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Defending the Rock (or “Kicking College Kids”)

Anyone who has spent any time rummaging around this one-man rant stand knows there are a couple of things that I get…passionate about. First among them are people slamming Staten Island, especially when it is done in an offhand, self-satisfactory way. I get incensed when people who know jack shit about the place write stuff with a sneer in their fingers as they prattle on about where I grew up, still reside, and already have set aside a hole in the ground for when I go down.

When someone claiming Staten Islander status is doing the slamming, that is just waving a red flag in my face. And I usually never miss the opportunity to flay their hide when they cross my radar.

A week or so ago my “Staten Island” Google Alert newscrawler shoveled a link to an op-ed column from The New Paultz Oracle, the student rag at SUNY/New Paultz, titled “The Hole in the Wall That I Call Home.”

When I’m handed forms from the school that ask for my permanent mailing address, I can’t help but be reminded of the ridicule and stigma that comes from the fact that I live on Staten Island.

This cat, Douglas Godio, really rang my bell, because a) that “ridicule and stigma” shtick, and b) he’s pulling this crap in a campus rag that most of its readers probably have no first-hand knowledge of life on the Rock…the closest most have ever come was probably a frickin’ ferry ride, so they’ll swallow this kind of crap whole. When I went further into his whiny dreck I learned it was a kind of tag-team, piling on piece, following his Oracle cohort Tom Whalen’s screed from the previous week:

I don’t remember the exact moment when the image of Staten Island changed for me from a pleasant and unassuming suburban sanctuary to a vast and oppressive cultural wasteland.

Both of these pissants were bemoaning the “cultural” offerings to be found here on Staten Island, and, from reading the two pieces, it was obvious to this Richmond County resident that neither of these bozos ever got out of their own neighborhoods much during their Island time. In their attenuated view, places like Snug Harbor, the Chinese Scholars Garden, Vlepo Gallery, Tattfoo or Jacques Marchais (to pick a few off the top of my head), just didn’t exist. So let’s shut our idiotic pieholes about “cultural diversity,” okay? And Whalen really pissed me off, because he sounded like another run of the mill asshole music snob, a malignant subspecies for which I hold an almighty beat-you-over-the-head-with-an-Emerson-preamp contempt.

I got vinyl with a higher IQ than you.

Anyhoo, now I had two schmucks with which to fuck. So I wrote poor little culture starved Dougie a letter. I had no intention of trying to educate the clown; that ain’t how I play my game.


Wow, Dougie, sounds like you had a rough time here on The Rock.

“Staten Island is a wasteland for people who want a culture rich in diversity or music that isn’t recycled pop and punk with a shiny new label attached to it. It is these views that I find myself in agreement with the opinion of my co-worker, Tom Whalen.”

It also sounds like you, and your pal Whalen, don’t actually have a clue about where you two supposedly grew up. It sounds like you two are trying hard to write your own versions of “Doing Time on Maple Drive” or something along that line. I have to admit though, Whalen is worse; he sounds like an idiot caricature of the all knowing college radio station alt rock nerd (and looks the part with that muskrat glued to his chin–what’s that about? Compensation for getting his butt kicked in high school by the Farrell football jocks?), while you sound like you’re just down in the dumps and not really into the idea of this column that caught my eye in the first place; you’re just taking a half-hearted attempt so you can Slam Along with Tom.

But man, you both sure have that “already world-wizened college kids denigrating their youth which left them stifled and filled with emotional angst leaving a psyche and soul bursting to be released because we’re so bloody smarter than everyone else that we write slams against our hometown because there is no one on the Oracle’s staff to refute it since this is New Paultz and most that anyone will know about Staten Island is that it’s a Rethuglican stronghold” crap down pat.

Schmucks. You two didn’t grow up on Staten Island; you grew up in one of those cookie cutter mid-Island developments and never had the nerve to really take a look around.

I fired it off and forgot about the pair of bozos until yesterday, when across the electronic transom came a request from Jillian Nolan, the Oracle’s managing editor, for permission to print my missive to Dougie as a letter to the editor. I replied “Sure, knock yourself out,” and then she replies with this little nugget:

Also, to let you know. I will have to omit the word “schmuck” from your letter. We don’t print malicious letters.

Since her readers won’t see my reply to that ridiculous shit, I’ll post it here for posterity purposes:

If calling someone a jerk in Yiddish is “malicious,” you folks really got to rethink your PC speech codes. And looking at the way those two jokers on your staff denigrated their purported childhood home, I was actually being kind, especially regarding Whalen, who I believe–but am too uncaring to confirm–I ran across back in the early/mid Nineties in the CUNY/College of SI environs where I ran the campus student newspaper and founded a lit magazine before bolting the Thirteenth grade atmosphere there. If I’m correct in the memory, I should have included pathetic if he’s still hiding in academe after all these years.

“We don’t print malicious letters.”
Yeah, well I do, girly girl. I riff ’em and spit ’em like sunflower seeds.

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