Sometimes the model essays in my Developmental English/Writing textbook ramble long enough to be appropriate for College Composition, and here are two back-to-back cases about my changed hair style. One of the songs by the jolly visiting singer-guitarist at church yesterday had to do with him getting a short haircut once his hair started thinning out all over. After his gig, I told him about our parallel evolution.
I wrote, “Why Mr. Meyer Is Not a Hippie” after I started substitute teaching in the local school district. My introductory paragraph cited the the Second Principle of Kwanzaa–Self-Determination; its lesson is if we don’t define ourselves, somebody else is going to do it for us. My thesis statement noted that I’m too young to be a 60’s era hippie with different music and fashion interests, merely a moderate liberal, and too hard-working and establishment centered.
First of all, my hair style was long in the back but not touching my ears. I listen to music alien to hippies, such as 80’s style hard rock/heavy metal: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Thin Lizzy–together with Regional Mexican music: tejano, duranguense, norteno, and metalero–and 60’s-70’s soul/rhythm-and-blues (my original favorite genre). Iron Maiden has recorded plenty of “good soldier, not war criminal” songs, such as “Aces High,” “The Trooper,” and “Two Minutes to Midnight.” No hippie with their peace at all costs creed would support the lyrics of a former British Air Force pilot; that is, Bruce Dickinson the singer. Soul singer, Bobby Womack, once wrote “Harry Hippie,” a song lamenting his lazy, pot-head brother. As for all the Mexican music, for starters, instruments like accordions, tecladors, and horn sections would be alien to hippies.
A pleasure-crazed hippie would be unlikely to research the fine points of grammar nor volunteer with non-profits, First I belonged to Tyler 21 ( an urban planning group), and wrote an annotated link page for Northside Development–my former 90% minority neighborhood and where Texas College, the HBCU where I taught for five years is located. Later I joined East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN)– a help-the-poor network bringing together organizations that assist with housing, health, education, employment, and transportation, Then I was invited to join the Community Health Worker (CHW) Coalition because of my knowledge of the community and ability to explain health from a paraprofessional level. Actually “policy wonk” would be a much better label for me than hippie for at least the last dozen years. I include a photo of Dr. Richard Florida of the University of Toronto, who developed the Creative Class model for economic development. Cities need the four T’s: talent, tolerance, technology, and territorial assets to draw in other professionals. That means having a community that is welcoming to those artist, musician, free-lancer types.
Finally in Summer 2009, I got my first short haircut in 23 years because it was thinning so badly. This led to the second essay, “Mr. Meyer Gets His Hair Buzzed.” I warned my audience that future would-be employers rate you on neatness, character, personality, and knowledge. They can claim that a hip appearance isn’t neat and the sign of a bad character. They can’t take your knowledge away, but they can surely put a “glass ceiling” on it. Some bigots claim a long-haired man is probably stupid or an outdated relic of the Sixties, as I recall my final conversation with an ex-administrator friend.
My Don Quixote goal of being a scholarly model for bohemians means nothing if such kids are considered “enemies of the state” by the school administration. East Texas is far more conservative than Dallas. Then I started hearing about the “school to prison pipeline” complaints by those who note racial disparities on suspensions. Later I admitted that my previous essay’s explanation of post-hippie music was probably my weakest argument. Moreover, I neglected a couple of favorite singers getting short hair before me.
So anyway, this has been the gloomiest Slice of Life, but then I worry about what will happen to all the young adults covered in tattoos. Are they going into a few safe, progressive careers? Will they move far from here? The last Flickr picture in this two chapter section streak is entitled, “Hippie Face Vector Portrait.” I include the subtitle, “Do you assume he’s stupid?” But after all, today is World Bipolar Day: March 30, 2015!