Roid Rage and the New Educational Dis-Enlightenment

“The premise of democracy, if it’s to be taken seriously, has to focus on youth, which become the ultimate symbol of the future.” H. Giroux

A tale of two destinies. I ran into a fellow, around 28 or 30, in the man-made wetlands in our housing development north of Vancouver.  We were forced to buy the place here because the state-of- shit-on-all-of-us usury America has turned a blind eye against people who want to live, rent, and have security without putting down loads of money into the financial services zombie hole or add to the Koch Brothers a la Home Depot and Georgia Pacific money trail by being proud owners of a money pit. There are no affordable housing options for, oh, 80 percent of the nation. And we keep those One Percenters and their minions in the money. Why the hell would you not be angry at every banker, insurance rep, mortgage processor, lawyer, CPA, cop, city economic officer, politician, rot-gut professor, selling this bullshit line that we have to own a car and own a home to live in America? Why not spit upon their Lexus utility vehicles and their way to the airport for a trip to Maui? Why not continuously shout at them as they crunch your $90 bicycle on their way to get a latte?  Sit on their children’s heads so the lineage ends there? WHY the hell not?

This place is along Salmon Creek and Whipple Creek. Not a whole lot of salmon coming down the riffles, but still, quaint. We had a landlord who was under water on this home and had another home in Portland to deal with along with a baby on the way.

Anyway, tale number one, about  this land guy, working on a 12-acre wetlands and a green zone forested area, a buffer, a place he knows tree-by-tree, invasive species by invasive species . . . well, he was a real person, a real man, a real smart guy that hardly gets the time of day from the Uppity Sorts, those other men wearing Sea Hawks jerseys or the fancy little watches while backing their Audis out of the driveway. Here I am, 57 in three days, talking with this fellow maybe thirty years my junior, and he says at the end of our talk-about that he hardly has anyone talk to him, let alone acknowledge him with a smile. He has more talent, knowledge, earth care and compassion in his one pinky finger than a bus load of Yuppie-paper-pushing-digital demigods have amongst themselves collectively.

Really. He was putting in plugs of Sitka willow and red-barked dogwood. All about simple hydrology, soil analysis, inside the horizon of melting sky and fog that is this part of the Pacific Northwest, Southwest Washington. Caring about how water percolates and filters after washing off all the dastardly non-permeable surfaces like roofs and driveways and asphalt roads, all coated with the drippings and shavings of the internal combustion engine insanity of our ages.

He got his AA from the college I teach at, has a wife who is a nurse, and they have a one and three year old. He says that I was the nicest guy he had ever talked to living in one of these Levittown planned unit developments. “Always some smart-ass remark about ‘What the hell are you doing with those sticks?’ Worse when we are working the river banks, around those big homes while their owners come huffing and puffing and complaining about me planting ‘big trees that will kill our views.’ I try and tell them that those big view killer trees are actually being planted to save their big square footage trophy homes from sliding into the Columbia River.”

This is it, now, is it not? No systems thinking, no repercussions for our acts as a culture, no “it takes a village to raise a child and care for a community, the old, the infirm,” nosirree. No care about two generations out, let alone seven. We get all pumped up and orgasmic around the next conflict-mineral filled i-Phone, i-FuckWidget, all teary eyed at the next Disney cartoon, shit-faced when our college team wins [with the out-of-touch president and sports locker room pukes getting money shoved up their asses  while teachers sleep in vans and teach little Johnny-Georgie]. We all collectively put up the stiff arms when the Blue Angels do a fly-over during opening game of the World Series.

But this man is the hero, the deer-whisperer, in nature, working hard, hat all sweaty, and, shit, his company, run by a biologist, has downsized during the big depression, casino capitalism and outright bilking the public by the trillions, alas, though, created by the pencil necks, the fizzle brains, the Zionists and over-educated achievers, the Ritalin pukes and corporatists. That company once had 18 employees. Even now, in this big lie of a recovery, his company is holding at four employees.

“Hardly anyone gives up ten seconds to say hi,” he reiterated while we talked about the soil conservation classes he had just taken, talked about the big farmer-crying drought hitting Oregon and Washington, how water entrapments, swales and these man-made wetlands are as low as his old boss has ever seen.

