Back in the before there was time, giant critters roamed the earth. Well, they did for most of us who had a sense of awe and wonder. The apple and the naked people story didn’t work on all of us, we needed big critters and monkey people. That may not have seemed more reliable, but it sure as hell was more fun.
The imagination of a child living in Southern California and making that yearly pilgrimage to the La Brea Tar Pits was the stuff that made school valuable for at least one child I know. Tons of plastic dinosaurs, early mammals, and a few grey hairs later - the wonder of what used to hang out in Prehistoric Sierra Madre and the adjacent lesser cities has not lost its appeal. The only difference is that nowadays I get to drive my own inefficient dirty silver gas hog to La Pits without wearing a seat belt - as opposed to being packed like Monterey sardines (click here) into the big yellow state approved gas chuggers which are, no doubt, significantly more safe (click here) with, or without, seat belts.
Back before modern science took our bad ass reptilian dinosaur brothers and turned them into big bird, thus trading in the cold leathery gator skin for feather boas and pasties - dinosaurs were the stuff any kid frying fire ants under a magnifying glass could appreciate. For any of us who buried our geek noses into books or poked around at a Natural History Museum, there was the awesome work of Charles R. Knight (1874-1953) and his incredible imagination (click here). Take a quick peek. Yes, that guy. Dad may have gone with you to see One Million Years, B.C. for his own selfish reasons (click here), but you and I know why we were there. If you were a Hammer (click here) fan - it was always all about the critters.
Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Inc.
What brought all of this nonsense on, you may ask? It was the Columbus DayTattler send up a couple months back (click here) and our own Sierra Madre Columbus historian, that kid with the swell green tie. Ya see, I myself always saw those early nautical adventurers as something more like a bunch of lovable rum swigging seasick versions of an amnesiac Indiana Jones than what they probably actually were - religiously uptight slave traders. My own soft-serving reality (click here) still prefers the old Pirates of the Caribbean (click here) to the new and improved digitally enhanced and feminist approved one. Yeah, I know, I know. Whatever. I have never seen a pirate chase around a plate of food in any book, and the policing and politicizing of a once upon a time animatronic marvel, has now been cheapened to the level of another ridiculous sing-a-long franchise for a bogus line of Treasure Island rip-offs.
Back to the point, whatever it was - oh yeah - that’s how I do history. I understand that there are always more than two sides to every story, but I am not likely to let go of the popular belief - whether I believe it or not- any more than I am going to call it Herstory to embrace the superior of the genders. See, I always loved those early maps, and I loved the old paintings of the first imagined America, the one that came complete with waving Indians, sea monsters, and other cool things sprinkled throughout. I like my own simple reality about the age of explorers and the battles they could’ve should’ve raged (click here) a lot more than what the history may be according to some self- righteous self-interest pseudo historical politico groups. See, anyone can knock Columbus around in the current blame it on anyone but me climate, but only an apathologist will tell you that none of it is worth getting your illegal chicken feathers in a bunch over. face it, those fools were up against the meanest mofo monsters this side of Jason and the Argonauts.
Besides ... all that other political stuff? Really? Who cares?
Apathology, or, A New Reality
I suggest a new state of comfortable, bury thy head in the sand living; an inspired ignorance for the insipid, and for the rest of us. Apathology. It is a state of self-congratulation for those of us who don’t give a crap about what they say we should care about. I have lived quite comfortably for half a decade as an apathologist. It is a great survival strategy.
Apathology is simple: do not give a damn about what other people shove under your nose as important. That’s right, show unbenevolent indifference, from the gate, whenever you are told you should care. After all, who said it’s their place to shove an agenda down your throat in the first place? Stones or Beatles? Paper or plastic? Does any of it matter? End of days, or just another Monday (click here) that never ends?
I will tell you this: Sunshine and Rainbow People do not know how to handle an Apathologist, and neither do People of Reason. In fact, the people selling Jesus, Krishna, and Encyclopedias door to door- really don’t know what to do with us. We are not readily marketable, and we don’t buy into anything ... but so what? Why worry about it?
