Coffee heat rising

Are You Crazy to Have Kids Today?

Time to move along? If I were younger and had kids, I’d sure be looking at that possibility a lot more closely. On the other hand…move to where? Seems like every part of the country is either off the deep end or teetering on the edge.

What a place we live in!

Southward bound to the AJ’s, my favorite overpriced gourmet-style grocery store, I was about to turn left off Main Drag East to move over onto Central Avenue, which takes you directly by the front of the beloved store. Idling in the left-turn lane, I looked down in the direction of where I would be east-bound and saw…TA DAAAAA! An army of cops, fire vehicles, ambulances, and whatnot, right down on Central.

HOLY shee-ut! Veer back into the southbound lanes and proceed southward, ever southward, to the first E/W main drag north of AJ’s. Manage to get into the store without incident.

So…chatting with the beloved checkout lady at the beloved AJ’s, I mention that if she’s going out to lunch, she should avoid going north on Central. And she said…a little wrecky-poo was as nothing! The other day the AJ’s crew was witness to a full-blown lockdown of Brophy, Xavier, and Central high schools, fine institutions of learning directly across Camelback Road from AJ’s.

FYI, Brophy and Xavier are elite private high schools run by the Jesuits, who have a lovely church and campus about a block south of AJ’s. Central is THE high school that middle-class parents who can’t afford private schools move into the North Central neighborhoods for: to get their kids in there. If you’re a minority member and live in South Phoenix, you also have a good shot (oops!) at getting your kid into Central. Campuses for the three schools are adjacent.

Apparently a nut-case kid at Central showed up at school with a gun (or not???), and a full-blown panic ensued. From what you can tell by the gnus stories, it appears that all three schools were locked down.

Just imagine. All those hundreds of kids having to go through a terrifying drama like that!

Y’know…. If I were a young person today, you could not pay me to have children.

But if I were of the religious persuasion that insisted I simply must go forth and procreate, then you could not pay me to put my kids in the public schools. Or…as we can see from this episode, in any goddamn school.

If I had kids today, truth to tell, I would home-school them.

Right. Try not to go berserk at the mere thought: it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

One semester I was teaching a class at ASU West — in the evening, as I recall — whose members were mostly adults. Somehow the subject of home-schooling came up — why, I don’t remember — and ohmigawd! You should have heard the conversation that ensued.

As you might expect, a number of classmates were folks who thought that only the crazed and the doctrinaire would even think of home-schooling.

Then the crazed and the doctrinaire spoke up. There were, purely by coincidence, A LOT of them. And…you never saw so many ears perk up in your life!

Not one of the home-schooling parents appeared to be crazy. Every one of them had rational reasons to have their children tutored through the first 12 years of America’s conventional education. All of the kids who had reached college age had succeeded in getting accepted by the colleges of their choice. Each set of parents had made financial sacrifices (i.e., one parent had to stay home from work) to pull off the home-schooling trick. Classmates had question after question after question after question after question. And the parents had answer after answer after answer.

It was THE single most interesting classroom discussion I’ve ever had the pleasure of leading or of participating in.

We spoke together long before the mass-shooting loony-toons our culture enjoys today. But even in the absence of that concern, when you heard these parents speak about the reasons for their decisions, about how they pulled it off, about how they found activities to help socialize their kids, and about the results, you came away thinking holeee shee-ut! why didn’t i think of that?

And you know… I have to say that today, if I had kids (which I probably wouldn’t, under the circumstances), I would seriously consider home-schooling.

What a place we live in! What a time we live in! What an unholy culture we live in!


Life and Death in Dystopia

A friend remarked on the dystopic nature of our lives as they are affected by the ubiquity and inescapability of computers, whose presence has expanded to fill every cubic centimeter of existence. And how, brother!

Sometimes I wonder if the digitization of day-to-day life creates stresses and psychological disjuncts may be responsible for the madness we see around us — specifically, for the ever-increasing number of shootings by crazies. Life was frustrating back in the day…and scary, too — remember those air-raid drills? Everyone had at least one gun in the house — or at any rate, that was true of the blue-collar class in which I grew up.

But no one went out and shot up public spaces.

The mindset has changed, and I think that has happened because of the deluge of passive stimulation, of violent games and TV and movies and music and “entertainment” and hostile speech accessible 24/7, and because of the constant background demand that you respond to negative stimulation through social media, gaming, and incoming images and narratives. We’re blitzed with constant aural and psychological noise, much of it hostile and violent.

And there’s no viable escape from it. Remember when a little kid could sit outside and watch the clouds float by? Imagine a kid doing that today…right!

I mean…when I was a kid, I hated school. I deeply loathed my classmates, the obnoxious little twits who made my life miserable for years on end. I hated my fifth- & sixth-grade teacher (same bitch….she “passed” into the 6th grade along with us, to my horror!). But forgodsake, it never entered my fevered little brain to kill them. Though I would have been pleased if they’d all been dispatched to the other world, making that a DIY project was not even remotely imaginable.

Now we have the lovely situation in which we find ourselves. Today it not only is imaginable, it’s becoming commonplace. And a nutty, disaffected kid like me can find instruction and encouragement on a machine that brings the world to her bedroom.

Result: an ordinary neighborhood church has an armed security team(!!!) who must leap into action to save the lives of what could have been scores of parishioners. Look at this video of the latest outrage (if you don’t mind having your hair stand on end): the guy had some kind of long gun. You can’t see it clearly in this video, but it looks like it’s probably a semi-automatic.

The most striking thing here is that these guys were prepared. The one who shot the sh!thead was a former FBI agent. It wasn’t that a few parishioners happened to pack heat into church: the church had an organized, armed security team

WTF!! We’re in an era where churches and synagogues need armed security guards. Sorta like schools do. And movie theaters. And nightclubs.

Y’know, I can’t even count how many times I’ve sat in that choir loft and thought how easy it would be for a crazy to get a gun into the sanctuary below us. At this time of year, when it’s cold, everyone is wearing jackets…making it easy to hide a pistol.  There are four entrances to that place, not counting the two stairwells that lead to the organ loft. Anyone could carry in a pistol, take a seat, and bide his time. When he was good and ready, he’d have a large roomful of sitting ducks. If he could get into the choir loft (to which there are two entrances), he could shoot at people from above, though choir members would probably interfere with him. Or he could shoot us all in a matter of seconds.

What a world we live in!