Monday, August 10, 2009

The Schoolyard Of Forever

I'm not sure exactly when it dawned on me in conscious words, when its virtual 12-point type scrolled across the frontal marquis, but it did so. Most people never mature emotionally beyond who they were at 17 or so (I haven't) and many freeze earlier. If you find yourself talking to a roomful of executives, for example, assuming they're rational adults is a huge mistake. We may be experts at hiding it, but in the electric assemblages which our neurons fire, including the envelope which stretches from back to front and in which we perform name-calling, we're still children.

In that roomful of professionals there is a boy like the one you slammed your head into on the playground your first day of kindergarten; there is the poor speller who still feels dumb about it; there's the girl whose primary objective is to maintain a clique; and sooner or later, there'll be the guy who's been held back a couple times, the pissed-off terror who is going to rough you up and try to establish a protection racket. Boardrooms are classrooms, politics are schoolyards. Dick Cheney and Rummy are still out there, holding people up against the anchor fence, we're still beating up the maladapted kids from the bad homes.

The title above is a poem by Charles Bukowski. In it, he picks up the regimented brutality of a Prussian-designed compulsory school system, turns and examines it, telescopes it up then declaims it down into what's lacking in a country's soul. An awareness of it. A resistance to it. Apparently his grade-school nemesis was named Herbie Ashcroft; one of mine was named Alan Pabis, who has a facebook page. No hard feelings, Alan, hope you're well. Can't think of you without feeling that spot on my right hand, the 4th metacarpal. Where the bone thickened after the teachers privately came up and thanked me for hitting you. Here is the beginning to The Schoolyard of Forever:

the schoolyard was a horror show: the bullies, the dragons, the

the beatings against the wire fence
the eyes of our mates watching
glad that they were not the victims
we were beaten well and good
and afterwards
taunted all the way home to our homes of hell
full of more beatings

in the schoolyard the bullies ruled well, and in the restrooms
at the water fountains they owned us and disowned us
but in our way we held
never begged for mercy
we took it straight on
we were trained within that horror
a horror that would later hold us in good stead
and that came around
as we grew in several ways with time
the bullies gradually began to deflate, lose power

grammar school
Jr. high
high school
we grew like odd plants
gathering nourishment
then the bullies tried to befriend us
and we turned them away

(for those who would go on, here's the rest from


A. Peasant said...

"we clashed against the odds just for the simple sweetness of it"

yes. this is why they cannot kill the resistance. the resistance is made in people who have carried it since the crucible of childhood, and it cannot be removed without killing the host, and their cruel system always creates more people with the resistance inside, so they lose eventually, because we will fight and die for no other reason than to flip them the bird and laugh as a final gesture. as if we could be afraid of death after dying so many times. if that makes any sense. i suppose it will to fellow travelers.

great post.

MarcLord said...


yeah, he understands the nature of dissidence. the FBI followed him around for apparently nothing more than poetically stating, "this sucks," and for being difficult. then came the readings at universities, the movies, the royalty checks pouring in for sticking to it. dissidents are the ultimate late bloomers.

A. Peasant said...

hmm. where the hell are my royalty checks anyway?

Bee said...

Cool post, MarcLord:)
I never had to actually physically fight in school...I had a verbal mean streak 3 miles long, and knew well how to gather those embarrassing secrets that the school jocks (girls and guys)and the "it" kids really didn't want yelled out loud in the middle of a packed cafeteria. I tended to befriend their harrassed younger sibs.
Your arch-nemesis Alan looks like he's...ah, well, yeah. (arched eyebrow).

Bruce said...

More fellow travelers: Mark Knopfler and Van Morrison, "The Last Laugh"

MarcLord said...


oh they're being held in some billing department, somewhere. piling up.

MarcLord said...


good strategy that. Alan had muscles in sixth grade, he should've been in eighth or maybe it was ninth. tough kid. he was the leader of a gang called The Mafia. i bruised his right occipital orbit, opened it up for seven stitches when a substitute teacher was in class and he was on the warpath. his number two waited for me on the way to the bus the next day and threatened me. i said i've got no problem with you, Frank. Alan's got seven stitches. do you want seventeen? thankfully, Frank saw reason.

MarcLord said...


after our wedding, my wife and I made a mixed CD and gave it to all the guests. The Last Laugh was the ending track. one of my favorite songs. always loved the sound of the last laugh going down. ;-)

Davoh said...

Most people never mature emotionally beyond who they were at 17 or so (I haven't) and many freeze earlier.

Sheesh, 17 is doing well. I never got past age 9.. heh.

Anonymous said...

just when I thought I was screwing up as a parent... I've gotten a couple of kids emotionally past 17. It's really self-serving - I need them to pay into MY social security so I can buy nice soaps and lotions (no Fancy Cat food for me- I'm dining at the soup kitchen and smellin' pretty). I remember vocalizing how grateful I was to be out of my 20s; if we had a Way Back Machine, would we be forced to admit really being stuck at 17?? I am only looking forward to the rest of it -- even with economic "downturns" and worldly "unrest." Its all part of the ride... Or maybe I will just go back to Vegas...