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Entry date: 1-27-2024 – Wild Saturday Randy – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Yesterday was a bit wild and woolly.


Apparently, a student at our neighboring middle school posted something on social media that involved bringing a gun to school. He was arrested and we had a lot of extra security and police presence around both my elementary school and the middle school, but I had about a third of my class absent.


In over 25 years now of working in and around schools, I have never really felt unsafe. I worked in a prison and really never felt like I was in any danger. I’ve worked in halfway houses and juvenile detention facilities, too, as a guest speaker and always felt like I could do my job, help the kids (or adults) and not worry.


It wasn’t any different yesterday. It was odd, for sure, to see the extra security and such, but the kids were unfazed, and we just did our thing. In the classroom, it was actually a pretty good day.


Cocaine Baby hit someone. That’s par for the course these days, but he did rally and finish strong. It’s my mission to get him to the point where he has more good days than bad days by the end of the year. Instead of baby steps, I’ll say “One bump at a time.” Old partyers will get my drift.


The Bully went home early, too, so I didn’t have to watch him like a hawk during dismissal. His teacher and I had a good chat about him during recess and now he knows he’s got some help if he needs it. I really like that particular co-worker. Hopefully he comes back next year.


Yesterday was also the day new contract offers came out. I was hoping for a slight increase to the salary schedule, but the board did not approve it. With enrollment down in our district, it was probably a pipe dream anyway, but with the shit I’ve had to put up with lately, a hazard pay bonus would have been nice.


It occurred to me as I was walking back to my classroom from dismissal that a good teacher needs to be like the Libra of “Don’t fuck with me” and “I love you unconditionally.” If you can balance the two, you’ll have a wonderful classroom environment. My fellow teachers and parents will get this notion. I’m pretty sure those are key ingredients in anyone in a leadership position.

I think there is a lot more that can be explored with the idea of balancing those two key attributes. Maybe tips and tricks would be important to think about here at that old ergo-mis. We’re full service around here.




I’m thinking about how I would like today to go, but I’m not going to put in writing. I don’t want to jinx it. After dealing with crud all week, I just want to… (that’s all I’m going to say).


I hope you have the Saturday you need to have.




On October 18, 1988, I was celebrating my 19th birthday. I was living on 28th Street and Clarendon in an apartment with my friends, Jeff, Michael, and Brian. It was quite the party apartment. Many things happened there, some bad, but mostly good (not quite so clean) fun. Little did I know that Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation was born that day, too.


It was a few months later when I first heard the recording. Initially, I enjoyed the huge bummer of it all. I never found Sonic Youth’s early music to be particularly uplifting, but it was noisy and good and, like I said, a huge bummer. When I got my first CD player about six months after its release, Daydream Nation was one of the first, probably, ten CDs I bought.


It’s a really lovely record, even in all its bummer-ness. In those days, I was really fond of LSD. This record was one that altered the landscape of many psychedelic experiences and allowed me to funnel my energy inwardly. There were lots of occasions where I would come home from tripping with the crew, and I would put this on and just sort of lay on my water bed and let the tenor of the record flow through and around me.


On vinyl, Daydream Nation, is a double record. There are only three or four songs on each side and each side is pretty darn epic. I think, though, it flows better on CD. The whole enchilada without having to get up and turn it over or get a new slab of wax. “Teen Age Riot” is such a good song. When they played it in San Francisco in 1991 when they opened for Neil Young & Crazyhorse at the Cow Palace, it was nothing short of epic. I always loved seeing them play songs of Daydream Nation live. In my opinion, it’s their best record.


“Teen Age Riot” moves, for sure, but like many of Sonic Youth’s better songs, there is also such a beautifl undercurrent. Thurston Moore is kind of a master at beautiful noise. His melodies are often just so damn good. The whole band was able to put together such great songs. “Silver Rocket” has edge and angst and serves as a nice bridge between “Teen Age Riot” and Kim Gordon’s “The Sprawl.”


