Friday, October 9, 2009

Revenge Served Ice Cold

Back when I was in 8th grade, many more years ago than I care to think about, I had to take an art class. The teacher of that class was a miserable misanthropic child-hating bitch the likes of whom would turn children off to art for the rest of their lives.

Why do I have such less-than-complimentary things to say about her? Well, here’s an example: back then, I was a fanatical Tiger baseball fan. Wanting desperately to hear one of the first games of the season, I snuck in a tiny transistor radio and a small plastic earphone so I could surreptitiously listen to the game in class. This admittedly was against the school rules back then. (I know… in today’s world of ubiquitous cell phones and iPods it may be difficult to believe that a simple AM radio was once verboten, but such were the times.)

Luckily for me, I thought, the teacher was showing a film that day about some pretentious art crap that nobody would ever care about. A perfect chance to listen to the game. For those of you younger folks accustomed to the silent running of a DVD player, I should point out that back then schools showed films on 16mm projectors. These projectors, especially the industrial-grade ones used in the public school system, were notoriously loud. So loud, in fact, that the audio usually had to be turned up even louder in order to be heard above the cacophony of the gears, fans and sprockets of the projector. Unfortunately, these projectors were equipped with cheap speakers which were not up to the task of processing that much amplification. So one was quite likely, as was the case on that long-ago spring afternoon, to end up listening to horribly distorted audio over the mechanical clatter of the projector.

So I stealthily (or so I thought) put the earphone in my ear and turned the radio on ever so softly in order to hear the game. The audio in the earphone was at the absolute minimum level necessary for me to hear it.

Well, the teacher saw the earphone and sent me to the office. That was fine. I broke the rules and she was well within her rights to do so. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was what happened next. Back then, the procedure at Fenton Junior High was that when a student was sent to the office they had to fill out a form imaginatively called a “green slip”, so named after the color of the form. The student would state the reason he or she was sent to the office on one side (“I was listening to a radio in class.”) and the teacher would write their version on the other side. The form would then be sent to the parents.

Well, when the green slip arrived in the mail, the art teacher’s version of events was... well, I’ll let you be the judge: she claimed she was made aware of my earphone when students at the other end of the classroom complained to her that they were unable to hear the film because the sound of the movie was drowned out by the sound emanating from the radio earphone!
Yep! She actually claimed that the earphone, which I could barely hear when it was stuffed in my ear canal, was – from across the room - drowning out the grinding of a beat-up 16mm projector and the distorted movie audio which in turn was blasting out over that!

I could never understand why she did that. She had caught me red-handed listening to the radio and I admitted it. But why did she then flat-out lie in order to make the offense appear much more grievous than it actually was? There’s no POSSIBLE way that little earphone could have drowned out the noise of the projector… even if it had been my intention to do so!

She wasn’t my favorite teacher before the incident and her dishonesty while in a position of authority did nothing to improve things.

Which brings us to today.

Today. In a literal sense. For on the day I write this, October 9th, 2009, there will be an opening of a display of rock posters from the past 25 years in the Flint scene at the University of Michigan-Flint Fine Arts Gallery. The acoustic group I sing for, Ice Halo, will be providing live music for the opening. But that’s not the cool thing. The cool thing is that one of the flyers on display was created by yours truly. Just to be clear: I have no illusions about my artistic abilities. The flyer, I freely admit, is poorly lettered and even more abysmally drawn. But there it will be nonetheless: on display in a Fine Art Gallery.

And I have to admit I feel a bit of much-delayed glee at the thought! If only that obnoxious art instructor could have known that one day one of my creations would grace the wall of a Fine Art Gallery, she would have probably suffered a massive coronary on the spot. Perhaps I’m an extremely flawed individual, but the fact that that flyer is now in an art gallery gives me a strange feeling of vindication. And the fact that it’s an admittedly crappy flyer somehow makes it even more satisfying.

If, as Kahn from Star Trek was fond of saying, revenge is a dish best served cold, I suppose this would qualify as a “Revenge-sicle”.

And it’s mighty tasty indeed!


  1. God John, I had no idea you were such a rebel when you were a kid. Did you have a pack of cigarettes rolled up in your t-shirt sleeve too?

  2. Which flyer did you design? I'm just curious.

    -Aaron Stengel

  3. Aaron: Well, "design" is too high-falutin' a word for what it is, but my contribution was the flyer for the first Broccolifest, rendered in felt-tip marker and ballpoint pen.
    Parakeets welcome!!!