Monday, October 15, 2018

Ride By

Sometimes I write about shootings that result in the deaths or injury to dozens. Sometimes I rail on about the nearly one hundred Americans who die every day as a result of gun violence. Just recently I wrote about the relative safety of the route I take on my bicycle commute to school every day. All of this came rushing together as I rolled past the intersection of High Street and Congress Avenue. A thirty-seven year old man was shot and killed there this past Tuesday.
I know his friends called him Dre.
I know he was loved.
I know this because of the number of candles and inscriptions on the wall of the convenience store that have been left there since. The empty bottles left by mourners compete with the burning wicks, kept lit night and day. The local news had this to say: "A nineteen-year-old man was arrested Tuesday night as a suspect in the fatal shooting five hours earlier of another man in East Oakland, police said Wednesday."
This is not an obscure act in Oakland. The seemingly randomness of it does not take into account the terrible repetition. Guns going off in neighborhoods all over Oakland, so many that the city has employed a system called "Shotspotter," a computer aided listening system that can be used to detect gunfire on the streets and yards and alleys and everywhere else guns might be going off. Or they could rely on the eyes and ears of passersby on a busy thoroughfare like High Street at four o'clock in the afternoon. 
Last Tuesday, I was wrapping up my after school program at my school at four o'clock. I walked my fourth and fifth grade students who were working on a community service project to bring more kindness into their world to the front steps. That was when Dre was shot. I went back to my room and cleaned up some loose ends. I left just after four thirty. That was when Dre was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. When I came over the hill, four blocks away, yellow tape was blocking the intersection where the altar would be mounted over the next few nights. Dre's friends waited until the police had cleared the corner and picked up their cones and other caution and investigation reminders.
And that's when the monument began.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Rock The Vote

Of course I voted for DEVO. After nearly forty years of slavish DEVOtion to the spudboys from Akron, they are at last nominated for a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are not, by any means, a shoo-in. The group that David Letterman once referred to as "The Fisher-Price of rock and roll" are part of a class that includes eighteen other artists: Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Roxy Music, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, The Cure, The Zombies, and Todd Rundgren.
I have been one of those Hall of Fame kibitzers from way back, and I understand that all discussions about who gets in when is the reason for the Hall's existence. I am certain there are fans out there who are still anxiously awaiting their chance to vote for the Starland Vocal Band Winners of the Best New Artist Grammy in 1976, the SVC has a hit single and a TV variety show to promote their ascension into pop music's pantheon. "Afternoon Delight" hit number one on the Billboard Chart. By contrast, DEVO's big hit, if you'll pardon the pun, "Whip It" peaked at number fourteen. And no one was foolish enough to suggest that DEVO host their own summer replacement series. 
Still, some forty years after the fact, this bastion of the New Wave finds itself amidst heady company as votes begin to trickle in at a time when voting is a right we should all embrace. While it is true that there are probably places where your vote might make a more emphatic change, I would like to point out that DEVO played a fundraiser for Barack Obama back in 2012 in their home state. Barack Obama went on to win a second term. 
Need I say more? 
Okay. So maybe you're not convinced. There are still so very many more important issues of the day. Certainly that imposing list of fellow nominees is enough to make anyone ask, "Why DEVO? Why now?" 
To which I would respond, "De-evolution is real. Take a look around you." There is a reason my wife and I chose "Freedom of Choice" as one of the songs we played at our wedding. And so I ask you, on behalf of DEVO: If not now, when? 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

