Category Archives: Drive-by Shooting

The Pencil Today:


“Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.” — Salman Rushdie


Before we say anything else, let’s agree that every nation and culture is weird, bizarre, inane, ludicrous, and so on until we run out of adjectives.

Some Middle East cultures force their women to cover their faces. Ultra orthodox Jews practice Kapparot around the high holidays, wherein a person (okay, a man) reads Psalms 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24, then grasps a live chicken and swings it over his head, thereby transferring his sins to the soul of the chicken. Emmis (Yiddish: the truth.)


Here’s more. Many subcontinent Indians still practice dowry wherein the family of a girl child must sell home or land or even go into crushing debt to fork over a pile of rupees to the family of the girl’s future husband.

People in the town of Phuket in Thailand celebrate their annual Vegetarian Festival by sticking knives and spears through their cheeks and other penetrable parts of their bodies.

Some Somalians girls still undergo female circumcision, which is a palatable way of say clitoridectomy, which itself is a palatable way of saying those people are jerks

Many Mongolians refuse to pee in the direction of the rising or setting sun, fearing the act would demonstrate disrespect toward the holy orb.

Hey, Point That Thing The Other Way!

Under Bubi law, people of different social classes in Equatorial Guinea are forbidden from eating together.

Before we start patting ourselves on the back a little too much, remember Americans value the gun over all other items and concepts mentioned in our Constitution.

We also drive to the gym to workout.

We consume more calories and fats than any other peoples in the history of the Earth, yet an alarming percentage of us still suffer malnutrition.

Starvation Diet

America is the most technologically and educationally advanced nation of all time, yet many folks in this holy land believe the Earth is 6000 years old and that angels hover around us, making sure safes don’t fall on our heads.

So we, too, are kinky beyond all reason.

I was reminded of this by a report on NPR this morning. It was part of StoryCorps, which I usually try to ignore, being constitutionally incapable of caring about whether some husband and wife I don’t know are in love with each other. It is the definitive emotional porn, which is inferior to sexual porn in that the latter at least has a payoff in the end.

Anyway, today’s Story Corps deals with a teacher who describes his first few days at Chicago’s notorious Marshall High School, which is to secondary education what Stateville Correctional Center is to charm school.

Marshall kids get killed by stray bullets with alarming regularity. Many a Marshall teacher considers the day a success when no student flings a shiv at her. The next time the name Shakespeare is bandied about in Marshall’s halls will be the first time in a long time.


The teacher, a fellow named Tyrese Graham, says that on his first day at the school, he tried to get his class to quiet down. One student, according to Graham, shouted out that he musn’t know what the fuck school he was at.

Another student asked who the fuck he thought he was.


Graham goes on to recount the first funeral of a student he had to attend. A young man had been shot in the head by a drive-by shooter aiming at someone else. The dead boy’s mother also was hit in the arm. Graham says he did his best to present a strong front but eventually broke down and sobbed in the funeral parlor.


He says he wondered what the hell he was getting himself into that first week on the job. He promised himself he’d get through one year and then get out. But Graham eventually learned to love the place. He calls it more than a job. “[Y]ou’re dedicating your life to this,” he says.

Now, that’s a hell of a story, one every citizen of these Great United States, Inc. should hear.

It’s a hell of a lot more meaningful than the typical StoryCorps piece about someone’s grandmother falling in love as a young girl.

Anyway, here’s the bizarre part. Before the story ran, the announcer issued a warning — there will be language, she said, that may be offensive to some people.

Clearly, she was referring to the F-bombs mentioned above. Now it gets really psychotic: the F-bombs were bleeped out. Even the online version of the story ran the word [expletive] rather than the original spoken word.

In other words, you might be offended by not hearing the strong language. Your ears and sensibilities might be so fragile that the mere thought of the dirty word would ruin your day.

Not of course, the idea that high school kids are getting their brains blown out or even that the typical Marshall class is as docile as a pack of hyenas.

No. The F-bomb — or, rather, the very idea of it — might boil your blood.

Man. We are one nation of weirdos under god.


Click GO!


Who else?