Sunday Selfie #17 06.04.17

Welcome to Sunday Morning Selfie. My name is Joe Bryant, I am a Seattle area teacher and broadcaster and I blog about my life and lifestyle and use this exercise in self reflection as a way of being accountable to myself as I strive for lower weight and better health in 2017. So how is that going? Read on to find out.

Emily is a Newport Student of the Month !!!

This is a very exciting time for our family as our only child is going to be a High School graduate in a couple of weeks. Emily attends Newport High in Bellevue which also happens to be where I graduated from. But the school is MUCH different than when I was there in lots of ways. 

When I was roaming the mean streets of Bellevue as a teen it was a bedroom community filled with Boeing Engineers and it was also VERY White. After spending my first ten years in the Southeast (I was born in Mississippi), it was unusual to come to a town with very few Black residents and, at that time, not even many Asian or Hispanic people. I feel this lack of diversity really made it difficult for many in our little Suburbia to have much of a world view and, in that regard, I think the experience Emily is getting at Newport is much better.

 Now Bellevue is filled with software engineers and our neighbors are Chinese, Korean, Indian, Russian, Mexican… you name it. This is awesome from a cultural enrichment standpoint BUT, with the high expectations many of these families  have for their children’s education, the changing demographics have transformed Newport into an AP Math and Science “grade factory” and a very stressful school to attend. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s awesome that my daughter goes to what is consistently rated as one of the nations top High Schools and I love the increase in my homes value based on the schools desirability BUT, it can be an incredibly stressful place.

While Emily is certainly a very intelligent young lady the curriculum can be challenging, so much so that in one of her math classes the teacher wisely has decided to differentiate his instruction.

 Don’t take this the wrong way but he teaches all the math whizzes at one level to keep them engaged and “dumbs it down” a bit for the other kids. Obviously I am making generalizations and playing off stereotypes but the point is that Newport is now officially enrolled with more than 50% Asian students as opposed to when I was there and it was 95% White. I realize I am getting a little sidetracked here and you are thinking “so what does any of this have to do with Emily’s award”? And the answer is, probably not much.

The following is the email I received yesterday notifying me of her honor….

This month, your daughter was chosen as Student of the Month for the Fine Arts department. Here is what her teacher has to say about her.

“Emily has been a consistent presence in the music and drama department for 4 years. She is talented, reliable, and always prepared for rehearsal. She is a delight to have in the classroom and a kind, compassionate person.” ~Ms. Fisher

Congratulations, Emily has earned it!

Sincerely,

Newport High School PRIDE Team

Go Knights!

While Emily may not be in the top 2% of the school in her Math or Science scores the fact that she is being honored in a very large school with a very competitive environment for being a “kind, compassionate person” means the world to me and her mom and we could not be more proud!

 And don’t get me wrong, Emily also has a GPA in the 3 point something neighborhood and does WAY better academically than I ever did at Newport. But it is her compassion for her friends, her incredible talent on a theatrical stage, and her caring about the world in general that makes her an award winning student.

 Congratulations to Emily Bryant for reaching the finish line of a twelve year career in a true academic pressure cooker of a school district. After Newport,  college will seem pretty easy which is a good thing! Here is Emily with her great choir teacher Ms. Fisher!

 

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Am I a Prude?

Another thing that has changed for teens in suburbia since back when I was a young lad is musical preferance.

 I teach Broadcasting and run a High School Radio station and love the gig. A few months ago I “flipped” our station from a Pop Hit format to a Rock playlist that spans the gamut. We play everything from Chuck Berry to Cage the Elephant and the mix is being well received worldwide. If you get the opportunity sample us at www.889thebridge.org .

However, one place my format has not been welcomed by all is in the hallways of Mercer island High. What I have done, with the help of an incredibly talented student PD, is build a format that the parents like and that also is giving us an engaged audience and income opportunities for our Program we never had before. But I have also eliminated lots of the current, popular music.

 So on Friday it was the “Kick off to Summer” and there was a big outdoor event where the students get their annuals, there are carnival games being run by the PTA, food trucks etc. with our radio station being enlisted to provide the music.

 Since I had been informed that “my” music would sound lame being blasted throughout the campus I gave permission to “break format” for a couple of hours and play some more mass-appeal, current music in the Movin’, KISS vein. (KISS the pop station, not the face_painted band).

All was going well, the kids were all signing annuals to a soundtrack of Bruno Mars, Macklemore, Justin Bieber etc., until about an hour into the broadcast when suddenly the music took a bit of a detour.

A song called Ispy featuring a rapper named Lil Yachty came on and, to say the content is questionable would be very diplomatic. I will let you look up the lyrics to decide. Shortly after that played a song called “Devastated” by Joey Badass started coming thru the speakers in my office. I will share a few of the lyrics from that one.

Baby, soak up the vibe
Let’s roll some dope up, get high
We gon’ blow smoke in the sky
‘Til we can’t open our eyes

I put my pain in the cadence
Turn my brain up a wavelength

Now we’re flowin’ and sailin’
So just go with the feelin’
Baby, soak up the vibe

Let’s roll some dope up, get high
We gon’ blow smoke in the sky
‘Til we can’t open our eyes, yeah

That is actually some of the nicer lyrics. Since I had just been chatting with the PTA President five minutes earlier and getting complimented on the incredible things my kids have accomplished in radio this year, this was not exactly what I wanted to be blasting at the PTA mom’s running the water balloon toss, much less the rest of our listening Audience. At 4:00 pm on a typical Friday  KMIH broadcasts the award winning Mariner Max show, not Lil Yachty and Joey Badass.

