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Entry date: 5-24-2024 – Last Day – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Is it bad luck to wear new shoes on the last day of something? I can’t see why that would be. It seems like it should be good luck to wear new shoes on a last day, so I’m going to do just that. I got some new Vans a few weeks ago and it is time to bust them out.


Yesterday was a clusterfuck of high proportion. The grievances between fourth graders were numerous. They are letting each other really know how they truly feel. During a really nice moment where all of the fourth graders were out in the main hallway with our principal, who is moving to another school in the district, two of my little cherubs almost got in a fight.


I can only imagine how that would have tainted what was a very special moment for her. Luckily, it didn’t happen, and I was able to diffuse the situation quickly. Of course it involved the cocaine baby, but he was not the aggressor here.


This was the first of at least three such situations and when the day was done, I was ready to be rid of them. At least my day ended on a somewhat positive note, unlike one of my fellow grade level teachers who had a student shit in his chair. As I was walking back from my dismissal duty, she was bringing out a chair that had dried shit caked on it.


I shit you not.


She won the day and, maybe, the year with that one. It made 99% of Cocaine Baby’s antics seem rather tame. There was that one day when he shit his pants, but he didn’t leave any residue in his chair.


He did tell me, though, during a calm part of the day yesterday that he didn’t want to leave me. That touched my heart a bit, but I’m still ready for him to be another teacher’s worry. Knowing my luck (and expertise), I will get a few more interesting students next year. I get the tough kids and that’s all right.


By 11:50AM today, I will be free of them and can throw away all the little drawings they gave me. I can dispose of all the toys I confiscated. I can begin forgetting names.


Before you think less of me, consider that teachers do this every year. I love them. I want good things for them, but in two short months and some change, I will have a whole crop of new ones to begin worrying about. It’s the cycle of teacher life. They will be my new work family.


All their names will shift back to “buddy” and “sweetheart.” That’s another part of the cycle. The older I get, the harder it is for me to remember names. Maybe I don’t really care or maybe I just have too many of them in my head. Doesn’t mean I’m not happy to see them, though.


The last day is bittersweet, too.


It would be easy to get lost in all the things I should have done or could have done or would have done differently if I had more time. I can, however, also choose to focus on the fact I am a way better teacher now than I was a year ago and while I could have been better for this outgoing crew back in August and September, I worked my ass off to make up for it the last five months. I will sleep fine tonight.


Here’s to my 37 (plus the other 50 or so from my music club and intervention groups) companions for the last 10 months. May they grow up to be excellent people who make the world a better place. I will miss them a little bit. Especially Cocaine Baby.



If you’ve ever had a band disappoint you when you have been waiting to see them for years by taking a big shit on the stage, then you know the feeling I am remembering now as I write about today’s band. It seems like a strange way to begin a short piece that will inevitably praise one of their records, but I’ll be damned if this band didn’t suck when Markus and I saw them in the early part of 1989. They were fucking terrible.


They were/are an east coast band, so maybe they were just sick of being on the road and sick of each other by the time they got to Phoenix. I suppose that could have been the case, but at the time, I was pretty darn livid. The show was like $10 for a ticket and in those days, that wasn’t always easy for me to pay. I was a starving college student who needed money for weed and acid and beer.


As I listen to the only record by this band I’ve ever owned, I’m beginning to forgive them. I’m also wondering if maybe I’ve missed out on a bunch of good stuff because I was so bummed about their show that I ignored the ten or so records (give or take) they put out after their debut album. I don’t know the answer here and I know myself well enough to know that I won’t be listening to anything else by The Dead Milkmen anytime soon.


Yep, they totally laid an egg when Markus and I invested the dough and went to see them at The Underground in early 1989. They played for a long time, too, so somebody got their money’s worth, but we stuck around hoping it was going to get good eventually. It didn’t.


Big Lizard In My Backyard is a fun record. As I listen to it for the first time in years, I’m reminded that I like all the songs on it. They are clever and quirky and, in their own way, punk rock exemplified. The songs are short and have a lot to say in a short period of time.


We used to listen to it when we were skating all the time in the late 80s. It was in heavy rotation with the Adicts, Dead Kennedys, and Dr. Know. Compared to those other bands, though, Dead Milkmen seemed like they were kind of a joke band except for the fact that these 21 songs are well crafted and quite earnest in their charming swirl of irony.


These songs have definitely left an impression on me. I only visit it every five or six years, but I find myself remembering the words pretty quickly. If I close my eyes, I can see the front seat of Mark’s Cutlass or Rabbit, and we are heading to some banks or a pool. Skateboards in the trunk and the tunes turned up, but not so much that we can’t talk over them.


There are not many records that reference Charles Nelson Reilly, a Bitchin’ Camaro, and a busload of retards. These are just a few of the hilarious lines spouted by Rodney Anonymous and Joe Jack Talcum (who also played guitar). “Bitchin’ Camaro/Tony Orlando and Dawn.”


I tried playing “Takin’ Retards to the Zoo” for my kids a couple years ago and they were like, “What the fuck?” and gave me a look that said, “that’s not as funny as you think it is, dad.” I worry about this new generation sometimes. Sure, punk rock doesn’t always age well, but if you saw the Dead Milkmen live, you would quickly realize there was not much they could have done if an audience turned on them.


When you listen to Big Lizard In My Backyard, you have to believe the guys in Ween probably listened to them a lot. There is definitely a little crossover between a little crossover between Big Lizard In My Backyard and The Pod. I bet they played some shows together.


“Violent School” is a really great song, too. I just got to that one and I’m reminded (again) how much I like it. Back in the day, I think I confused the lyrics on this one, but whatever. What really makes me think now is how the guitars on this record sound so wimpy compared to most other bands I like, but they work.


They really work.


I think I should dust this one off more often.


See you tomorrow.


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