Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ed Notes Does Culture

The last few days have been packed with cultural stuff. Plays, a movie and lots of eating out. But I found time to take this picture of my flowering sand cherry or plum in front of forsythia with a New Dawn redwood in the background. I could stare at this all day.

First I should apologize to the students at NYU's Wagner School who hosted the wonderful rubber room movie premiere Friday night for implying when I wrote about it that lots of students came because the movie was free and for the free food. I was confusing my motivation with theirs since I ate more than anyone. One commenter put me in my place.

As a student at NYU Wagner, I would like to offer that many of the students attending the Rubber Room event care deeply about education issues and are interested in eradicating failed education policies. In fact, it was students studying education policy at NYU Wagner that approached the filmmakers and made the event available to the public. Almost all of the daily events that occur at the Puck building are free for students and are followed by a reception but yet do not have as large of a student turnout. I would hope that education activist would look to students as potential allies in their causes as opposed to questioning their commitment.

This comment reflects some of the tension between people who study education policy and those who practice it by teaching but I'm sure there is some common ground to explore, which I'm looking forward to doing. GEM even had a request from an NYU grad student for an internship which threw me a bit but I recommended that GEMers look into it seriously.

One more thing about the Rubber Room premiere. I was introduced to two people who work for the DOE in a fairly responsible capacity. They read this blog apparently. They were delightful to chat with and made the case that they are all not ogres. That they try their best in a difficult situation to actually help people. My policy is to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to maintain decent relationships with some people at Tweed no matter what the rancor. I know that not being in the line of fire at the schools makes it easier for me to do this.

Oh yeah, the cultural stuff.

Thursday we went to see Bogart in a 1952 movie called "Deadline USA" at the Film Forum and it was so apt to some of the politics of today. The theme was a serious newspaper edited by Bogart (The Day) that is being sold to a rag --- reminded me of the NY Post. The Rupert Murdock like owner was going to just eliminate the competition by closing the paper. Bogart uses his paper to expose a mobster before his paper goes under. His passionate plea to the judge for a free and diverse press should be a mantra today in a sea of pro-BloomKlein and pro ed deform coverage. Funny but "The Day" was modeled on the NY Times but in reality when it comes to ed coverage often functions as a semi-rag (compare the superior Daily News coverage and I have to locate Leonie's devastating take down of the Times in a recent email). And of course I was reminded of the one party Unity control of the means of communication in the UFT. Just think of Bogart at the Delegate Assembly.

After the film we walked crosstown to meet Lisa Donlan for dinner on the lower east side - Frankie's on Clinton street- very nice meal.

And then we all walked a few blocks to see my former student Ernie Silva's one man show at La Tea theater on Suffolk Street. I put up an updated report on the show - Ernie informed us tonight he was voted the best show. I told him last night there is a market for teachers to see this and all ed deformers should be forced to see it.

Friday I went into the city for the premiere of the rubber room movie which I reported on here.

Saturday we saw a preview of "Enron" a new musical about the rise and fall and it was pretty well done and political but there are no characters you could root for. It was pretty creative and I would recommend if you can get TDF. Now, I want to see the documentary, "Enron, the Smartest Guys in the Room."

Our friends' daughter moved into a new apartment on east 73rd St on Saturday and we went to take a look at what looks like a $1400 a month closet, followed by dinner at a place we just walked into that turned to be spectacular - Persepolis on 2nd Ave between 73rd and 74th - Iranian food with an owner who was wonderful - went around to all the tables and sat down and chatted and sent over free drinks. Great food- middle east but more subtle - a least that's what my wife the food expert (she watches the Food Network all the time so she must be an expert) said, so I'll buy it.

Today went over to the Rockaway Theatre Company to see "The Rabbit Hole" directed by Frank Caiati who I've taken acting classes with. Frank, an Actors Equity pro, got his start at Leon Goldstein HS and is a recent Brooklyn College graduate. The play got great reviews on Broadway in 2006 (Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery of "Madmen" fame along with Tyne Daly) and Frank did a great job in casting and staging the play at the RTC. It is a powerful drama of great loss and its impact on a family. As usual, RTC has nailed another one in its first show of the year. It has one more weekend to run - next Friday and Saturday night and Sunday matinee (
Check out the RTC website) and even though I saw it through the lens of my video camera, I enjoyed it more than Enron.

That community theater is willing to tackle a serious drama like the Rabbit Hole is a tribute to the sharp crew running the theater, mostly current and former NYC teachers, by the way. Not that they are always wise. Susan Jasper reminded me today they are expecting me to audition for one of the card player roles in the "Odd Couple" this December. I told her only if I get to smoke a real cigar on stage.

I did manage to get in 2 hot yoga classes and some time on the treadmill since Friday, so I am not a total wreck.

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