Apathology, The Brandenburg Wall, & PUSD Lockdowns
A taped message littered my voice mailbox last Friday It was the PUSD response to an attack on a school campus that happened three thousand miles away. Please keep in mind that the likelihood that the children had even heard what was happening on the east coast was minimal, at best, so ask yourselves- what was this message really about?
Good afternoon Sierra Madre Families. This is Mrs. Salinas, principal of Sierra Madre School with some important information. In light of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut this morning, we are taking precautionary measures to ensure the continued safety of our students. All perimeter gates have been locked and will be reopened for dismissal this afternoon. All teachers and support staff will escort students to their usual dismissal areas. Our district will deploy a team of counselors to provide support and crisis counseling, as needed. Sierra Madre Police have confirmed added patrol around our school.
Check it out. I have asked PUSD and Sierra Madre School to take these exact precautionary steps for years. I have brought this concern to three different superintendents, to a rotation of school boards, to numerous teachers, and numerous administrators. Crisis counseling? Since when? We’ve requested these supports since October, 2010. None of that mattered until now. Why? Because, an idiot in Connecticut went off the deep end? Sierra Madre has had a couple of its own resident creeps to be concerned about every single day for the last year. It didn’t seem to matter though.
This phone call to action wasn’t about gun control, or mental illness, or dysfunctional families. This call to action was a knee jerk response to redirect your memory that there are a number of simple safety precautions that have been ignored in this city for years. This little exercise in safety put on by the PUSD and Sierra Madre Elementary School was to make y’all believe that something is being done to prevent that from happening here.
Mary and I made numerous appeals to PUSD over the years to ask for the SME campuses to be secured. Our appeals, well, demands really, were eventually used against us by attorneys for PUSD in a complaint we filed - to show the Office of Civil Rights just how unreasonable we were being. These are the statements, sent by us in 2010 to PUSD personnel, that were used against us by the PUSD legal counsel. You tell me if we were being unreasonable.
All parent volunteers assist only for parties & field trips, & only with proper fingerprinting.
The doors to the classroom remain locked while instruction takes place, and no parents are to enter the classroom after the 7:50 bell has rung.
On site counselor support to handle the damage the parents have caused.
For nearly two years the PUSD and the parent elite/vigilantes had repeatedly mulled on about how unreasonable we were for questioning things such as why are there random people all over the school?We were lambasted, ridiculed, and humiliated for asking that a wall be put around the school. I will say today what I said then, “I am not ashamed for standing up for my child, nor any of the other children who are bullied on a daily basis on public school campuses. I just never expected to learn that the bullies were the staff and parents of my community.”
This, from the Sierra Madre Patch, were a few statements I made on October, 16, 2011 in the comments section. Most people enjoyed watching the train wreck that was exacted upon us, but missed the messages that were hidden in the fray, mostly because the elitists wanted to keep the focus on what a jerk I am, and not on what I was saying. Obviously I had shared my thoughts in the wrong Sierra Madre forum.
I, too, want to live in a place where a fenced school is not necessary - not even a thought. but I don't. I live in a post 9/11, post Columbine world, and my child goes to a school where I learned that people can randomly access pockets of the campus either unnoticed or ignored, and trusted - yes, trusted - to follow the rules and laws based on nothing more than their word ...
I fully support, for the safety of ALL of our children, an eight foot fence around the entire school. I, for one, don't want to learn of another incident like the one that happened to my family, or worse, because of our failure as a community to protect our children from outside influences that have no business on the campus during school hours. SME is, as far as I can tell, the only elementary school campus in the SGV with this sort of open campus policy ... I only wished pusd had built the fence back in 2005 when I requested it the first time. If it had been built back then, who knows, maybe a lot of personal damage against my family would not have happened.
The aesthetic of the school is not more valuable than the children inside of it, sorry. (but in Sierra Madre)… it is not children's safety that matters, it is not equity that matters, it is not busing that matters, it is not about perceived disability, no no no no no. it is about aesthetic. My child ruined the aesthetic of the classroom, and I am proposing a fence for safety which is threatening the aesthetic of the school facade. That is what even the most rationale of the voices has stated is a concern. not what they did to my son, to me, to my partner. It is the FENCE that they are concerned about. They will blame me for it, how dare I not just leave - and not for a second reflect on how it is totally because of their actions … so when you name that auditorium the Gayle Bluemel auditorium, you go ahead and call that chain link fence the Brandenburg wall.
