I figured that a few days of sugar coating was worth the sacrifice.

But if you know my daughter, naturally, at this point, she’d begun to make requests, eschewing the mixture of the two treats for the Easter season colored Skittles.  As with most anything I come into contact with, what began as a minor tragedy has devolved into farce.  Hence, this morning, when Katelyn takes the last bit of her Tamiflu, she pretty much is eating candy to go along with her breakfast.

But she’s done.

Heading off to bed tonight though, Kate asks if she needs to take her medicine.  I can’t help but notice that she’s eyeing where Amber keeps the candy stash.

“Nah, Katelyn.  All done.  Time for a story…”


Before I became a teacher, and worked in the private sector, if I had to miss a day of work for whatever reason–illness, doctor’s appointment, personal matters, I would just take off. If I had sick time, I got paid. If I didn’t, then I would have to take the pay hit.

Becoming a teacher complicated things, to an extent. I got time off during the school year for things I needed to do. These 10 days can be used for personal illness, family illness, and personal necessity. I can also split the time off into half days or even roll them over into the following year, if need be, as necessary. In fact, for the first 9 years of my teaching career, the only day I had taken off was to be the best man in my best friend’s wedding. I worked throughout, sick or well. But when my mother grew sick the year she passed away, and later when Kate came along, I began to have to tap into my sick time, but even with the usual skirmishes with the need to take time off for days that Kate gets sick, or needs to go to the doctor, or loses her child care when her preschool shuts down for its schedule (which doesn’t match either my wife or my own), I can still boast about 65-70 sick days saved up as each school year kicks off.  (And also, as a cancer survivor, in case of a relapse, I’m covered as well, but I digress…)

When you are a classroom teacher, a sub day is not just time away. It’s also composing lesson plans for a substitute who takes your place in the classroom for the day. It is a major pain, from the stand point that I either know who will be taking my class and don’t know them.  Teachers generally begin to cultivate relationships with favorite substitutes. Of course, the good ones are often themselves only marking time for their own hiring for their own classroom. For instance, 2 great substitutes I’ve worked with wound up gong that route to their own jobs; my school hired one and my wife hired the other. My district has one “great” sub who has built a reputation as the sub that everyone wants to have. As such, he’s in demand and it’s extremely rare to score him if you have to take some last minute time off. (Our automated subfinder is set up such that you can request a specific substitute or the computer can randomly assign a sub to your classroom. I generally prefer to request certain subs and only settle for the automated assignment as a last resort.)

So when I compose lesson plans for a sub, I factor in who is taking the class. One of my preferred subs this year is a young woman who has her credential, and works as a classroom aide during the day, in order to use her afternoons to get her work down for her Speech Specialist credential. She’s has been my aide for an hour each day this year, and both myself and the kids have grown comfortable with her. When I take off and have the chance to get her for her half-day assignments, I am confident enough to have her actually teach independent lessons. Now while you would think that all substitutes should be able to do that, teaching a lesson cold to a class you’ve walked into for the first time, is not easy. I’ve also come to know my kids to understand the dynamics of having your regular classroom teacher out of the room. So if I have an unknown substitute, I generally plan my time these days to have the sub mostly proctor activities with my kids that require a minimal amount of instruction. I specifically work with my kids throughout the year to show them how to independently do specific seat work for just these sort of situations that arise. On a given morning with my sub, they might be working on Historical Atlas activities, their writer’s notebooks, chapter activities, Scholastic News stuff, etc. I deliberately overbook the day, to keep the kids active on something. I know that my kids work at different speeds, so I also figure that into the equation.

But this year, I began to notice with a few of the subs, one in particular, that if I left too large of an amount of work behind, the substitute felt compelled to rush the kids through all of the work material. Unlike subs with whom I worked, who knew enough to pace the work, and simply stop on their own if I left behind too much stuff, this year, this specific sub and a few others were racing to finish everything. Realizing this in debriefing my students the next morning, I began to add instructions to pace the work–stuff put towards the end of a list and at the bottom of the pile were less important items that could be used again, or not at all.

The key to the work the sub would use therefore lay in the instructions I left behind to pace the work.

But in order to follow sub plans, a substitute needed to read the plans.

This past Friday, with my attention fully focused upon my sick little girl, I left sub plans and rolled the dice for whomever the computer chose to give me.  As it turned out, it was the same teacher who originated my concern about rushing the kids through their work.  I didn’t think twice about it however–as I had left instructions in my plan!

Arriving back at school yesterday, Monday, I searched around for my plans, expecting to hear about which of my kids had had issues, or if anything else out of the ordinary might have happened.  With the rain in SoCal this past weekend arriving last Friday however, I was in the mood to be considerably more charitable for my students.

