The Last Word

Issue #503

September 2016

Our Annual Back-to-School Issue!
Classmates for a day, a lifetime of memories
“Memory...All alone in the moonlight...”
This is our “Back-to-School” ish we famously publish each year (with few exceptions), and what’s more
interesting than the comedy that ensued late in my junior year of high school?
I attended what was sort of like an alternative school, because I was a bad, bad boy. I had a blast at this
school—at least some of the time, like when I wasn’t getting slammed to the ground by the Covington Police and
being arrested without being read my rights. (Somehow I can’t imagine preps from Bishop Brossart being treated
like that.) Around April 1991, one of the most enduring memories of this school took place.
I came to school one morn and learned that my class would be receiving a new student. I heard a rumor
that she was quite disruptive—which is school lingo for hilarious. When the time came for her to join our class,
she didn’t disappoint.
I heard a commotion in the hallway. It was the sound of a teenage girl loudly arguing with adults. As the
arguing slowly crept closer to the classroom, our teacher stepped outside the room to follow the noise. My new
classmate then began running in and out of the classroom, as her parents looked on in shock. Her mom said
something I couldn’t hear, and my new schoolmate sarcastically yelled in reply, “Yes, motherrrrr!!!!!”
Wow! Right then, I knew the rest of the school year was going to be a barrel of laughs! Trust me, I was
laughing with her, not at her.
The new student finally settled
into her desk and began arguing with the
teacher—for hours on end. The instructor
—who usually got angry over displays
like this—mostly ignored her. My new
classmate refused to do her schoolwork
and kept yelling, “I CAN’T READ!!!”
Don’t get me wrong: She wasn’t
illiterate. She seemed to be very smart.
Compared to those who attacked me at
alt-right stronghold Brossart, she
sounded like a good candidate for Mensa.
She claimed the reason she couldn’t read
was that she forgot her glasses. Later,
however, I saw her wearing her redframed spectacles for about 5 seconds. In
those few seconds, she slouched at her
desk and still refused to do her
schoolwork. She just gazed across the
room at me.
Lunch was a comedy show too.
My new schoolmate refused to eat—and
she continued arguing with the teacher.
She declared, “There’s something in my
eye,” which was met with a rousing
chorus of a Culture Club song. The
teacher became so angry that she insisted
on sitting right next to the new student
through the remainder of lunch.

My new classmate calmed down somewhat that afternoon, but she still was rather amusing when the
teacher took the class for a walk down to the riverfront.
My heart sank the next school day. I learned the new student wouldn’t be returning to our class. I heard
she stepped onto the school bus that morning, and was confronted by an entire battalion of police officers, who
ambushed her, wrestled her to the ground, and carted her away—because she acted up at school the previous day.
This occurred less than a few years after rich kids at Brossart were allowed to do whatever they wanted to do to
me—and faced no punishment whatsoever because their daddy paid off local police, public officials, and others.
After the new girl lasted only a day in my class, her school supplies remained scattered around her desk
for a month. She had papers, pens, notebooks, folders, and maybe even some rotting food all piled inside and
around the desk for weeks after she was gone. Included among these supplies was her kick-ass eyeglasses.
Wherever she disappeared to, I guess she still couldn’t read. Somehow I ended up with a memento of her brief
appearance at that school: one of her school assignments she had handed in. It was just a bunch of math problems
she scribbled down and did all wrong. I didn’t paw through her desk and take this paper. I just somehow wound
up with it. I know I saved this paper for several years, because she was just so cool.
My fond memories of this classmate will last a lifetime.

