It’s a Guys World . . . Still

Not Just One of the Guys
— by Jersey Joe

Ages ago the saying went, “It’s a Man’s world,” and it must have been true cause James Brown had a song by the same name and being the Godfather of soul and all, [not to be confused with George Brown the Godfather of Confederation, but I digress. . .] the man did not lie. But as the 1960’s rolled on, woman gradually became more empowered, their ‘liberation’ movement gained strength, and their self imaged changed, or did it?

Time was women were commonly and cavalierly referred to as ‘broads,’ ‘dolls,’ ‘babes,’ and a host of other terms that have gone out of fashion. These have been replaced by some equally casual references which usually garner some reaction which punishes the offender. Take the Dom Imus “nappy-headed hos” remark of 2007 as an example. [JJ’s views on that incident can be reviewed HERE] But recently the watchdogs of women references have either gone to sleep, or just become immune to one that has become so prevalent that it’s getting this guy very upset.

It’s about the overuse and misuse of the term ‘guys.’ Waiters and waitress commonly greet a table of customers as ‘guys,’ regardless of how many women might be in the collective. ‘How are you guys doing today?’ ‘Can I get you guys anything to drink?’ ‘You guys ready to order?’ All are so common as to be acceptable and no one complains. I wonder if either the women just don’t care, have given up, or don’t even notice as they are now happy to have become ‘one of the guys.’

Back when I was still teaching, I often chided my Student Teachers [STs] for overusing ‘guys’ in reference to the class as a whole, especially if they did it as many as 8-10 times during a class. [The record back then was 16] I explained that the class was made up of members of both sexes and ‘guys’ was not a multi sexual collective. Yes, teachers do and can use the occasional ‘GUYS’ to get the attention of and discipline the four guys in the back who are goofing off. But, if it was four girls sharing lipstick, it should be, ‘Ladies.’ This usually got them out of the habit.

Now that I supervise STs in the field I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of times ‘guys’ is used in this context. Up till a year ago the record was 24 by a male math ST. Over the past year I have witnessed STs hit 20, 22, 28, and a record 32 times [this last one in a 50 minute class, 10 of which were taken up by the kids working in groups so she did not have to refer to them.] Only one of these STs, the 20’er, was male. When challenged on this each said something like, ‘Yeah, I know I do that.’ Knowledge of a fault is not dealing with the fault as in, ‘Yeah, I know I fart out loud when I write on the board. Do you think they see my pants billow?,’ or ‘I know I should bathe more often,’ or ‘I know I shouldn’t hit them with my fists.’ I tell them to STOP IT and then I give them The Assignment. They must write down 20 more appropriate collectives to use with a class of students. [That’s two right there.] When I brought this to the attention of one of my most recent female STs she looked at me as if I were daft. [I am but what does that have to do with anything?] I asked her if she would in her wildest dreams think of referring to the class as ‘Gals.’ That somewhat got her attention. Maybe, dear readers, I just started to get yours.

Yeah, I know, who cares? These are just young teachers and they are talking to kids [three]. Sometime during the past year as I was watching CBS This Morning as Erica Hill was having a discussion with Rebecca Jarvis and two other women. The four of them had certain things in common. They were all relatively young, well educated, professionals, and very attractive to boot. Yet, she referred to them as ‘guys’ throughout as in, ‘So what do you guys think?,’ ‘Nice of you guys to take part,’ and ‘Thanks, guys, for being here this morning.’ If they were guys then I am gay. No one seemed to notice or care, and I can only guess that this is one of the many places where my STs are getting it from.

Women, it would seem, have only themselves to blame for letting this go on. I suggest it is time for action. The situation is getting worse, I’m doing all I can, but I fear I am losing the battle.

What can be done?

The best response I ever saw and one that taught the lesson most memorably, that women are NOT ‘guys,’ appeared in an episode of Life, a short lived, very entertaining and quirky NBC series [32 eps, ’07-‘09]. Detective Dani Reese, played by Sarah Sahai, was romantically involved with her boss who called her ‘guy.’ In a very memorable scene she stood before him quite naked, a la Jennifer Aniston in The Breakup, and said something like, ‘Take a good look, a real good look, a lasting look. Because, if you ever call me a ‘guy’ again, it’s the last time you’ll ever get to look.”

I think she made her point; I think she made his point. I wish more of you women, ladies, females, heck, even ‘gals,’ would help make mine.