We have been instrumental in changing a number of things at Sierra Madre Elementary School. Our silent victories thus far: Autistic and neurotypical children are no longer restrained indiscriminately. Parent volunteers are no longer allowed to shake and scold other people’s children. Parent volunteers must attend basic workshops. Parent volunteers and staff are notified that they are not to divulge confidential student information. Naturally, none of these things will ever be attributed to us as the true agents of change, so I will just say that we are the reason it went down. My son was the collateral damage.
What’s new at SME? Well, funny you should ask. Besides the police presence, the classrooms are locking doors. They found crisis counselors that seemed to emerge from thin air. Some of the other things will occur sooner than you may think, not because of the tireless work by the Brandenburgs, and by what happened to their child. No. That would require accountability, as well as honor, respect, and dignity- and these are traits that have been lost in this district for decades; they are simply catch phrases alluded to by the elite, and only utilized for self-congratulatory awards bestowed upon themselves at gala functions that taxpayers foot the bill for. No, this will be done as an emergency band-aid because now there is a liability that we have made public and opens them up for lawsuits. I am glad there will be change, I am, but I also know the change isn’t the result of doing what is best for the children. It’s to prevent a lawsuit in the future.
Now, as for all of these other crazy things that the Brandenburgs had asked for- fingerprinting everyone who works with, or volunteers in PUSD; the locking of classroom doors during school hours; a secured sign in of all people on campus and records held and recorded instead of lost or destroyed; a fence around the school - they are starting to happen.
There was no danger on Friday the 14th that hasn’t been there every single day for the last twenty years. There was no added danger Friday that hasn’t been discussed right here on this blog. The guy who collects pictures of little boys is still roaming around unchecked, and the guy in the black car still hangs around the places where the tweens and teens congregate. The Connecticut incident simply was used by PUSD and the Sierra Madre Elementary and Upper Campuses to make you believe that there is a crisis response team and an emergency plan dialed in and ready to go in the event that there is a threat. It was politics in motion, and that’s all it was.
Here is the skinny, Minnie: No matter what you say or do to institute realistic, basic change- nothing ever happens. The best thing to do is to try to just ignore it all and wait until one of the smart guys suggest it. Apathology will save you a lot of stress, and you’ll never have to sacrifice your reputation. Just close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, and pray to the “Gods of Everything is Swell, Mrs. Cleaver.”
Mary Brandenburg and I have demonstrated to the communities of Sierra Madre and Pasadena since 2010 that, yes, there is a threat, one that can and should be corrected- and we have been very publicly vocal about it. There is nothing to protect our children from the menace within this, or any community, there is only the hope and intention of trying to anticipate it, and then to collide with it before it is out of control. What is clear is that there is much more to fear than fear itself. Like most of the world, Sierra Madre Elementary School is not secure, it is not safe, and they are ill prepared to respond to any true emergency. But don’t worry about it.
Pizza, Apathology, and Subslices
Over the last couple of years, many unknowing folks took an apathologist position on the redistricting and the subdistricts that would eventually be carved from the whole mess. Much like a pizza pie that was carved to lump the garlic on one slice, the pineapple on another, tomatoes on another, and the sardines on yet another- we can all rest assured that our perspective subslice of the oddly shaped pie is representative of our own neighborhood flavor, with as close to the same number of spices sprinkled onto each slice of the pie as the other subslices. The only problem is that a couple of slices didn’t quite make it to the brick oven, partly because the oven builder ran off with the money before actually building anything, and partly because Chef Boyarewecrafty left one of the pieces of piroshki on the table simmering for a couple of years longer than it should have, and then everyone realized it was actually meant to be an organic onion slice. Ooops.
Don’t worry about it, good people of the forgotten subslice. If you look to the sky, there’s a slice waiting for you in 2015, and if the stars and the planets are all aligned (click here) the great Moon Goddess will come down and reinstate all of the things that you hold most dear. If that never happens, no worries. Your vote is hypothetical anyway.
