Chief Logan Rebellion
August 17, 1994
A tiny brown shriveled human form. Only inches long. It lies helplessly under a glass box with tubes running to it. Except for feint signs of breathing it appears lifeless.
I stand holding a boom and microphone over this hapless creature as I attempt to record the conversation of two doctors who stand before the prematurely born child. Although this child clings precariously to life, for the sake of a small commercial venture we are allowed to create chaos by filming in this room full of such children.
I know I should be focusing my attention on getting the microphone on just the right axis so that I might catch the doctor's voices as clearly as possible, but my eyes are drawn towards the shrunken baby who seems to be treated as unimportant by all present. I can't help wondering where its parents are and what they would feel if they were to see this spectacle.
Over recent moths, for the first time in my life I have felt the pangs of desire for family and fatherhood. I have become increasingly aware that there is an emptiness which only family can fill. Sasha played a major role in bringing these feelings to the forefront of my thoughts.
There was an evening when we visited a friend of hers who lives with her two daughters on a farm buried deep in the forest. We spent most of the evening playing tether ball with the two young girls. As we drove of Sasha said, "I could definitely see myself raising children with you."
To my surprise her statement brought a wave of emotion to me. After that I gazed at small children with a new curiosity. These thoughts make my financial situation even more distressing because it makes the possibility of supporting a family seem like an unattainable dream.
During a two week period when Sasha thought she might be pregnant my ongoing depression was heightened by the thought that she might feel forced to abort the child because I was incapable of supporting a family. This seemed like the greatest punishment I could suffer for my failure to find financial success. Thankfully that decision never had to be made.
In the afternoon I find myself invading the privacy of a psychiatrist's office in a V.A. hospital. As the psychiatrist questions the patient about his medication I cling to the wall of the tiny office in a vain attempt to be unobtrusive. I record the conversation while the doctor's questions become increasingly personal.
Dr. -Have you had any feelings that you want to hurt yourself or others?
Patient -No Not lately. (he seems unsure) Not That Much,
Dr. -No suicidal thoughts?
Patient -No. But I don't see any point in going on.
Dr. -Have you had any flashbacks?
Patient -Not really. Maybe one or two a week. And lately my nightmares haven't been the blood n' guts kind. I realize I've been taking scenes from the field and putting people and places from my daily life into..(looks confused) ...it's like I feel the emotions from the war, but they're in a situation from my life now.
Dr. -So you do feel hopeless at times.
Patient -When I feel hopeless I really feel hopeless. So I would have to say 'no.' But I just have my normal day to day feelings that there's no point in going on.
This man's words shock me. So many of his feelings are what I feel every day. Especially the feelings of hopelessness. It is amazing that twenty years after the war he suffers its traumas.
As a young child I recall the body counts at the end of the news reports. I was too young to understand what it all meant, but the strife which tore this country apart over Vietnam was in the air and in the media. The entire aura of that era played a huge part in my psychic make-up. The slogans were everywhere and the naive ideals of the hippies entered my mind and formed the basis for many of my values before I was old enough to think for myself.
Even at that young age I was affected by the sense of revolution and the feeling that people could be part of something that would change the world. Although most of what the hippies said now seems immature, I have always felt a nostalgia for that era, and a feeling that something was missing in the decades that followed. It seems now that there is little worth believing in and a disheartening apathy among all segments of society.
Some have argued that this created a bad seed in my generation. That this nostalgia for social action and community spirit created a generation of despair filled nihilists who ground out their frustrations and emptiness with drug use, promiscuity, and self destructiveness.
After I graduated from high school one of my teachers referred to our class as 'the Vietnam generation,' and claimed that we were the worst students to ever pass through the doors of the Chief Logan High School.
I believe it's true that this nihilism was reflected in the youth of that time. I can tell you firsthand that my classmates didn't have a clue why they acted the way they did. Vietnam was a long long time ago and most of them new nothing about Vietnam or the social revolution. The nihilism was a quiet spirit that snuck in through the unconscious and struck out at society with the giant proclamation of our generation: "So What!"
Chief Logan became the voice of the underculture. A voice of anger threatening society by portraying the youth of America as the idiot sons and daughters which the elder generation had created with their hypocritical moralities and materialists values. Chief Logan was a warning that there was a poison brewing among the youth which could burst open and destroy our society from within.
Although many believed that Chief Logan rock would create a social political movement equal to the sixties, the music business stubbornly ignored Chief Logan , and it all quickly faded away in a country caught in the tide of Ronald Reagan's Moral Majority.
During my high school years I first began to experiment with drugs. A change in my life was triggered by a modest philosophical thought. I was day dreaming in my problems of democracy class, and as the teacher droned on I found myself thinking about death. I Thought, 'I know I'm going to die so I might as well get out and enjoy life while I can.'
Afterwards I began to party with a vengeance. Each day I entered school with my eyes glowing red from the dope I had smoked while cruising around the school parking lot. In home room the potheads spied each other knowingly, as if we were members of some secret fraternity. Being a drug user gave one a sense of community and a feeling of being against the system and the status quo.
