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Virtually Speaking

Here’s the schedule for Saturday April 16th thru Thursday April 21st:

• @OurManinAbiko Virtually Speaking Sundays: Maple Syrup EditionKevin Wood talks with Our Man in Abiko about #Quakebook, the Japanese Red Cross and naked tweeting. Buy it here. This 15 minutes just excerpted from Kevin’s longer program. Listen here.

• Eve Gittelson aka NYCeve and Susie MadrakVirtually Speaking Sundays. The conversation ranges over news of the week, what the Sunday morning talking heads spun or ignored. Listen here beginning Sunday, April 17 @ 9pm eastern/6pm pacific.
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Day after day


Where the money is

My shrink points out that I’ve chosen a series of men who were, um, deeply damaged and emotionally unavailable (aka “fucked up”), and that maybe it isn’t a coincidence. You know, as if I were the emotionally unavailable one!

“Well, duh,” I respond.

“So why do you think that is?”

“Umm. I like a challenge?” I make my best John Belushi “innocent” face.

He gives me a look. “Okay, let’s say you like a challenge. What else?”

I remind him about the High Autonomy Needs. (Which some people might also call “Emotionally Unavailable”, but it’s different when I do it. See the difference? It’s all in the nuance.)

“When you pick men who are, you know, selfish and fucked up, it sort of guarantees that they won’t be around when you need them — which has a good side and a bad side. While I don’t get much companionship, I also don’t have someone around making demands.” (I’m trying to separate out my deepest truths while fighting my natural tendency to tell people what they seem to want to hear. When it comes to psychology-speak, it’s an easy trap. I’m nothing if not dutiful.)

“Okay, seems like a plan. What’s the downside?”

This strikes me as a dumb question, right? The downside, of course, is that sometimes (okay, inevitably) you fall in love and try to convert that sow’s ear into a silk purse. Sometimes you want to heal these selfish, troubled assholes. I tell him so.

“It’s not a character flaw to fall in love with someone,” he says. “And there’s nothing wrong with being open to the possibility that a relationship with someone who’s damaged might grow into something real. You’re so all or nothing.”

“Double Libra,” I remind him. He gives me another look.

“I like to go deep. I’m more comfortable with really wounded people. I have five planets in Scorpio, which may not mean anything to you, but I really enjoy getting into someone’s psyche, diving down to the muck on the bottom. My friend April says anyone can love a kitten, but it takes a lot of Scorpio to really love a cockroach.”

“Do you want another cockroach, someone whose wounds are that much worse than yours? Honestly, it’s fine if that’s what you want. But if you don’t, you have to look at it.”

Oh, there he goes again. Always with the “looking at it” thing.

“No, I don’t. I really don’t.” Want another cockroach, I mean.

I let the full weight of that sink in. What, no more substance abusers, serial cheaters, compulsive liars, all-around narcissistic assholes? No more musicians? What will I obsess over? I hyperventilate, just a little.

And suddenly, I get just a tiny glimmer of understanding that the past three decades of constant drama over assholes had, oh, maybe a little something to do with my chronic writers block. Maybe it’s time to admit that I’ve already gathered enough pain, redemption, insight and all-purpose emotional fodder for several books (possibly an entire comic book series), and it’s time to sit down and finish writing the goddamned things.

So now I get it. Why was I involved with so many fucked-up men? Because, as Willie Sutton* famously said about banks, for a writer, it’s where the money is.

*He didn’t actually say that, but you knew what I meant, right? Jesus, Snopes.com, way to step on my fucking punchline.

Ani DiFranco’s “Manhole”:

but a lesson must be lived
in order to be learned
and the clarity to see and stop this now
that is what i’ve earned.

Without you

Until today, I had no idea Harry Nilsson was covering a Badfinger song:

If you ever experience something like this, call the insurance company and demand to speak to a supervisor: “I’m filing a complaint with the insurance commission and also with my congressman, and I want to make sure I have the correct details for why you’re refusing me a necessary medical test as ordered by my physician. Oh, and I want to make sure I spell your name right.”