On The Dial

On the radio, that's where I heard the Beatles the first time. It is also the appliance that gave me comfort for decades with that little feature called "sleep." As I drifted off, all those songs from my youth formed my lullaby. The first time I heard The Police singing about Roxanne was at the breakfast table in my parents' house as I prepared to go out and face another day. On most evenings I could count on a quiet, relaxing dose of classical music as my mother filled the house with KVOD, and on Saturdays there was opera from the Met. At those moments when I felt the need to retreat to the rock and roll of my generation, I would head to my room and close the door where I could listen to the way the world was lining up pop culture for me. This was when I was listening to AM. These were also the frequencies that could reach our mountain cabin. The batteries we used to power that radio were a point of survival for us all. Whether it was news or weather or music, that was the machine that filled those tranquil hours of too much wilderness solitude.
That radio had an FM dial, but it amounted to nothing. No transmissions of that wavelength were going to climb up the hill into our cabin. Not without some enormous antenna. My love affair with FM radio began when I got my first real receiver. Something that could bring in those nineties and hundreds. KBPI and KAZY lived at the end of that span, and on any given night, you might find me in my room, headphones on, "studying." What I was really doing was listening to the radio. Lots of it. Pretty soon, my clock radio was waking me up to those same sounds, and once I had a car I had a mobile listening station for all the tunes that rocked the Rockies.
By a stroke of luck, the stations I listened to in Colorado had rather easily transferable formats. Hard rock, modern rock, and the inevitable Album Oriented Rock. They made it easier to feel at home when I moved to the Bay Area. And now, my radio listening time has diminished to about half an hour on weekday mornings. In the car, I tend to surrender to whatever the driver, my wife, has selected. The rest of the time, I am programming my own show: iTunes, Spotify, and so forth. The notion of calling up a DJ on the request line to beg for my favorite song has long since passed me by. But I can remember dialing and dialing the studio at KIMN and pleading with them to play Yellow Submarine one more time.
Now I just ask Google, who seems more than happy to fulfill my request.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Goodbye, Columbus

Raise your hand if you got Columbus Day off.
Let's see: That's, um, just about no one. I was asked by a few parents on the way out of school a week ago Friday if we would be open the following Monday. I had to scratch my head for a moment to imagine why. I could not remember an in-service or district work day. National holiday? What might that be? In twenty-two years of teaching, I have never had Columbus Day off. Why would we start now?
Working as I do on this liberal bastion of the left coast, I have never considered the possibility of a three day weekend in that first week of October. Christoper Columbus was a capitalist tool, wandering the globe in anticipation of new routes to extort the rest of the newly round planet for its riches. Or, if you happen to be "President," "Christopher Columbus’s spirit of determination & adventure has provided inspiration to generations of Americans. On #ColumbusDay, we honor his remarkable accomplishments as a navigator, & celebrate his voyage into the unknown expanse of the Atlantic Ocean."
As we have seen before, opinions vary.
How much? Well, consider this: Columbus, Ohio will no longer be participating in their eponymous holiday. Instead, the city fathers have chosen to go all in on Veterans' Day, just a month later, and probably a tad less divisive. Other cities have attempted to manage that kind of backlash by referring to an Indigenous People's Day, but have faced additional confrontations from Italian American groups as well as those Indigenous People who were not pleased to be copy and pasted over the man who they feel was responsible for their genocide. While Columbus the explorer will remain a Federal holiday, Columbus the city will keep on picking up trash and enforcing parking limits.
Meanwhile, back in the People's Republic of the East Bay, we will be taking October 19th off. Not because of Columbus, but because the newly shifted school year closes before Memorial Day, and we will therefore be taking "In Lieu of Memorial Day" to share with our loved ones. Perhaps to meditate on this matter further.
Or to stock up on Halloween candy.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Us

It would be so easy. All I would have to do is just keep showing up as I always have. And start taking instead of giving. And start caring about myself instead of others. And close my ears to the cries all around me. And close my eyes to all the suffering.
I am a straight white male in my fifties. I could toss a bunch of money at the stock market and enjoy the ride. I could buy a bunch of guns and ammunition to protect my home and wait for the insurrection. I could vote for the candidates who are going to make a more comfortable ride for me and mine without a care for those floundering all around me. I could choose to believe what and whomever makes it easier for me to sleep at night. I could start enjoying this white male privilege and start making it work for me.
Except I have eyes.
And ears.
And a heart.
Some might say it bleeds, and they would be right. It bleeds for those who have never enjoyed playing this game because the deck is stacked against them.
My eyes cry for those who have been left behind on this fast track to get the most the quickest way possible. I weep for those who never had a chance.
My ears ring from all the despotic rhetoric that exists solely to keep those who are not white males right where they have been for all this time: at the bottom. They burn because I know that when people talk about white privilege they are pointing at me.
I know that a great portion of the reason why I am where I am today is based on rules set forth by a bunch of guys like me who wanted it to be easy for guys like me to continue to be guys like me. When I say #MeToo, it's pretty hypocritical.
I know I am outnumbered. Common sense suggests surrender, though somehow this gang of white males cling to their places of power and spew hate and fear. Probably because they are terrified. I would be too.
If I were them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

What About Me?