I stuck medicated gum under the desk in 7th grade
G! Gum!
The #1 reason people chew gum is to blow bubbles that burst and stick to their face. Gum is wasted if you
don’t partake in such intelligent behavior.
Unless of course it’s medicated gum.
I was thinking about gum recently. It’s scrumptious stuff. But remember in the ‘80s when they made
medicated gum? Indeed they did! If you weren’t around yet back then, you’re probably imagining a person
bubblin’ a huge bubble with, say, Visine gum and letting it burst on their big ‘80s hairdo. Unfortunately, the world
wasn’t arranged quite the way you might think.
One time when I was 12, the doctor prescribed me some of this medicated gum. I am not making this up.
It was probably for some life-ruining ailment that should have kept me home from school for days on end. But my
mom insisted I use it just so I could be well enough to go to school. Now, for some reason, gum was just about the
last thing on my mind in 7th grade. I didn’t want gum. I wasn’t Dave Parker. But school was a top priority in our
household. The oldsters placed a premium on structured education. And if gum was necessary to attend school,
they also placed a premium on gum. So I went off to Cline Middle School ingesting this medicated gum. (Yes, I
know: If they placed such a premium on education, why did they send me to Cline? Because the other option was
St. Joe’s!)
But one thing is a truism: You couldn’t bubble with this gum. This pink goo hardened very quickly. It was
barely even still gum once this happened. You can
bubble with just about any other gum, even if it isn’t
specifically labeled as bubble gum. Perhaps not
spectacularly, but people do it, because that’s what it’s
for. But this medicated gum was an exception to this
maxim.
It was all for the better. Who wants anything
with medicine in it bursting and sticking to their face?
If you want that, all you need to do is glue cough drops
to your face. You might look like a moron, but if you
want medicine stuck to your face so badly, go for it.
Needless to say, you could just forget about
important things like blowing a bubble inside a bubble
with this medicated gum. You could also forget about
blowing a bubble big enough to burst on your glasses.
You could even forget about trying to disrupt class by
loudly popping your gum and sneezing at the same
time so your dentures fly out. And no bubbles that
make fart sounds either (known as a bubbunk).
Because you enjoy the noise, elasticity, flavor, and
intelligent mess of bubble gum, this gum was not for
you. Maybe that’s why it was discontinued.
After munching on this medicated gum for
hours, I grew bored with it—and I wasn’t feeling any

better. So the morsel of gum caked itself on the bottom of a desk at school. It grew legs and scampered about my
desk until it could find a spot to cling to. Just joking about that part! But seriously, it did wind up under a desk.
This was the same day we watched a film in English class that showed how postage stamps were made.
Remember also that this was Cline, not Brossart or St. Joe’s, so it was before St. Joe’s shattered my spirit.
Gum. It’s not just for teeth people anymore!

Mama I’m all crazee now

Something funny happened once in 6th grade.
A person farted!
Seriously, something else funny happened too.
I overheard my literature teacher lecturing a class because a student was “popping bubble gum.”
For real, something else besides that happened. And the Old Guard got so mad they just about crapped a
hole in their underpants.
One day near the beginning of the school year, I actually induced almost the entire 6 th grade class to
pound their tables in the lunchroom in unison. It sounded just like the drums at the beginning of Quiet Riot’s
version of “Mama Weer All Crazee Now.” The song was a smash hit right at the time, so I think I subconsciously
based my poundings on this sound. You’d almost expect a giant metal mask to appear on the wall and start
singing!
I started pounding on the table with my fists, and within about 5 seconds, everyone else was pounding
too! This continued until our new principal admonished us to stop.
It’s sort of like the gurgling sound I made while blowing bubbles through a straw in my milk in 5 th grade,
and in a C-3PO voice saying, “Oh no, R2!” The melody was subconsciously stolen from the first few notes of the
instrumental break in “Yah Mo B There” by James Ingram and Michael McDonald. Casey Kasem was right when
he called it an “inspirational” song, for it inspired me to blow milk bubbles.
Mama weer all sane now.

It’s a beautiful day...Things are gonna be OK...
It really is a beautiful day, and things are gonna be OK.
That’s a song by the late Bert Sommer, 1970s rocker from Albany, New York, who died of a cold in 1990.
“It’s A Beautiful Day” did not chart, but Mr. Sommer did have a record that made it to #48 on Billboard’s Hot
100, the most definitive chart in the beeswax. That’s right, ol’ Bert reached (ahem) #48. The Sesame Street jokes
write themselves, don’t they?
Beautiful day skills are electrifying when your name is me.
Once when I was in high school—Bishop Brossart again—a school pal told me he found a 45 RPM vinyl
single of “It’s A Beautiful Day” just laying in the hallway at school. He told me he took the record home and
played it on his turntable, and he likened the song to something Mister Rogers might generate. He told me that
after playing the song, he grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the record.
A couple years later, I buyed the album that has this song at a used record shop. The song is a hippie-like
folk-rock number about it being a beautiful day and things becoming OK.
But the main idea of this article is that something at Brossart got ru. The record seemed to have belonged
to the school—not just something someone took to school
and lost—because who would carry around a then-20-yearold record that was probably worth good money? The
single is so rare that a very detailed website that deigns to
list every single ever released makes no mention of it. Then
again, why would Bro$$art possess such a record? The only
thing I can think of is that some students started getting into
the hippie thing back when it was cool and brang in some
of their records—but the school frowned upon hippies so
much that they confiscated the record and kept it stored in a
back room somewhere. Perhaps the school didn’t like the
song because it was too positive for the school’s gloomand-doom ways.
So the record probably didn’t rightly belong to the
school. The school probably stole the record from some kid
who got expelled in 1970. I had stuff confiscated when I
was there. It was out-and-out theft. But how did the record
get unearthed from wherever it was kept? Why did the
school keep it for that long? And how did it end up laying
the hallway?
My theory is that some kids at school found the
record wherever it was and rolled it down the hallway to
see how far it could go. It must have been a real barrel of
baste to be sitting in class and see a record whizzing down
the hall.
Morning has arrived. It’s a beautiful day.

