Saturday, February 24, 2007

I missed a day!

Friday was a long and boozy adventure: So much so that when I began this post at 3am I realized it was pointless and abandoned the whole venture. So today I will have to come up with two for the price of one:

Harris Day

Every school has some version of "senior cut day." It usually takes place on the last day of school and allows seniors a glimpse into their future as college students who can sleep through all of their classes should they so choose. I went to the Bronx High School of Science, which you could probably guess from the creative name, is located in the Bronx. Most schools in NYC don't have any outdoor space, but in many ways we were a much more suburban high school and actually had a field across the street. It was called Harris Field and was rarely used for gym or anything constructive. It served mainly as a place for people to get high, have keg parties, and make out.

Our version of senior cut day was called Harris Day and it was pretty famous throughout the city. Kids would come from all of the other schools to come to it. Esseentially the entire field was overrun by insane high school students. Kids would erect tents, people would bring kegs of beer, everyone would be on acid, bands would show up and play acoustic sets. It was like being at an open air concert. With lots and lots of drunk idiot teenageers. The main thing about Harris day was that just about everyone got sick: Mixing a bunch of high school students with unlimited drinks and drugs is a decidedly unsavory mix. The field and the surrounding area was unbelievably trashed for days afterwards. I pity the poor souls who had to clean it.

We had this insane party in full view of the high school. The ultimate fuck you to those that kept our young minds caged with late passes and homeroom bells during the school year. The school, as one can imagine, was not pleased. I am sure there were many outraged phone calls from parents that inevitably occurred when their bright straight A-on-the-way-to-Harvard son or daugther came home from school covered in vomit and hallucinating from the acid they dropped. As a result, around my sophomore year, the powers that be announced that anyone caught on Harris Field on the last day of school would be expelled and that seniors would not get to graduate. I don't know if that threat was even sustainable, but I went to a school of academics, so with rare exception the thought of expulsion was too nightmare-ish to comprehend. That year a very mild version of Harris Day occurred. It was mostly kids from other schools that couldn't get in trouble for being there. The following year it petered out completely.

PS3 Stories

In a previous post I wrote a little bit about my hippie elementary school, PS3, which was located in the heart of the village, on Christopher and Hudson Streets.

It was an old building, but actually was nicer than most of the crappy turn-of-the-century schools that dot the city. There were five floors, but the fifth was not in use and remained locked. This spawned many a ghost story: Rumours were that kids had died up there or that a crazy man lived up there. Someone even took the trouble to create the myth of the "Red Hand" which was a ghost that supposedly roamed the school. Someone went around the school with paint and put red handprints in various stairways to effectively scare the bejeezus out of us poor elementary school children. I finally ended up filming some movie up there that one of the parents was making and very diappointedly discovering that it was just old classrooms and no crazy people lived up there. (For some reason if you were a kid in the village you ended up being in a lot of movies).

We had a lot of arts-oriented classes. We had a mandatory dance class we had to attend run by Joan, a short squat woman who would carry around a drum and beat rhythmically to it. We were all supposed to dance around to it and then when she stopped drumming we were supposed to freeze. We had singing classes. Every year we did a weird celebration of May Day with a maypole dance. (I suspect that we were the only school in the country to do this).

About half the teachers at my school were gay: Diane, my third grade teacher was a super butch. She was really no nonsense. I remember a boy lifted up a girl's skirt and Diane told him to drop his pants. The boy freaked out. I don't think she actually made him do it, but that response was par for the course - she was all about quid pro quo. The rest of the teachers were pretty liberal as well, as you can imagine. The day after John Lennon died I remember half of the kids staying home from school and most of the teachers being absent. As kids we were all aware of who he was, but I don't think any of us understood the ramifications of his death for our hippie parents and teachers. I remember my friend Shanti being baffled as she told me that her mother went out on the fire escape and started yelling "Why? Why" down on to the street.

I wonder if anyone would scream "Why?" and keep their child home from school if a musician got shot today.....Just a thought.


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