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April 2019

Is "Closure" real?

Download-1Last week, we (my co-teacher and I) wrapped up our memoir writing class at the-place-that-can't-be-named. 

It has been an emotionally tough month. We were very worried about one class member's mental health.  Another class member had graphically shared so much about his past that we were worried about our mental health. The writing prompts stimulated memories and feelings that were sometimes overwhelming for students and teachers alike.

The program that sponsors our class asked us to provide "closure" at the final class. We all spent time discussing what worked and didn't work in the course. I confessed that I sometimes felt like a surgeon who opened up their chests and then left them, hearts exposed, on the operating table.

"Yeah, it sometimes feels like that," one class member told me, while others nodded in agreement.

But in the end,  it was a lovely last class. The guys surprised us by writing pieces about what they had gotten out of the course. And we surprised them by writing about what we had gotten got out of the course.  This experience was definitely a two-way street. 

Closure? I'm not so sure we achieved that. But I'm also not convinced it's that important. Or even possible.


Neverland, Never more....

Download-4I finally forced myself to watch "Neverland" - the two-part HBO documentary on Michael Jackson's alleged child molestation. 

Now, I need to calm down. 

I'd been a fan of Michael Jackson since he was a little kid -  from his Jackson 5 days to nearly the end. So many amazing danceable songs, from "I Want You Back" to "PTY (Pretty Young Thing)." And the performances - mind blowing!

I didn't want to watch that documentary. But I had to watch that documentary. 

It was painful. I found myself talking out loud to the screen. First to the young men who were recounting the sexual abuse, I kept saying, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry you went through this." And to their mothers, who I tried not to judge to harshly, but in the end couldn't help it: "What the hell were you thinking?"

It's actually made depressingly clear what the families were thinking. Michael Jackson was a classic predator. He befriended the families of the young boys he was interested in. Soon, the family was swept up into a world of limousines and backstage passes. Jackson promised to make their sons "stars." Lavish gifts were bestowed. Gradually Jackson would isolate the boy from his family, until yup- why not let a seven-year-old sleep in the bed of a grown man?

Yeah, yeah, I know, Michael Jackson didn't have a childhood, he was a mess, he was lonely, he was massively talented. But he was a pedophile.

So other than sorrow and anger (and no little amount of disgust) I don't know how I feel about all those great songs. Download-3 It feels similar to the way I can't watch Woody Allen movies anymore -especially the appalling "Manhattan" in which he depicts it as perfectly normal for an adult man (himself of course) to be sleeping with a high school student. 

On the on hand, that's crazy. So many great artists were personally twisted but create such beauty. If we dismissed all painters, musicians and writers based on judgement of their personal lives, what would be left? 

But this feels different. 

Say what? Part 2 - the legal version.

Download-2Awhile back, I wrote a post about using an online transcription service to convert my mp3 interview recordings into text.  That was for this story about opioids, which involved many interviews with police. 

The technology is not yet perfected, and my transcript was full amusing goofs, like translating "some narcotics" into "summer cottage."

Today, I present the legal version. I'm profiling a famous lawyer, and went to hear him speak last week. He referenced some major cases and talked about his practice. Here are a few of my favorite transcription gaffs:

"Bush v Gore": Grocery Store

"It's now constitutionally required to enable anybody to get married, regardless of sex." : "It's now constitutionally required to enable anybody to get at the better car for us, sex."

"There was too much ferment out there." : There was too much for men out there.

"As it might have been." : A vitamin

"Posterity" : "Pasta Veggie."

Despite its limitations, I still am grateful that I no longer have to transcribe a recording word for word. Your honor, ladies and gentleman of the jury, I rest my case.