Bacteria, soil, real wetlands, and the fake ones put in by builders for trade off points for all the forest and soil integrity they kill for these sprawling developments . . . and all the tearing and turning of soil, killing the web of life, those soil synapses that hardly anyone understands . . . because now is the time of LED, pulsating garbage on screens, women and men hunched over keyboards and mouse pads like Quasimodos cooking up a scheme to push over the gargoyles. God, I wish there were more Quasimodos, more gargoyles, but we are such a PC, IKEA, dead-at-the-neck- up society, run by the undead, trying to make the few of us alive, dead on arrival.

Can you see the writing on the wall, in this sweet feminized and software-induced society that we have become?  We are a reckless nation of misogyny, that is agreed upon, and of constant racism, even in the superficial Grammies we see that, and, classicism seen in every moment of living how the media and the masses treat the one percent, the royalty of gold and movies and sports as if they are gods . . . . But we are in the great flipping cycle. More and more people of both persuasions, of all sexual identities involved in this big bad corporate monkey wrenching of education, culture, society, thinking, arts, politics. We are a denuding culture, one where the real people, the heroes, are stuck in jail, on the outs, on the edge, not accepted at the tables of power, or even at the office water cooler.

Flips . . . . More and more of the meetings I go to are run and populated mostly by women. You know, rah-rah, change teaching into an on-line learning environment. Manage the child-youth-adult learner. These are the creepiest times of the middling managers, the little Eichmanns, the technocrats, the human resources and institutional management teams. We will pay the price, and there will be reckonings, and fall-outs, and maybe overthrows and revolutions.

Consider the language which harbors the dominant technocratic mode of rationality described by Giroux. “Classroom management” is one of the dominant metaphors within the technocratic vocabulary. This phrase amplifies our experience of the classroom as a site in which students are managed. It also amplifies our experience of the pedagogical process as a mechanism of control. Thus, to reemphasize the rationality-ideology connection made by Giroux, the mode of rationality embedded within this language lends itself to the ideological forces which maintain the student’s docility as a passive object, somewhat like a widget on an assembly line. The discourse of the “classroom management” model of pedagogy, then, also amplifies our experience of the student as a mere object, while, concurrently, reducing our experience of her as a subject. In doing so, this discourse and its accompanying mode of rationality reinforce the dominant ideology of contemporary society and modern institutions.

Henry Giroux: Aljazeera

As the social state disintegrates, what we see here is the rise of a punishing state in which the behavior of young people is increasingly criminalized. We’re filling up jails, we’re filling up detention centers, we’re filling up prisons with young people. They go right from schools to the jails, and I think that college graduates are realizing that, while they may have separated themselves from, basically, kids who are marginalized by class and race, all of a sudden they are feeling the same kind of pressures, and while they may not be going to jail, they are actually being set up for a future in which there is no hope for them. The gap between the rich and the poor is so wide, is so overwhelming, that all the myths that depoliticized them in the past have now come home to roost. They’re naked. They’re visible. The ultimate toll of class warfare in the United States is not just a matter of what it does to working class people – when you look at what it does to young people, it just cuts off the future. There’s no concern with long term investments.

They also recognize that, unlike any generation in the past in the United States, there’s a war being waged against young people like we’ve never seen before – particularly young people who are marginalized by class and race. But there’s also something else that I think needs to be said.

The fact of the matter is that the left does not talk about youth. It’s ironic that the group that is the most powerless, that is the least represented, is all of a sudden seen as disposable or not worth talking about; and I think young people are fed up with it. There are different elements of young people of course, but I think for the most part what we’re seeing now is both a working class and middle class group of young people who are saying: “That’s it. We’ve reached a vanishing point. There’s no hope for us under the way in which our society is now being defined by financial and corporate interests. We are the waste of capitalist society.”

It’s pretty clear that they have to do it themselves. There isn’t an adult generation out there, left, right or liberal, waiting to offer a remedy or make visible what they’re experiencing.

This is the battle line – many presidents of even private religious schools, such as Pacific Lutheran U, are  ex-military, light colonels or full-birds, sometimes generals, West Pointers. Retired with retirement funds flowing in but now on board community colleges, state schools, private schools. These $150-$400 K wonders, we call them.  The reason for the Fall of the Faculty. Guys with zero time in faculty trenches, no struggling with students and no sweat and tears and blood under their skin, just paper-pushers. This moment in Washington state or Idaho or Oregon, you name the state of insult, shows how failing the failures are. They do not – these administrators – have the skills to really work magic for the schools – i.e. defend, promote, fight for FACULTY and students. That’s the only way forward. No skills, no pizazz, no way forward. Re-trenchers, all of them

Instead, we are on a train wreck of lower student numbers, more temporary academic workers, more on-line gizmos, and floundering, and lots of people paid handsomely in the administrative class.

