Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fire All The Old Teachers

The United States of America, with its failing public school system (17th in the world behind Finland and South Korea), needs a solution. We should fire all old teachers. The ones out of touch with children and teens nowadays. They use old techniques, aren't up to snuff with Snapchat or streaming movies, and they aren't serving the children that need to be educated.

Do I really believe this is the solution? No, of course not. That is the worst idea I have ever heard. It is based on the Donald Trump mentality of "do it because that's how you run an efficient business." It is based on the idea of making money in a cutthroat economy.

Donald Trump would start firing people based on their evaluations. How has the United States (Department of Education and Betsy The Devastator Devos) begun to evaluate teachers? Based on the kids they have seen for 180 short days in their long lives. We, as teachers, are responsible for working magic with our students in a lot of cases. I teach at Cesar Chavez Middle School near California's Bay Area. My 8th graders (35 per class) have reading levels 6th, all the way down to 2nd graders.

The US (dept. of ed. all the way down to the common citizen who they've convinced) wants to evaluate me based on my students all achieving 9th grade standards by the end of this 180 day school year. Students, on average will be absent 6-11 of those days during the year too. That is not even considering emergencies like the current flooding in New Orleans (August 2016 flood) or Hurricane Sandy which close entire districts for weeks. These are of course due to climate change (a result of everyone's doing) and cut down that 180 days to even fewer, making the actual face-to-face interaction time with the kids smaller. Teachers are still all held to the same standards nationwide though. From Palo Alto, California to Camden, New Jersey. From Westchester, New York, to the flooded parishes across Louisiana.

So let's pass our evaluations! Let's work hard or work harder to get all of our 2nd grade reading levels to 9th grade in 180 or less days. If your past your first 5 fresh years of being a public educator, you better be staying in the same tip top shape as those recently graduated, Master's Degree-equipped 20-somethings. If you're not, if you've started a family, if you've experienced the death of a close one or an accident yourself, your life is going to be more challenging than the majority of fresh post-college grads, but that means you better now put more time in and work much harder to be exactly where the Google and LinkedIn teachers are. Do it or else you'll get fired. Trump doesn't give a fuck about your new kid or kids. Your recent hardship or home purchase that you need to pay the mortgage for. Fuck you for being a lazy and shitty teacher. It's bad for MY BUSINESS. My business is public education. It should be treated like Wal-Mart or Trump Industries. If you hurt our profits, you're fired.

BUTT. Here's the but. You knew there was a butt right? Why is there a but? Because fuck you Donald Trump. Your ideas will not make america great again. (When was it so fucking great in the first place? Like, great for who dude?) You forgot things because you're so busy making emotional comments about war, poverty, economy, and anybody who disagrees with you.

Here's what you forgot: After you fire the old and shitty* teachers, you're going to need new ones to replace them. People that are choosing teaching over way higher paying jobs are going to have to actually want to do this difficult and way underpaid job. Why would they want to when they know you're going to be a fuckin' dick to them midway (or even early on) in their profession? Answer: they're not. You don't make anybody want to please you. I don't want to work for you. I won't work for you if you become President. Fox news fucks are trying to convince us that you're actually close to your contender, but the actual stats show that you're just not going to do it. How does Fox report on lies? They're your friends, so fuck all of you.

You need fresh college minds filling the positions of your fired teachers. Burn the veterans in the name of new "faster" and upgraded brains. The newbies that will be able to type away on Chromebooks, but won't have any pride in their industry! (Gawd you've already got me calling education an industry.) What will happen to them after a few years go by and the next wave of new teachers comes through? The same thing! You have no foresight. You've completely bankrupted corporations. Not one, not two, but FOUR! Bankruptcy, which would destroy anyone else's credit score (leading them closer to poverty) but still allows you to say to your republican voters that you'd run America like a wise businessman?

Public education needs a champion. We have some teachers fighting for us. Tom Torlakson was elected California's State Superintendent of Schools. Teacher unions have gotten propositions to be put on this November's ballot that will help public schools. Voting for Prop 55 in California this year will extend the millionaire's tax to continue funding education. Everyone that will be taxed (the households making over $500,000 annually) is trying to get a tax break though. Of course, someone who says he made a "smart" decision to avoid paying any federal taxes supports this tax break. Why would you TAX anybody? <-- paraphrasing Donald Trump. 

