That Leaves Only Me to Blame, But You Can’t Blame Me if I Set this Stage on Fire

Someday someone is going to write a brilliant book about the commonalities of rap and country music–the stress on authenticity, the violence, the hypermasculinity, ect.–and I will read it and I will say “Oh, so that’s what’s going on.”

Because, for me, it’s not enough to say “Well, they emerged from similar circumstances etc. etc. etc.”  No, I just don’t believe you have this many people saying such similar things for so long only because of some common origin.  No, there’s some truth there that isn’t being heard, I think, so it has to keep coming back.

Anyway, I’ll admit, I haven’t been one for Lil Wayne, but I still got to the end of this article and then the end of this song and, yeah, that’s what I listen for, that point when an artist grabs your chin and turns your face towards something you wouldn’t otherwise see.

In that last verse, he tells his own story, turning to address his mother, Cita, directly.  “I love you, Cita,” he says.  He then asks her, “‘Member when your pussy second husband tried to beat ya?”  He recalls grabbing a meat cleaver from the kitchen and facing off against the man.

The music–which has been essentially a mix of sustained chords, piano arpeggio and a fiery guitar break after each chorus—now builds in intensity.  The piano part is now matched by a counterpoint John Carpenter may have written, while layers of keys like strings and even theramin swell toward explosion.  He recalls that face off—”He ain’t give a fuck/I didn’t give a fuck neither.”

And then the heart of it—

“He could see the devil, see the devil in my features
You could smell the ether
You can see Cita, you could see the Cita, see the Cita in my features
And she don’t play neither.”

Call me crazy, but it’s hard for me to not hear the echo of “Mama Tried” in there, like that thing–between a bad man and the mother he loves–is so strong it calls out to you across decades and genres, keeps slipping out of men’s mouths, trying to be heard.

Well, We’re Restructuring the Schools

It’ll be interesting to see if and when the lawsuits start flying or if creating one school full of the poorest, non-white students will go unchallenged because no one who suffers under this has enough money to hire a lawyer.  The important thing to keep an eye on in this story is the following:

The Tennessee Department of Education outlined how it will reorganize the district’s leadership for the coming school year as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.

If a district such as Metro doesn’t make the grade, the state can come in and make changes, which it is doing.

Basically, this means that no matter what the school board promised, in terms of money and extra resources going to Pearl Cohn–which is poised to become the school where our poor, black kids go–they can’t guarantee that’s what will happen because the state has taken over the district.

Edited to Add: Carter writes it like he was there.  You’ll note that restructuring a large metropolitan school district in such a way as to raise concerns about resegregating it merited no discussion on a national level.  I checked on CNN and apparently “Teen sends Cops LSD laced treats” and celebrity babies are more important.  Just so we’re all clear.

In Which I Solve Nashville’s School Zoning Problem.

So, we’re rezoning the schools in Nashville, resulting, entirely coincidently, in a great majority of the poor black kids in town being shuttled to one school. DB had convinced me that it wasn’t as simple as that, but, if Pedro Garcia is being honest, it seems as if the rezoning may be, in part, exactly about removing black kids from some schools (see everything over at Pith on this for more information: here, here, and here. Oh, and here.).

I have a solution.

1. More neighborhood elementary schools. We make a vow, as a city, that no elementary school age child in Davidson County is too far to walk to school. We’d have to put a ton of sidewalks in, but we need to put a ton of sidewalks in anyway. We aim to keep the population at these schools around 1,200 students, which would give us (assuming the private school people stay away in the proportion they’ve been staying away), about 20 elementary schools.

2. Ten junior highs around town.

3. One high school, centrally located, easily accessible by public transportation (which would mean, yes, we’d have to put money into our public transportation, but we need to do that anyway, and this would be a nice catalyst). Every kid who goes to public school goes to high school one place, on one campus. By my estimation, this would be about 25,000 students, which, I know, seems ridiculous, to have 25,000 students on one campus.

But is it really? That’s about the size of UT-Knoxville and they manage.

Where would such a school go? It seems to me that it would have to go downtown, where it would be centrally located, but such a school would need a massive amount of space. I don’t see downtown where there’s that kind of real estate prime for redeveloping.


What about just south of downtown?

What if the fairgrounds, and all that industrial stuff between Wedgewood, Berry, and I-65 were all given over to the campus for our hypothetical high school? It’d be near two interstates (I-65 and I-440). It’d be a matter of putting a bus hub there, I suppose.

But, one high school, where everyone goes, equally inconvenient for most people, almost everyone’s bussed there, and then the ratio is what it is. If the school is all black, that’s because white parents have pulled their kids into private school. If it’s mostly poor kids, same deal.

But maybe we need to stop dicking around with all this “choice” where a choice is what the lucky kids get and screw the rest.

I don’t know. Maybe that’s unworkable. But I swear, if I have to read more stuff like “‘The faculty, after some conversations about the proposal, indicated they believed the school did not need to close,’ Garcia says. ‘They believed that after the black students presently attending Blackmeade [sic, should read “Brookemeade”] Elementary were moved to Metro Center as the student assignment plan recommended, many white families would come back to the school. The faculty, in general, indicated the school would be full of white students presently attending private schools.'” I will be sick to my stomach.