While your state insurance commission is possibly in the pocket of the industry, they do at least investigate these cases, and the insurance companies just don’t want the hassle. It may not always work, but it’s worked for me so far for the five or six times I did it:

“I gotta tell you Kathy, I can’t keep living like this,” said Michael Fields, 46, who was experiencing tightness in his chest, numbness in an arm and light-headedness as he begged the voice at the other end of the line for help. “It’s been going on for weeks. I don’t know what else to do. I mean you know, I’m trapped here.”

“Alright, let me put you back on hold,” came the reply.

Fields, who lives with his wife and son in Elkton, Md., was not speaking with a 911 operator. He was calling a representative from his insurance provider, Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of Delaware, and he was about to find out that for the third time he was being denied a crucial test to determine if he had coronary artery disease — a nuclear cardiac stress test.
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Maybe tomorrow

There was this priest who had a Sunday morning radio show on WIBG Top 40 back when I was a teenager, and in an attempt to “relate” to “the kids,” he’d play pop music and relate it to God. (That sort of thing was Meaningful back then.) I remember him playing this song by The Iveys (later to be Badfinger):

Charter schools? Nests of corruption

These stories are so commonplace, I barely notice them anymore:

Since 2008, Akron-based White Hat Management, has collected around $230 million to run charter schools in Ohio. The company has grown into a national chain and reports that it has about 20,000 students across the country.

But now 10 of its own schools and the state of Ohio are suing, complaining that many White Hat students are failing, and that the company has refused to account for how it has spent the money.

The dispute between White Hat and Ohio, which is unfolding in court in Franklin County, provides a glimpse of a larger trend: the growing role of private management companies in publicly funded charter schools.

Contrary to the idea of charters as small, locally run schools, around a third of the schools now pay management companies — which can be either for-profit or nonprofit — to perform many of the most fundamental school services, like hiring and firing staff, developing curricula and disciplining students.

But while the shortcomings of traditional public schools have received much attention in recent years, a look at the private sector’s efforts to run schools in Ohio, Florida and New York shows that turning things over to a company has created its own set of problems.

Maybe it’s because I see so many stories like this in my local paper:

A federal grand jury has indicted two former top officials at a charter school in Northwest Philadelphia on charges of stealing $522,000 in taxpayer funds.

The 27-count indictment charges Hugh C. Clark, 64, and Ina M. Walker, 58, with conspiracy, wire fraud, and theft from a federally funded program, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger announced Thursday.

The pair, both from Philadelphia, allegedly used the money slated for New Media charter school to pay expenses at Lotus Academy, a small private school they controlled; to fund personal businesses, including the Black Olive health-food store and the Black Olive restaurant in Mount Airy; and for personal expenses, including meals and credit-card bills, Memeger said.

The indictments, which were unsealed Thursday, came nearly two years after The Inquirer first reported allegations of fiscal mismanagement and conflicts of interest at the school, which has campuses in the Stenton and Germantown neighborhoods.

And that was just this week. We have problems going back to the beginning of the charter school movement in Philadelphia, and I’d guess this is going on all over the country: the management contracts are handed out as patronage plums to incompetent, unethical, or outright fraudulent management.

Why, we even have one school that was doubling as a nightclub, and selling booze on the weekends. (I wish I was kidding.)

But we’re “saving the inner city schools,” and it makes Hollywood stars and rich CEOs feel like they’re helping, so it’s all good!

No matter what

Badfinger with the song that still kicks ass after all these years:

Brandy (you’re a fine girl)

I’m sure we can blame this song for a whole generation of women named Brandy. One of those songs I can’t decide if I actually like, but it was played so much, it’s worn a path through my neurons and I can’t tell the difference. (” (As Simels points out, YouTube is the greatest research tool since the Library at Alexandria.) Looking Glass:


I love this guy’s attitude:

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