Rebel Rebel?

I like The Pretty Reckless’s “Way Down Below.” It balances the metallic and the melodic. It’s got a call and response to it that makes a girl want to join in.

But then I saw the band’s  “My Medicine” video I got a bit confused. What’s going on with the cigarette at the start of the song?

Taylor Momsen

Cigarettes admittedly boast a cultural history of rebellion. But today, we understand that they’re more offensive to the individuals smoking them than they are to any particular social mores.

I get the James Dean thing. The iconic rebel’s cigarette signaled an alternative to popular expectation. In his hand at that particular moment, a cigarette said “Look at me. I’m my own man. And I can take you somewhere other than suburbia.”

James Dean

But in this cultural moment, what is Taylor Momsen saying when she lights up? Continue reading


Here I Go Again With The Sentiment (This Time, A Tribute To Students)

Yik YakA few days ago, one of my students asked what made me want to stay in school so long, and  continue to stay in school as an instructor. In answering, I found myself swelling into an inspired soliloquy (see below).

Later that day, I read the Chronicle of Higher Education article on Eastern Michigan University Honors College students who during class post racist and sexist comments about their instructors to one another’s phones. Via the Yik Yak app, students participate in a virtual dialog during instruction, a running commentary of insulting their instructor’s appearance as well as teaching, and calling their instructor “a vulgar term for female anatomy.” Of course students criticize teachers. But whether you spit it out of your mouth or type it onto a virtual bulletin board, these kind of remarks smack of hate speech.

I also wonder at the Chronicle’s hesitant vagary with their “vulgar term for female anatomy.” Which one? And in omitting the vulgarity, did the Chronicle downplay the students’ offense? Reporting that students call their instructor a  Continue reading