If that’s true (and it is possible that Garcia’s just settling some scores), some people need to be very, very ashamed of themselves.

“Calumniating, misrepresenting and traducing?”

We may need a North American historian for this!

As you recall, we talked about Odinists v. heathens v. Wodanists, etc. the other day and now Richard Nokes brings up the Odinists over at Unlocked Wordhoard.

I, too, tried to locate where these Odinists were pulling the phrase “caluminiating, misrepresenting, and traducing” from, but it took me in a direction I felt I had to ask Bridgett to comment on (and so I do so right now).  It seems that the Canadian Parliament a hundred years ago was arguing over someone caluminiating, misrepresenting and traducing AND, boy, oh boy was Alexander Hamilton angry about it (not the same instance of caluminating, misrepresenting, and traducing, but a different one).  Apparently this used to be quite a popular pastime centuries ago, but has now fallen by the wayside as a way to pass the political time (not the acts themselves, but the words used to describe them).

The whole thing strikes me as silly.  No, Beowulf wasn’t black.  But Cassiopeia was and you don’t hear about anyone sending threatening letters to the folks remaking Clash of the Titans, do you?

Don’t Mess With America’s Pets

I was just thinking how funny it is that Michael Vick’s dogs have, for the most part, found a way to live in the world in relative happiness and peace and Vick is now filing for bankruptcy.  Let this be a lesson.  You fuck with dogs; life will fuck with you.

It got me wondering if there isn’t an unintended positive outcome from this, though.  I wonder if, in 10 years, we’ll be able to look back at the whole Michael Vick thing as a turning point for pit bulls–the moment when the broader public really got that the problem is jackass owners and unhealthy living conditions and not the dogs themselves.

It also got me wondering about the “news” that pet owners like McCain better than Obama.  I’ve been waiting for a sign of some kind of brilliant, nefarious something or other that would allow the conservatives who hate McCain to feel okay about voting for him and “His wife is an angry bitch!” and “Terrorists know how to type Obama’s name!” don’t yet seem to be cutting it.

But “By god, we need a president who’s going to stand up against the dog-haters!” just might do it.

Are You, Or Are You Currently Living With, a Teenager?

Here’s the deal. I sent the Butcher to drive by a house this morning and see if it looked okay (it’s a foreclosure, but it doesn’t appear to have been stripped and the price, if it’s in okay condition, is almost too good to be true) and if the neighborhood is okay (it’s just down the road a bit from some of the Butcher’s best friends, in an area of town that seems like it should be ripe for development, if, indeed, folks want to move inside the Briley Parkway loop).

So, that was his task, drive by and give the house a quick look-over and the neighborhood an good eye-balling.

When I got up this morning, I had a text message that said

“42 is okay.”

What, my teenage readers or parents of teenagers, do you think, in this context “42” means?

Edited to Add: I just talked to the man and he was trying to tell me that the 4200 block of Ashland City Highway is just fine.

The Woman I Hate

So, I had to go out to Donelson yesterday to be professionally developed, which actually turned out to be kind of interesting, though a little weirdly culty for my tastes. Anyway, I was sitting at a table with a very nice woman who had come in clear from Bowling Green, when we were joined by another woman, who was also very nice


I still hate her.

And here’s why, folks.

When she sat down, in between us, she immediately pulled out a pile of tissue and a handful of cough drops.  She proceded to apologize for being “nasally” which the blonde and I both took to mean something like “I’m having terrible allergies.”

But then the coughing fits began.  And she began to pile up a pyramid of used tissue on the table in front of her.  And then she started chewing on her cough drops.  And in all other manner acting like a woman who was sick, not just suffering from allergies.

Okay, so you’re sick.  But you’ve been sent to this thing and you can’t really get out of it or reschedule.  Fine.  Sit in the back.  Explain to the leader your situation and sit away from others.  But no, then she tagged along with the blonde and me to lunch and the blonde ended up with twice as many fries as a person should get and I ended up with none, so the blonde and I split the fries.

Well, then it became her goal to try to get us to share her food.

No, I shit you not.  She’s basically scooping crap onto her fork and shoving it at us like “No, really, you must try this.”

She got up to go to the bathroom and the blonde and I look at each other and the blonde says “Do you think she’s intentionally trying to get us sick?  I mean, she seems nice, but what a, and excuse my language, fucking evil thing to do.”

And now, this morning, I have a cough.  Just a tickle in the back of my throat, but a cough nevertheless.

You run into folks like this, who seem to be convinced that, if they act nice and relatively clueless about their obnoxious behavior, they are beyond criticism and can do whatever the fuck they want.  And I never am quite sure what to do about them, because they send out all the signals of being a nice person, just trapped in an unfortunate circumstance, and who wants to be mean to a nice person trapped in an unfortunate circumstance?

But I’m starting to get a feeling that for some folks, being a nice person trapped in an unfortunate circumstance is actually how they bully their way through life.

And maybe they should be treated as the bullies they are.