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The Last Word

Issue #497

March 2016

Guess who wants money again?

Today is a day ending in y. That means that a certain Catholic high school that I was expelled from wants money. Uninteresting billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump still sends hate mail to people who criticized him 30 years ago. So it’s only fair that I approach the Brossart plague with a Donald-like amount of gusto. Bishop Brossart High School is like a whole fourth dimension hankering to be poked fun at. Lately, whenever Bro$$art is mentioned by any media outlet for anything other than sports, it’s usually in regard to the school’s many money-grubbing moments. Recently, I saw a River City News article headlined, “Bishop Brossart to Roll Out New Fundraising Initiative.” I didn’t know the old fundraising initiatives had ever ended!

I know Brossart grubbed money. I went to school there for 3 years. I don’t care what the school’s defenders say. The school threatened to withhold my report card unless I paid them for textbooks that either I didn’t destroy or didn’t exist. They charged inflated prices for combination locks —which would then very mysteriously get stolen off our lockers. Then—years later—they made students buy what I called a “golden calculator” and demanded that they turn in the proof-of-purchase labels so the school could cash in on the rebates. In fairness (and fairness is tough to muster when dealing with a school as unfair as this), Brossart isn’t the only offender—and not even the only one that offended me. I read that a public school in Ohio has begun withholding report cards from students who won’t pay a fee charged on all students. Why would a public school charge fees and punish those who can’t afford it? A school in Tennessee withheld a student’s report card after he lost a book and the school charged him 4 times as much as what the book cost. (This school also threatened to use a video camera outside the restroom to catch students who were allegedly urinating on the floor—even though the school didn’t actually have a camera.) One public school district considered hiring a collection agency to harass students who allegedly owed money. A system of charter schools in Chicago has drawn fire for fining students and parents for just about every minor transgression imaginable, such as being out of uniform, not sitting up straight, or possessing permanent markers or Cheetos. Repeated violations result in students having to pay $140 for a “discipline class.” In a 3-year period, this charter school system raked in almost $400,000 from this ultraconservative swindle. Parents led a march to protest this policy. And—in fairness to our schools in general—not all of my classmates were innocent of diminishing school property to worthless detritus. In elementary school, there was a student in my math class who—instead of doing his schoolwork—paged through a book about football from the school library during class. As other kids were singing juvenile parodies of Carly Simon songs (“Jesse I

this youngster was oohing and

Carly Simon songs (“Jesse I this youngster was oohing and won’t cut a fart for you
Carly Simon songs (“Jesse I this youngster was oohing and won’t cut a fart for you

won’t cut a fart for you


aahing over the book’s striking color photographs. One of the illustrations was of a football player sprinting and catching an amazing pass. The student was so impressed by this photo that he declared that he was going to cut the picture out of the book and hang it on the wall in his bedroom. (I can’t remember if this was before or after he

tearfully confessed to defecating on the toilet seat.) “That’s the school’s book!” the teacher thundered. Sometime later, I stumbled upon this book in the school library. Such as the libe was. Our elementary school’s library was just a tiny room with maybe 3 bookshelves. We didn’t have a librarian, and the books

weren’t arranged in any order. When I saw the football book, I couldn’t resist inspecting it to see if the photo had been cut out of the book, as my classmate had vowed to do. Sure enough, the photo had been sliced right out as if with a razor. The tome was absolutely ruinated. But many of our schools are synonymous with ruinment, and I’m disappointed at how little information I can find on the Intertubes about schools scamming students by withholding their report cards and demanding money. After my experiences, I can’t imagine there aren’t a million instances out there in which a school lied about money someone owes them and extorted families’ hard-earned dough in exchange for releasing transcripts, sending home a report card, or letting the student advance to the next grade. I think the reason I haven’t found much about it is that there’s some sort of cover-up. Many schools are so hostile to free speech that they try to silence anyone who dares to criticize them. Despite this, I still think Brossart is butt and shoulders above the rest in every negative metric. I went to the Bernie Sanders rally in Cincinnati recently, and some of the younger participants brang along their brothers or sisters who were only about 17 who were interested in the Bernie campaign. These kids weren’t old enough to vote but already had an adult understanding of politics. Contrast this with what I saw at Brossart. When I went to Bro$$art, the school seemed to be a model of unparalleled unintelligence that strongly discouraged a smart understanding of current events. The school instead openly promoted hoodlumism. I don’t know how else I can judge it after I was attacked there 30 times a day. The school reaps what it sows. If it can’t handle being exposed now, the school should have thought of that in 1987. To this day, I firmly believe the school should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for its actions. If I run for public office, I wouldn’t be afraid to say so, and I think there’s enough people who were wronged by Brossart that I’d probably win votes because of it.

I can’t believe today was a good day

Since this fanzine of freedom started focusing less on my left-wing populist politics, it has evolved into a humorous, fun-filled journal documenting the latest uproarious doings of the Bandit. Sometimes it even has funny comics.