I remember thinking about “The Sprawl” upon my first time with the record. It oozes (and the lyrics even say) “Fuck you.” When she sings, “Come on down to the store, you can buy some more, more, more, more” it echoed the thoughts in my own head about blatant consumerism. Of course, I know a bit more about Gordon now after reading her book and understand where she was coming from a bit better, but still, “The Sprawl” is a great song. She talk/sings her way through while Lee Ranaldo and Moore alternate between blasts of effects laden noise and intricate riffage while Steve Shelley propels the band forward and forward and forward.

As “The Sprawl” fades into noisy nothingness, “Cross the Breeze” begins and continues the Gordon section of the first half of the recording. These are two pretty long numbers. In fact, three of the first six songs on Daydream Nation are over seven minutes long. The riffs in “Cross the Breeze” and the subsequent, “Eric’s Trip” have been really influential to me. I’ve copied them more than a few times in my own way. Gordon’s lyrics are full of yearning and fire on “Cross the Breeze.”


There is nothing subtle about “Eric’s Trip,” though. This one is Ranaldo’s time to shine and shine he does. Probably my favorite track on the whole record, “Eric’s Trip” is the type of song that makes me wish I wrote it. If I could write a song half as good as this one, I’d die a happy man.


“She thinks she’s a goddess/She says she can talk to the spirits/I wonder if she can talk to herself/If She can bear to hear it.” Brilliant.


I learned at some point that the song was based on a speech from an Andy Warhol film, but I’ve never bothered to seek it out. I doubt I will, but who knows. Maybe one day…


“Total Trash” is a fun riff and kind of poppy for an early Sonic Youth song at first. They torque it eight ways from Sunday, though, before it gives up the ghost. “Hey Joni,” though, is a bit more remarkable. This is another Ranaldo song and I’m kind of partial to his songs on this record. Mike Watt, yes, that Mike Watt, is featured on “Providence.” He leaves some messages for Thurston Moore on his answering machine. It’s fun to realize that even then, Sonic Youth knew that Mike Watt was the coolest.


“Candle” is another great song. This is the song that, when on hallucinogens, you could kind of gain a little foothold on reality for at least the first minute or so. It has a calming influence before the storm begins again. There was a night in the early 90s when Michael, Brian, and I were tripping balls in the condominium that Alexa and I shared on 19th Avenue in those days. While we were listening to Daydream Nation, a transformer attached to a power pole across the street blew up. We couldn’t do anything else but watch it burn.


And giggle.


The words “Holy shit” were definitely uttered as we avoided stepping on Jessie’s dog shit in the small backyard. I also think we might have pondered on whether our collective energy caused the explosion.


If it would have started raining during “Rain King” you might have had to visit me in a loony bin, but it did not. This is probably the heaviest song on the record. It’s noisy and mean and I like it a lot.


“Kissability” is another gem. For some reason, it reminds me of a song that would have been played in an old west saloon if they had the technology to create in the 1870s. There is a quality to the guitar sounds that mimic a slightly out of tune piano.


Daydream Nation ends with “Trilogy.” These are three songs by Gordon and Moore that tie the record up with a neat little bow. “The Wonder” is kind of a flashback to the energy of the first few songs on the disc/record. It has a manic feel and you just want to tap your toes to it. “Hyperstation” continues the same type of feel. By the time you reached this point in the record, you were ready for something mellow, but it wasn’t going to happen. It’s almost as if Sonic Youth knew how I was using this record in those days. “Hyperstation” is lots of messy squiggles and attitude.


“Eliminator Jr” is the shortest and last song of the “Trilogy.” There is a celebratory notion happening here. I wonder if it was the last song they recorded during the sessions that spawned Daydream Nation?


The best thing about Daydream Nation, though, is that it is still as great today as it was back then. I don’t think I’ll ever drop acid and listen to it, but at my age, I don’t need the acid. I just need the tunes.




If you made it this far, you rock.


See you tomorrow.

The lap of love. Pranka and Liam. This picture will always make my heart soar.

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