Post-Punk Parenthood Parishes

What’s the most out there position an old Northside punk could interview for?

This week I interviewed for an art teaching position… On the Southside of Chicago… For a Catholic school. Yep, that’s about as far out there as it gets. It started off with me arriving on time, but finding out that the director of the program had written down the wrong time. So I sat in the old converted convent waiting by myself for either the director or the ghosts that I’m sure haunt that place somewhere. Whichever got there first. Oddly, the room I was waiting in smelled just like the nursing home my great-grandmother spent her last days in. This did not lessen my fear of ghosts.

The director finally got there and apologized a lot for writing down the wrong time and the interview got on the way. She gave me the history of the place I would be teaching in, which was actually pretty interesting. The church has always been the social beacon of the neighborhood. When she was younger they used to put on an annual roller disco-capades; jumps, twirls, and all. Eventually this Brother decided to set up an arts and cultural program for the kids to do after school. He had a massive heart attack and passed away walking into his office five years later. The parish then expanded his program in his honor. Now there are opportunities for dance, visual arts, gardening, and theater classes in an area that is facing extreme school closures.

The interview went very well. We went over expectations of the job and what I should expect of the kids there. It’s in a pretty poor neighborhood, so these kids don’t have a lot. There are a lot of behavior issues and a lack of stick-to-it-ness as the director said. The way I see it though is that it would be a challenge to keep them interested, but as long as its fun, I might make a difference with these kids. They are lucky to have an arts program and as an artist myself, especially one with a punk background, I’m interested in how the arts can transform the world.

The transformation happened in me, I did not feel like just an outsider to this neighborhood. I wanted to become part of it and help them speak out and express their inner voices. The kids with behavior problems, wouldn’t they feel better if they had a way to express themselves, to speak what they can’t say? I know that’s been the case with my kids. They don’t have “behavior problems”, but I’ve seen them act out in similar ways. When my daughter was just learning how to talk, if she couldn’t express what she was feeling verbally she got really frustrated and would bite things. Never people, thank gods, just stuff like the couch or toys. My son freaks out when he tries to buckle the straps on his high chair and they aren’t lined up right. It’s hard not being able to tell the world around you what is going on inside of you. Isn’t that also the reason that punk rock was born? Kids needing to be heard with a world that wasn’t listening?

There is a lot that I want to teach these kids and I guess I really want this job. It might actually be pretty awesome.

Oh yeah, and there was a double stabbing across the street while I was in having my interview. I hear it was a personal dispute.

Recommended listening track list:

Suicidal Tendencies: Institutionalized
This little gem, by Scott Simon
The Ramones: Rock ‘n’ Roll Highschool

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