Everything you know about the Columbine shootings was wrong.
missfitz - 01:40pm Sep 23, 1999 PDT (# 24 of 82)
It's schools with money that can provide more of the special classes (any doubt, just check out the Magnets). But - size does matter, although I'd like to think that what matters most of all is a family who cares. Perhaps we'll never know what Harris' home life was really like, if his troubles began with his parents, or if his obvious chemical imbalance was strictly organic in nature. It's the extreme nature of what Harris and Klebold ultimately did that is so bothersome - Harris was tagged by his peers as dangerous, yet the full range of his and Klebold's "solution" went unpredicted even by the peers who knew Harris was a loose cannon. Those two kids played a big part in their own success in not being found out. Quite the actors, both of them. Could we have known, or seen? ...The media, and therefore us - aren't they really us? - need to jump to conclusions, find answers now, this minute, after each and every televised tragedy. Witness the preacher's early-on summation of the kids in the recent Texas church shootings being cared for and loved in having been called home to God, the intimation being that the murder of our children is part of God's mysterious plan.
We're not all as good actors as Harris and Klebold: my own misfortunes at age 15 could and should have been seen miles away by anyone witnessing the all-too familar story of a neglected girl in search of love and comfort hurling head first into the very painful net of sex, teen pregnancy, and abandonment. I didn't mow down anyone in a hail of bullets after my misfortunes, but maybe I just didn't have it in me. As I recall, I felt disembodied, incapable of speaking and fending for myself, much less coming up with a master plan.
As to school size: I attended 3 public high schools in Los Angeles - 5,000 kids in each of 'em. After failing miserably in every class but English at each of the three high schools, I was sent to school in the East Bay, to Piedmont High, with a student body of 500 and an extraordinarly high income per household. Big surprise: the tax base can make a difference in the quality of one's education! I made A's and B+'s. But it wasn't just money - more was asked of me at Piedmont, and more was offered, and somehow I managed to rise to the occasion, in spite of just having gone through some very tramatic times. Given to me at that school was attention, specific instruction, and an opportunity to discover my own voice, my own thoughts, my own heart. I was treated in class as if my opinion on world events mattered, that what I wrote and said counted. Hard to give that kind of individual attention in a school of 5,000, unless enough trouble is caused to draw attention to one's plight. And even then the solutions provided by the public schools can be too little, too late. You see, I was sent away to Piedmont because earlier, during 10th grade at a Los Angeles public high school, I was five months pregnant - and no one noticed! And I'm 5 foot two and weighed about 85 pounds! I received attention only after running away from home, and of course not attending classes during this sad time. When I was finally hauled back to the Los Angeles high school, I was sent to a campus counselor to discuss a situation that was literally too far gone.
While a 5,000 member student body in any school is insane, the real problem lay with my family situation. When I returned to Los Angeles a year after the pregnancy, and into the bosom of my clueless mother and stepfather, I returned to failing every class but English. It was mighty hard to focus on U.S. History when my own history was being made so miserable. Should I pat myself on the back because I didn't kill anyone, including myself? Nah. What would be the point? We are the sum total of our experience, and Harris' and Klebol's experiences were different than mine.
Brilliant Careers: Elvis Costello
Jeremy Epstein - 07:39am Sep 21, 1999 PDT (# 5 of 231)
I see Elvis as a guy who is driven by his talent, his "natural, gripping sarcasm," his sense of the absurd, but especially his reverence for the music that has come before him. Take for example the "Painted From Memory" project : he is asked to write a song with one of his pop heroes. It produces a terrific result, "God Give Me Strength." He is probably the only star of his generation who would insist on parlaying that collaboration into a full album project. I don't like the album as much as I like "Get Happy!!," or even "Punch The Clock." But I respect him for making the effort to pursue his artistic ideals, his fanhood, to work with Burt Bachrach face-to-face instead of over the fax machine.
Elvis is a fan : why the hell else would he scatter some of his best nuggets on B-sides? Why the hell else would he work with Bachrach and the Presley band and Paul McCartney? He's one of us, and I like that, and he follows his dreams, and I like that too. Sometimes it results in wonderful music : "All This Useless Beauty" has at its core a disintegrating conceit, the songs he wrote for everyone else, yet it hangs together brilliantly - how come no one is bringing up this very recent, very good album? How about his fantastic "covers" album, "Kojak Variety?"
"I Threw It All Away," indeed.
What is it about Paris?
julie garagliano - 04:59pm Sep 17, 1999 PDT (# 138 of 145)
The first time I visited Paris, with no knowledge of the language, no knowledge even of the city, with a man I was madly in love with but barely knew, I felt at home. I stepped out of the taxi on Rue Cambon in front of a little French hotel, and I knew it was a return journey. I don't believe much in past lives, or in higher powers, but I do believe that some part of my life was spent in Paris in some other kind of consciousness. I loved it. I still love it, having been back 8 times. I would live there if I could, and I still can't put my finger on what it is about it that makes it so amazingly wonderful. I am happy in Paris, I don't care if it is raining or snowing or sunny. I smile a lot there. It is a city where you can stand at your crummy hotel window at one in the morning, sipping whiskey, tired from a 12 hour flight, and see hundreds of people on rollerblades cruise across the bridge over the Seine. It is where the waiter can make fun of your french one moment and smile at your correct change the next. It is a city of art, beauty, incredible food, but also lots of dog shit, tacky tourist crap and French angst. As cities go, in my opinion, it is the best.