I was never good at keeping a journal. There have been plenty of times that I have been given a notebook full of empty pages with the expressed intent of scribbling them full of my clever notions and stories. The idea that I would sit down on any sort of regular basis and make an accounting of the events of my life. Not that I wasn't necessarily up to the task. I have always been more than capable of filling up line after line of nominally meaningful prose. Or poetry. Or the occasional drawing or diagram. When I was in school and a teacher assigned a number of lines or pages to write, I was up to the task. Usually making sense. Usually working in some pithy comment or amusing anecdote, I am a storyteller.
The last time I kept a journal, a diary, was when I was in therapy. I was asked to keep track of my thoughts and feelings over the course of the week between appointments. I wrote dutifully every day, even if I wasn't always diving deep into my emotions and coming up with revelations that would bring me closer to understanding myself.
Sometimes I did. Like the casual observation that I tend to lean on a cheap laugh or wordplay when I am careening toward some sort of dramatic insight. I am not proud of the cheap laugh thing, but it certainly reminds me of where I came from. My father was an entertainer. A salesman by trade, but a raconteur as an avocation. He wasn't much of a writer, but he could tell a story.
And so could my mother. One of my favorite things as a child was sitting and listening to her tell stories about "the olden days." She wasn't a punchline kind of gal. She was a family historian. It was my mom who kept detailed accounts of family trips in little notebooks. Where did we stop? What did we eat? Who got the worst sunburn?
And then there was that guestbook at the cabin. At one point or another, we all took turns accounting for the cast and characters arriving at our doorstep. I wrote plenty of pages in that bad boy.
And then there's this. The last decade or so with daily updates on my attitudes and behavior. My opinions and beliefs. So the joke here is that I guess I have always been a journal keeper.
Surprise, surprise.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Spectator Sport

I used to live in Colorado. It snows there. Sometimes a lot. There are no indoor football stadiums in Colorado. If you want to watch football, you have to sit outside. Unless the powers that be decide to show the game on television. Then you can watch from the safety and comfort of your home. But, as I have discussed prior to this writing, concern rays have a very difficult time travelling through the air and television cables to influence the outcome of a game. This is why it is infinitely preferable to be seated in the stands, in order for your team to get the full use of one's concern rays.
I sat on a snow drift in Folsom Field on November 2, 1991 and watched my Colorado Buffaloes play the Nebraska Cornhuskers to a 19-19 standstill. The grounds crew kept the field clear, but couldn't be bothered to get the stands free of ice and snow, so the hearty souls who came out to make their voices heard and their concern rays felt had to do so in subzero temperatures dreaming of an outcome that would reward their foolhardiness. And dedication.
When I think about the hours I have spent watching spectator sports without receiving the outcome I feel that I have worked so hard to achieve. Just the other night, I sat down with my wife to watch the Denver Broncos play the Kansas City Chiefs. I asked my wife along for this experience because I hoped her somewhat muted but very sincere concern rays combined with my full bore obsession rays would help carry the day. And they were nearly enough. Nearly. Not enough to win. Or tie. Enough to have put up a good fight.
And three hours of my life have slipped by in the most unsatisfying fashion.
I relate all of this sports chatter not simply to annoy my younger brother, but to relate it to my feelings about the Brett Kavanaugh experience. The past few weeks worth of concern rays have done little or anything to affect the outcome of the confirmation vote. Part of me wishes that I could have stood with those on Capitol Hill, arms linked and chanting, "We believe women." Because I do. Part of me wishes that this blog had more readers, especially those whose opinion I might have captured and swayed. Ultimately, this was a series of futile gestures on my part. Resulting in a loss that will last far into next season. Into another generation.
Perhaps it's time to stop being a spectator.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Yet Again