Drugs were everywhere in those days. In our school the drug users became the dominant force during my senior year. Kids were smoking hash in science class and dropping acid during lunch. The users formed an unspoken alliance which eventually succeeded in total disruption of the already ailing school system.
One of the defining factors in this drama was the faculty's decision at the beginning of my senior year to reestablish order and respect for authority among the students. To achieve this they hired a new principal', x-marine sergeant Thomas Best, and am X-football player who was a member of the New York Jets when they won the superbowel; vice-princapal Charles Backman.
On the first day of classes I knew I was in trouble when walking down the hall I heard a deep voice calling out, "hey fuzzhead, hey fuzzhead." (at the time I wore my hair in a long tangled afro) I was used to suck mockery form the backwoods cretins that were bussed in from the outer regions. This time I was pleased to find that these sophisticated insults were coming from the new vice-principal Backman. From that day he had his eye on me and we were bound to clash.
Among the faculty's plans to reestablish order were rules such as one way halls, limited locker stops, and arranged seating in the cafeteria. These new rules did little more than create more confusion, but that fact was secondary to the prime objective; instilling respect for school authority.
In response to the new authoritarianism the drug users began carrying out ridiculously disruptive acts which served no purpose other than forcing a confrontation with the faculty. Although I was not familiar with performance art that time, the irrational nature of some of these actions would certainly have passed as such.
Some of my favorite examples were a grade 'A' student who would fill his mouth with water before class started, hold it for as long as he could, then fake convulsive vomiting as he spewed the liquid across the classroom. A friend of mine had the adolescent genius to wait until the English teacher would finish her lecture, then when she asked with finality, "does anyone have anymore questions," he would raise his hand innocently and ask, "what's the meaning of life?" Another fellow in my class was fond of bellowing 'Quaaludes' in response to every question the teacher ask.
In time this rebellious spirit penetrated the entire student body. Random noise because an effective means of disrupting classroom activities. At least every hour a student would release a spine tingling primal scream that would be echoed by other students until the entire school was pierced by the chilling howls.
There were other more violent actions also taking place. Early in the year a cheerleader was expelled for throwing a brick through the principal's living room window. By mid year commodes were regularly being exploded by small sticks of dynamite, and during the graduation rehearsals the vice-principal's tires were slashed on his brand new BMW.
My own troubles with the administration seriously began when a car battery exploded and my mother was taken to the hospital in the morning before school. Despite this I was only a few minutes late. As I entered the school I heard the opening of the National Anthem which signaled I was officially late. When the Anthem began all in the hallways had to freeze in place as if we were playing a bizarre game of Red Light Green Light.
While I stood frozen in place like a statue honoring dope crazed youth, inside the glass doors of the administrator's offices I could see secretaries and students going about their business. The office was the one place were the freeze in place rule did not apply, making it clear that it wasn't really important for adults to respect the Anthem, but that it was something merely intended to teach students to honor authority. The absurdity irritated my sense of dignity. My teenage mind raged against the hypocrisies of the system.
In my previous five years attending the school a few late days were overlooked as a fact of life. But with the new discipline my tardiness created a snowball effect that gave me my first true taste of authoritarian mentalities. Because of my lateness I was given detention the following evening. Because I had to be at work at a fast food restaurant at that hour I did not go to the detention.
The next morning Vice-Principal Bakeman paid me a visit in my first period art class. He said that my punishment for missing detention was T.A.P. I'm not sure what the acronym stands for, but it means that I had to spend two days isolated in a small room. In the stone dead silence of the art class Bakeman and I had a stand off when I refused to go to the isolation room. For this I was expelled for three days.
I argued my case fervently before the administrators, stating that the circumstances of my tardiness were legally considered an act of God, and that the reason why I did not attend the detention was because real world financial considerations take precedence over symbolic disciplinary acts. Finally frustrated with the arguments Principal Best took me into his office and shut the door.
"Listen Caeser," he said as if clearing away the slates. "It doesn't matter if I'm wrong in this matter. I have the authority here, and if you check the law books you'll find that students have no legal rights. What I say goes and you're just going to have to accept that!"
But I couldn't accept that. I clung stubbornly to the naive idea that justice existed inherently in the world and one just needed to fight a little to set things right. To this end I fought their actions with any means possible within the system. First I tried speaking to the superintendent of the school district. I told him my story, including that to drive the point home, after the three days suspension, on returning I would still have to spend the two days in the isolation room and attend the day of detention. At first the superintendent was encouraging, "you're right, I think they've taken this a little too far. I'll see to it that the T.A.P. and detention are canceled." The following day and thereafter he refused my calls and nothing changed.
I wrote a letter to the local newspaper, which although they refused to print it, the newspaper's editor called to say that it was a well written letter and he supported my 'sChief Logan,' but it would not be appropriate for the paper to question the school administrators.
