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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Maybe I am still just a little cool...

In college, my favorite band was Sublime.

Not really by choice, actually.

It was the favorite of all my friends.

Truthfully, I just don't care that much about music.

I mean, I like it, and I listen to it, but I don't care about it.

I don't buy it or know about it or memorize it or go see it live.

Instead, it is filler. Background noise.

But if you hear the same album, the same songs, over and over and over again, it can get under your skin.

That is my deal with Sublime.

It got under my skin.

Aside from the fact that I genuinely enjoy the music, it is thoroughly intertwined with a lot of good memories.

So, you can imagine my reaction when a student is also a fan.
It happens less and less these days.

I am old and so is Sublime.

Fewer and fewer students know and appreciate what was always a pretty obscure band.

The last time I remember it happening was probably three years ago.

Until now.

A few days ago, we finished watching the movie version of the novel Speak.

We began discussing the conclusion of the story and what happened to the main character, Melinda.

Suddenly, one of my students started bouncing in her seat.

"Ms. Hirsch, Ms. Hirsch, that reminds me of a song!"

"Ok," I said, "What song?"

"It's by this band called Sublime and it's called..."

I interrupted, "Date Rape."

"Wait, what? Ms. Hirsch, how do you know that?" she asked.

"Um, it is like my favorite band in the whole world," I replied.

"Nuh uh!" she snorted,"Old people don't like that band."

"Ok, first of all, I am not that old--Sublime is my generation! And, not only do I like Sublime, I own both original albums and the posthumous remix. I know every word of every song. In fact, those are the only CDs in my car."

Her eyes got really big. "Sing it for us, Ms. Hirsch!"

"Yeah, no. I would never subject you to my singing...and I honestly haven't listened to it for awhile."

"Well, what are some of the words?"

"They aren't really school appropriate, but it is about a date rape that results in a man in prison with an overly friendly bunk mate" I explained.

Of course, she then shouted the actual words of the song "He was butt raped by a large inmate, and he screamed. But the guards paid no attention."

Oh boy.

I couldn't help myself.

I smiled.

It is a great song...even if the anti-date rape message is couched in inexcusable violence.

Briefly, we reviewed the rules about appropriateness.

And I acknowledged that the song was a pretty good match to the themes of the novel.

She was so excited that I knew "her" band.

I was pretty happy she knew my band.

The rest of the class sat in awed silence throughout this exchange.

Later, I got a few private questions about Sublime.

The next day, at least half the class had heard the song and were shocked! shocked, I tell you! that a teacher would listen to such a thing.

Their reactions were fun for me.

It might sound lame, but it made me a little less like a cultural stranger in a strange land, if you will.

Connections like that, between generations, genres, cultures, and our curriculum, are always a good thing.

Plus, maybe I am still just a little cool...

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What do you think? Does this good thing remind you of a story of your own? Have a question or comment? Please leave a comment!