Hey kids, moms and dads, what time is it?
It's Thoughts and Prayers Time!
Yes, it seems like just a few days ago that the nation rallied around on one knee, eyes closed, thinking and praying about the latest victims of gun violence.
Because it was.
And who do our thoughts and prayers go out to this time?
The recipient of this round of thoughts and prayers go to the Florence County Police and Sheriff's Department in South Carolina! One officer was killed and six others wounded in a hail of gunfire that erupted when officers responded to a dispute that started as a search warrant and turned into a hostage situation.
As horrible as this news is, there is a bright spot: The children who were being held hostage were released unharmed. The suspect was taken into custody. Additional thoughts and prayers may become necessary as the children grow and try to grapple with a reality that involves this kind of violence. Apparently, residents of Florence were taken aback as well. "Surprised is probably an understatement," said Bobby Goin, who has lived in the area for more than twenty years. "The worst thing that goes on around here is that someone runs a stop sign and it gets posted on Facebook."
This may be tough for Bobby to grasp, but he is living in a country where gun violence is as prevalent as those run stop signs. 
And it is for this that I would suggest we start turning our thoughts and prayers. Thoughts. Solutions. Suggestions. Proposals. Propositions. Recommendations. Hints. Clues. Tips. And yes, our prayers, but not just for the seemingly endless list of victims. Pray to the supreme being of your choice to deliver us from the culture that makes it so easy to take a life. Pray for peace. 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Relative Safety

For the second time since school began this year, my route to work was blocked by police activity. Yellow tape stretched across the intersection. Numerous emergency vehicles and crime scene investigation truck. The first time it happened, I chalked it up to wandering into a coincidental catastrophe, not unlike the one I encountered last year when I had to bike several blocks out of my way to stay clear of the major intersection that was blocked off after two police cars had collided in the early morning hours.
In the rain.
Happily, my two encounters with crime scenes this year have not included the complication of precipitation. The less happy part of these experiences is the part where I have to wonder if the corridor which I have picked for my commute is the safest one. I tend to consider the route I take from my home to school to be my neighborhood. This is primarily because there are houses all along the way that share a friendly wave, or at least a head bob as I pass in the afternoons. The mornings are a different deal, since for a great portion of those trips, I travel under cover of darkness. The interactions I have are limited to those on either end, farewell from my wife and greetings from our custodian when I arrive on campus.
Unless my way is blocked by police barricades.
Then it starts to occur to me that these are dangerous times, and that this is a dangerous place, and maybe I should be more cautious in my commute. I know that if I were to examine a map of crime scenes I might be hard pressed to find a path that would take me on a crisis-free journey from point to point. Instead, I should probably be happy to count my blessings and continue to enjoy the way I manage to avoid trouble by plunging into the heart of it. Or slide neatly into its wake.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Pants

Sometimes it's hard not to think in terms of us versus them. Outnumbered twenty to one, we band together in those moments we share before the next barrage is unleashed. In the faces of my comrades I recognize that thousand yard stare of fatigue. How long can we keep up this way? When will there be some relief?
Maybe a day pass, a few moments away from that front line where every interaction carries do-or-die weight. In close quarters like this, it's hard to know how to proceed. Each turn could prove deadly. Ever decision has a question mark next to it. This is especially true if you have a hole in the seat of your pants.
Fifth grade girls were giggling behind my back, which is nothing new since it is something to which fifth grade girls are prone. As is my custom, I turned to glare at them, a tactic that tends to work for brief periods. At least I could finish giving the instructions to the class before they dissolved into tearful fits of full on laughter.
But that didn't work. When I turned around, the giggles had spread to the adjacent table. That's when I went to my next grown up rhetorical question: "What's so funny?"
Except this one had an answer. One of the girls stifled her amusement long enough to tell me, "Mister Caven, you have a hole in your pants."
"Two of them," chuckled her friend.
It occurred to me at that moment that I had two choices: Absorb the embarrassment and move on or run red-faced from the room, surrendering all authority and dignity in this situation. I was tempted to flee, but instead I held my ground. "Thank you. Now can we return to today's lesson?"
In my head, I imagined the gaping hole that must be expanding with each moment. I only hoped to finish out the hour with a shred of self-esteem with a chance to come back the next day to reassert my dominion.
With a new pair of pants.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Fear


