Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Read All Of This

Because I am on summer vacation from teaching and because I have an unsettled mind, I find myself writing a great deal here lately. That's in terms of both frequency and volume of entry. As I look at it, as I think about what I am doing, I realize that I am writing long chapters for an infinitely large bottle. Of course that metaphor doesn't work very well because an infinitely large bottle would be visible from land, sea, or air, and its user would almost certainly be rescued from his deserted exile. The old Police song here holds true.

Ironically the weblahg affords such limitless opportunities for self-expression in an era when people read less and less. People write plenty, no one reads it, partially because no one reads anything. Jets fans are sometimes portrayed as, well, "challenged" readers as we like to call them in education; that may not be fair, but one would have gotten that sense from Erik Boland's work covering the Jets for Newsday (replacing Tom Rock). He clearly fed them slabs of meat that the stereotypical Jets fan likes, even things without any relevance to the stories he was writing, including shots of broads in skimpy bikinis on the beach. Fuckin A. "Keep em comin Boland," said one reply. One picture looked a glamor shot of a near-computer-generated Sims girl, complete with vacant eyes, lips like a Uniroyal tire, and blanched skin. I started to wonder if he was pulling the fan's leg.

Now I'm really suspicious. Boland's imaginary letter from Woody Johnson is truly brilliant. He addresses the issue of the Jets' owner discussing the idea of selling ownership of seats in the stadium as PSL's, or Public Seat Licences. In order to help carry the burden of paying for the stadium to be built, season ticket holders would be required to buy from the team the seat itself, which could then be sold as an "asset" (Johnson compares this with taxi drivers selling their medallions). But he imagines Johnson, out of respect for the fans, suddenly changing course and addressing Jets season ticket owners by denouncing the shallow idea of PSL's. It is a fine piece of writing.

But the comments Boland got below the entry amazed me, though maybe they shouldn't have. Granted, there are a couple of stories about Woody Johnson himself which enlighten as to his distance he appears to take from the fans (surprise, surprise). Most agree with Boland, but many, many more than I expected criticized the amount of writing he did in his entry. "Did anyone honestly read all that?" was one comment. You expect me to read all this? Where have I heard that question before? Where...? Ah yes, in my classroom. A student teacher with whom I worked was amazed at how students responded the same way no matter what the content - 300 pages or three. Do you expect me to read all this? Apparently.

I asked her to think of it as an involuntary response, like the student's instinctive hunger for surrender, or a ritual prayer for release that they utter without thinking. Conscious or not, they know that the squeaky wheel gets taken off the frame.

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