Because everyone deserves an education. Nobody could say this country was "great" or #1 at anything if we didn't champion this idea. If you don't think every single child in this country deserves the same education, you are clueless as to what our country was founded on. We continue to espouse the idea to the rest of the world that we are the greatest at everything. If the truth gets out that we are denying most children of color and kids in impoverished communities a sound education, no one would think this country was great. We have to continue to be the land of opportunity. 

A simply way to start is by supporting teachers. This is my fifth year being one. About half of my friends are. And most of my idols are as well. This job does not pay well, and it is challenging not just to teach, but to spend countless hours writing propositions (like 55), encouraging people to vote, explaining how their vote will affect our kids and our future, and having to defend what we do to this culture of teacher-hatred. Rich people and the news sources they control are making us out to be the enemy. Because we make $50,000 a year and creating a huge tax burden, right? You make me want to punch myself in my own damn face sometimes. Teachers in public schools aren't the problem; they're the solution. 

We aren't the enemy. We don't deserve to be fired because of someone else's test scores. We taught you how to read. If you just finished reading this, you should thank one. Adios amigos. 

A video of my 5th graders at KIPP SF Bay Academy

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hanging out with Brian Fallon and my new video

I uploaded a video of him playing a new original, but the video is 7 minutes long. Why is it 7 minutes long? Because people go to his shows to hear him talk. It's a dream come true when the musician you love to hear sing can actually talk just as well. This guy is funny, he is genuine, and he will go on and on with people from the audience about whatever they may yell about (often drunk off their asses). Last night was so fun. It was the second time Brian Fallon has played Santa Cruz in 2016 and the second time he hung out with me and Allison after the show. That was also a dream come true. He congratulated us on our engagement and gave us marital tips on stage while he was introducing his last song.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Zackary Drucker from TRANSPARENT Interview

With all the talk of transgender bathrooms at Target and the North Carolina bathroom law, there has never been a more appropriate time to release our long-awaited interview with Zackary Drucker, co-producer of Transparent. This is the first show to tackle the hot topic of transgender living in today's world. Political by nature, this show is the best look at transpeople to-date, and will soon have its third season released on Amazon Prime


Disclaimer: Transparent is my favorite show and this interview was a huge privilege. Zackary and I were friends and allies through the Acceptance Coalition at both of our high schools. This pretty much makes her "my friend that made it big in Hollywood." Watch the quick trailer to understand the magic that is Transparent.

Who are you and what's your job? 

My name is Zackary Drucker and I’m a full-time human. I’m a co-producer on the Amazon show Transparent, and I’m an artist who has shown my work in various museums around the world, including the Whitney Museum, the Hammer Museum, and MoMA PS1. I was friends as a teenager with a person named Billy Prusinowski, who asked me to do this interview.

Where are you from originally? 

Syracuse, New York.

What places have you moved to and lived in before coming to LA? 

The week I graduated high school, I hot-tailed it to New York City! I got my BFA at the School of Visual Arts, and I moved to Los Angeles, to get an MFA at Cal Arts and I’ve been in Los Angeles ever since.

Why did you decide to keep your name? 

Well, for a lot of reasons. I had already started building a name an an artist and I didn't want to start over. I considered changing my name and when I realized that I didn't want to, that I'd only be doing it to make everyone around me more comfortable, I decided that it was the epitome of a bad decision. Gandhi said "be the change you wish to see in the world" and the world I decided to live in is one in which a woman is named "Zackary." We trans people have learned to modify ourselves to set other people at ease but at the cost of our sense of self, our histories, and often at the expense of our bank accounts. Any expectation to conform to social norms has always been a good motivator for me reject social norms. These are all personal choices I'm speaking to, I totally support everyone's right to change their names and modify their bodies. I think the goal for all of us should be to optimize our comfort in our bodies, we're the only ones who have to live in us. 

What is your affiliation with the TV show Transparent? 

I started on Transparent as a transgender consultant when creator Jill Soloway was developing the pilot. I came on as a full-time employee for season 1 as an associate producer, and now I’m a co-producer. There’s a big team behind Transparent, but I would say that I, specifically, manage the politics of transgender representation, initiatives with the community, working with actors, cast, and crew, and bringing as many trans people onto the production as possible, both in front of, and behind, the camera.

Tell us about a scene from Transparent that you contributed to that holds a special place in your heart.