Donald Trump Jr. says he fears more for his sons than his daughters in the current #MeToo climate when more and more women feel empowered to come forward with their allegations of sexual harassment and assault. “I’ve got boys, and I’ve got girls. And when I see what’s going on right now, it’s scary,’ he said during an interview on British television. When asked which of his children he fears for more, he said “I mean, right now, I’d say my sons.”
I won't say if I agree or disagree with Junior here, but I can say that I understand why he would feel this way.
Again: I didn't say I agreed. I said I understand. The product of a broken home, he has a father who provides him nothing in the way of a character building example. Like this little nugget from pre-candidate daddy: "Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."
That bit comes from a transcript of a taped conversation with American TV celebrity Billy Bush, and is by far the least objectionable of the comments made during the exchange
At the time, if  you recall, this was excused as "locker room talk." It did little if anything to stir or discourage the Trumpian base. If anything, it gave us all a preview of things to come. Like this exchange with ABC News' Cecilia Vega: 
"President": "She’s shocked that I picked her. She’s in a state of shock.
Vega: “I’m not. Thank you, Mr. President.
"President": “That’s okay, I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”
Vega: "I’m sorry?
"President": “No, go ahead.”
And so it goes. Why would his son worry that his sons would be afraid? It seems to be genetic.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Rebukamunga!

This post is brought to you by the word "rebuke." 
If you are unfamiliar, verb 1.express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions. "Sessions rebukes Trump." Or "Trump rebukes 'stupid question' from ABC News star reporter." Maybe "Senate overwhelmingly rebukes Trump with tariff vote."
And so on. There is a lot of rebuking taking place in Washington, D.C. Which makes me wonder how, with all of that sharp disapproval and criticism, anything gets done. I understand that this is very much a two-way street, with Democrats rebuking Republicans and Republicans rebuking Democrats, and everyone rebuking Rand Paul. 
Last week there was this interesting moment when, after being confronted by two victims of sexual assault while boarding an elevator, Senator Jeff Flake summed up the business of the past few weeks: "This country is being ripped apart here." He may have been describing the events of the past two years, and the effect to which we are all witness. Which is probably a result of all that rebuking. 
For just a moment, I tried to imagine a rebuke-free zone. A place where everyone worked together to solve problems and find solutions that were beneficial to all the people all the time. A cooperative place where the benefits of the many outweigh those of the few.
Or the one. 
I am pretty sure that if we took just a few weeks off rebuking one another, some of the things that have been troubling us all for the past couple years or so might get solved. Or, if we are still committed to rebuking, maybe we could take a few days off at the end of each month, just to give us all a break from being rebuked. 
But honestly, none of this will work if there is a rebuke to be found anywhere. If you are just going about your day, trying to get along, and someone rebukes you, well chances are you're going to want to rebuke them back. Or someone else, and the whole rebuke chain begins again. 
I apologize if this entry was a rebuke of anyone who is especially fond of rebukes. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Animals

I went to college in the eighties. My generation did not invent binge drinking, but I like to kid myself into believing that we somehow elevated it. I grew up in a world of dollar pitchers and a terrifying event known as Animal Drown Night. This was an evening set aside for patrons to come to a particular establishment, pay a nominal cover fee, and then drink "for free." Rather than having this bacchanal once or twice a year, it was held weekly, usually on a slow night during the week when coaxing folks out of their dorms was a little bigger chore. This promotion worked on me. I didn't miss many of these opportunities to show off my mad drinking skills. Looking back, I wonder what sort of business plan included cramming a college bar full of undergraduates and letting themselves get blind drunk. I understand I had a choice in this. I could have stayed in my apartment, or the library or hung out at a friend's place. I didn't. I plunked down my eight dollars and proceeded to do everything I could to make sure that I drank my fill. And that of several others.
This was an age that helped define drinking games. While it is true that finding ways to get yourself or your friends inebriated through some contest or other dates back to antiquity, I lived in a world that required quarters not just for laundry but for bouncing off a table. Into a glass of beer that would then be designated for someone else to drink. At no point did the strategy for this game suggest that the person who had been picked a few times get any kind of break. The point was to get drunk. Or at least ensure that someone else did.
Which brings me back to those college bars that also had promotions called Ladies' Night. Ladies got in free, and drank one dollar pitchers all night. Again, the notion being that boys would come and drink without much excuse, but filling the place with ladies drinking one dollar pitchers would be the tiniest incentive to get all the boys who may have needed another reason to show up on a Friday night. I tended to go with ladies I knew, and would happily buy me pitchers of beer for a dollar. This was not every boy's tack. Many hung on the edges, waiting to see where all that beer was going, and finding a table full of ladies who may have spent their laundry money on beer might be a little worse for it.
And just up the street, there were fraternities running much the same concession, only with bedrooms upstairs and no one who might be held "responsible" for the bad things that might ensue. It was a party, after all. And we were all animals, weren't we?
I went to college in the eighties. So did Brett Kavanaugh. I am not proud of everything I did in those days. My abuse was primarily verbal, mostly unintelligible, and aimed at myself in waves of self-pity and loneliness. How about you, Brett? And remember, you're under oath.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

