Let's face it: whining is a cherished vice for most of us. Apparently the bands Rage Against Martin Sheen and Unit 7 Drain are guilty of whining about their time slots and/or venue locations during the recent Spring Crawl event. Michael Henningsen's response to their whining ("2004 Spring Crawl Wrap," April 28-May 5) was to whine about their whining, apparently in an effort to humiliate them (sorry Mike, I gotta say it backfired).
Since I'm a big whiner myself, I'm going to whine about a recent Henningsen article which I wouldn't bother to do if I didn't think the Alibi was a cool publication with the maturity to accept and possibly benefit from constructive criticism. In this article, Henningsen gushes in the extreme about motorbike-building phenom Jesse James ("Manic Mechanic," May 6-12), comparing him to Michaelangelo and claiming he can kick anybody's ass who happens to be reading the article. Henningsen calls this guy the "Last Great American Outlaw" although it's unclear what law this guy's actually broken. Building West Coast Choppers or riding them certainly isn't breaking any law. James just seems like another wildly successful capitalist to me. I've never completely understood the Alibi's enthusiasm for actively promoting practically any person or event they write about like a drooling cheerleader, but the underlying reason must have something to do with self-promotion. I guess no one would read the Alibi if it just promoted itself, right?
For all I know, Jesse James really is the god-on-earth-American-bad-ass Henningsen makes him out to be. Murderbikes (as I call 'em) hold zero appeal for me. Riding a murderbike (especially in this town) is like sending an open invitation to the Grim Reaper to pay you a little visit. And if I wanted to make myself deaf, I'd do it with loud, rockin' music, not an obnoxiously loud motor, but to each his own. I guess I just don't have the cojones (not to mention the dough) to ride a West Coast Chopper in the way that a true tuff guy like Kid Rock has. Earth to Kid: If you need to tattoo "American Badass" across your scrawny back, then you definitely are not one. Tattoos are for poseurs anyway (literally—those who pose).
The real reason I was motivated to whine though, is that all the tuff talk in this article was comically and ironically undermined by editing the word "fuck" as "f___." Funny because the Alibi printed the word "fuck" just a few weeks ago. What gives? What are you afraid of? Cuss words only have as much power as we give them. They merely describe basic facts of life: Feces, the orifice that expels feces, sexual intercourse in various forms, etc. So what has the Alibi actually accomplished by editing itself?
P.S. Thanks for perpetuating the stereotype that a "real" man is a self-serving, meat headed asshole who kicks peoples' asses. It's quite accurate, actually. Kid Rock would be proud.
Rich Latta Albuquerque
Light the Match, Let APS Burn
In light of the budget short-fall and imminent lay-offs, we must ask ourselves what can be done with APS. The behemoth that is now one of the largest single school districts in America hasn't always been this way. It seems the whole bureaucratic organization is so top heavy that it crushes the life and soul out of those it should be serving, the teachers and students. Teaching is not only a noble art but, truly a calling. It's not easy, and universally good teachers are over-worked and under-paid. APS seems to devote an inordinate amount of resources (time and administrative personnel) to the acquisition and administration of secondary sources of income: grants, initiatives, allotments and awards. Granted, APS is a sizable beast that must be fed, but where do these efforts benefit the students? APS has turned the acquisition of money into job one, Education? Well sure, they'll need to spend that money somehow.
One problem is union representation. The same union represents the teachers and the administration. So when not-so-dedicated teachers find the burden of actually teaching students to be too much to bear, they aspire to the less stringent life of the administrators. I've heard that APS has (by head count) as many out-of-the-classroom administrators as it does in-the-classroom teachers. The union that should be looking out for the teacher's best interests could not care less about administrative over-staffing, because they have a due-paying union member wherever they look. Teachers can't make enough money to live on because administrative hangers-on siphon off the bulk of it. I would be willing to bet that the average income of the administration is much greater than the average teacher pay. To what benefit is all of this to the students?
If, somehow you doubt the failure of APS to actually educate our youth, look to the actions of those outside of the system. The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and Albuquerque Economic Development have for years been loudly critical of the job APS does. Why should you care you may ask? The reason you should care is precisely the same reason the Chamber cares. The poor education of our populous leads companies looking to relocate to choose to go elsewhere. No profitable company wants a poorly educated work force and no company executives want their families subjected to substandard education. No new jobs, no higher pay jobs, no higher tech jobs.
Look at the rise of private education within the Albuquerque metro area. Parents are fed up with the run-away train wreck that APS has become. Why would so many people be willing to devote so much of their disposable income to the education of their children when we are all taxed to educate everyone else's kids? How about looking at each and every component of the APS system with a litmus test of “How does this benefit the student and/or teacher?” Not by benefiting the teacher by creating a safe place to go after leaving the classroom and not some ambiguous value to a minuscule percentage of under-represented students. Burn the barn down and rebuild it to serve the students, not the administration. As the song goes, “The roof is on fire, but we don't need no water, let the muther f****r burn.” Please light the match sooner rather than later!
Larry Black Albuquerque
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