–just my two sense

Whiskey Farmer- Digital Album Review

The James Low Western Front
–By Tyrunn

It doesn’t happen often, but once every few years I’m driving on the road to nowhere when a song comes on the radio that just makes me stop and say ‘Damn that’s good. Can’t wait to get home and find out what/who that is.’ In 2008 it turned out to be How She Could Sing the Wildwood Flower by Emmylou Harris. Recently it happened with Whiskey Farmer, the title track from the new album Whiskey Farmer by the James Low Western Front. It is one fine piece of work, musically and lyrically.

From the echoing hammer on’s in the title track to the sparse and haunting organ and drum work of A Little More Time the album presents one memorable tack after another.

The title track Whiskey Farmer evokes Steinbeck like visions of the dust bowl Great Depression like something out of The Grapes of Wrath. Consider the chorus:

The sun won’t shine, the rain won’t fall
The horse won’t pull my plough
I’m a whiskey farmer trying to grow champagne.

It could have been aptly titled Ode to Joad.

There are few better metaphors of hopeless dreaming.

Another super track is Thinking California with its oddly captivating sadness combined with a particularly quirky form of paranoia, the essence of which is captured in the comment on his ‘girlfriend:’

My girl keeps a shotgun leaned against the bed,
shell beneath the pillow; helps her sleep she said.

Any wonder he’s ‘thinking California?’

And, yes, there are some bright, upbeat moments, as both The Stars Don’t Care and Medicine Show provided a change of tempo and attitude, with their bright and airy mood and some real fun moments.

The music is hard to categorize. Some have labeled it alt-Country, but then isn’t that also alt-Classical and alt- just about anything else? It would best be termed it Country Folk as it certainly finds it musical routes in country instruments and form, but the story nature of the tracks, and the concept nature of the whole album move it into the Folk genre.

The only slight drawback is that there are only eight tracks. But, they are eight strong tracks, and once inside the CD player, IPod, MP3 will keep running over and over quickly getting back to whatever becomes a favorite. It does keep you wanting more and demands repeat plays. Addictive!

The music is available from Bandcamp as a Digital download for a mere $8. Easily worth the price.

Watch the video for ‘Thinking California’ at the James Low Western Front site.

You Get What You Pay For

You Get What You Pay For

–By Jersey Joe

The recent student protests in Quebec against the proposed tuitions hikes by the Charest Liberal government has helped to make it obvious what the true value of an education is here in Quebec.

The government has remained mum on the issue, apparently deciding that after three decades of frozen fees the rates have to go up and for once it is NOT the average tax payer who is going to foot the bill. Finally! But, I digress . . . .

To hear the student leaders tell it, they are gaining support daily, even from the police. One can only wonder how they come to this conclusion. Do they really think that by blocking access to the Jacques Cartier Bridge at any time, marching through downtown streets for hours at end, walking onto the Metropolitan Boulevard, breaking windows, and/or clashing with police are reasonable and profitable ways of gaining public support or even sympathy? If they do, then one wonders what have they learned from their discount education so far.

One of the most effective, landmark, and ultimately successful protests in North American history occurred in Montgomery, Alabama, from December of 1955-December 1956. It was not done with any of the above tactics, instead it was a boycott. ‘Can’t sit where I want on a bus? Not going to take one.’ Simple, yet effective. Many consider this the first real step in the success of the Civil Rights movement. Yes, it was followed by marches, bus rides, and other sacrifices, but ‘from little acorns.’

One of the real oddities of the current activities is that these students are walking out on a year they already paid for. Don’t like the food at MacDonald’s? Well, go buy a Big Mac and throw it in the garbage, that will show them.  If they can afford to throw this year away, they must be pretty flush after all.

So what to do, what to do?

How about this: For now, go back to school, finish what you paid for, and then plan for the future.

When summer comes, do whatever they do in summer, one would dare to presume get a job or some such thing. Then when the next school year rolls around- boycott it- that’s right, just don’t go. Don’t withdraw, don’t give any warning, just don’t go. Oh, they can preregister, work out courses and all, just don’t do anything that requires money. When school starts, keep that summer job and let the campuses run empty. Universities have functioned without support staff and/or librarians, but it is doubtful that they can function without students and the money, however little the institutions claim comes from tuition fees, they bring to the table.

There is an old saying, something like, “Money talks and bullshit walks.” For now, the bullshit is walking the streets causing no end of trouble and getting nowhere. If money is such an issue with these students, why are they willing to throw it away?

That they are using such poor tactics in their protests only shows what little their discount education has taught them. Maybe the proposed tuition hikes would help to buy them a better education.