But not so much for the sub.  As I learned later, from both my students, and from my aide, she pretty much went “rogue” with the work I had left, and was determined to push the kids through all of it.  I could tell that she didn’t even give my introductory brief that I leave even a cursory glance, for in that she would have seen my caution to NOT worry about getting everything done.

I marched up to the office to complain to the school’s secretary and to get contact info to get a hold of this substitute directly.  Instead what I learned astounded me:  I could “write up” the sub, just as if she had been one of the naughty students who might have misbehaved.  Stunned, gleeful, and filled with bloodlust at this point, I took the form and headed back for my room.  My kids, milling around my classroom, saw forms in my hand and grew worried.

“Who are you writing up?”

“The sub.”


I guess I am supposed to feel bad.  But by writing her up, maybe that will be something that I wrote for her that she’d be forced to read.

A View to an Ill

As my life went on hold over these past ten days into what I’ve come to call Report Card Hell (where I prep my grades and begin to write my comments on my students’ report cards), I’ve had to try to negotiate the normal demands of life with an active preschooler at home, while at school, I’ll be chasing down loose papers from reticent students who don’t quite understand the how and why a few random pieces of missed assignments might make or break their trimester grades.

Into the midst of all of this, Kate’s preschool also shuts down for Parent-Teacher conferences, thus sending the wife and I scrambling to try to cover the days without having to hire out for 2 days of babysitters when we’re still expected to pay for her regular surround care. Thusly, one of our designated replacements, Grandma (my mother-in-law) arrives Wednesday afternoon to watch Kate while I head off for my Writing Project meeting. Stowing away with Grandma, an obnoxious strain of Influenza B.

Within a day, Kate is getting sick, as my sister, caring for the kid the next day, notices my daughter running hotter than she should be. When I arrive after school to pick her up, I leave my sister’s house speed-dialing Katelyn’s pediatrician for an appointment the next day. I arrive home reconfiguring my plans for the next day, Friday–I was intending to take a half-day sub in order to be able to attend Katelyn’s parent-teacher conference along with Amber, but seeing Katelyn’s condition slowly unraveling, and now worried about trying to squeeze in work on my report cards, I call her 3rd babysitter in 3 days, a former student of mine and one Kate’s dearest “Ninas”, that I would only need her to watch Kate for about 45 minutes while I run in to school to leave amended sub plans.

I’ve also grown paranoid that Kate might have any number of illnesses. At this point, I didn’t realize she’d had the flu, and my paranoia had translated to on-line visits to Web-MD, where I worry that she might have chicken pox (due to stomach and neck pain, among other signs) and an appendicitis. So I’m actually feeling pretty good when her doctor tells me that it’s either strep throat or the flu. When she comes back and tells us it’s Influenza-B, she writes out a prescription for Tamiflu.

Having taken Tamiflu myself, in the past, Kate’s doctor tells us that she should be good to go back to school on Monday. Indeed, as I type this, despite some problems sleeping (one of the side effects, unfortunately), Katelyn was already feeling better by Saturday. Of course, having had the flu shot couldn’t have hurt her either.

The key point in all of this was the fact that Kate is likely going back to school tomorrow, although Amber might stay home to give Kate one more day to make sure she is completely back and ready to go. Fortunately for us, while its a scramble, we can manage to cover some form of child are for our daughter in situations such as this one. We take off the time we need, and we use our sick time to do so. Despite the minor inconveniences of sub plans, we manage.

And given that we also have insurance coverage, we can manage the $20 co-pay for the medicine that the Walgreens pharmacist tells us would have been $250 for the dosage had Katelyn not been covered.

I am taken aback by that notion. We have coverage and resources with which to care for our daughter. But what of those, including many of those parents of students in my class, who do not have insurance for drugs such as Tamiflu or additional potential caregivers for their kids when these kids get the flu? I can’t help but consider how much lost school time, as well as lost work time (i.e. pay) is the result of policies that seek to limit health care access. I know the rejoinder from those who oppose Universal Health Care, or what became the far more limited Affordable Care Act, is to explain how they shouldn’t be pressed to pay for other people’s coverage. I understand that sentiment. But I also know that Kate got her flu from her grandmother, who, in turn, had gotten sick taking Great Grandmother to ER/Urgent Care, where they sat in the waiting room lobby, surrounded by those who were likely not covered by any sort of insurance to treat illnesses preventatively rather than after the fact. So Katelyn will go to school better able to avoid spreading the flu cooties to her classmates, and I can return to my classroom not necessarily getting my own students sick, given that right before state testing is a less-than-ideal time to miss school when I have to prep my students.

We are the lucky ones. Why must it be this way? We have drugs that can do so much, but limit these drugs to so many fewer, all because private sector profit must ultimately trump public health considerations, I will surely be told.