You see, one school might “sell” roof space for a cell phone tower. That’s where we are now. Verizon flags all around campus, like Pizza Hut banners on the school buses, the Yellow ones, happening across the Southern USA —  Blue Birds Buses for KFC. Schools are taking in the militarists, getting drone contracts, retooling schools to offer bachelor of science degrees in drone warfare/drone civilian fare — UAV, unmanned aerial vehicles, RemoteControlledDrones.   We are at a crossroads, one where we are losing our youth, and our male youths. We need wetlands mitigated. We need people to work outside, to understand the push and pull of urban and rural planning, who can make heads or tails of the cycles of drought and the hard facts of how we need clean water coming from our paved-over society to go back to the rivers and aquifers and creeks CLEAN.

We need growers, hands on experts, builders, seers, strong willed people of the land, not of the iPad!

We need more trees, tree-houses, tree parks, dog parks, places to work off the diabetes paunch, places to get away from Steve Jobs’ Ghost and Dell and Murdoch and Bloomberg and Fox TV and MGM and MTV and Sony and the Mac of the McD hip-hop.

Instead, we put the mouse pushers, these coders, these techno wonders, push them into the limelight, into some level of high regard, and now we blink out the Twinkie cream from our eyes and see we have become a society that has lost all its wits. Bedroom teachers and students. Fifteen clicks away from stupidity, buying junk, debt and memes and games and social meet-ups on line.

Tale number two – sure, comes to me while I have clients watching the Sloppy Bowl with the ospreys and mustangs playing (sic) this child’s game, run by the billion-dollar non-profit National Football League. The one that spits in the faces of neuro-scientists and experts who worked with former NFL players about the realities of heads butting into heads. TBI, traumatic brain injury. Parkinson’s, rage, death, suicide by touchdown and defensive block. The NFL, right!  And, ESPN, another outfit of One Percenters, Zionists, product seller, they too drop out of the documentary on TBI and pro-football. Talk about ovary-less and ball-less Americans! ESPN, wimp network for children! Emblematic of the entire society, these commercial crass folk who infect the entire landscape of this free-market thuggery capitalism.

Well, that state of the disunion speech last week and the Super Bowl of Cheetos game today (that was Bob Dylan the Fucking Commercial Tick Shelling Sell Out for What  US  Auto Industry Made in Mexico Detroit Big Phat Lie for two minutes in the third quarter, telling us that Chrysler is the great American company, whoops, owned by an Italian?), we see these fake military hero worshiping commercials and commodities. It’s all smoke up the ass and mirrors pointed at navels.

Tale number two is a marine, a kid, 17 going in 9 years ago . . . and pumped up on four shots of steroids a week and other enhancers while in Iraq. Pumped up and shrapnel proof kids. Shots, the ones you don’t ask about. I’m talking juiced up. Bullhead like –

 A Flemish bovine hormone mafia movie that begins with a voice-over informing us that no matter how hard we try to escape the past, “in the end we’re all fucked” conjures up dreary images of interminable slaughterhouse sequences. And yet Belgian director Michael R. Roskam’s feature debut Bullhead is an emotionally driven tale of revenge, redemption and fate in which cows are rarely seen, much less hurt. As well as a showcase for the exceptionally talented Matthias Schoenaerts, who seriously beefed up for the titular role.

Bullhead has the capacity to be a mainstream hit in its co-production countries (Belgium, Holland and possibly even France), everywhere else it’s destined for an art-house release. Festival exposure will also help shine an international spotlight on Schoenaerts.

The Belgian actor plays Jacky Vanmarsenille, a buff, 30-year-old loner who helps his uncle run the family meat manufacturing business, which relies on a steady supply of growth hormone for its cattle. Everything goes south when their crooked vet suggests supplying beef to a new client, Marc Decuyper (Sam Louwyck), who happens to be one of the biggest hormone traffickers in Flanders. Decuyper had the cop investigating him killed and now needs new ventures to throw the police off the scent of his previous operations.

So my guy, my friend, is now 26, fighting the battle of Fallujah redox, and getting testosterone injections because those years with the Marines fucked up is uptake system, receptors; the brain chemistry is all buggered. Forget the roid rage. This tampering hits the serotonin channels, leading to permanent increases in depression and aggression. In women, this hormonal tampering can also lead to significantly lower levels of progesterone and estrogen, potentially upsetting the delicate balance of female chemistry and inducing severe anxiety and depression.

