Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts from the Walks

WARNING: The following post will contain a large amount of references to the male reproductive organ. It is meant to be a humorous and informative post, not just juvenile or offensive. While I am happy to use cheeky nicknames in order to stay slightly more inside the boundaries of politeness, I will need to borrow some terminology from our friends in the UK whose slang offers a whole new world of possibilities. Should you choose to continue reading, and I should hope you do, I would encourage you to look past the obvious subject matter and really get to the balls of what I'm saying. Enjoy.


It's a tough time to be a fan of the arts.

I really think a huge problem involving schools and the way they are being funded currently is when you do just the smallest amount of digging, you realize that a vast majority of people "in charge" have a business background. Now you could argue that there's a place for that kind of thinking within our schools, and as far as I'm concerned, you'd be a point. To some extent, there are parallels you could draw between running a business and running a school. I would think in the sense of budgetary needs and dealings with direct employees, following a "business" plan has some merit. Here's where I have the problem though. The people who work so hard to complete all the college level courses deemed necessary to prove their ability to teach children and is therefore required BY STATE OFFICIALS, are being told BY THOSE STATE OFFICIALS that they have no clue what's right for their students. We've come to a place where Administrators have become "Corporate", the teachers are some kind of "Middle Management" which leaves the students as the lowly "hourly employees." We've all had some job or another where the way this breaks down is like this: The Corporate folks think they know everything that's best for the company and they have all the power to make their way, the way. The middle management folks actually have a good sense of what needs to be done to make things successful but lack the actual power to make the changes or convince corporate to make them. This leaves the lowly hourly folks taking crap from everyone and getting punished for a broken system.

When School Board members and the higher administration talk about budget cuts, the arts is always at the top of the list. Having worked behind the scenes enough to know the answer to "why" I'd like to let you all in on it. Programs within band, art, and theater are considered non-essential programs because Commissioner Online van Businessdegree decided that years ago that english, science, and math were all the youth of America needs in their lives. Why not sports programs? Well ya know, that's actually a touchy subject because what they really want to do is keep football and cut the majority of other things, but that's a difficult deal to swing. Yep, football, because that's what makes the most money. Are english, science, and math the essential classes for our youth in preparation for college? Doesn't that drastically depend on their intended path of life? You can certainly call attention to the fact that those subjects make their way into everything in life, but to what degree? I agree that we all use math daily, but I'm not sure we use it to a sense of long equations in which we solve for "x."

Now I could say things like, imagine a football game without the music being played after a touchdown (band programs). Imagine no logos or artwork on the field or uniforms (art programs). Heck, imagine no uniforms at all (Hey ladies, I try to throw in the occasional bit just for you...oh and guys...thank the theater people who went from costume design to making pro sportswear). However, if the last World Cup showed the world anything, it's that you don't need years of training to make a noise at a sporting event that lots of people will end up hating. Thanks vuvuzela inventors.

I could also argue the merits of being involved in those types of programs. How kids involved in the arts tend to have overall higher GPAs, get into trouble less, and have higher potential for scholarships. The problem is, all those studies have been done over and over, and the people in opposition of the arts still find their way into positions of power which tells me that no one cares. At least not enough.

These are somewhat obvious arguments and this is "Thoughts from the Walks" - the obvious is not welcome here. It's the time when I go out into the world and see where my mind decides to take me. Which is why this posting has everything to do with a "Man's Eggs and Sausage."

For two days last week on our walk we stumbled upon a sidewalk-chalk art exhibit. It was a pretty limited gallery, three pictures...all of "The Captain's Plank and First Mates." It really made me think about the lack of funding in the education system, but particularly within the arts. It wasn't because it was drawn in chalk and I thought our kids should have access to better art supplies, and it wasn't because one drawing of "Tinkywinkleton and the Clock Weights" was so close to a middle school that most of the classrooms near the entrance had a view. It was how bad the drawings were done.

This is the fallout from an already depleted art program that is in a constant state of threat for further cuts to be made. Our children don't even understand what a "Spam Javelin and Potato Sacks" should look like in artistic form.

Let me explain what I saw on the ground, and I'd like to note that there was three total drawings of "St. Valentine's Arrow and Quivers" which were all drawn the same way. While I don't think I deserve bragging rights on this or anything, I spent many years in various musical groups that often involved public/group showering facilities. If there's anything in this life that I'll ever see too much of, it's "The Marble Pouch and Giggle Stick." If there is such a thing, and I think there is, I know what "normal" looks like between the legs of men.

Have you ever seen a professional twist up dough for a soft pretzel? It looks amazingly simple. For someone who is very practiced it can be done in one quick motion using a small flick of the wrists. It's really very difficult though, so when someone less experienced attempts to form one it often ends up looking more like a poorly drawn thought bubble. That's about as good of a description as I can get for what Middle-School-Picasso had on the ground representing  "The Sargent's Gunny Sack." A misshapen soft pretzel.

For the "Shafty" portion of the drawings, which is certainly the most difficult to mess up, all was well save for the extremely small proportion of grip area to everything else. I'm not sure if he was using any specific inspiration, but that's how it turned out.

Then we get to "Caesar's Helmet" which again, is pretty "Hard" to mess up. Again, in proportion to the "Shaft Which Was Given the Shaft" the "Apple in the Baby's Arm" was just too big and more so was an almost perfect circle. I feel it's my medical duty as someone who has watched every season of "Scrubs" to tell the men in the audience that if your "Bedknob" is a circle, you really need to get it looked at by a medical professional in your area. Seriously, stop reading and go right now if you must, but bring your phone so you can finish up this last little bit while you're in the waiting room.

So this is where we've landed people. Not everyone needs to be a world class artist, but our children should have access to enough art education that they are able to "Reproduce" a rough sketch of a part of their own body (Yes, I'm going on the assumption that this was a guy. I don't think a girl would draw "Man's Merry Maypole and the Under Boulders" on the sidewalk. Come to think of it, I'm not sure a girl would even draw her "Jag's Private Garage" on the sidewalk. Art is a little sexist.). As parents, we need to get a little more involved in what are children are learning and more importantly, what they are not learning.

Otherwise you may find this drawing on some random paper as you're cleaning up your child's desk:

"Nature's Towel Rack and the Fuzzy Acorns"

"Pisstronaut and the Space Rangers"



  1. Excellent write up! I can attest, even at the HS level, about seeing certain sports programs take precedent over music and other programs that, in the long run, are much more beneficial (let's face it, how many pro players did we all grow up with...) but don't get the support. I recognized then that I was wishing there were more classes in illustration/cartooning, even at the college level. Great humor :) Keep up the great writing.

    1. I'll say this, you could add that sentiment regarding growing up with a pro-sports star to "How many professional musicians or artists or actors did we all grow up with." But you're right, many well deserving programs are losing support. Honestly, if these programs are cut, the next group to get the spotlight will have to be sports programs because just like people "can just go take private lessons somewhere to learn to play the flute" people can also "just go join some local league if they're interested in baseball." On the upside, when kids are only taking 3 classes per year in high school, they'll have less homework and the school year will probably be very short.

  2. Maybe they need more health classes.

    1. I really hope that's not the issue. I guess the two can go a little hand in hand within this example, but I really didn't need my football team's third-on-the-list coach(he taught health at my high school) to explain the visual design of a body part I see every day. I can see from the woman's perspective though (taking a guess here), that there would be more to gain from a visual perspective in those classes. Internal vs. External and whatnot. Like I said, I don't expect amazing art made from chalk on the sidewalk (though it is out there: but this seems to be at a level of identifing shapes in nature. The Little Einsteins tell me that's an important skill to have.