What a Drag It Is

Atrios, ostensibly addressing anti-drug efforts in schools:

…but from my memory of that time of life there was a big tendency for adults to pretend that they never behaved like adults. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with trying to convince teens that maybe they should keep away from the booze and drugs, but the problem was that Adult Role Models held up a picture of life that was untrue. You know, a world where all good people were sober and chaste. It was as if drinking was portrayed as adolescent behavior, instead of behavior adolescents shouldn’t be doing.

Well, duh.

My personal mantra of late is that I’m no role model–I’m an example.

Yet we continue to foist upon our children a world that can not exist, except in some sort of  vacuum divorced from the reality the power brokers in charge of our anti-drug education insist upon.  As Atrios points out, we treat drinking as “adolescent behavior”, and we then we wind up shocked when adolescents want to engage in such behavior.  Inevitably, a good number of them are going to try a controlled substance, usually alcohol, before they are legally able to do so.  Having just broken their promise to “say no”, what do they do know now once they’ve said “yes”?

And they’re not the only ones.  A lot of us adults say “yes” as well.  Do we hide our own hypocrisy, which is what inevitably happens when you demand a role model, or do you use the idea of our own personal examples to better inform the choices of our young charges?

“Life’s just much too hard today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say
The pusuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day…”

Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

Adventures in Geographic Literacy

E-mails from both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim showed up in my e-mail this morning, letting me know that single game tickets for the 2012 baseball season go on sale today.  As I’m a little late to this “party”, it calls to mind this comment this week from Dodger manager Don Mattingly:

But Los Angeles will always belong the Dodgers, Manager Don Mattingly said Tuesday before his team’s first full-squad workout of the spring.

“You know, honestly, if you really want what I think about it, it’s kind of like the Mets and the Yankees,” Mattingly said of the two New York teams. “The Yankees are the team, no matter what the Mets do. They’re going to have their years that they play well, but the Yankees are the team.

“I don’t to want to badmouth the Angels at all. I know (owner) Mr. (Arte) Moreno does a great job down there in Anaheim and (Manager) Mike (Scioscia) does a great job and they’ve had a great run. But we’re the Dodgers. It’s not going to change.

Note the phrase “down there”.

People from out of the area, as well as the Angel marketing department–including the Angel Talk radio folk–still don’t get it.

Of course, Mattingly kind of doesn’t get it either–New Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ Citifield are only about 6 miles apart from each other.

It’s a roughly 40 mile drive between the two ballparks, and if ever there was evidence of an Orange Curtain, the divide among Southern California baseball fans would be it.  Arte Moreno has yet to get a clue that Orange County is not the City of Los Angeles–two locales that generally want nothing in common with each other.  Don Mattingly is right:  Los Angeles is a Dodger town.  While it might be taken as a pejorative by the Angel Talk folks, Mattingly spoke the truth even while proceeding from a false assumption about the geographic location of the two franchises.

Dodger fans don’t become Angel fans.  Angel fans, likewise, don’t become Dodger fans.  Had Moreno simply sought to build a community with the geographic gifts of Central Orange County, without insulting our intelligence by telling us that Anaheim IS Los Angeles, he’d realistically understand that the local region doesn’t really choose to bask in the shadow cast by the larger metropolis; rather, it’s better understood as each local community within this stratified region is seeking to carve it’s own name out for itself.  It’s what the Anaheim Ducks understood when it set up shop in Anaheim.  It’s what Donald Sterling gave away when he chose to sentence the Clippers to a long sentence as the Lakers’ understudy in downtown Los Angeles.

Angels fans, I’m sure, enjoy tweaking the older franchise, and undoubtedly enjoy the chaos brought upon the Dodgers by Frank McCourt.  But such satisfaction is better felt when it comes with the understanding that the issues with the Dodgers thus become tied to Los Angeles, allowing the Angels to head down Interstate 5 to their own secure venue, away from the problems of the bigger city.  Instead, Moreno has sought to dissipate the franchise’s success by offering up a portion of whatever his team accomplishes with L.A.

How will the Angel fan base react when, and if, the team wins another World Series, and Moreno insists that the victory rally be held at L.A. City Hall?

Maybe it’s that karma–a karma you get, for instance, when you remove the “Anaheim” from the road uniforms–that’s prevented the team from getting back to the Fall Classic. It’s a karma that someone from out-of-town (Moreno hails from Arizona) has when you insist you know how to get somewhere without feeling the need to consult a map.  It’s a 40-mile divide, several generations of split fanbases, and a geographic region that enables two franchises to easily coexist without the need to co-opt the other’s territorial area.

So, even for all of the wrong reasons, Mattingly was absolutely right.