Has everyone made it through another New Orleans summer yet? These don’t seem to get any easier, do they? It reminds me of that old Pailhead lyric: “Murder and weather is our only news.” There’s one potential bright spot and that is a new school year (assuming it doesn’t get interrupted by an intensifying storm season). My emotions are always so mixed around this time, because my intrinsic love of learning has always been matched by my hatred of the typical school environment, which at times can beat a curious mind into bored, half-dead submission. My sympathies go out especially to those kids who have a hard time getting up in the morning and making it through that first half of the day. As far back as I can remember, this has been my struggle. It’s not easy for the parents either, who have to cajole, beg, plead, scream at, and maybe even throw a full cup of water on their kid to get them. The. Fuck. Up.
I’ve had many a miserable morning to think about why I’ve always felt this way, going back as far as I can remember. I mostly blame our tyrannical agrarian society for this. It kills me that in this modern age, we are still hammered into a pre-electric daily structure. It was imperative in olden times to get up before the crack of dawn and make full use of the sunlight so the crops and livestock could be tended to. But most of us don’t live that way nowadays. So why are we forced into this routine? In fact, there have been numerous studies which show an adolescent brain is more naturally attuned to a “night owl” schedule. And as with most of our biological makeup, there is a substantial genetic component to this, which means we were born this way, and we’re gonna die this way. So to all of my fellow “evening-oriented chronotypes,” hang in there. I ended up making it through school OK; I have no real complaints. But sometimes I wonder how much better of a student I would’ve been if I could’ve just started around 10 o’clock in the morning, instead of 8 or earlier.
As summer ends, I also want to give a shout-out to the teachers, who must shed their soft summer skin and grow back that thick, impenetrable shell required to corral dozens of children each and every day. Like most people, I had a lot of good and bad teachers growing up. I remember one high school French instructor telling our classroom that he didn’t want to be there any more than we did, but here we were. I always get a kick remembering that moment of real talk from the adult in the room. I also grew up with a teacher (my mom) and let me tell you, for the good ones, it is not a job, it’s a 24/7/365 calling.
So here’s to all that promise of learning new stuff, weathering the educational-industrial-complex, fresh notebooks, sharp pencils (am I dating myself here?), and somehow getting through each day—especially those blasted mornings. Whether you are beholden to that school bell or otherwise, never stop learning. And if you know a thing or two, pass it along. It’s the only way we’ll ever survive. See y’all out there (hopefully after noon). —Dan Fox
I always say a prayer this time of year, when the ANTIGRAVITY beehive can work furiously to complete another SEPTEMBER issue and send it off to the printer during a Katrinaversary. I can never take for granted the precious normalcy of this business-as-usual routine during a busy hurricane season. Stay away, Dorian!
Top photo: Mannequin Pussy at Gasa Gasa
August 2019, by Paris Achenbach