“No pass, no drive” leaves legacy of classism
If anyone tells you there’s no ongoing economic discrimination in northern Kentucky, please laugh in
their face.
I don’t need to tell you I lost the zip code lottery: I had the misfortune of being raised in what at the time
was an unambiguously inferior school district. I don’t need to tell you the school district discriminated against me
by repeatedly not letting me enroll: I just read in a book written in 1981 while this was going on, “Remember, you
have a right to go to school,” and I got choked up, because I remembered how this right was denied to me. I don’t
need to tell you the school district improperly labeled me and misdiagnosed a real condition. I don’t need to tell
you it wouldn’t have happened if I was from a rich family.
I don’t need to tell you “no pass, no drive” laws discriminate against students in bad school systems:
These are laws in some states that revoke the driver’s license of students because they receive a bad grade at
school. Some states have even linked the right to drive with students’ scores on standardized tests—which are like
an official religion in some states. I don’t need to tell you these laws violate the Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act, which prohibits schools from divulging student information. (Incidentally, NKU also broke FERPA
by sending my parents a letter about my schooling when I was going on 22. NKU’s own website now admits it

was a violation: A section about parents’ rights to access school records reads, “These rights transfer to the student
when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.” So you lose, NKU.)
Perhaps most significantly, I don’t need to tell you “no pass, no drive” gives special rights to the same
guild of spoiled brats who attacked me for years. If it doesn’t, why doesn’t it apply to them too?
These laws have been unsound since the late 1980s when they first appeared, and at this point, I don’t
have much doubt that whoever first conceived these laws—probably a now-forgotten hack legislator in an
unspecified state—was acting in bad faith. In fact, it is known that one of the first lawmakers to introduce such a
law defended an aide who was busted for indecent liberties with a 13-year-old. This shows you the sort of
mentality that originally fueled these laws.
America under this regimen is a land of shame—not a land of pride and personal autonomy.
If lawmakers were really worried about kids flunking out of school, why didn’t they work to improve our
schools instead?
The more naive among you would think I would’ve suddenly started supporting this “no pass, no drive”
shit the day I turned 18—as if I blew out the candles on my birthday cake and received some sort of epiphany. But
I’ve had another 25 years to change my mind, and haven’t. “No pass, no drive” is an exercise in rich privilege. It
gives economic advantages to students who already have plenty of economic advantages. These unfair benefits
don’t go away once a class of kids turns 18. That stop sign has sailed. Those who lost out because of “no pass, no
drive” don’t automatically catch up with their peers.
These laws have been a leading factor in making America a country of outright economic apartheid.
There is just no other word for it. I’ve tried to think of one and just can’t. It is discrimination on the basis of
economic status. Poor and working-class Americans of all colors are facing severe, pervasive discrimination
because of their economic level. When I point this out, I’m not being dramatic. I’m being genuine. Our society is
openly classist. I and many others are treated as second-class citizens because of economic class.
I am word-blind. This was not diagnosed properly in school. In my day, adults who saw my handwriting
actually asked me if I even knew how to write. The results of an online test I took read, “Showing signs consistent
with mild dyslexia.” So there’s that. Like lots of things, I can work around it. I didn’t need intensive therapy, and
I’m not very zealous on following medical or therapeutic orders. I didn’t do better in school because I didn’t have
clout with the system, and because I honestly couldn’t do better.
Ever think it’s possible that maybe my dyslexia and acne scars didn’t harm my driving skills? Why should
someone be banned from driving just because the Masters of the Universe at the Campbell County Schools
decreed it so?
The first victims of these laws are now well into middle age. Their own children may even be
approaching middle age. Odds are, they got burned by these laws too. The idea that they had the same
opportunities as the rich is downright fartable. This farce has gone on long enough. However, it reinforces the
need for progressive economic policies like guaranteed employment, expanding benefits like Social Security, and
a legislative guarantee of economic equality.

