Tag Archives: Longwood High School

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

Today is the Ides of March.

I suppose that Marc Antony’s speech from “Julius Caesar,” below, is the Western World’s definitive treatise on sarcasm?

I haven’t read it in its entirety since 10th grade English at Longwood High School.  In doing so now, I’m surprised at how many pop cultural references to it spring to mind:

  1.  The entire speech is beautifully riffed by the eponymous blade-wielding arch-villain in Matt Wagner’s incredible “Grendel: Devil by the Deed” (1993) as follows: “Friends, Romans, city folk — listen to me or I’ll lop off off your ears.  Let’s bury your Caesar and then let’s appraise him.”
  2. I’m guessing that Charles Bronson’s “The Evil That Men Do” (1984) is a reference to the third line?
  3. In at least one episode of “The X Files” in the 1990’s, the Well-Manicured Man angrily refers to the traitorous Syndicate as “these honorable men.”
  4. In one of his later novels (2002’s “The Bear and the Dragon,” maybe?) Tom Clancy describes a pregnant Chinese factory worker as being “made of sterner stuff.”  (I can’t remember which book, but for some strange reason I can remember that line.  Weird.)

 

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

 

— from William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”

 

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Throwback Thursday: The Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill”

A couple of Facebook posts last night cheerfully proclaimed the 30th Anniversary of The Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill.”  That’s mostly right, I guess … the album was released in 1986, although it came out on November 15, not the end of February.

I remember “Licensed to Ill” being a phenomenon when I was a freshman at Longwood High School — reverence for it transcended a lot of high school subcultures.  (And at Longwood, I think those subcultures overlapped considerably more than your typical John Hughes film would suggest.)  The preppie kids loved the album, the jocks loved it, and a lot of the honors kids were into it too — not to mention just mainstream kids and random weirdos like me.  My favorite song was “Brass Monkey;” I was thrilled whenever it was played at parties.  (I can’t feature it here, as there are no authorized videos of it online.)

This album had what I remember as a unique vibe to it in 1986.  People online call the Beastie Boys “the first white rappers.”  I don’t know if that’s true.  (Some people said the same thing about Vanilla Ice only four years later).  And I’m guessing such a distinction shouldn’t be important.  But the Beastie Boys were different.

Previously, rap was perceived only as a kind of counterculture art form for disaffected, young, urban African-Americans.  The Beastie Boys were a rap group specifically with which suburban white kids could identify.  I hope I’m not saying anything politically incorrect here — of course we all realize that any music can be appreciated by anyone, according to their tastes.  (People are occasionally surprised when I myself can recite the Geto Boys as easily as  W. H. Auden’s poetry.)  And all sorts of kids in the mid-80’s liked Run-D.M.C. and The Fat Boys — they just didn’t have the huge, visible mainstream appeal that the Beastie Boys had.

The Beastie Boys had a wider appeal.  Their music was irreverent — they sang about “Girls,” liquor, and the “Right to Party,” in a manner suggesting that they’d probably never been altar boys.  They were drunken, pot-smoking malcontents, and expressed some not terribly progressive attitudes toward women.  Yet it was perfectly natural, or culturally expected, to hear them blasted at a parentally approved, non-alcoholic party for young teenagers at a suburban, middle class home.  The same preps who wore “Ocean Pacific” and played with hacky sacks also played the Beastie Boys.  So did some kids in Key Club and the honors classes.  A couple of cheerleaders I knew had crushes on Mike D.  And it never seemed unusual or ironic, like that time when a nearly all white, suburban crowd chanted along to Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx” at a Longwood Junior High School dance.

For some reason, the Beastie Boys’ broad fan base was never really evident among the student body at Mary Washington College — although The Jerky Boys and the Geto Boys both had their share of fans there.  I don’t remember them being played once.  I think maybe it was because that small southern college subculture leaned so heavily on classic rock and the new “alternative,” with new wave and punk having strong, visible minorities of fans.  (Man … if I had a dime for every time time I heard The Allman Brothers in college, I could have paid off my student loans a day after graduation.)

Strangely, I wound up listening to “Licensed to lll” the most often about two decades later, when I was in my mid-30’s.  I was going through two weird phases in my life.  The first was a newfound love of hip-hop and rap, because I am a weird guy, and I’m always late to the party with these things.  The second was a bizarre, temporary sense of financial responsibility.  I was constantly saving money.  (I think maybe I wasn’t eating right or something.  It didn’t last.)  But I was constantly listening to old or cheap secondhand CD’s, instead of buying new ones or one of those newfangled mp3 players.  (At the time, the iPod’s antecedents seemed just too high-tech and opulent to me.)   So there was always a leather case of 80’s and 90’s music CD’s riding shotgun with me in my 1992 Ford Taurus.

I was driving frequently between Whitestone, Queens and my girlfriend’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, rocketing up and down “the 278,” the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.  The Beastie Boys were my miscreant co-pilots; “No Sleep till Brooklyn” was both a kick-ass song and situationally apropos.  I played the album constantly, along with L.L. Cool J.’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” and the “MTV Party To Go Volume 2.”  Then I’d swap those out with Toad the Wet Sprocket’s more mellow, sensitive “Fear,” just to remind myself that I really was just a softspoken college boy who’d grown into a nerdy thirtysomething (“nerdysomething?”).

I found out recently that Adam Yauch (the Beastie Boys’ member “MCA”) died of cancer.  This happened four years ago, I just hadn’t heard.  For some reason, it was especially unsettling to learn that a rebellious entertainment figure from my teen years had died from an illness that I usually associate with people older than me.  I never loved the Beastie Boys as much as I loved U2, Depeche Mode or Tori Amos, but I found it more troubling than I would have expected.  I’m not sure why, but I’ve decided not to dwell on it.

