In Really West Philadelphia Born and Raised…

To make a long story short, American culture is a mix of both European and African influences. The whites of Europe and blacks of Africa, coming to America in radically different scenarios, made their marks upon society. It’s hard to deny that the black influence makes America dynamic and distinctive. The disruptive, disgraceful history of slavery denied so many people a fair and free existence. Nevertheless, their home was that same place that refused to honor them. I was so shaken during the George Floyd protests when I heard former Celtics coach and now 76ers coach, Doc Rivers say, “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”

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Parasites

Parasites have a pretty nasty connotation. Vermin such as: fleas, lice, ticks, worms—are tiny monosyllabic terrors. They’re selfish takers. They bite. They suck. They kill. Parasites target bodies and blood. In Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning movie Parasite, the broke Kim family targeted the wealthy Park family. Through a series of unfortunate events, the four poor Kim’s come under the employ of an outrageously opulent family, who are living their idyllic life, shuttling in their chauffeured Benz between high-rise offices, classy supermarkets, garden parties and their ultra-luxe home. Continue reading

Thinking About Memories and Anniversaries

“It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”

–Lennon/McCartney

The year of anniversaries. Ten years ago, 2009, Obama was inaugurated and I tried to get my students interested in watching history in the making. Not everyone is interested in history. Kids ask, “Why do I need to learn history if it already happened?” “Why do I need to learn about dead people?” I usually respond with some confounded response about how history lays bricks for future roads. Continue reading

Thanks to Netflix

Aziz Ansari just blew me away with his new stand-up special, Right Now. He’s always been a good comedian, but this was his giant leap into great. His Netflix show, Master of None, was pretty good. It’s not as funny as Tim Robinson’s new show, I Think You Should Leave, which is curse out loud, spit out your food, fall off your chair ridiculous. With this special, Aziz hit the buttons of the moment and made them funny. Continue reading

I Remember Robin Williams

He made a man dressing as a woman seem like a normal way to avoid the disturbing reality of divorce. He made Vietnam seem like a terribly scary playground. He made genies appear fragile and emotional. He made Walt Whitman’s words come alive. He made developing disposable cameras frightening. He made forced therapy…therapeutic. He made a plausible adult of Peter Pan. He made aliens look like cokeheads. He made me laugh and cry. The two opposite ends of the human emotional range, touched by one hirsute and hilarious man.  Continue reading

Samuel and Jimi Hendrix

One of the best things about teaching ESL is that you meet awesome students. You can meet impressive, precocious youngsters who correct your grammar or wild, excitable hooligans that are incapable of sitting still. You can meet demure, sweet kids who draw you cute pictures or give you their last piece of candy. You can meet the kindergarten munchkins who’ll tell you they love you every day. You can also meet a kid like Samuel. Continue reading

1984 and The War on Terror

I went to an all-boys high school. We had four or five female teachers in the whole school and an all male kitchen staff. Those haggard teachers were the most confident ladies ever to give detention. We must have looked at them like the goddesses they were most certainly not. In high school, the two newest editions to the female scope, bluntly put were a short, mousy-looking lady and a pear-shaped black woman with a Halle Berry crop. Needless to say, they became quite popular on our hormone-riddled campus. Continue reading

Love and the Jersey Shore

Love is all around us on Valentine’s Day; and not the love that most of us experience. Not the absolute love from family; not the productive love of a partner; not even the dependable love of a pet. We are exposed to the Hallmark version of love. The version of love that can be quantified through expensive jewelry, fancy chocolates, and effusive gift cards. It’s another great idea destroyed by commercialism. Continue reading