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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cold Heat, Mean Teachers

Cold Heat issue 1, the comic book that Diamond (the monopoly distributor for comics shops) almost refused to carry for excessivly unprofitable artiness, finally arrived at my shop, and it's better than other comic books. It's not even opressively artsy; it's more funky than highfalutin'. Go to a comic shop, stare at the comics, toss them to the floor and howl at the shopkeeper "You mock me with these pathetic comics! I demand COLD HEAT! Hey... hey, where are you taking me? Wait, I'm not finished! Let me go, Officer, I'm just requesting a comic!"

So today I find out the series is ending as a regular comic and the rest of the story will be released as a book. Maybe the fact that Diamond shipped it to my store three months or so after I requested it has something to do with this. I'll buy the book, durn tootin'. The first issue is LUMINOUS.

* * *

It's a long way from being the most important news story in these troubled times, but the bogus school shooting story (you know the one: camping trip in middle Tennessee, teachers prank the kids into thinking there's a shooter breaking into the camp, kids cry, teacher and Vice Principal suspended) has been on my mind lately. When did you first realize that teachers were fallible? For me it was probably when a librarian was instructing us on the topic of "opinions." As an example, she said "If I said..." and she thought a moment; "Green is blue, that would be my opinion. An opinion is something someone believes that isn't always true." I was probably in fourth grade, but I knew she was wrong. She may not have been a full-on Teacher, but still, I realized then that Educators can be full of it.

It's probable that being cast into ungrounded fear for their lives by their educators will cause most of these kids to fall somewhere between the two extremes of "Deeply scarred for life" and "completely unaffected". Sure, some of the kids bounced back and laughed it off, but these kinds of events plant seeds in young minds, and sometimes those seeds take years to sprout and bear fruit. Other times the seeds never sprout, of course, but I bet some of these kids will have a sharply different attitude towards authority figures now. After you've been wrongfooted by a teacher it's hard to go back to an earlier innocent trust. After all, a prank always has an element of aggression, of hostility, and of the power grab. A teacher who needs to make a power grab is an insecure teacher. The teachers played mind games with their kids, and a mind game is something you do to someone you want to subvert. What's more, they did it just before the kids graduated from the school.

Teacher: So long!

Teacher extends leg, trips kid.

Kid: Ow!

Teacher: Haw haw haw! Aw, I'm just funnin'.

Nice one, Teach.

Maybe some of these kids will develop a healthy appreciation for the frailty, insecurity and plain dopiness of some authority figures. BTW many of my friends and loved ones are teachers; I don't mean to tar them all with the same brush.

In a way the story reminds me of an incident I read about, where the boss of a small company gathered his underlings after-hours at a business convention and got them to play Truth or Dare. Word was the boss took things in a bawdy direction, people were upset, the company lost some employees and had its rep damaged. All because the boss didn't get it: Truth or Dare is... well, it's a youngsters' game, for one thing, but it's a game to be played between PEERS ONLY. If you sign someone's paycheck, you can't ask her cup size or dare her to dance in her underwear. By the same token, kids pranking other kids is one thing; teachers pranking the kids... well, it better be a gentle prank.

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