My teeth are gonna fall out and you’ll laugh again
Tighten your Huggies, because I’m about to make you laugh so hard
you’ll piss yourself—just like you did when you found out I had
hypocobalaminemia.
Some dude on the Internet is trying to lose weight by tying his
weight in pounds to a freeway exit number. That gave another dude on the
Internet (me) a similar idea: Every time more of my teeth go missing, I can
tie the remaining number of teeth to a highway route number. As a Campbell
Countian, I find it convenient, because I’ve been stuck at 27 for the past 6
years. But I’m worried that pretty soon I’ll have to stop because I can’t think
of any place that has a Route 0.
You’re not gonna hurt my feelings if you say I have mangled teeth.
I’d consider it a compliment. I’m a real life Oscar the Grouch. I’d rather my
adversaries talk smack about things they think I have control over than about
a past event they know I can’t undo. Teeth are a big deal to me because I
majored in radio/TV, and radio involves the organs of speech. Chompers are
vital for intelligible speaking. As an added bonus, it’s easier to bubble when
you have teeth.
Having bad teeth is great. It’s one of my trademarks, and I wouldn’t
trade it for anything. I am so, so thankful for it. It’s a barrel of fun—just like
when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I don’t want good teeth. Good

teeth would actually look out of place for me. But having no teeth at all wouldn’t be great.
I don’t have control over having bad teeth. Absurdly, some fools don’t believe that, but it’s true. In any
event, me not doing anything about it absolutely enrages the Far Right, so I know I’m doing something right.
I can’t belabor this point enough. My teeth are that bad. It’s a fair trade: I can’t bite into an apple, but I
can open the tabs on soda and beer cans with my teeth (and actually lift the can). Overall, it’s a win. There aren’t
many other people who have three buck teeth—yellow, no less. Plus, a tooth was broken on December 16, 2003,
when I bit into a hamburger at Johnny Rockets. The rest are crooked and hilarious. In addition, I do of course
have periodontal disease—because pretty much everybody does.
Maybe it’s a generation gap. I’m actually old enough to remember folks—including young people—
having silver fillings on their front teeth, since white fillings weren’t available yet.
One of two things will happen: The good scenario is that I’ll continue to have bad teeth. The bad scenario
is that I’ll lose ‘em all. I refuse to accept having good teeth—so that’s not among the two things that will happen,
much to your amusement.
I’m not optimistic. My remaining teeth have felt sore and swollen lately, as if they’re preparing for
retirement. If all my teeth fall out or are deemed hopeless, that’s bad news for me—uproarious news for you. My
loss is your gain! And wouldn’t ya know it, you’ve got the Far Right to thank for the laughs! Firstly, it’s the rightwingers’ fault if my teeth fall out in the first place, because they allowed corporate polluters to dump manganese
in our local drinking water. Secondly, it’s their fault
if I can’t replace them with dentures, which would
be less comical than completely doing without.
Medicaid in Kentucky doesn’t cover that, and I don’t
have dental insurance that I buyed from any, you
know, corporation. Kentucky law says the state must
accept every Medicaid service the feds offer.
Repeated Republican administrations in Frankfort
however have ignored this law—under their fascist
austerity agenda. On average, dentures cost over
$9,000. Some insurance plans cover cosmetic
dentistry I’d never want or need—and which only
the rich would even worry that much about. I’m not
talking about procedures that might be justifiable
because of an underlying condition. I’m talking
about stuff that’s not even needed. But you can’t find
coverage for things like dentures that are necessary
in order to eat or bubble. I remember the time some
wealthy personage on an Internet forum wanted to
go to Britain to have a cosmetic procedure
performed for free under the country’s public health
system. For most people like me and you, who are
poor enough to get Medicaid, cosmetic dentistry
isn’t exactly a pressing concern.
Union insurance might cover dentures—for
this insurance is a marvelous benefit of organized
labor—but I’m sure not every denture dealer accepts
that. They’re sensitive about these things. They
might not like unions, since they think unions are
full of hippies. (Seriously, they think that.)
Medicare no longer covers dentures in any state. Isn’t that ridiculous? Let’s be frank: Who is more likely
to need dentures than people old enough to get Medicare?
I do plan on visiting the dentist around October—as I would anyway—and the dentist will be the arbiter
of whether you’ll laugh.
Why go bonkers when you have fucked-up chompers?
Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.

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