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Entry date: 12-8-2022 - Political Scientists and Principals are cool - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I am happy to report that my students had a very interesting level of curiosity about the anniversary of Pearl Harbor yesterday. I was a little surprised and definitely impressed at the questions they had about the situation, and we had a really good chat/lesson regarding the event. There is hope for the kids to have interest in history.

I must remember sometimes that identifying as Americans or even global citizens is not exactly on the forefront of my student’s minds. Many of them are first generation Americans and they live in a time when American pride is not exactly something that fits well with having brown skin. I’m sure many of their parents are very happy and grateful to be in the country, but sadly, the leaders who get the headlines are often not on their side.

My kids are worried, a lot I fear, about where their next meal is coming from and how things like rent and utilities are being paid. They could care less, most likely, about something that happened 81 years ago unless it is brought to their attention. Yesterday I gave them a small distraction by talking about it and helped them to understand it better by asking them this:

What do you think the people in the United States were thinking and feeling on this day 81 years ago?

You can put a little social emotional learning into any lesson. I wanted them to think about it from a human perspective and many of them did just that. I even had one, a very interesting little thinker with curly hair and a pear-shaped body, who said, “I think they felt victorious.” That puzzled me for a second and then I realized he was talking about the Japanese. It struck me as odd at first that he would go there, but why wouldn’t or shouldn’t he?

There were a lot of questions about why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, which was pretty cool, too. I don’t remember being encouraged to look at it from their perspective ever in the 70s when I was in fourth grade. Maybe when I got to high school, but even then, most of the time when this subject came up, it was from an American perspective.

Thinking about this reminds me that it is the birthday of my dear friend, bandmate, and political science expert, Eric. I have written about him a few times when I talked about being part of different rhythm sections and told the story of Pinky, but I would feel bad if I didn’t acknowledge that it is his big day today.

Eric was my best man when Rhondi and I got married and recently he said that it was only because he was the one who showed up. To me, though, he was my best man that day because he fucking showed up. That meant a lot to me. No one else did. Zero. Other than Ryan, Eric was the only person who was there at the wedding for me.

Granted, Maine is far and I’m not bitter about it, at all, but Eric showed up for me, so he was my best man and will always be my best man when it comes to my marriage. He’s also been a really great friend in a lot of ways, even if we don’t talk or hang out all the time. I enjoy his company and I hope he enjoys mine.

I do plan on spending more time with the birthday boy in 2023. We have some musical dragons to slay together, and it will be fun to do so. We have some unfinished business by way of a band called Brand New Christ that he and Bill and I did several years ago. The timing was really, really bad when the three of us started jamming and it caused some ill feelings at home, so I had to step aside.

The thing about it was, though, that Brand New Christ was actually a really good band and could have maybe been something that people liked. When I was doing Slope Records with my friend, Tom, we even made a recording of five of the songs and one cover that Tom sang on. It turned out amazing. Two of the tracks have already been used on TV shows but we never even played a show.

Now that I am a musical free agent, we can revisit this stuff in the new year when it feels good for all of us to do so. I’d like to play with those guys again and it will be a lot of fun. Maybe we will play a show someday, even…who knows? There are definitely riffs to explore.

We are also talking about doing a Damned cover band next year with Tom J, Bill, Eric, Andrew, and myself. That would be a killer lineup of really good players who could do it justice. Feels like a good thing to do next year and maybe we could play a few shows with that, too. Eric and Bill and I can get together and learn some Damned songs and play a few BNC tunes, too. Win-win!

(Side note: My beautiful wife is rolling her eyes right now, but it will be okay, honey. We are all old and busy and have realistic ideas these days of how to spend our time wisely).

I love it, actually, as you have probably surmised dear reader, when my friends have birthdays. It makes me feel all nostalgic and sentimental. Y’all are the people who have made my life so wonderful, for the most part, if I am writing about you in this way, and I’m happy to be able to share this love. Eric, as mentioned, has been a good friend and instrumental in helping me be who I am today.


Another such person in my life is my friend, Dorothy aka Black Dot, who also has a birthday today. We met back in 1986 and to say she has been instrumental in who I am is an understatement. Like my relationship with Eric, I am hard pressed to think of a more faithful or helpful and true friend.

Dorothy and I bonded over psychedelic music and going on random adventures with our mutual friends as she prepared to graduate from high school and I just prepared for whatever was coming next. Even though she was off to New York for college, our friendship only grew and it has been one of several constants in my life ever since.

I love that she is an educator who fights for her students with all she has while maintaining a realistic stance on the world her students face. She is, quite frankly, a fucking superhero when it comes to running a school full of kids that could easily be cast aside, forgotten, and trampled on.

We can laugh and cry together and, most importantly, just be ourselves when we get together and that says so much about who she is. I appreciate all of the amazing gifts she has brought to my life and knowing she is out there is a comfort to me deep in my soul.

Even though we went to different schools, she helped shape my high school experience in a way that I will never forget. As I look back, our time together, which included a really fun and hilarious group of fellas from her school and our mutual friends from mine, burned hot like a magnesium fire, and was actually over before we knew it...but there are a bunch of moments I can still chuckle about to this day.

We went to the zoo together the first time we met, accompanied by KJ and John. I still have pictures from that day. We were high as Georgia pines, admiring the majesty of the world's largest rodents, the capybara. Later, we ended up on Camelback Mountain at a spot she knew that afforded an awesome view of the valley. Friendship cemented in the appreciation of beauty and $5 drugs.

Later that spring, I was honored to be her date for her senior prom, even if I did fuck it up by dyeing my hair. See the picture below if you don't believe me. She forgave me, though, and I'm glad she did. Her friendship means the world to me.

I hope everyone is appreciative of those who help you be who you are. We probably don’t thank people enough because it is a hard thing to do. We can, though, celebrate their being alive and having a big day.

Happy birthday, Eric! Happy birthday, Dot! I love you both.

See you tomorrow.

Link to some music we made.

I love this picture of Eric.

I may have posted this before, but it is too good to not post again.

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