Sunday Morning SerenadePosted: November 15, 2009
Having been working on recovering from the Flatbush Artists Studio Tours and all the connected activities, I finally had to have one of my annual “be a slug” days yesterday. This basically entails, getting up and staying in your bed clothes for an entire day, leaving the house only once (although not leaving at all is preferred) and allowing any and all distractions be a part of the non-stop entertainment.
To begin the day, I shuttled my wife out the door to her gym workout, so that I could sit and finish watching the final season of the Sopranos. Since we do not have a TV, I tend to watch HBO shows via disk, and so happened upon this collection at the library. As I was secretly sick of the show, and just wanted to bury Tony Soprano already, I sat through the final 3 episodes, with guitar in hand. It is interesting that a character like Tony Soprano, relates to something in most watchers. He is a sociopath of the highest order, and the character has a way of turning everyone’s tragedy, (mostly caused by him) and making it about himself. This study in sociopathic behavior has been going on for seven seasons. I would think that even James Gandolfini, who played the head Soprano, needed to let go of the character. Well now it is done for me, and I immediately shuttled the disks back to the library so that some other compatriot can partake of this unsettling indulgence.
Now the library is another matter these days. In my time, the library was a quiet place. If us kids were even whispering in a corner, a librarian would come over to us and ask us to be quiet. Now our Brooklyn library has a security guard on hand, like most public schools, to squelch the noise of the local population who uses it as a daycare center and hangout. A group of young African American boys (or West Indian?) were having some very animated conversation at the center of the space. Just hanging out. Pretty harmless. Terribly annoying. I asked a young man behind the counter if he was in good conscience going to ask them to quiet down, or would I have to do it. The look of fear shot through his eyes, as he abdicated any responsibility. So playing my alpha male self, I entered their circle.
“Gentlemen!”, I said, “it is my understanding that a library should be a quiet space. Your voices are now the most prominent thing in here, and it is inconsiderate of others who are trying to read quietly. Is it possible you could lower your voices?”
They all looked down at the ground as if the principal had just reprimanded them. I was trying to talk to them as people. Something young men of color are not used to, and probably do not recognize as they are commonly treated with disdain and exasperation. And right there I saw another problem, stemming out from our stellar education system. These boys are never spoken to in a respectful manner in their daily existence, therefore having respect for their surroundings is not part of their consciousness. In democratic education, everyone is made to feel part of the process of governance, and it opens young people up. They become empowered, therefore working in tandem with the rest of the community. Because of the way young men of color are treated in our schools, the only course for them is misbehavior, which only comes back to haunt the rest of us. I think as a society, we should endeavor to correct this.
Well after my little drama, I went home with a few new videos, ready to enter back into my “slug day” mode. After attacking a new assignment, whose solution was lingering in my mind, after making a stew for the family, Sheryll and I sat back on the couch and watched a Canadian documentary called “Stupidity.” (This was after rewatching the incredible “Madness of King George”)
Apparently this is the first film to actually study the idea of dumbing down our culture. It made me glad I do not watch network TV and may even get us to forsake our Hulu.com habit. The film had some intellectual luminaries, chief among them Noam Chomsky and David Suzuki as well as one of my favorite bloggers, Bill Maher. It followed phenomena like Jackass, television, bad movies etc. I cannot give an expert synopsis of it, because it is still digesting in my brain. But the film did alert me to the modern day situations, that intelligence is difficult to sell, but stupidity has become really easy.
There is not much more to add at this point. My passion meter is kind of low this morning. I have not even had my coffee yet. The sun is rumored to appear today. I may leave the house, although reluctantly, and stroll the neighborhood. Possibly make an appearance at open mic tonight. I played a lot yesterday and may have a new improvisation to present. Either way, life goes on, and now I will make coffee.