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Entry date: 1-31-2024 – There’s a Reason Monks Used to Self-Flagellate (the Bet) – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


I spent a good amount of time beating myself up yesterday. I’m to the point in the school year where the kids who are driving me crazy have definitely been putting their foot on the proverbial gas. Perhaps it’s because I’m far from feeling 100% or maybe they are just conscious enough to see that I can be kicked right now, but I don’t like the way I have interacted with a few of them.


Before I get to the Cocaine Baby, I have another student who is an enigma. I see him talking to his peers and laughing and having fun all the time. Then I try to talk with him, and he clams up and pretends to not speak English. It’s so frustrating. I called him out on his act yesterday and he cried.


The words “shit heel” can appropriately describe how I felt afterwards. He’s not a bad kid, just incredibly manipulative and possibly in the top three for laziest students I have ever had. He’s also, clearly, experienced trauma in his life. I know this because he reacted to me calling him out for putting on an act in a way that a child who has experienced a fair amount of trauma would react.


Last year, I had his older brother. That kid was another manipulative piece of work. He figured out that I would invite him to a pizza lunch if he behaved great for a few weeks. After he got his pizza, he turned into a total shit for the rest of the year. I saw him during parent/teacher conferences, and he was quite the little ass kisser in front of his mom (and the six other kids she had with her, not including the one in her belly). No wonder my current student feels like he can just sort of drift through life.


The Cocaine Baby has been firing on all cylinders this week so far and we are only just starting day three of the week. On Monday, he brought some matches to school and was lighting them in the bathroom. He proceeded to manipulate that situation in his favor somehow and instead of spending the day in detention, he was back to my class by noon. He admitted to me later that he set the whole thing up because he didn’t want to do school on Monday.


He’s fine, I guess, with wasting a bunch of the school’s money. I say money because myself, my assistant principal, another teacher, and the head custodian all spent a fair amount of time dealing with his bullshit. Time that could have been spent doing about a thousand more useful things to help other kids.


Oh well. I’m done beating myself up over it.




On a much more positive note, I have to mention the manifestation of an “Ask and ye shall receive” moment. About ten days ago, I mentioned that I wished I had a copy of the Nova Boy’s EP, Death In A Dress. Guess what showed up on my doorstep yesterday? Yes indeed!


Thank you, Steve. You made my day. I’m going to put that fucker on the stereo when I get home today and take a fun ride to rockabilly town, Phoenix-Style. You have to let me know if there is anything you’re looking for that I can send to you.




The picture on the front of the card was also a flower. It was a cartoon sunflower with a giant, toothy grin. Like the rose from earlier that morning, there were no words on the front and when Friday opened the card, it simply said, “Relax” and had another funky little smiley face.


“Relax?” Friday said aloud as if the card could hear her.


She turned the card over quickly to see if there were any other messages. The previous one had said, “Help Me,” which had unnerved Friday. This one said the same thing, but it added, “Please.”


Friday shoved the card, along with the other one, into her bag and headed towards the door. She stepped through, locked up, and thought about turning around, but Gloria had said it was a good day to catch her parents, so she headed to the beach.


She found herself heading west on Pico towards the 1. As she passed under the 405 freeway, she noticed some graffiti on the wall. It read, “LA EATS THE YOUNG.”

Friday thought this was funny and sad and true.



Is this what LA did to Jennifer Dunkirk, she wondered. She did get eaten, didn’t she. Friday had seen it so many times and no matter how much her parents looked out for her, she always kind of wondered when it was going to eat her next. If LA had an appetite for the young, Hollywood was voracious.


Friday turned onto the PCH and headed towards Malibu trying not to think of Jennifer Dunkirk or anything else. It was her day off and she needed her parents. They would know what to do.


There was stop and go traffic, but she didn’t care. She put on KROQ and listened to Jed the Fish. He was playing great stuff as usual and when David Bowie’s “Heroes” came on, she cranked it up. Friday loved David Bowie’s voice and had gone with her parents to see him several times over the years, but always turned them down when they asked if she wanted to meet him.


Sometimes you don’t want to meet your heroes, even if they sing about them.




I bought Wonderful by Circle Jerks at Zia for $2 in 1985 or 86. I had $2, and at that point, I don’t think I had any of their other records on vinyl yet. I had been a fan since being exposed to the Decline of Western Civilization soundtrack a few years earlier. It’s funny when I think back to those days. I missed out on so many opportunities to begin my “punk” life before I actually did, but what can you do. There is no crying over spilled opportunity.


People bag on Wonderful. I get it. It’s not the best record by the Jerks. It got shredded in comparison to their earlier efforts and rightfully so, but it is a charming record that will grow on you if you just give it a listen. That’s exactly what I did.


A good $2 score of a used record at Zia was a great thing in those days. I was stoked on it and took it home and threw it on my little piece of shit Magnavox stereo and turned it up. The first time I saw the band live, they were on the Wonderful tour, so that probably helped. I saw them a bunch in those mid-80s days and the best songs from the record were in heavy rotation in their sets.


I’m also a huge fan of Keith Morris and Zander Schloss. I’ve been lucky enough to interview Keith a few times now and Zander and I had a great three-hour chat for a LA Weekly piece I did on him. This was Zander Schloss’ first full-length with band, so I am partial to it for that reason, too.


“Making the Bombs” is a really good song. It’s more metal/rock than punk when it comes to the riffs, but Morris makes everything hardcore when he steps up to the mic. I remember seeing them play this at the Mason Jar around the time I got the record and thoroughly enjoying it.


“When I hear the lunchtime whistle, I don’t go out to eat. I’d rather stick around and polish a couple of cruise missiles.” – “Making the Bombs” ending line. So choice.


In fact, the middle of the record is strong. I love “Mrs. Jones,” too, because of the lyrics. I’ve had a soft spot for the old Jack Lemmon movie, Good Neighbor Sam, since I was a kid, so when I heard this one, I hoped he used “Good neighbor Sam” in the lyrics because of it. I should ask him next time I talk to Keith.



“Dude” is just kind of a song, but it’s not terrible and the energy is great. Also, I saw them play this one live a few times. Like “American Heavy Metal Weekend,” “Dude” is just a punch in the gut of the stereotypical dumb jock punk that was happening at the time in Southern California. I think these songs were a way for Morris to just a big “Fuck you” to stuff he found comical. Plus, I think Keith was drinking an awful lot in those days.


Either way, though, these are fun songs. If you are a Circle Jerks fan, you can’t help but like a song like “I,I & I.” I remember this one and “Killing for Jesus” being especially great live. Hetson’s riffage is not nearly as fat as it would be if they re-recorded it now, but that’s also part of Wonderful’s charm. The band may have cut a few things here and there to save a few bucks in the studio, but it still sounds good enough for punk rock.


“15 Minutes” is my favorite track on the record because of Zander’s bass line. I play it a lot when I’m warming up before a show or practice. The lyrics are not exactly acceptable for this day and age. Keith and I talked about this a couple years ago when the Jerks were coming through town for the first leg of their reunion/401K tour. He kind of chuckled when I brought that up and basically let me down easy when I said I hoped they would still play it.


I’ll always have a soft spot for Wonderful. Hopefully there are no more broken hearts for “Snake.”


                Wonderful is a charming record, though, even with all its flaws. Give it a spin and remember:


“It must be something in the air.”




See you tomorrow.

I picked a random photo. I'll get in trouble for this one.

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