 I am a person slow to anger but when the kids made the decision to play songs that glorify drugs and more disgustingly, degrade women during a moment we should be showcasing our radio station to the school I sort of blew my top and went so far as to go out to pull the plug on the broadcast. The good news is that the Ipad we were running the feed off of had been left in the sun and overheated so the PTA mom’s ears were spared the worst of it. BUT…

After I lost my cool I was informed by my students that the music was “great”, “everybody loved it” and that “not everyone understands my vision” and basically thinks what I have done to build a platform that gives them and engaged and bigger, but older audience sucks.

The student that primarily made these on the fly programming changes is a talented kid with a passion for this genre of music. As with all my students I encourage them to pursue their passions and had given him his own show, allowing him to program a two hour block after 10 pm on weekends for the young folk.

 I had not payed much attention to his music and only air checked his show to hear how it was sounding on the breaks. BTW- He is getting VERY good.

 But after hearing what he thought would be appropriate to play during a live remote in the middle of the school day I decided I better tune in to see what he had cooked up for Friday night. What I heard were guys named Big Sean, and Young Thug singing the glories of drug use, using women like toys, bragging about their money etc. This IS NOT what I have put two years of my life into building a High School radio station for and my guess if my Administrators would agree.

 To the kids credit he is diligent about editing out the F-Bombs “N” words etc, but some of these songs are so bad that there is not much left after you remove the questionable language. 

However, after hearing songs like “No Favors” by Big Sean and “Lifestyle” by Young Thug coming out of MY radio station I was NOT PLEASED.

Now I realize you may be thinking that rock music is filled with sex and drugs as well which is true but you also wont hear Bob Dylan singing that “Everybody Must Get Stoned” or George Thorogood encouraging you to have “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” on KMIH either. This is a High School station in a rather conservative and affluent community after all.

 But it is the demeaning portrayal of women in this music that really upsets me way more than any drug references.

 Sure, there are lots of rock songs about groupies and casual sex but I am NOT OK with the word Ho’s being sung over and over and raps and rhymes about the thrill of relieving yourself on people.

 I am sorry if I am getting a bit graphic but the music these jokers are making is VERY graphic and leaves NOTHING to the imagination.

 Oh, to go back to those days when the Raspberries sang “Please Go All The Way”and THAT was considered controversial.

If every generations goal is to have their parents hate the music they listen to the current crop is doing its job.

 So my question is… am I a prude? Is this just a generation gap or should we be concerned that the current “heroes” for many young people are guys that brag about how much money and guns they have and how many women they can use strictly for their selfish fetishes? Am I being over sensitive because I am an old guy with a young daughter or is this stuff as bad as i think it is?

Musically much of it is well made and the lyrics are catchy etc., but it is not the sort of music I want to hear coming out of any radio station that has MY name on it. Am I wrong to feel that way? Is the music “just fine” and everyone is “totally OK with it” and, by the way, nobody “gets your vision” anyway, or is this “Thug Rap”, for lack of a better term, something we should try to steer our kids as far away from as possible? I would love your thoughts.

My Weight

I started this blog primarily as a way to lose weight and I apologize for taking this long to get to that part today. One reason is that there is lots on my mind and another is that I do not have particularly good news to report.

Two weeks ago I weighed 222 pounds which was the lowest in a LONG time. Today I am at 225. 😦 

How does that happen you ask? Simply by adding ribs, and even some sweets back into the diet (end of the school year BBQ’s) and NOT checking in with 30/10 Weight Loss for Life last week.

 I still want to make it to 217 pounds by 6/20, the day Emily and the class of 2017 Graduates, but I need to SERIOUSLY get down to business now.

And I also need to get serious about writing this blog EVERY WEEK. When I am writing I am not eating and that is part of my success. In spite of my gain I am feeling pretty good overall however. Facebook reminded me yesterday that this is how I looked exactly five years ago so I would say I am doing something right!

 Until Next time! Joe

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2 thoughts on “Sunday Selfie #17 06.04.17

  1. Joe,

    As a fellow educator, and one of the racier, cool ones you know, there is a fine line between acceptable and not. I love Mkto (which I found on KMIH) prior to the format change. I also love the Chainsmokers, as well as other current artists. We listen to Movin’ 92.5 in my classroom (I teach in BFE) and KMIH isn’t available- because we can’t live stream. You sir are NOT a prude, BUT to some extent the kids have a point. Music needs to be relevant but also content appropriate. I would think Eminem’s Not Afraid, or Lose Yourself very appropriate but maybe not Bad VS Evil Welcome to Hell or Eminem’s Square Dance not so much. Another example would be Maroon 5, Harder to Breath ok, Animals NOT Okay. Tove Lo Scream My Name Would be ok, but not Habits. Most artists have something appropriate but not all music from an artist would be acceptable. It is our job, to ease these future and young adults into adulthood. We are as much role models as we are teachers and leaders. I chaperoned our high schools prom last night, and was in a rather fashionable but sexy outfit. My admin said he appreciated my role modeling how a lady could be well dressed, give the illusion of sexy, and keep it classy. Many of my students ran over, gave me hugs, and told me I looked pretty. I had the early shift, but they kept it classy while I was there. Part of teaching is teaching them how to make good decisions. You may need to become more in tune with you prime demographic, so they learn how to sift through the music and choose their content wisely.

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  2. Not a prude. Along with programming music comes the responsibility of the correct music for the venue. I do this on a very small scale. I have “music friday” during our elementary school lunches. I am shocked by some of the music the kids request. (and I really do have an open mind) I have told them no over songs where women are treated like something you use and then throw away. I will edit words, but you can’t edit intent. This goes for any music, not just current.

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