At any rate, if you still love Ad-Rock, Mike D. and MCA, you can play the embedded videos below.  But you absolutely should pull up “Brass Monkey” on Youtube to get your full 80’s vibe on.

 

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A Bridge Too Far?

Here are a few more pictures from my fellow Longwood High School Alumnus, James Dentel.

James is an outstanding events and fashion photographer.  Check out his Facebook page here: Photos by JD.  (Many of them are easy on they eyes, guys.)   The photos are below are just shots taken on his way to work, but James tells me that it’s funny how people really respond to them.  (I don’t know why I dig them so much, but I do.)

Any New Yorker will know that most of these are of the George Washington Bridge (or “the GW.”)  The exception is the photo second to last — that’s the Verrazanno-Narrows Bridge, one that I myself have traversed too many times to count.

Click to enlarge.

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Check out “Photos by JD,” featuring the work of Longwood High School Alumnus James Dentel!

If you’re looking for an outstanding fashion, glamour or events photographer in the New York area, then peruse the work of my Longwood High School Alumnus, James Dentel.  James has a terrific eye, and his work is absolutely beautiful.

You can see from that from the shots below.  They were taken at the recent “Three Nights of Horror” Halloween weekend event at the Lava Nightclub and Exit 33 in Verona, NY.

You can find more samples of James’ work at the “Photos by JD” Facebook page, and at his website:

https://www.facebook.com/PhotosByJamesD/info/

http://www.photosbyjd.net/

Nice work, James.

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Ye olde Nolan

I’m becoming concerned …  I keep seeing more troubling signs that I am getting older.

I can’t eat pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream all day without feeling yucky.  And I have gone shopping and DELIBERATELY looked for vegetables.

I bitch inwardly about the quality of America’s public education system all the time.  (Don’t even get me started.)  I actually begin some of my (admittedly peculiar) inner monologues with the words, “There was a time in this country when …”  I have also lamented that “things were different 20 years ago.”

It recently dawned on me that my longstanding idolization of Kevin Smith may be waning …  last year’s “Tusk” just didn’t do it for me, and his recent appearance on “The Talking Dead” just seemed to feature too much childish sex humor.  I cringed.  (Lengthy analogies about oral sex aren’t THAT hilarious, people.  I suggest they have a 10-second half life.)  I still think that Smith is brilliant; I just think maybe his particular style of humor might better appeal to a guy in his 20’s.

In the Marvel movies’ upcoming “Civil War” storyline entries, I’m firmly on the side of Captain America, and not Iron Man.  Yeah, Tony Stark has the wit and the charm and the girls and the cash.  But Cap has character and good American values, with an emphasis on civil liberties.  Cap would never subject black people to an unreasonable search and seizure.  He wouldn’t enter a private home without a warrant.  And he would uphold a legal wall of separation between church and state.  Dunno about Tony.

Tori Amos is still cool, but she sounds NUTS in her interviews.

I played with a friend’s little girl on the swings the other day … and I actually got DIZZY after donning a swing myself, and trying to swing as high as her.  THAT was disconcerting.

My doctor told me to knock off all the sugar, and I am totally taking her seriously.

My buddy shared a picture today of the original Star Wars cast in 1977.  When I was a tot, I looked up to Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia.  When I was in fifth grade, “Return of the Jedi” Leia was my heart’s desire.  (I need not even mention in which outfit.)  Today, 1977 Carrie Fisher looks like a sweet girl who could be my college sophomore daughter.  (Seriously, she looks YOUNG, people.)  Harrison Ford looks like that older kid in our hometown with the camaro, who I need to keep away from her.  Mark Hamill looks like that sweet kid down the block who wants a date with her, but won’t get one.

My friends from Longwood High School are now teachers at Longwood High School.  The cognitive dissonance connected with that is significant.

And tonight it has dawned on me that (I can’t believe I am saying this) Depeche Mode is getting maybe a little played out for me.  Oh God, I can’t believe I just typed that.  I still love MODE, I swear it!  I just think that after “Violator” has been in my playlist for two decades, it’s maybe time to retire the lesser songs like “World In My Eyes” and find some more new music.

But not “Policy of Truth.”  THAT SONG WILL LIVE FOREVER.  (And never again is what you swore the time before.)

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“Within, the wealthy lament/ The traffic at the Whitestone Bridge.”

Here’s a particularly nice shot of the Whitestone Bridge, connecting Queens, New York, with the Bronx (and Connecticut beyond).  My Longwood High School Alumnus James Dentel shot this recently, and he was kind enough to let me use it.

This is the bridge referenced in my poem, “Amanda,” which was featured by Dagda Publishing and by Dead Snakes.

I used live not far from here.  Yes, New York can be a rough place, but Whitestone, Queens and adjacent Beechurst were two of the greatest neighborhoods I ever inhabited.

 

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Longwood High School alumna Sue Anderson publishes “Kick Save and a Beauty!”

Hey Longwood High School folks!  Our alumna Sue Anderson has published a novella!  Its title is “Kick Save and a Beauty,” and its Kindle price over at Amazon is just 99 cents!  (Sue’s nom de plume here is S. C. Ryan.)

Give it a look!  And please pass the link along to anyone else who might be interested, to help support an alum and a new independent author!  🙂

http://www.amazon.com/Kick-Save-Beauty-Cougar-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B017AI7C8W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1446170597&sr=8-2&keywords=s.c.+ryan

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