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Entry date: 2-8-2024 – Turning Over A New Leaf – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


As mentioned on Tuesday, I tried something different the last few days with Cocaine Baby. I can’t say whether it has worked or not based on the small sample size, but at very least, it has improved my overall mood in my classroom. Yesterday and Tuesday, I didn’t feel as much like it was a ‘me vs. them’ thing.


This is progress. This is eye opening. This is cool.


There really is something to being self-aware. Putting a little more discipline on my own perspective, if you will, has helped me have a better understanding of managing my emotions. The inner me matches the outer me a bit more and I like it. There is a possibility for balance.


I like that, too.


Basically, I am allowing the Cocaine Baby to feel autonomous as much as possible by stopping to explain little things to him, then sending him off to do them. I fully expect he will come back for more instruction in five or ten minutes because, well, that’s him. That’s what he needs. It is not about what I need.


I’ve even had to explain to him that I was busy doing other things, but I could give him a little bit of time and he would have to handle things until I could give him a little more. Apparently, this seems reasonable to him. I’ve even used it with my other frequent flyers, of which there are several, and it works with them, too.


As I sit here and reflect on the last couple of days in the classroom, I wonder if I have turned a professional corner or if this is just a mirage. Perhaps it’s a blip on the Cocaine Baby screen where he seems a tiny bit reasonable. I mean, some of his more fun behaviors have been apparent. He’s still fucking with the specials teachers when he can. He likes to irritate the crap out of a few of his peers, but I can live with that to a certain extent.


I’m not going to take away his break anymore. He doesn’t care. In fact, he likes being in the classroom with me at lunch because he has my attention, and he knows it. He’s in control then and that’s what he wants.


The hope is that maybe he can learn enough self-control from all of this to figure out he can get attention without having to go negative. He can satisfy that itch with a little bit of the good instead of a lot of the bad. If he can do this, next year will be a lot easier and, just maybe, a 6th, 7th, or 8th grader won’t beat the crap out of him daily.


Baby steps, yet again.




 There was some considerable excitement in the air when OK Computer appeared in 1997. Radiohead was beginning to be very well appreciated by seemingly everyone, including me. I was busy, in those days, kicking myself for not going to see Radiohead at the Nile Theater in Mesa when I could have. I probably could have gotten in free.


In those days, Hillbilly was playing the Nile at least once a month. We had a lot of great opening slots and even had one band that was soon to be pretty darn well known open for us one night. I was sleeping on Radiohead, though, because I dismissed them as the “Creep” band.


Sure, I liked the song “Creep” but it was terribly overplayed. If I had been smart enough, like say, my cousin, Ben, to look past “Creep” and pick up a copy of Pablo Honey much earlier than I did, I would have realized that there were a great number of songs I really liked. I didn’t, though, and my true appreciation for Radiohead did not officially begin until I heard OK Computer.


Perhaps my brain was in the right place to accept Radiohead as my lord and savior (just kidding) until 1997. I was working at Courtesy Chevrolet, going to ASU, and had just moved in with Ryan and his mom when OK Computer came out. I was a couple of months from starting to work at Casa, too, so there was a lot of change in my life.


OK Computer is a really good album to listen to when things are changing in your life. For one thing, it’s very fucking thoughtful. It’s also thought provoking. From the opening riff, I was totally sucked in and to this day, when “Airbag” starts, I am all in.


One of my favorite things about this record is how it sounds. I’m not an audiophile, mind you, but I do appreciate an album that sounds good in the old headphones. OK Computer sounds fucking great. Those guys know what they are doing and clearly hire the right people to make records with when they decide to go in the studio.


To say you can hear everything is an understatement. If you haven’t listened to this record on a good stereo or decent headphones/ear buds in a while, do yourself a favor. All the good stuff is just right there, right in its place, and you can kind of be absorbed by it or, more accurately, absorb it into you.


It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing with Radiohead. Do we consume it or do they consume us? What was/is their goal. I listened to them on SmartLess a year or so ago while traveling and while I liked what I heard, I also came away from it wondering if Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke were just sort of humoring the boys.


Either way, I don’t feel like OK Computer is meant to humor me or any other listener. I feel like it is very purposeful. I love how there is a tambourine or some similar percussion instrument at the very beginning of “Airbag” that sort of comes in and out through song sounding like Christmas, or more specifically, a sleigh.


I read somewhere that “Airbag” is about a car accident and while I make it a point to not try to analyze Radiohead lyrics, I still think the sleighbell sound is a very interesting choice. It’s comfort food mixed in with acid jazz.


One of the reasons I make very little attempt at deciphering Yorke’s vocals is his unique phrasing. He bends words like very few others. I like it and appreciate it, but it’s very far away from what I like to do with my limited vocal ability. Another reason I don’t worry about knowing exactly what he is singing is that the music is just so darned interesting to my ear.


When “Paranoid Android” begins, I could just float away on the multi-track lazy river that begins the song. Colin Greenwood plays such a cool, nimble bassline in the song. It seems like the sweet cousin at a family gathering of highwaymen. Innocent until pulled in by their shenanigans and maybe never to be seen again.


The summer after OK Computer came out, I made a friend when I worked at a summer camp in Prescott for Casa who really taught me a lot about Radiohead. We even played several of their songs over the years from the high school age kids at the camp. It was so much fun. I always wanted to give “Paranoid Android” a try as a stripped-down acoustic number, but never got the balls to give it a try.


“Subterranean Homesick Alien” is a beautiful song. Like all the songs on the record, there are layers upon layers to decode. I picture the fellas in the studio talking about how they can add this or that. In my mind, they looked pleased and proud.


I could go on and on about this record, but as I listen while I type, I just want to stop moving my fingers and drift into the world of this record. Before I sign off, though, I want touch on at least one more song. “Karma Police,” I think, is one of my all-time favorite songs and one of my all-time favorite music videos.


Radiohead really knocked it out of the park with that one. I particularly love Yorke’s lyrics on this one, even though I said I don’t spend a lot of time on his words. I think the video actually made me really notice what he was saying more than any other song on the record. The line where he says, “Arrest this man, he talks in maths, he buzzes like a fridge, he’s like a detuned radio,” just slays me.


“He talks in maths?” Who gives a fuck what that really means? I love it, but I just want to be mesmerized by it. I want to sing it loudly along with Yorke almost as much as I love singing the part where he says, “For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself” over and over.


There is no slight here against the last six songs on the record. I just don’t know if I could really say how much I love this record in a way that you, dear reader, might find interesting. If you’re reading this and you’ve never listened to this record, I truly envy you.


I’m jealous as hell just thinking about the people who get to discover this record for the first time. The people who haven’t been born yet who will hear OK Computer and think, “They made this for me.”


Dear paranoid androids,


You’ll be fine.






See you tomorrow.

Thinking about these ladies right now. Great Aunt Jo, Granny, Great Aunt Lois, Great Aunt Dee, and Great Aunt Lou. Only Granny and Lois are left. I've missed going to see Granny as much as I had been going the last few weeks due to the crud. She certainly doesn't need it.

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