Saturday, January 22, 2005

Evil Institutes

Institute for Hospital Dieticians

When my son was in the hospital, he was presented with unspeakable meals. After 7-1/2 hours of brain surgery there were many days of nothing but intravenous fluid and then jello.

But then, the absolutely first meal they gave him, a pediatric brain surgery patient who had spent days on jello, was: a big ugly tough Salisbury steak with gravy on it! And a cup of COFFEE! (It said "pediatric" on the delivery slip so it wasn't a mistake.)

We fantasized about the evil institute that would graduate the dieticians who plan such appalling meals at hospitals.

We imagined a brick schoolbuilding of the 1950s, with a Stepford-Wife Betty Crocker in a starched white apron at the door, with a Mary Tyler Moore smile, welcoming new students into her black-and-white-linoleum-tiled kitchen, teaching them how to make Salisbury steaks.

How could anybody be TAUGHT to make food so bad? One time they brought my son's roommate, a tiny skinny pale boy with sparrow wrists, a giant half chicken. He wasn't even strong enough to take the lid off the plate, let alone deal with this half chicken. His parents were not around. So I cut off little pieces that he could manage.

What about the kids who are alone and don't have somebody else's worried mother to cut up their food for them?

Sorry, but I could not find images online that are as awful as the food served in the hospital. I wish I'd had a camera with me back during those many visits, but there were other things on my mind than chronicling what my son saw when he took the lid off these plates.

To tell the truth, after the first meal, the unveilings were simply for amusement, because I packed in all his food from the outside world.

Institute for Middle-School Chorus Teachers

The Institute where idealistic young musicians go to become Chorus Teachers turns them into vapid martinets. It teaches them to try squeezing lusty young people into angel corsets. It praises high wispy voices and pretentious little budding sopranos. Most of all, it teaches them how best to torture middle-school boys.

In concert my son stood, furious and mortified among his furious and mortified friends, forced to do little dance steps and wave little hand gestures in the air while singing "This Land is Your Land." Can you imagine thinking a 12-year-old boy could enjoy waving his hands in the air to bland, dippy arrangements poisoned to the very core by ersatz sentiment?

The problem is, nobody at these institutes is willing to acknowledge the true heart and soul of a 12-year-old. They try to draw out the kids' inner Disney; this engenders hatred in all but those who actually have an inner Disney.

Imagine, teaching teachers how to make boys hate music and shun chorus, generation upon generation.

Not one of the boys forced to do a rotation through Ms. McCarthy's class has ever sung since. At the moment I'm trying to rehabilitate my own son by teaching him "16 Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford, but I'm cursing the waste of all those great voices. Choral directors pray for tenors and basses - I know because I am one - but most would-be tenors and basses won't join a chorus under any circumstances. They remember being forced to wave their hands in the air in those awful middle-school choruses.

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At 9:10 PM, Blogger AJ said...

Hi Melinama! This post is incredibly timely for me, as my wife and I just rented and finished watching the documentary, "Supersize Me." If you've never seen it, I believe that it should be required viewing for every man, woman and child of Babyboomer age and younger in this country. I'll be writing about it in the near future.

I won't be so presumptious to proclaim that I am the first person to comment on your blog, but seeing that it appears to be brand new and I don't see anyone else here, allow me to be among the first to welcome you to Blogland!

I saw in my site meter list that you had visited my blog so I clicked on over, then was totally surprised to see that you had linked me. Thank you!

I will be reading more as you post it. I'm interested in knowing more about you music and the interesting paths down which it taken you in your lifetime.

I would assume that we're near the same age. I have two children in college myself. Hopefully they'll both be graduating in another year and a half.

Looking forward to seeing you around! Take care.

AJ (All Your Blogs Are Belong to Us)


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