This past Saturday was the last day of tutoring until next fall.
This is A., a good kid. He’s working on the game, “Get to 24”. The kids like it, and I do too, because there’s no answer key — we all have to figure it out.
The object is is to use all the numbers, in any combination of operations, to get to 24. You can only use each digit once. This card has two dots, which means it’s of medium difficulty. (I’ve posted the solution to this one in the “Comments” of this post).
It was the last day of class, so I brought Skittles for the kids. My co-tutor brought Easter eggs. The rule I made was every time you ask for a hint to solve the puzzle, you have to wait five more minutes before you can open the egg.
I’d never seen YLT before, but damn, this was one great gig. Gothamist covered it too, and knows their catalog a lot better)
The band was in particularly fun, raunchy form for the two-set show, playing a wide range of their best loved songs, some acoustic rarities, and covers, including an eyeball-popping run through of Velvet Underound classic "Run, Run, Run." Highlights from the first set included the bass-groovy "Moby Octopad," the keyboard-pounding “Periodically Double Or Triple", a lonesome version of "Tears Are In Your Eyes" with Byrne on harmonies, and a slowed-down, spacey version of Talking Heads classic “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel".
Somehow the band delivered an even better second set, unloading every huge guitar song in their arsenal, including “Decora", "Sugarcube", “Cherry Chapstick" and "From A Motel 6." The highlight of the night may have been the absolutely destructive guitar freakout of "Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind," which saw guitarist Ira Kaplan utilizing every trick he knew with his pedals, and even found him switching guitars midway through the song without losing a beat. Overall, it was definitely the best set we've ever seen the band play together.
David Byrne came up for a few songs,
and in the 2nd half of the show, Glenn Mercer of the Feelies. Here is the VU song “Run, Run, Run”. That opening bit of feedback...bliss.
In the category of “it’s a small, cool word”, here are the Feelies are playing in one of my favorite scenes from Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. A movie that has a cameo from David Byrne’s mom.
Gothamist has the sad story of Emilie Gossiaux, a 21-year-old Cooper Union art student, who while riding her bike in Brooklyn last October, was struck by a tractor-trailer driven by a man not licensed to drive that class of vehicle.
Her family has set up a fund to help pay her medical expenses. Some friends of hers are selling art on her behalf, but I simply gave.
I know times are tight, and at this time of year especially, there are many requests to donate to worthy causes. Still, I hope you’ll consider making a contribution.
I’ve contacted the Brooklyn DA’s office of communicatons to get an understanding of why the driver was cited only for driving with the wrong class of license and making an unsafe turn. They are looking into it and have promised to get back to me.
I’ve also written the office of Borough President Marty Markowitz, asking if he could help. (Letter below).
Dear Borough President Markowitz,
Today I read in Gothamist about Brooklyn resident Emilie Goisseaux, a 21 year-old Cooper Union art student who was on her bike in Bushwick when struck by an 18-wheeler last October.
While the driver was cited for making an illegal turn and driving without a proper license, Ms. Goisseaux suffered serious injuries and after awakening from a coma, she is now blind.
Rather than singing a song or sending a holiday card, I respectfully that that the Borough President's office make a contribution to the fund set up to help pay her medical bills.
At work, we are helping out New York Cares, answering a bunch of letters to Santa from under-privileged kids. This is the one I took.
The post office runs a similar program, and I encourage everyone, if they can, to participate. In New York, just go to the Main Post Office, across from Penn Station, and pick as many letters as you choose to answer.
Last year they began to mask the addresses of the kids, in order to protect them from ne’er-do-wells, so now you have to bring the gifts to the post office, but two years ago, the addresses were still visible.
One girl, I mailed the present to her house, and intended to do the same for my other letter-writer. But one of the gifts she wanted, a ‘High School Musical 2’ DVD, did not get to me in time, when the person I bought it from on eBay flaked out.
So on Christmas Eve, I ran to Target at Atlanic Center, (even more than the usual madhouse), got some stuff, and headed out in the sleet for the C train to East New York. I got to a three-story building on Atlantic Avenue, with a run-down insurance company on the ground floor, and apartments above. There were no names on the buzzers, but I saw a light on the top floor, and rang the top buzzer.
After a minute, a Hispanic woman stuck her head out the window. I yelled up,
“Is this the xxx family?”
She nodded. I pointed to the bag I was carrying and said,
“I have something for you.”
A minute later, she comes down the stairs, holding a toddler boy, and a girl who looks to be about 8 or 9 at her side, holding her hand.
I bent down. “Are you Eliza”? She nodded.
“Did you write a letter to Santa?” Another nod.
“Well, he dropped this off at my house. He told me to give it to you.”
Her eyes went as wide as saucers. I handed her the bag (which included a Transformers toy for her brother..something she asked for), and said,
Yesterday, I wasn’t psyched to go to tutoring. I’d gone to sleep the night before with a sore throat, and feeling a little under the weather, but woke up feeling no worse, and a little better, so I went.
We were teaching “Interpreting Figurative Language”, and doing shared reading. When we got to the sentence, “Pa stood six foot seven and had a voice like a hurricane.” Jose looked up and said,
“That’s a great metaphor.”
I know I’ve said it before, but how can you beat that?
Progress continues apace in cleaning up the monument to neglect that is Bayside Cemetery in Ozone Park.
Thanks to CAJAC (Community Association for Jewish At-Risk Cemeteries), new landscapers have been hired, and every weekend volunteers are out there. Usually it’s one or two “regulars”, but sometimes CAJAC is able to rustle up Boy Scout troops, familes of people interred there, or other small groups.
When I first went out there this past summer, the task seemed Sisyphean, it now seems merely Herculean. The key is persistence.
Here is a pic of stuff we’ve chopped down, and that is awaiting the chipper. The mulch will be spread along the cemetery paths.
Tutoring has started up again. The class is smaller this semester (seven kids versus nine), and my co-tutor is my own age, so it’s already a different dynamic, and of course, the kids are different too. Maybe it’s because I remember better how last year’s kids were at the end of the year than at the beginning, but these kids seem much ‘younger’.
The 3 Chinese boys all have names that start with the letter “J” — week 3 and I’ve finally begun to remember who is who. One has a real talent for drawing. He came in one day with a drawing of a story we had read. I didn’t have my camera with me, so I asked him to bring it in the following week. He did, and did a second drawing as well.
It inspired another kid in the class to draw — we had read a poem about lightning. He’s going the J.D. Salinger/Thomas Pynchon route.
The tall buildings in downtown Brooklyn (behind the camera) make the whole neighborhood an echo-chamber. These fireworks were sponsored by Hope For The Warriors, a charity which provides assistance to wounded veterans.