How to Become a Samurai in One Hour* (Or, I Was a Pre-Teen Gangsta)

There were only a handful of us, but we were affiliated with a much larger, older group. We would wear all black, or at least black shirts. We wore black eyeliner, crimson lipstick, and black boots. Our symbol was written on all of our textbooks and sometimes on bathroom walls. We called ourselves the Bitches Against Rules. Some of us stole liquor from our parents. One brought kittens to school. We argued over who would marry Axl Rose (not me) and who got stuck with Slash (me). At worst, some of us smoked cigarettes or drank underage. At best, we scared the crud out of our too straightlaced suburban peers whose musical tastes were only as developed as New Kids on the Block.

I never considered myself a part of a gang, but using the criteria described in the recent 5 billion 138 gangs in Hartford controversy, I guess I have to now come to terms with knowing that my adolescent and teenage behavior would have had me labeled as a gang member.
Continue reading “How to Become a Samurai in One Hour* (Or, I Was a Pre-Teen Gangsta)”

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That last post, the one about the Board of Education candidates, was post #666.

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BOE Candidates Forum: A Glance at Our Options

There was a good showing of Board of Education candidates  Tuesday night, with only two no shows: Nyesha McCauley (Republican), whose absence was noted as related to her having recently given birth, and Richard Barton (Republican). On the panel: Milly Arciniegas (Parents’ Choice), Albert L. Barrueco (Democrat), Robert Cotto, Jr. (Working Families), Michael J. Fryer (Republican), Lori Hudson (Democrat), Elizabeth Brad Noel (Working Families), Sharon Patterson-Stallings (Working Families), Ines Duke Pegeas (Petitioning Candidate), Cherylann Perry (Parents’ Choice), Luis Rodriguez-Davila (Democrat), and Mary R. Storey (Parents’ Choice).

As always, in Hartford politics, some people had to bring their posse to fill the audience and testify. The annoying theatrics were kept to a minimum, thanks to the moderation of John Motley, who also provided well-timed comic relief. Still, what gathered the most applause did not tend to be the most intelligent comments, but those who shouted the loudest. From a rhetorical standpoint, Hartford voters tend to respond directly to emotional tactics. One hopes that reason will rule when they enter the voting booths.

Robert Cotto, Jr. of the Working Families Party was the most prepared, as he provided facts and statistics nearly every time he responded to a question. The teacher and Harvard graduate argued that while magnet schools help students, charter schools do not. An example he gave was Achievement First, where a parent reported that her autistic child was not being sufficiently helped. When asked about the reduced transportation budget that has forced more children to walk to school, he suggested that other parts of the budget should have been cut first, citing page 234 of the budget, which shows that three people have a salary of $100,000 $300,000 each. To show the poor choice in budget cuts, he referenced the recent accident in which a school crossing guard was hit by a car, explaining that it is not safe for children to be walking such distances to school. To address the gang problem that has created controversy this past week, he said that the first thing we need to do is admit there is a problem. Continue reading “BOE Candidates Forum: A Glance at Our Options”

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Become an Informed Voter

Tonight is the Board of Education Candidates Forum at 6pm in the Hartford Public Library (main).

On November 3, 2009, Hartford voters will elect four members of the Hartford Board of Education.  The Hartford Public School System is in the midst of significant reform efforts. Attend this forum to learn more about the candidates, their vision for Hartford schools, and their ideas and positions on the issues.

In a city where it seems most people make their voting choices entirely by which political party they belong to or by using second-hand information that is too often filtered by the media, it is especially important for the voters to actually meet and see the candidates in action.

If tonight’s forum is not an option for you, I would suggest checking out the BOE Candidate Focus series on Cityline, which has the candidates all responding to the same questions:

  • Robert Cotto, Jr.
  • Elizabeth Brad Noel
  • Cherylann Perry
  • Lori Hudson
  • Albert Barrueco
  • Lillian “Milly” Arcinieagas
  • Achieve Hartford! has also compiled questions for the candidates. It is telling when candidates simply do not respond to such requests. Does this mean they have no answers? No time for explaining their perspectives to the public? No sense of commitment? Assumption that they’ll be carried by their political parties?

    It’ll be interesting to see which candidates decide that the library forum is worth their time.

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    Sidewalk Scenes: Installment Ten

    Dear Litterbug,

    I found the box to your pregnancy test this morning. You left it right in front of a church. I am not sure if you peed on the stick there or did that elsewhere. Maybe in your car while driving? That would require some talent; either that, or it would require complete disregard for your vehicle’s upholstery.

    Nonetheless, I hope you got the results that you were looking for. In the future, please do not leave your junk on the side of the road. We can recycle cardboard in Hartford. I did not see the pregnancy test itself. Perhaps you threw that out. Perhaps you added it to your scrapbook so that you could relive the memories.

    I noticed a few miles away that someone had left a cardboard box for Trojans. I will assume that those were not yours. You may wish to seek out the source of that trash, as you both have at least two shared interests.

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    Make a Difference Day Postponed

    The graffiti clean up slated for Saturday has been postponed. An email from Sarah Barr states:

    The graffiti removal event that was scheduled for Saturday, October 24th has been postponed due to the forecast calling for heavy rain and cool temperatures.

    For those who signed up to volunteer, Mayor Perez thanks you and hopes you can join us for this Day of Service in the spring.

    We’ll keep you posted.

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    Crash-laden Fun on Sunday

    Growing up, I spent a lot of time watching motorcross races. My brother and father raced, and I later drove one or the other to the hospital for x-rays. Being surrounded by trophies, crutches, and helmets was routine. I’d also been dragged along to watch skateboarding, running races, and BMX tricks. So, when I received this press release from the Beat Bike Blog, it did not take more than a second for me to confirm that this Sunday I would be hanging out at Riverside Park to watch some bike racing:

    If you’re not doing anything this Sunday, I urge you to come down to
    Riverside Park in Hartford and check out a cyclocross race. Here’s my
    little blurb about it:

    Presented by the Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance and CT-NEMBA,
    cyclocross returns to Hartford this October at Riverside Park. If
    you’re racing, enjoy the picturesque setting next to the Connecticut
    River while wallowing in the mud and take in views of the Hartford
    skyline as you trudge up the 40 foot high levee. The first race is at
    10:00am and the last one starts at 2:00pm. It’s free to watch, so stop
    by. Central Wheel, REI, Hooker Brewing Company and Ghostship Clothing
    have signed on as sponsors.

    For those of you unfamiliar with cyclocross, it’s a form of bicycle
    racing with bikes that kind of look like road bikes, but they have
    wider, knobby tires and cantilever brakes, instead of calipers. The
    races take place on off-road courses, usually in parks and that are
    generally artificial. They aren’t as difficult or as long as mountain
    bike courses. The courses also feature barriers that require the
    riders to dismount and jump over, and a “run up” (or several), which
    is a steep section that requires riders to dismount and, well, run up.
    Cyclocross races take place in the fall and early winter, after the
    road and mountain bike racing series are over. This form of racing is
    about seventy or eighty years old and grew out of the idea of giving
    bike racers something to do to keep fit in the off season. Continue reading “Crash-laden Fun on Sunday”

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