So, the testosterone has to be cut out every six months, cold turkey for months . . .  or, shrinking testicles, no children in the future, and all sorts of other fun things. Yep, better killing through chemistry. The male dominated society feminized, hating women and hating men, so what a dream for us males, for the youth, male, that is, and, well, for women, too, the young ones. These sick winners of the middle class killing machine, these little lords of software and endless paperwork and rotting at the soul Human Resources bureaucrats  — these “i” dotters and “t” crossers are one of the reasons we are going belly up.

Angry cops and Chicago mayors, contrasted with angry-hating females, pushing young boys into jail, a system, for lashing out. We are a species of runners and walkers and pastoral types, ready for fight and flight, sometimes freeze, but now, this is a Windows Filing society, where all great things happen on-line or in front of a caner-inducing screen, we are zombies and disconnected from the run, the hunt, the cascading fields of cactus and thorns and grass and raging rivers.  We all have become a little neutered and spayed by Bill Gates and factory education.

We are like dammed rivers, concrete river edges, controlled by remote actions, each cubic foot of water flow held at the joystick of a pencil neck technician. We are paved-over souls in a paved-over world.

This is the reality of the US Marines and the Killing Machines. This is the reality not seen on Super Growl Sunday or in the President’s State of Wall Street’s Union. So how does the feminized society accept this fellow — raging, out of work, wondering what to make of his call center training where idiots put down demerits for missing two minutes beyond the lunch hour? How does he get a job worth anything? How does he live in an HR, secretarial, paper-digit pushing world of cubicles and smarmy people selling the big sell? What sort of relief do we get from the feminized world of secretarial and administrative magicians?

Look, the Dells, Paul Allen’s, the entire alien race of technocrats, technologists, paper pushers, digital dredgers, the lot of them, in this untalented TV, app, little screen world, yes, they are the racists and female haters who created the male-dominated system, to be sure, but there now are many women taking up these positions of HR power, involved directly with the education implosions. These people, like their male counterparts and  these One Percenters enjoy  the death of education, the death of the Bukowskis, the death of ugly, human, outside the box laughing malcontents. See, the education business, PK12, at least , was the domain of women, and, well, in colleges, the same is happening. I am not expecting some harmonizing of holistic, caring and maternal agency by these folk who are at the helm of dismantling real gumption in education. These people, male and female, talk the speak of management, control, data-collection. They love their numbers, polls, and bell curves. It leads us NO WHERE good.

Again, education is about radical ideas, radical people, in your face people, those outside the boxes and cages, on the edges, way away from the corporate mainstream, far from the  doodling digital dingbats. Really. But instead, we have these educational leaders, male or female, who are mostly white, and they are really taking the train wreck to a hard right and leaving behind the real heroes of society in their flammable mess of flames.

They have no reality, no pain, nothing for me, for 80 million millennials, for the baby boomers left on the wrong side of the digital divide. These people are mollifying the few in society with their toys and data crunching lies, until the big lie is that all is broken, and let’s let these no-know-nothings run and ruin the world.

How many good black men, with the skills, the defiance we need to go up against the paper people, HR, code and regulation lovers. The ones with revolutionary zeal, no fear, and smarts. JAILED. There, in the penitentiaries and there, trapped in the bubble of American flatulence.  

August Wilson, Paris Review:

My influences have been what I call my four Bs—the primary one being the blues, then Borges, Baraka, and Bearden. From Borges, those wonderful gaucho stories from which I learned that you can be specific as to a time and place and culture and still have the work resonate with the universal themes of love, honor, duty, betrayal, etcetera. From Amiri Baraka I learned that all art is political, though I don’t write political plays. That’s not what I’m about. From Romare Bearden I learned that the fullness and richness of everyday ritual life can be rendered without compromise or sentimentality. To those four Bs I could add two more, Bullins and Baldwin. Ed Bullins is a playwright with a serious body of work, much of it produced in the sixties and seventies. It was with Bullins’s work that I first discovered someone writing plays about blacks with an uncompromising honesty and creating rich and memorable characters. And then James Baldwin, in particular his call for a “profound articulation of the black tradition,” which he defined as “that field of manners and rituals of intercourse that can sustain a man once he’s left his father’s house.” I thought, Let me answer the call. A profound articulation, but let’s worry about the profundities later. I wanted to put that on stage, to demonstrate that the “manners and rituals” existed and that the tradition was capable of sustaining you.

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. Read other articles by Paul.