As the year crawls forth, and the enrollment continues to slide, the City of Pasadena and its number one cohort, Pasadena Unified School District continue to boggle the minds of those who watch. hat does it all mean? Who knows, but a city with a decreasing population plans to build 6,000 new apartments to house imaginary people with imaginary kids to attend imaginary schools. After redistricting the PUSD area, getting a majority of the dumbass population to buy in, and then shutting two of the subdistricts out of the democratic system altogether, the PUSD began its yearly discussion of school closures and population consolidation. The new twist is, get this, population redistribution (click here).
At its December 11 meeting, the Pasadena Unified School District’s (PUSD) Board of Education named Chief Academic Officer Dr. Brian McDonald as Administrator in Charge until Superintendent Jon Gundry returns from medical leave in January. The Board also ... discussed the process for future school consolidation and/or redrawing school boundaries ...
Did you catch that? Now that we have redistricted the voters, the district will now redistrict the school zoning, too. Brilliant. Now that is what I call planning ahead. There are those of the belief that accidents happen, and mistakes are made in the civic duty of local politics. I used to be of that school, too. However, after years of watching the same crimes occur under the guise of “oops, they’re just mistakes”, and watching helplessly as bucketloads of my tax money is lost and misspent, and watching as contract after contract is distributed to whichever favored groups - who generally are nonpartisan but somehow aligned to whichever party of crooks happens to be in power - I have had to rethink my previous belief system. It hasn’t been an awakening without a great deal of discomfort.
That is, until I decided to just go with the flow, stop making waves, and trust the government officials to look out for my well being and best interests. Blessed apathology, shed thy guiding light on me.
Apathology & the Sierra Madre Upper School Building Crisis
The recent information on the latest round-robin of text from the Principal Newsom on the state of the mess came first in a newsletter (click here) but which I lifted from what came home via newsletter because that’s how I (tootsie) roll. According to Principal Garrett Newsom:
“....we look forward with great anticipation to the start of construction for our new campus. If all goes as planned, our School Board will award the contract in in December, with a notice to proceed before the holidays. Thus, we hope to see activity over vacation.....”
Of course, not all went as planned, and a retraction came home within the same day. So much for the power of the printed press (click here).…
“My Sincerest apologies, but soon after our newsletter went to print we received news that contradicts the information I presented in my article. Unfortunately, we have experienced an unforeseen delay in the bidding process, so construction of our Middle School campus will not be starting over the holiday vacation after all......”
Still, I must admit that the printed page does have its merit. Besides smelling good, and giving contracts to favored printers, the printed page is also necessary in adequately assisting the killing of trees, helping to keep people working and giving government contracts to political supporters- as well as the obvious: the hard copy makes a nice coaster, and it definitely suffices in an emergency for our friends in downtown Los Angeles now that the toilet liaison is in rehab ...
At the December 11, 2012, BOE meeting Renatta Cooper stated plainly, that “had we known this was going to happen, we would not have said OK to the demolition.” That makes sense, but why is it that we knew it was a mess over here on the west side of the ‘dre? Hell, I could see the confusion from Europe. Mary and I did lots of research in the days after I returned from a tour in August, 2010, and scoped out the new bungalows and learned about the asbestos inside those (never minding the mess that was torn down) and the poor ventilation, and the dust, and the mess ... it didn’t take long after talking to the construction company dude two things - 1) that the school was still considered a “demolition area” and 2) that it wasn’t going to be completed any time in the foreseeable future. I believe the quote the construction man who eventually left to go somewhere else said was along the line of, “I wouldn’t send my child there.”
While we were advocating for all of the children and trying to get them all moved over to the lower campus we started to run into that nasty bullying situation with the parent Gestapo and thus we simply cut bait and transferred our middle school child over to another school in the ‘dena. That, dear readers, is apathology in practice. Why bother? The popular solution in the current drainage whirlpool seems to be to just send oodles of kids and specialized programs over to Altadena to Burbank School, which is also known these days as BurbankLeftover Academy. Hey, don’t worry about it - we certainly don’t any more! Go ahead and close the school and sell Sierra Madre Upper Campus property to FTW Construction, Inc.
