I'll explain.

It was parent-teacher conference day. I am proud of my daughter. Middle school has its shoals and trenches, and she is navigating them well; the teachers like her. Several of them are readers and know they will be dealt with harshly in print and on line if they cross our family, so there’s that. Kidding.

Interesting chat with the gym teacher. There’s no showers. You might think that this would lead to the enstinkification of the students, and the school; you’d be right. But it cost too much to have supervisors for each shower, and they needed the space, so they turned them into classrooms. I don’t recall having a special supervisor for showers in middle school, or Junior High as it was sensibly called. The school was Ben Franklin, a typical post-war educational youth-storage bin:

The showers were deplorable - bare concrete, nozzles sticking out of the wall, creaky stuck rusty knobs, low water pressure, that damned gritty soap that felt like chicken barf, sandpaper towels good only for soaking, twisting, and snapping at the haunches of pals. I hated gym class and hated the showers. If there was any horseplay, though, the teacher shut it down. He ran a tight ship.

Just recalling this reminded me that we had sex-segregated gym class. High school, too. You didn’t need to pay someone to supervise the showers, because the teacher just followed the class in. Also, no one had fistfights or sold drugs. Really. Oh, maybe one or two in high school, but drug use was so rare the stoners stood out by virtue of their low numbers and recognizable deshabille comportment.

One suicide in high school, which no one talked about. No pregnancies.

Hours later I’m at the Catholic high school for the farewell banquet with the Japanese high school exchange student, and I thought it would be Japanese food, perhaps the real stuff, just to let us know how strange our cooking had been. But it was breaded fish and institutional chicken. Afterwards a variety show of sorts; host family kids got up on stage and did true-or-false with various Japanese facts; speeches were made, deep thanks extended by the principals and kids. You could see the personalities that characterize every high school - the popular girl, the jokester, the theater kid, the spunky sunny little everyone’s-best-friend. At the end they sang a song in English to the parents and kid - it was translated from the Japanese, and had a lyrical style familiar to anyone whose kid went through a Japanese phase. Full of Drama and Fate and broad protestations of eternal devotion and the like. The singer belted it out like the girls on American Idol and the young man, bless his heart, put a little Elvis in it.

Then they sang the school song. We had been warned that some students would cry, and perhaps a few in the audience as well; I counted at least four incapacitated by tears, including our own, which was just so sweet I ended up leaking as well.

Couldn’t help but think, at one point, that my country had been at war with theirs, horribly so. And now the sons and daughters and grandchildren of the men who fought the fight are sitting in the audience wearing pins with the two flags entertwined, and everyone’s overcome after just a week of glancing interaction. It gives you hope in case you’d spent all yours somewhere. There’s a reason for that, though. It didn’t just happen. It was formed from best part of the two cultures, perhaps. We hit Japan as hard as anything has ever been hit, knocked it down, and then stuck out a hand - not to pull it up, but give it something to hold on to as it pulled itself up. I’m sure that’s ridiculously simplistic.

But it worked. It would be interesting to go to a parallel universe and find the Roman empire had evolved into Europe’s longest-lasting democracy, with a sense of civic identity that transcended clan, and took its strength from a common set of ideas. How did that happen? You’d ask. Well, your guide would say, there are many reasons, but you can’t discount the contributions of Carthage, once we made peace. It turned out they became our strongest friend.

Oh: when I was walking through the halls of the school one of the teenaged Japanese exchange student guys looked at me and said SOP. I really should have said Sopwitchu? but he was already around the corner, headed for something else.



Haven't had much time for blog work today, so the below-the-fold items are rather scant. But there will be restaurants, as you'll see at the end.


Still FFing through Match Games to capture styles of the era in all their peculiar arraignment.

Pat Who? Pat Nimoy?

Pat Harrington. Pat Harrington? Schneider the maintenance man from "One Day at a Time"? Yes. Here we learn the real reason his line of clothing - "Pat's Duds" - didn't catch on. Well named, though.

I stopped the show long enough to see what he was like out of character, and he did a hilarious Paul Lynde. Which isn't that hard; put your voice up your noise and affect a malicious simper.


No one got short hair right for the entire decade. No one.

Now, every white guy in America over 30:

Why yes I am often mistaken for Richard Dreyfuss' brother who went into accounting:

Also popular in '74 was the Squeaky Fromme 'Do, which allowed for the upper earlobe to peek most enticingly from behind the curtain of lank artless center-part hair sheets:

And that's all I have today. Tomorrow: when Blake Edwards made fun of Jack Webb, and other moments in meta-meta radio histroy.

Work blog around 12:30 and Tumblr as well. Restaurants at this very moment! Click below, and I'll see you around.





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