In The Room

I was asked by my wife to accompany her to one of the events for her college reunion. There was a movie being shown in the alumni hall. Friday evening, have a little dinner, take in a film. Sounds like a nice way to start a weekend. But this wasn't just any weekend. Aside from being Alumni Weekend, this was also the weekend that the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move Brett Kavanaugh ahead for approval by the full Senate. There were a lot of people who were unhappy with that decision, and many of them were at my wife's college reunion. The Mills College reunion.
If you're not up on your women's colleges, Mills is one. My wife was part of the protest that kept trustees from turning her school go co-ed. Two weeks later, the trustees agreed to keep Mills the way it was. The way it is now: A women's college. This was the room into which I walked that Friday. There were already a few people sitting around a table filled with college swag. They didn't seem to be actively involved in selling the T-shirts and scarves. They were focused on the topic of the day: an accused sexual assault by a Supreme Court nominee and a bunch of Republican senators decided that this shouldn't keep him from a lifetime appointment. The folks that were sitting around the table had absolutely no respect for Judge Kavanaugh or the senators who had made the decision. Those were the men. The group discussing this matter in the room in which we were going to watch the movie were women. All of them. Except me. And the guy who was setting up the projector and screen.
And the movie we were about to see? Gaslight. If you're up on women's colleges but not familiar with 1944 films by George Cukor about a woman being manipulated into believing she is insane by her husband, then take the time to check it out.
But maybe not at a women's college reunion the day that the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to give a pass to a Supreme Court nominee in spite of the ugly evidence that he is not qualified to judge anything.  I can say this because once the lights went down (nothing wrong with the gas) and the movie played out in front of us, I was as aware as I may ever have been that I was one of a very few men in a room full of women. I enjoyed the movie, but felt completely responsible for Charles Boyer being such a cad. And for the shriveled husks on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And for all the men who ever got in the way of a woman. In any way. Ever.
Quite a Friday evening.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Rocky Mountain Way

I used to work with a guy who called me "Colorado." No, he called me "Calluhraduh." I took this as a deep and abiding compliment, as a transplanted ex-pat from the Centennial State. I continue to take pride in those things that work out well for the folks back home, and feel a twinge when they don't. That's why it felt so good to have South Park take on "school shooting fatigue." 
If you are unfamiliar with the longest running scripted show on television, it tells the story of a group of ten year old boys in the tiny town of South Park, Colorado. It has been alternately praised and reviled by parents, critics and pundits of all stripes. It has caused even your erstwhile narrator to blush at times. The young men who created this animated treat graduated just a few years behind me from our Alma Mater, The University of Calluhraduh. 
These were guys who were interviewed as part of Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine, were not far removed from their own suburban Denver high school experience when Dylan and Eric went on their rampage, sparking one of the initial outrages against school shootings. That was in 1999. Since then, there have been plenty of opportunities for folks to get all riled up about school shootings. Since Columbine, there were forty-nine additional school shootings resulting in fatalities. Dead kids. Is it any wonder that the nerve that used to twitch at these moments has gone numb? 
And that's what Matt and Trey depicted in the first show of their twenty-second season: The boys sitting in math class, unfazed as shots ring out, screams are heard in the halls, and sirens wail. “Shooter down,” says a police officer outside the classroom. Says the teacher, “Now, let’s move on to the next equation.”
I was immediately reminded of the Texas student's reaction to the shooting at her high school: “It’s been happening everywhere,” seventeen year old student Paige Curry said in an interview hours after her school became a part of that list. “I’ve always kind of felt it like eventually it was going to happen here too. I wasn’t surprised, I was just scared.”
Back in South Park: “Who shot up the school?,” Randy, Stan’s dad, asks. “Was it you?”
“No,” says Stan.
“Did you get shot?”
“No.”
“Oh, well. What’s this about failing a math quiz?”
I suppose I could be embarrassed that these miscreants are making fun of a horrible situation, but I'm not. I'm proud to call them Calluhraduhns.