Thursday, August 30, 2007

IT'S ONLY ROCK and ROLL - But I Like It

Let's Get Together Yeah, Yeah, Yeah We Can Have A Real Good Time

I grew up surrounded by and immersed in rock and roll, rhythm and blues, Motown, and Woodstock.

I had a booth at the Psychedelicatessan, dining on Blue Oyster Cult soup, a salad bar with Motley Croutons, Blood Sweat & Tear sandwiches with a slice of Todd Runion, while wearing my John Mellencap.

I slept with my first love at age 8: a 3-transistor radio with an 8 section antenna that I held against the pole lamp as I lay in bed, earplug snugly in my ear, trolling the AM band for new songs.

I still remember hearing "Its Only Love" from Rubber Soul when distant airwaves, aided by the atmosphere, bounced off something and got caught by the pole lamp. Nobody I knew had even heard about Rubber Soul. I was a grade school phenom!

Why this excursion in Dr. Peabody's Wayback Machine? The recent hullabaloo during our school board's team-building workshop has me thinking about rock and roll bands. It always seemed as though some band was embroiled in tension during transition.

Group creativity is not about consensus. Creative consensus brought us The Bay City Rollers!

Any group worth their salt had fights. Some fights involved fists, broken whiskey bottles and blood. The Davies brothers (Kinks) were known to fight onstage between beers. The Beatles fights were more "snippy" - Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth had some beauties that are still difficult to scab over - ask Sammy Hagar. Remember when Ozzie left Sabbath ?

Some fights were so brutal that the damage was believed permanent. There are still people who go to an Eagles concert in anticipation.

Remember the Chuck Berry / Keith Richards stare down in "Hail, Hail Rock and Roll"?

All this has been swirling around in my head since our School Board went into the studio for a preproduction session. This is where the band and the producer get together, decide on what songs to put on this year's release, in what order, who sings lead, who sings what harmonies - if any. Later, with the record company, decisions like: who gets the royalties, who does the promo interviews, what is the album's title, etc., will be addressed.

While "fans" everywhere were aware of some growing tension among the band mates nobody was expecting just how quickly the boiling point would be reached.

Apparently "Meatloaf", "Grace Slick", "Diana Ross", "Melanie", and "Sheryl Crow" wanted to continue mining the same vein the group has been for the last 10 years. They contended that their fan base wasn't ready for anything new or innovative and sited the dismal failure of their nationwide search for a new manager and fashion consultant.

New members "Salsa Spice" and "Chrissie Hynde" had joined the group with the intent of updating the sound and image.
("Chrissie" was a former rock critic before deciding she had enough 3rd person and figured she could do it nicely herself thank-you-very-much.)

Both felt they were not only losing their fan base but also were becoming complacent, dated, and approaching caricature. A fan blog set up by "Chrissie" provided a free flowing forum that allowed her to monitor the response to the group's changes. It even allowed the "roadies" and "support technicians" an avenue for expression. The crew could originally access her blog, read and send comments while on the job until management blocked the comments section. It wasn't like they had a lot of time since their job description was changed, their duties increased and their "break-time" cut in half. Most of the smart ones quit their union and are spending what they used to pay in dues at "happy hours" of their own making.

"Chrissie's" blog and use of technology as a two-way communication tool apparently began to piss off ( hey, this is a rock column!) some of the others who were having trouble adapting to the new technologies that were being introduced. "Meatloaf" was rumored to have completely destroyed a couple of laptops - out of anger over an Active Directory / S.I.L.K. conflict with his MySpace page. He is also believed to be the culprit who destroyed a few new flex-neck condenser mics with saliva salvos.

"Sheryl", who was in the middle of a divorce from "Lance", moved out of her region (in direct violation of her contract) into a trendy condo owned by a "friend" so she could cut down on living expenses, got caught lying about it, and was just aching to tee off on somebody before being fired or resigning.
She didn't have to wait long.

There continues to be a lot of background speculation about the others being in on the secret of "Sheryl's" move. Their silence came with the expectation that when the manager's contract came up for renewal "Sheryl" would join them in supporting renewal, which she did.

"Chrissie" was "Sheryl's" target-de-jour. "Salsa Spice" would be collateral damage.

Anyone who knows "Chrissie" knows she won't back down. "Salsa" likes to play nice. "Chrissie" will take her Telecaster and bat your ass flat.

"Sheryl" was lucky, only words were exchanged.
"Chrissie" decided she had enough. The studio door may have been damaged as she left.

Elvis would have "put a cap" in the TV.

