Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bring on the hate

Here's one of the odd things about me....there are times when I really enjoy being hated.

Not really by my loved ones or people I respect. But during my time with The Packet and The Express I used to get some doozy letters, e-mails and phone calls. I would get some nice ones. But mostly I got hatred. And generally speaking, I provoked them. I knew when I was writing it that I was going to piss someone off. And I was quite fine with that. An opinion columnist that doesn't really annoy someone every now and then might as well not bother writing one.

With The Packet, the mayor of Clarenville practically gave me a lift to the city limits when I left. And my Reload column with The Express got some beautifully crafted missives of ire. Among the subjects that generated waves of hatred for me were when I said that Lord of the Rings was a great series of movies, but the books were boring crap. When I bashed poetry as a waste of time. And when I made fun of Dr. Who.

That was actually hysterical. The editor of The Whostorian, a local fan newspaper (no, really. And look, he has a blog), ripped me one. When I gently mocked him in another column, he wrote this marvelous, long winded, pseudo-intellectual (lots of big words because, obviously, this means you're smart) tearing me a new one. It was only topped by (I assume) his mom writing a letter ripping me as well. I desperately wanted my mother to write my next column in response, but the editor, alas, vetoed it

I already had a run in with the Whostorian's editor's mom 18 months earlier when she objected to a story I did on a local internet sex group. She called me a "purveyor of filth and an embarrassment to my parents." I hung up the phone before I used language that I would have later regretted.

But none of this matched the ire of when I wrote about the proposal to shut down Booth Memorial a few years ago. I went to Booth. I do not have happy memories of Booth. Many people do not have happy memories of high school. The sensible thing is to get over it and move on with your life.

But I can nurse a grudge like no one's business. Plus, I had a column. So if Booth was going down, then I was going to kick it all the way.

The initial draft was so vengeful the editor wouldn't publish it. So were the second, third and fourth drafts (Moats, barb wire and possibly missiles were mentioned). Finally, we agreed on a draft. I wish I could find it and publish it here, but I can't. However, it was still pretty strongly worded. Good riddance, I said. It's a terrible school and should go. Oh, and if you sell tickets on who gets to swing the wrecking ball first, I got my 20 bucks right here.

And, oh the hatred bubbled forth. Students wrote me letters and e-mail. Some were nicely worded, others had profanity every second word. Teachers despised me (including one, John Green, who I respected a lot. We went for a beer a few months after the column aired and I told him where the hatred came from. I'm not sure he approved of it, but he understood a bit better).

Oh, and the principal tried to have me fired. And when a student tried to burn down the school about a week after the column ran, I think they tried to pin that on me as well.

There were some clever acts of retaliation. Two students wrote in The Telegram that I should come to the dinner theatre they were having at the school and would leave tickets for me at the door (I passed, much to the disgust of members of the Express staff. They may have been right)...and several months later, I was worth the most points in a Booth scavenger hunt. Get your pic taken with me, get 15 points.

So, this long-winded ramble leads up to this CBC story about Booth being on the cutting block again. And guys, seriously, it has to go.

Yes, I have a deep seated hatred of the school. A lot of people do (notably absent among its defenders during the racket were any Booth alumni). And I know some of the current students have pride in the school. I also know some of the teachers fear for their positions should anything happen to the school.

But there are inescapable facts:
1. The school is among the oldest operating in St. John's.
2. Maintenance on the school is a small fortune because of its age.
3. It's inaccessible to disabled students because it's an amalgamation of two older schools. I think there are about 7 stories to the building, despite how it looks from the outside.
4. The student population is declining in St. John's. A high school has to go. Booth is the worst of the lot.

There will be a fight, of course. There always is when a school is recommended for closure. But do everyone a favour and put Booth out of its misery. It's a mercy at this point.

By the way, I still have $20 put aside for tickets on the wrecking ball. Someone let me know when they go on sale, ok?

Last 5 on iPod
1. A boy and his machine gun - Matthew Good Band (Beautiful Midnight)
2. Ugly tellin' lies - Colleen Power (Face and Eyes)
3. The bitch is back - Elton John (Greatest Hits)
4. Greatest day - Bowling For Soup (Goes to the Movies)
5. Midnight, midnight - The Be Good Tanyas (Chinatown)


Vickyth said...

While I have no specific hatred of Booth as a school and cannot claim to have attended it other than for extra-curricular evcents, I have to agree that it makes a reasonable choice as a school to be axed. It's like a rabbit warren. You have to go up a flight of stairs, down two more and then along a winding passage followed by (you guessed it) more stairs to get to any particular classroom. Not to mention that it's right next door to another high school. If you have to choose between bulldozing Bishops or Booth, it's an easy decision.

Just leave the fellow who was principal twelve years ago inside when you do.... (it's a joke, but edit this bit, if you like, Craig)

My husband went to Booth and agrees that, as long as you fish out John Greene, Jim Moore and Donna Bennett (if any of them are still there), you can heave that wrecking ball anytime you like.

Heather Patey said...

I'm also an alumna of Booth, class of '86 (the above husband's my little brother) and don't have strong feelings for or against the bricks and mortar. Yup, the architecture is a nightmare. (I once wrote a text adventure game set at Booth - there was no object to the game except to get to all classes and out again.) It's doesn't serve a neighbourhood that wouldn't otherwise have a high school nearby. All the schools are aging and the kid-population shrinking, no argument. There were good (Hi Mr. Green!) and bad teachers and administrators; good and bad things happened there, same as all schools. I don't understand the vitriol in either direction. If it makes business sense to close a high school, then go right ahead.

The new Holy Heart, is an interesting idea. There's no way to accommodate those 1000 kids (especially if Booth is closed) while the school is razed and replaced, so they'll have to use new land. Where, I wonder? Regardless, my eldest will start high school in 2012, so it had better be ready, since it _does_ uniquely serve our neighbourhood. Most of her class will have been together for 10 years by then - would be nice to let them finish up together.

towniebastard said...

Vicky, if we're thinking about the same man, I have no problem with him still being in the school when it comes down, if even a third of the stuff I've heard about him is right.

John Green is still there. Jim Moore went to Bishops and retired a few years ago. Jim is responsible for one of my favourite Booth memories when he crucified a particularly aggrivating jock in English class. I still smile when I think about it. I don't know about Donna.

Heather, I'm class of '88, so we were at the school at the same time. I should state, just for the record, that I don't have an obsessive hatred of the place. It doesn't linger in my thoughts. I didn't spit on the ground when I walked by or anything like that. I have unpleasent memories which obviously colour my opinion whenever I hear that it's being targeted for closure...again.

As for the logistics of tearing down two schools, building new ones, where they would go and what would happen to the students, well, it appears to be a moot point. VOCM is reporting that Joan Burke is dismissing the report. Oh well. Another of Booth's nine lives used up. I wonder how many more they have at this point?