Location: St. Vincent & Grenadines

You were driving home in the dark on one glass-slippered heel, window sliced open and bathing in the snowliquor of the night air. We heard you singing, and couldn't bear to wake you.

17 July 2006

If I could have a second skin, I'd probably dress up in you.

Hi. C'est July. Ninety-something and the same blue sky. Sketches of the young and dispossessed are taped to the wall below the window; box fan stirs air like the teenage clerk in the stationery store who couldn't possibly but has to anyway.

I've been working. Thirty-one: time to get things done. The silent schoolyard, the bare dusty counters, lukewarm water from the fountain. My air-conditioned room, still naked despite the posters I've hung. Boxes of paper disemboweled and arranged buffet-style on desks.

What am I going to do? Some general ideas; nothing specific except what I'll recycle from the last three years in the field. I want to teach media literacy, but I don't really know what that is. Vague notions about identifying bias, seeing through the spin. Nothing practical. What I need to know is what the students will be asked to do, and why, and how I'll determine what they understand. That's the real work of teaching, the really hard grunt-labor. You've got to get that or it's all prettiness and empty empathy. (At the same time: if that's all you have, you might as well be in the military.) I would happily just sit around and talk to teenagers for nine months with no agenda other than honesty and curiosity, and it would undoubtedly be a valuable experience, but they wouldn't pay me for it. There it is.

Truth is, I like having something specific to do. Everyone does. Little manageable tasks all in a row. Growth, etc. It's not wrong. But then there's my tendency to drift and dream and lose track of -- or interest in -- the logistics of social obligation. My OCD is probably just a way of coping with the fact that I'm tethered to reality until I die or go permanently crazy. If I can't get lost in the ether, I might as well get lost in specifics.

Not that being found is such a bad thing. It can be the best thing. It all depends on who's finding you, and why.

Okay. Two things.

First thing: I know and care precisely nothing about anything having to do with organized sports of any kind. You know how homophobes feel about hardcore gay porn? That's how I feel about the NFL. It's just -- dude, let's not even talk about it. Done with preamble! Now you know that I have no idea who Frank Ribery is, except that Wes wrote about him and I, uh ... I, like ... I enjoyed it. Snurk. But I'm not gay!

Second thing: Nor do I have this guy's hair. Man, if you can find a way to cheat on your fiancée looking like that -- more power to you, dude.


Anonymous Laura said...

Oh, please. Homophobes have a grotesque fascination with hardcore gay porn--possibly more so than hardcore gays. You can practically see the drool on James Dobson's chin when he describes the horrors he exposes [sic] himself to, all for the good of knowing his enemy, of course. You don't need such a coy way of announcing that you're totally into the NFL, dude. Just deal with it.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Crazy Fool said...

That guy... I know him... he told me he was the single CEO of a huge multinational corporation! I had no idea he was betrothed to another! And then he gave me the bird flue. And the clap. And a mood ring from that great 7/11 in Burbank, California. Then I was jelly in his arms. I just couldn't get over his big, round, manly... hair.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Felix Helix said...

You know, it was only about two minutes after I posted this thing that I realized what should have been obvious from the beginning: that the entire post about Ton and his distraught SO was a put-on. "Smoking the joint"? Soul sisters corrupting Kim Jong Il? Yeah. Anyway, there's still the hair.

Laura: you've got no proof. Nothing! I read as much poetry as the next guy. Obscure poetry, too. Literary magazines from midwestern colleges. And, and, and I sometimes drink white wine. While listening to Belle and Sebastian. (The Life Pursuit is screamingly fabulous, by the way.) Your groundless accusations are deeply irresponsible, and I demand an immediate retraction in full.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Beth W. said...

I know you know how to look for media bias, but here are the things I try to do when I'm looking for it (when I'm reading the paper, not when I'm writing it):

1. Look at the adjectives, particularly in the first few sentences. Do they say anything like "shocking" or "overwhelming" or "won by a landslide" or anything that provides color rather than fact? If a reporter does this, it's a way of telling the reader what to think, or how to think about what's being reported.

2. Look at who's quoted. What is their job title? What kinds of bias might their position introduce into the story? Does what they say match with the kind of stance someone in their position might take? For example, if you're quoting a police chief, and he says more cops need to be hired, do we trust him on his word? Whereas if you're quoting someone who lives in a bad neighborhood, and THEY say more cops need to be hired, what does that mean?

3. What perspectives are missing from the story? Does the reporter say anything about trying to contact those people and not getting returned calls? Or are they simply omitted?

After this, having your students write letters to the editor based on the biases they see in a particular story -- that'd be a great homework assignment.

If you want someone who's good to talk to on this stuff, talk to Ed LaFrance at the SRJC, provided he's still teaching there. He loves this topic.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Wesley said...

I usually go by

1. Is it Fox?

But Beth's ideas may be useful when it's not so straightforward.

BTW, glad you enjoyed the Ribery story.

3:46 PM  

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