Apathology and Censure Ed Honowitz
In his latest attempt to blow smoke up his own fanny, Ed Honowitz graced the Pasadena Sun (click here) with another of his infamous rambles. In the form of an editorial (aren’t editorials supposed to, um, actually, uh, say something?) our Bray-sayer of Mountain Avenue lists a bunch of, uh, stuff, um, that he says he did for education. No mention of the Censure, no mention of the Brandenburg child, no mention of anything that was actually accomplished over the last twelve years; nope. Just more of the same “uh, hunh, wha ...?” from our little pony pal. Yawn. It is damage control from a guy who seriously needs a Remote Controller’s (click here) assistance. Obviously, he is laying the foundations for the next springboard into god knows what.
Whatever it is, you’ll know because you’ll be able to smell it from here to Temecula.
Honowitz has continued to be the number 1 cheerleader for the CSBA, going as far as to do a presentation which cost PUSD a few thousand dollars in lodging and travel expenses. In fact, back in July, 2010, the Executive director of the California School Boards Association (CSBA), Scott Plotkin (click here), finally admitted to a couple of misuses of funds (click here) when he was caught being naughty, naughty.
“I would like to clarify misstatements I have previously made. The CSBA Board of Directors and Executive Committee did not authorize my use of a corporate credit card to obtain cash advances at casinos ... I would also like to apologize for stating that I had taken a 4 percent reduction in my base salary, when I had not. I am sorry if my actions have damaged the reputation of CSBA ...”
Plotkin resigned amid controversy that even in 2010 was well known by that summer. From a write up by John Fensterwald - Educated Guess (click here)
CSBA.....is suing the state over inadequate funding for K-12 schools, paid Plotkin $540,000 in 2007-08, including a bonus of $175,000. That same year, Plotkin, used his business credit card to draw $11,000 in cash advances at casinos.
Understand that this was two years ago and since that time, both Mary Brandenburg and Board Member Scott Phelps have questioned why the annual dues are so high. Think about it, since this story broke, PUSD have handed these crooks $32,000 of money that was supposed to go to kids, and, that to this day not only does Ed Honowitz sing this groups praise, he has never once publicly distanced himself from this organization’s misuse of our tax money. In fact, in his endless blather at the December 11, 2012, Board meeting, not only did Renatta Cooper have to set a two minute limit on the King of Duh, rumor has it that ole blunderhead had to be asked to put a cork in it before I showed up that night. I may have been in a post-op haze, but I was attentive enough to chuckle while Honowitz spent a chunk of time singing the praise of CSBA, and telling why PUSD should choose a new person to be the new region delegate to this corrupt group when his term of local lackey expires. Did anyone else hear the crickets?
See, no matter what happens between now and May, 2013, Ed Honowitz, blemishes and all, will resurface as a new, sturdier, antibiotic resistant free-lanced carbuncle. He will undoubtedly need to have a crack shot group of remote controllers step in and fix everything, sort of like a roto-rooter for the last couple of years of playing volleyball with the likes of The Brandenburgs, Ramon Miramontes, and German Barerro. You can look forward to, and expect a few more Mr. Ed-isms to enhance the Honovision. Much like my favorite information dossier glossier, Andre Coleman, Mr. Ed goes on and on, but doesn’t really say anything about anything - but whatever it is that he eventually does say, we can rest assured will show us all how indulgent and self-serving everything that preceded it and follows was and is. I have come to the inevitable and unfortunate conclusion that school administrators, politicians, newspapers, gatekeepers, and figureheads all use the same self-bloating language. It is all just puffed up rhetoric, like a rice cake. Not only does it taste like unsalted cardboard - if you listen carefully, you can actually hear the passing wind go by.
Apathology and You
I can hear you now, you are saying, “Tony Brandenburg, I want to be an Apathologist, too. How can I, a person who cares, join the ranks of the uncaring?” You need no longer wonder, and do not need to ask, for you have already joined. Just let go, get in touch with your inner void, and walk among us. We don’t mind at all.
To be honest, we didn’t even notice you were there.