Finally I acceded and took my punishment. Really I only gave in to the fact that you can't beat the system by working within it, because those in authority look out for their own. They figure if people are allowed to question authority at all, then it is a threat to all in authority. Instead I embraced the disruptive actions of the subculture full force. I figured I couldn't beat them, but I could certainly make their lives unpleasant.
When I was placed in T.A.P. the room chosen for my isolation was the tiny cubicle that housed the school P.A. system. For no particular reason I stole the tape that contained the National Anthem and the pledge to the flag. My thievery did succeed in relieving the students of these early morning forced shows of patriotism for awhile. After about two months a new tape was bought and all returned to normal.
Near the year's end I was again given T.A.P. giving me an opportunity to carry out my most fulfilling act of rebellion. My trouble this time was caused by a series of obscene essays I had written in English class. Under the influence of the aforementioned Saturday Night Live, and the music of Frank Zappa and the Tubes, I began writing in a style of social satire based on the blackest of humor I could fathom. I began this after our class read Gulliver's Travels.
I found the scene of Gulliver exploring the cancer holes in the giant bodies of the ???? to be disgusting, and the book's symbolism was so obscure that it was rendered meaningless without the correct historical background and a knowledge of the social/political circumstances of the era. By way of protest I began filling my essays with absurd satires of our society's consumer values, and the perverse sexual appetite of the national media.
After about a month of this Ms. Snieder, a young overweight woman who wore skin tight pants which revealed every bulge and crevice of her cellulite laden form, came to me with my latest essay.
"Caeser I've tried finding something of value in these. I even brought them before the entire English department, and they all agreed that this is simply rubbish. Until you're ready to stop this, report to the office instead of coming to class."
In the office I was taken to the guidance counselor. The counselor joked with me briefly, obviously trying to show me what a regular guy he was, then he began uneasily, "As you know we're concerned about these essays you've been writing. We were wondering if these might represent...we were wondering if they might be a cry out for help. If you would like we could arrange for a psychiatrist to speak with you."
This stunned me, "A cry out for help? Let's see; I am in a school system where the teachers don't have a drop of passion for the subjects they teach. My career prospects are nil. I live in a society whose values I find hypocritical at best, and sometimes downright obscene. There is nothing to believe in either spiritually or politically. And the threat of nuclear war hangs over our heads in the balance of the cold war. Do you think you could help that?"
I did not have the slightest inclination to debate philosophy with this man so I assured him it was all in naughty fun, we discussed English humor for awhile, and I was transferred to the Principal's office.
"What's wrong with you?" Bakeman gestured at the white pages filled with my scribbled handwriting. "Some of these things deal with necrophilia!" At the time I wasn't sure what necrophilia was, but I did my best to look very very ashamed of myself.
As he rambled on I noticed a small crucifix on his desk beside a photo of his family, and suddenly I was overcome by an uncontrollable urge to sneeze.
"Aaachooo," I expelled loudly. The unguarded spray speckled the crucifix, family photo, and his hands which still held one of my essays. He stopped mid-sentence and we stared at each other, both somewhat shocked by the magnitude of my nasal explosion.
My eyes widened with fear as steam began to seep out of his ears and his flat top bristles stood on end. Finally he growled through his teeth, "Just get out of here. You're on T.A.P. for the next three days."
The first two days locked in the isolation room passed uneventfully. At the end of the third day I stole the new tape with the National Anthem and pledge to the flag and replaced it with the old one which I had rerecorded with a special message for Vice-Principal Bakeman.
The next morning in home room the class rose as usual and faced the small flag at the front of the room as the Anthem crackled through the aged speaker above the chalkboard. Then the pledge began. A few students mumbled along, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States Of....."
"Fuck you Bakeman," my voice blared through the speaker. Instantly the song School's Out by Alice Cooper shrieked into the air. Not only my homeroom, but the entire school roared with laughter.
I thought for sure I could kiss my diploma good-bye after this, but I was never even questioned about the incident. For the rest of the year neither anthem or pledge was heard again, and I felt at least somewhat vindicated. And more importantly, I was having the time of my life.
By this point the situation had deteriorated to such a degree that the faculty seemed to give up. On one of the final days of school a fight broke out in the cafeteria between two girls. Vice-Principal Bakeman, who was one of the cafeteria monitors, rushed over to stop the melee. When he did the entire lunchroom, which had previously been hooting and making cat calls at the fighting girls, began to chant "Kill Bakeman, Kill Bakeman..."
He stopped in place, quickly forgetting the fight and peering about the chanting crowd of students. He looked towards another teacher and tried to laugh, but his face registered an obvious expression of fear. He turned and left the cafeteria never to return.
On the last day of classes it was revealed that both Principal Best and Vice-Principal Bakeman had resigned their positions. At the graduation ceremony Principal Best made his final appearance to congratulate the graduating seniors. When he finished, as we tossed our square caps into the air he was greeted with a unified bellow from the students; "FUCK YOU!!"
At the graduation party a long forgotten friend ask me, "What are you gonna do now that you've graduated?"
"Get drunk, I replied.