–just my two sense

[Next on this Topic]

Cool is as Cool Does

[What with someone younger still referring to me as ‘cool,’ and the recent passing of Davy Jones, the following ‘story,’ possibly an excerpt from a novel I’ve been writing since I was in the 4th grade, just sort of wrote itself.]

As luck would have it, the first student to arrive after recess was Nathalie. She nodded at Davis and headed towards her seat.

“Nathalie. . . .”

She kept moving but answered, “Yes?”

“Happy Birthday.” His back was to her as she looked his way. He appeared to be examining what he had already written on the board, while he was really hiding his wry smile.

“Mr. Stringer, How’d you know?”

Turning, now with his face straight, he replied, “I’m a teacher. I get paid to know things.”

“Thanks, Sir.” As she sat she added, “You’re so cool.”

Davis just nodded.

Other students arrived but Davis was not really aware of them. It had been awhile since anyone had termed him ‘cool.’ Not that that mattered to him, since he knew his was cool. He had known that since the fall of 1966.

A sure sign that summer was coming to an end and high school and another school year was near was the arrival of the fall issue of TV Guide. Davis would peruse the pages and read the write ups of the new shows, paying particular attention to the new comedy offerings. Sit-coms were always his favorite, now that at the ancient age of 16 he had outgrown cartoons. Hell, he’d been to Canada, made out with a girl, taken up smoking, so the days of Top Cat and the Flintstones were numbered. But comedy had always served him well; his sense of humor had kept from a couple of bloody noses. And those shows were on early before his official bedtime of 9:30.

One show caught his attention, one that seemed different and in with the times. He noted the time, 7:30 Monday.

Once school started, Davis set his sights on 7:30 Monday evenings. Intramural soccer had not started yet, and even once it did, it was held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons. Both Monday and Friday were early days for him. He’d take the early bus home, get his homework done, and have the evening to himself. Who knows, maybe on Fridays he’d even go out. Maybe he’d get a date or some such thing. Not that he’d had one in over two years, but he was getting old enough now to understand women. Ok, to pretend to understand women.

Monday night was reserved for this new show. On the evening of its premier he got lucky. His father had not come home yet, probably had a date of his own, and his mother had one of her migraines so she had taken to bed. Davis was able to sit in the living room with the big TV, get his personal ashtray ready, light up a Parliament and watch The Monkees. After the first segment he was hooked. These four guys were campy, fearless, funny, and could sing. The songs were all new so no one else could know them unless they watched the show.

Over the next few Mondays, The Monkees became a ritual to him, each time the show aired he was ready and waiting. He knew the lyrics to the theme song and another song that got played often, Last Train to Clarksville. This show had become his secret love, or as he termed it now, his guilty pleasure. Of course, liking a show as silly as this, and songs as simple as these, when they were not the Beatles, the Stones, or some other acceptable popular group was best kept a secret. He was square enough to the locals, and no one on the school bus, his private school bus, had mentioned them. To like The Monkees, therefore, was to be king of the squares. Best keep it to himself rather than be officially crowned.

He bought the album in the Family Circle and played it to death in the safe confines of his bedroom.

On a Saturday in late September the local high school was having a home football game. Davis had walked with his friends, all of whom attended it, the two miles to the school. Before heading to the football field, it was apparently the thing to do to go to Jack’s Soda Shop for, well, a soda. And he could light up and maybe pretend to look cool, for, as his phys ed teacher used to chide those who got out of line, “I’ll ship you off to Freeport High, where you can go for a smoke and a Coke at lunch.’

’When in Rome . . .’

As Davis and his friends entered the packed place he was amazed at all the bodies, guys and girls, jammed into the small room. Even the cheerleaders were there, in uniform and dancing, dancing to a song on the juke box, the juke box which was blaring . . . . blaring . . . . the familiar sound of . . .  ‘Last Train to Clarksville.’

Davis tried not to shake or get excited. He kept moving towards the counter where the old guy who answered to Jack sold him a coke. With smoke and Coke in hand, Davis leaned back against the counter and took in the reality of the situation. The cheerleaders of Freeport High, the hottest babes around, were dancing to a song that Davis had discovered all on his own, his secret song. And so were most of the other girls in the place.

Davis drew the only conclusion possible. He was cool. He never forgot that and never let it be an issue in his life again.

Mr. Stringer.” Silence. “MR. STRINGER.” Davis looked at the many students  before him, some of which were looking at him. The boy’s voice continued. “Are we gonna have class today?”

Davis returned from his reverie. “Yes, we are. Now as you should recall from yesterday . . ..“

He was still cool.