In season one, there's a flashback episode that dives into the main character Maura’s history and traces her path as a young parent to three children, into finding her gender non-conforming community. Camp Camelia is a fictional retreat for crossdressers based on many similar communities and safe spaces, and I provided research and visual references that helped create that world. It means a lot that I was able to help showcase the community strength that existed back when trans people were barely visible.

The show seems "very LA." Though not identifying as trans, the three kids have pretty insane lives. Are Josh, Sara, and Allie's lives realistic for someone in LA in 2016? 

YES. The Pfefferman family is fictional, but I think that they're absolutely representative of this place and moment in time.

Do you feel you are THE forefront of trans-education in 2016?

I consider myself an active participant and a witness to an incredible cultural shift that’s beginning to embrace gender diversity. I think that I’m doing my part, along with a lot of other amazing comrades.

Me doing an interview about trans-issues makes me feel like Macklemore singing about #blacklivesmatter. Does someone like me have any right to write about an issue like this (which you've truly lived and I haven't)? 

Thank you for writing about this and about me. This is a big conversation that involves everyone - gender is something that everyone has their own relationship to. Trans people are oftem a more visible representation of something that virtually everybody experiences, as illuminated by decades of feminism, and this is something that men are still catching up to by acknowledging that masculinity is as much a construct as femininity. The thing that has created a shift towards acceptance of trans people is that cisgender* (non-trans) allies have started to have these conversations, and then that we are all speaking to different communities. I think that white people certainly need to be having conversations about racism. It takes all of us to move culture forward.

How political is the show? Will you endorse Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump in this election year? Do you think any of them will begin to address any of the issues facing the trans-community? 

I’m definitely rooting for Trump, because I love a bully just as much as any other Fox-News-watching couch warrior. Kidding! The show is very political, much more so behind the scenes. Jill Soloway has had an incredible gift of bringing a lot of brilliant people together to create Transparent, and it is created very much with a feminist model of sharing inequality. We take our social responsibilities very seriously and with a lot of laughter. The show is a comedy, it’s hilarious. It’s proof that we can examine ourselves without exploiting each other’s difference.

I have a video of us at a Lost Horizon punk show from February 2000. You had big hair, lots of glitter, and definitely stood out. How did you identify back then and how has that changed since? 

I, as a teenager, identified as a genderfuck, and that’s probably the word I used for it at the time. Looking back, I would say genderfluid or gender non-conforming, but those words didn't exist at the time. I wore a dress to my prom and didn’t believe that I had to subscribe to the binary. Really, I wouldn’t have had the choice. I always emphasize that I identify as a human, because sometimes when we start parsing out our identities and get more and more specific, it becomes showy. I also identify as trans, as a trans woman, and as a woman, and I don’t have much of a preference or allegiance in any of those categories.

People like me who knew you from school days are so proud that you've made it big and stuck to your guns. What would you like to say to your allies from Acceptance Coalition that are now watching your show and still following the example you set in being an activist?

I don’t know how many people who knew me back then are watching the show or know that I’m involved in it, but I love that you know. And to all our comrades of yesterday, I’d like to say: I love you, and thank you very much - we survived!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cheating, Sexism, YouTube, Porn

The video where the boyfriend lures his girlfriend inside his house with a blindfold on, only to give her the Valentine's Day "gift" of stalker pictures of her cheating on him disgusts me.

I saw this on a bodybuilding forum, where most people commenting were in favor of the boyfriend/creator of this video. Now, in case you don't know, what happens is that this boy sets up a trap for his girlfriend to get embarrassed and shamed specifically for a YouTube video. The entire time he is taping (with his camera sideways....idiot) and using the most bro-ish language one could possibly use to set up this poor girl for a prank. The prank is that he finally ends up showing her a picture of her cheating on him, which she sees and then gets screamed at by the boyfriend to "get the fuck out of the house."

First, the title of this video reminded me of the genuinely funny video from a couple years back of the guy faking his girlfriend out and saying he cheated, only to have her say, "It's ok, I cheated on you too." I dunno, I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff, and that video didn't contain any terrible sexist bullshit, so I will say I'm a fan of it. I was incredibly wrong to assume that this video was going to be funny or worthwhile to watch. Honestly, I think the boyfriend AND his roommate both think they achieved "viral" status on YouTube by creating this awful video. The entire end is them saying things like "slut" and "whore" to this girl in order to make them seem cool for this video they were so excited to release. They both said, "This is going on YouTube!" <- That is a huge reason I'm so pissed off at these pieces of shit. And our entire sexist culture.