How much damage was done to the members remains to be seen. Hopefully the others will finally recognize the "Winds of Change" blowing through the industry before it's too late. "Chrissie" will need to be sure-footed and determined. "Salsa" will have to get focused, succinct, and strong.

For "Meatloaf" it may be too late.
There is growing support to replace him with, who we believe is a New Kid On The Block: "Jordan Knight" -sporting a cleaned up collegiate look. Research into this is continuing.

"Chrissie" has increasing support from all segments of the fan base. Even those in demographics previously unknown to the group have begun to make themselves known.

Public appearances are still scheduled for Tuesday's at The ROSSAC which is more intimate than The FORUM but may still host a hockey fight, so get there early - it's festival seating.

The start time
used to be 5PM. It has been changed to 3PM. Fan pressure could force a compromise. This time and format change was apparently made with the hope that critics will be caught in Crosstown Traffic - particularly "Lester Bang's" mom.

Lester (may he R.I.P.) was one of those critics who demanded every song, every album be the absolute best the artist could release - anything less and he would be mercilessly and justifiably scathing. He got the best of his mom's DNA. True fans loved and trusted him until he discovered cough syrup.

The performances are still broadcast on Channel 18. Sound checks are still done privately. Any critic must still sign up ahead of time and adhere to strict time limits. "Meatloaf" is still apt to trot out that tired demo "Your Time's Up" at a moment's notice. Ironically, the fans just might beat him to it.

Stay "tuned" fans!

IT'S ONLY ROCK and ROLL - But I Like It


Does everybody remember those tedious teacher in-services we were forced to endure?

How about the one titled "Ethics Training"? How many times were we admonished with: "You are held to a higher standard." ? How often were we told that even if we were in a restaurant drinking, we never knew who was at the next table watching, listening.

How often were we told that we could be called to Professional Standards at the slightest, vaguest phone call, letter or infraction for reprimand or termination?
"You are held to a higher standard."

Our board member Jennifer Faliero got caught trying to pull a quick one.

"You, Ms. Faliero, are held to an even higher standard."

You must be able to make informed unemotional decisions. The decision to move away from the community that elected you and then try to keep it "under the radar" belies that fatal flaw spouses succumb to during divorce. As an elected official that option was not available to you - period.
You betrayed your district with personal intent.

You can't raise a family of 3 on $40,887 a year? You moved to South Tampa's Davis Island for more affordable housing?

You have teachers with Bachelor Degrees who must be on Level 9 (not 9 years experience but LEVEL 9) who make almost that and never thought about South Tampa's greatest housing bargain! Really, did you think anybody in Tampa bought that one?

Why South Tampa? Did you use your position to intimidate the Plant administration into looking the other way when they enrolled your daughter? Oh, wait a minute, wasn't Ms. Elia's launching pad Plant High School? Was her evaluation influenced by this move? Were your required to purchase a pass to Candyland? I wonder how you kept this enrollment away from the queen of CandyLand? Did the South Tampa "powers that be" tacitly "allow" this quid-pro-quo? At what price? See how easy it is for the neighbors to talk?

Too bad you didn't take that "Ethics Training", or did you? In any case your integrity has been forever damaged. Every decision, every comment, every public appearance will bring this baggage with it. Every little thing will be measured by this decision to move out of your district. If you can't live on
$40,887 a year how can you look at yourself knowing a third of your teachers make less!

Like they told us: "Ignorance is no excuse because
you, Ms. Faliero, are held to an even higher standard."

Do the right thing Ms. Faliero:

- the sooner, the better.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Last year we taught 5 of 7 periods = 71.4%
This year we teach 6 of 7 periods = 85.7%

This year we are being offered 8.3% for working 14.3% more with 50% less prep time!
It is time for the "elders" to speak up. Maybe I can point out to them why they need to step up.

Unless you have switched your retirement plan from the defined option, your retirement benefits are based on your last 5 years salary. WAKE UP elders! The $1000.00 bonus in the proposed settlement DOES NOT COUNT toward your retirement benefit!

IF the district does this it will reduce the total amount of your benefits by $5,000 over the 5 years since it does NOT show up in the formula.

IF this becomes a standard ploy and they throw you this "bone" for the 5 years before you retire it will cost you $15,000 in your benefit formula.

If we allow this sleight of hand it will cost you ($1000.00 x 5 years = $5K) this time. PLUS $4000.00 ($1000 x 4) + ($1000 x 3) + ($1000 x 2) + ($1000 x 1) Total = $15,000