As a professor, I want to believe every student who enters my class wants to succeed. Sixteen years of teaching have taught me otherwise.
Most students do enter college to learn something of value, grow as human beings, and encounter strategies to help them succeed in their chosen careers. Yet others amble through the halls of academia for the wrong reasons (because Mom and Dad made them go to college), don’t seem to care if they succeed or not, or operate under the misguided impression that they can get a degree without earning one. This article is for them.
A Poem for the Found Lost Souls
I take my life straight
On the rocks
With grenadine syrup
You never know who’s going to show up
In the morning sun:
the kid with super-speed
Or your brother
in the valley of mountains
Roger Daltrey got one past the censors
When he shouted, “Who the fuck are you?”
And Jim Croce scandalized
My young world
When he sang “the whole damn town”
In “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.”
But rock stars get away with shit
The rest of us must be more genteel
With the words we choose
And the plans we…
A Poem for Anti-Intellectualism and Reverse Snobbery
Pink Floyd put it well
When they said they didn’t need “no education” —
They referred to teachers
Who berated children,
Who used arbitrary authority
To control weaker human beings.
It’s easy to assume abuse is thought control,
All teachers petty tyrants,
The purpose of education the diploma.
“Pick up a gun,” they tell me. “Put on a uniform,
The government will pay for more education.”
“Great!” I say. “But what if I’m deaf or have flat feet?
What if I’m a conscientious objector?”
“You’re supposed to be smarter than me,” they say.
An essay on change, stars, and rock ’n’ roll saints
The Dream: The 1980s version of the rock band Jefferson Starship had reunited and were performing “Sorry Me, Sorry You,” a song from their 1984 album Nuclear Furniture. They appeared to be rehearsing for a music video or concert, though no one else was around.
The band’s leader, Paul Kantner, had died, but the other members of that era — vocalists Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas, lead guitarist Craig Chaquico, bass and keyboard alternates David Freiberg and Pete Sears, and drummer Donny Baldwin — were all present and looking much…
A Poem for these Times
I grew up in the middle of the Midwest
Where football is perfection
And working on cars is what men did,
Where we read books about people on the coasts
And in other lands who lived their dreams
And became their dreams and created dreams
I live in the middle of the Midwest
Where we look down on people who live on the coasts
And in urban areas, where people who trill their r’s are exotic
And people with dark skin know their place
And God meant marriage for a man and a…
On Expectations, Elections, and Pop Culture Messiahs
Language warning: This essay uses a four-letter word twice. If you don’t like four-letter words or the repeated use of same, move on.
The dream: John Lennon in 1967 stepped out of the Indica Art Gallery in London. He was virtually unrecognizable as the mop-topped Beatles guitarist. His hair was thick but swept over to one side of his forehead. He wore granny glasses for the first time and sported a bright blue shirt and black sweater vest. As he glanced down the street, a man approached. Behaving as a gentleman, Lennon held…