But the past few months have been harrowing—and dull too. I didn’t do a thing that was incredibly exciting. Plus, this ish is late—and smaller than usual—because my nerves were too frayed to work on it. But maybe—if poo and only if poo—we’re now turning a corner. Lately—inspired by the amusing old film about the defective hi-fi that destroys a man’s priceless record collection—I’ve been digging some of my old records and cassettes out of the bathroom and listening to them. I’ve been converting them to MP3’s so they can be sorted and played on my computer over and over again without the frightful prospect of them getting ru. I did this with some of them years ago on my old Windows 98 machine, but line-in recordings made with Windows 98 sound like a transistor radio full of sand on today’s computers, and there were still gobs of records I planned on making into MP3’s back then that I never had a chance to do. And when I say records, I mean records. Yes, vinyl. And lots of ‘em are singles! I always enjoyed listening to Shadoe Stevens when he hosted American Top 40—and even saw him when he came to Cincinnati—but it perturbed me whenever Shadoe referred to a new album as a “CD”, because that was before hardly anyone ever buyed CD’s. I was furious at Kmart when they stopped selling vinyl singles back when vinyl was still the leading medium for recorded music. Despite this, someone on the Interjohn says you can now order new vinyl records from Kmart’s website—but they said Kmart ships the records damaged and in improper packaging. Also, a 1999 article reveals that Kmart and Walmart both refused to sell music that had a parental advisory sticker for “dirty” lyrics. Both retailers stopped selling Godsmack’s self-titled effort because a parent complained that the cover art showed a model wearing a nosering. It also irritated me how much the price of a stylus for a turntable skyrocketed. I remember in the early ‘90s buying a new stylus for only about $5. The cost quintupled by the end of the horrid decade. In the meantime, I had to deal with that Panasonic stereo that had a stylus that sounded like it was scratching my records even when it was brand new. I believe I got that lemon in 1993 and returned it to the store soon after—either because I

even when it was brand new. I believe I got that lemon in 1993 and returned

couldn’t pick up anything on the radio or the tape deck was defective. Another thing I did in the ‘90s—even before Tantrum 95.7—was copy a bunch of songs from records and tapes in random order to blank cassettes sorted by category. When I wanted to listen to music other than just the Michael Bolton-like fare that filled the radio airwaves, I’d play the cassettes and switch cassettes after each song. These days, we have FreeBASIC, so I wrote a program that uses a similar concept to sort MP3’s—only much more efficiently. Copying records to MP3’s is a procedure—not a creative project. I was so unnerved in recent months that I couldn’t do much creating. Something I had been worried sick about (not my lawsuit I’ve discussed here) had unnerved me more and more lately, but it went decisively in my favor just a few days ago, so we live to see another day. It was because people exercised the duties of citizenship instead of rolling over and playing dead. Now that was a good day! What’s more is that—just in the past few weeks—our local activist community seems to have finally emerged from the extended latrine visit they’ve been on since 2014. They even organized the Bernie Sanders rally that took place downtown in February and drew about 1,000 people. Longtime readers may know that I’ve been cheering ol’ Bernie for nearly a quarter-century, and now I can bask in the fact that he’s one of very few candidates for public office ever to inspire huge rallies in support without even having to show up himself.

Did anyone ever successfully organize a rally for Mitt Romney unless it was one where he was scheduled to appear? Or any member of the Bush crime family? The peaceful developments in recent weeks—assuming they hold—are far more satisfying than if I win my lawsuit. I’d rather have my country back than my money back (though I deserve both). I can’t believe it was a good day. Best day in recent memory. Next month: Vinyl versus styrene. The Last Word investigates!

month: Vinyl versus styrene. The Last Word investigates! Rookie monster “EAT THE ROOKIES” Those 3 words
month: Vinyl versus styrene. The Last Word investigates! Rookie monster “EAT THE ROOKIES” Those 3 words

Rookie monster


Those 3 words have been burnished in my brain ever since they filled an e-mail I received and published 17 years ago in our 12/3/99 ish. That was the entire content of the e-mail. I’ve never been able to figure out what that message meant, but I feel like my head will explode if I don’t rehash it anew.

“EAT THE ROOKIES.” In all capitals. What was that supposed to represent? Maybe they meant “EAT THE COOKIES”, but I don’t know what cookies they’re referring to, why they wanted me to eat them, what would happen if I didn’t, or why I was supposed to care. Was it a reference to the ‘70s police drama The Rookies?

Maybe it was an attempt to add lyrics to the show’s instrumental theme music like what Ray Conniff would do. “Eat the ”


my folks watching The Rookies after it went into reruns, and I always thought the opening theme needed some lyrics to set the show’s pace. The e-mail gave me a feeling of deja vu, as if I had heard of eating rookies somewhere long ago, like maybe during my Holiday Inn Conquering game or mishearing something that blared in from the TV in the living room when I went to bed.

I vaguely remember


wokka wokka

Whoever sent me that e-mail must have been eating

rookies laced with something! Maybe our next e-mail will say “EAT CHIPS”, and we won’t know whether they mean chips or CHiPs.

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