I saw a musical act last night and they played a song that I know was not on YouTube yet, so I whipped out my phone and videoed it while thinking to myself, "Yes, this is going to get me some views and subscribers!"

Watch my video after you read the rest! Brian Fallon is amazing :)

Isn't that what social media should be about? Posting things that will enrich or in some way educate our friends and followers about the world? I know we've strayed far away from that...but this video epitomizes the garbage mentality that so many of its viewers had.

The comments section makes me sick. It is a bodybuilding forum where everyone's avatar is a mirror selfie of their baby abs (most of these morons are late teens and early twenties) and they all talk in internet lingo! One that made me particularly sick was their use of the word "Alpha." Now, I have watched enough weightlifting channels to know that calling oneself "alpha" is a big compliment. It means the same thing as an alpha dog.

Right off the bat, one of these 18-19 year old "bodybuilders" said that the dudes who made the video were so alpha. More chimed in saying, "Alpha move, bro!" "Total Alpha!" If I had a nickel for how many times these novices misused that word that I am now so fucking sick of, I would be as rich as Donald Trump.

What these boys need explained to them is that an alpha dog doesn't disrespect women for YouTube fame. I know exactly what their thinking is. I've seen the Zyzz videos. I've seen the supplements called Alpha Amino and Alpha Pro. The gym bros that have the biggest muscles and get the most girls get called Alpha. Everyone, of course, wants to be the Alpha. Everyone actually thinks they are it.


I can sympathize with the confused state of mind a lot of them are in, because there is no one out there explaining that getting jacked and getting laid can be healthy, sex-positive, and empower all genders. What this piece of shit did to his girlfriend was not alpha at all. It was the supreme opposite, because he was acting on massive insecurity issues, taking someone else down to make himself feel more powerful. Did he get cheated on? Yes, I guess that is the premise of the video, so he has every right to be hurt. He has no right to practically kidnap this girl and videotape her being forced to endure his and his asshat roommate's verbal abuse. 

Another word that was used was "cuckold." Dude, that word has been made popular by Pornhub.com videos which feature a guy watching his significant other getting fucked by someone else. It's a strange word and will disappear into obscurity as quickly as it (sort of) appeared. Now, for the record, it was the girl's defenders that were using this word and its made-up derivatives: "cuck," "cuck'd" etc. I will give them a little credit for at least knowing who was in the wrong in this shitty video, but they are using words that they learned from porn! 

These guys, just like the others, are all between the ages of 16 and 26. (Goddamn I hope there isn't anyone older than that on those forums speaking like a little Generation Z internet troll. There probably is. They're probably our bosses at work. FML.) They get their education from internet posts and YouTube comments. I'm excited hoping that the day their social media posts stop getting LIKES, they may just enter the real world where literally no one will ever say the word "cuckold" outside of fetish porn. It was so weird hearing the guys who share my views on this shithead boyfriend trying to insult him by saying, "Looks like yr the 1 that got cuk'd bruh." I mean, use your words, guy.

My hope with this piece is that someone who is getting their education from comments on the internet will stumble across this and learn from my comments. This video was NOT a good idea. This girl did NOT learn any lesson. This prank did NOT make the guy more powerful. This did NOT set a good example for young men who need to learn how to grapple with infidelity/relationships/jealousy. 

Most of the time I make these blog entries when I am developing my ideas or political stances on current events. A lot of the time I am angry, and rather than punching someone or making a Facebook rant, I choose to develop my thoughts here. This entry was created out of my disgust for the way a lot of young guys are thinking nowadays. When one or two people think a certain way, I know I can't change every mind. But when asinine ideas are spreading through channels like these (the entire bodybuilding "scene") I am just afraid. I'm sure there have been more women mistreated and verbally abused by boys trying to emulate this video themselves. I feel for all of those victims, and I want all of these guys to rethink their lives. Don't be the next douchebag. Cheers. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Vegan Scene in 2016

This is my most recent video, stating who I know and apologizing for who I don't know, in the "Vegan Scene in 2016." Enjoy. Subscribe to my channel, as I believe I will more active on it in the near future. Check out www.plantbuilt.com for your inspiration and answers to all things vegan/fitness until then.