Thursday, January 5, 2012

Whiz Kids Write Occupy Opera

It used to be said that if you had an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters, one of them would write the complete works of Shakespeare. The formula has changed a bit. In one school, it has been proven that if you have a limited number of eight year olds and a limited number of word processors, some of them will write a song about the Wall Street Occupiers.

Third-graders are getting smarter. They apparently read Marx, believe in class warfare, and compose songs about greedy rich people. “Fun With Dick And Jane” has become “Fun With Karl and Mao.” These little rabid egalitarians also have the musical talents of the young Mozart. Or maybe Rogers and Hammerstein. Could your eight year old hold a tune or remember the words to any song more complicated than Merrily We Roll Along, let alone write an entire screed set to music? Then you don’t live in Albermarle County, Virginia. The little geniuses there wrote the following song, entitled “Part of the 99:”

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be one of the 1 percent
I worked all the time
Never saw my family
Couldn’t make life rhyme
Then the bubble burst
It really, really hurt
I lost my money
Lost my pride
Lost my home
Now I’m part of the 99

I used to be sad, now I’m satisfied
’Cause I really have enough
Though I lost my yacht and plane
Didn’t need that extra stuff
Could have been much worse
You don’t need to be first
’Cause I’ve got my friends
Here by my side
Don’t need it all
I’m so happy to be part of the 99.

A few grouchy parents and some local taxpayers have actually suggested that the song violates the school district policy forbidding political statements at school programs. Some others have even had the nerve to suggest that songs like that are not written by eight year olds. But the program at Woodbrook Elementary School went forward anyway. As school spokesman Phil Giaramita says: “We don’t really censor the topics that students come up with. This is the first time we’ve had the lyrics of one of these songs criticized.” As we say in the law, “I guess that’s dispositive.”

The school district, the school principal, and the teacher/advisors all tell us the same thing. The kids wrote it. It has no political message. And we don’t censor what the kids write. Now I can’t help wondering what they would say if the eight year old kids had composed a song entitled Jesus Was A Capitalist complete with music to rival George Gershwin.

Giaramita went on to say “Kids aren’t told what to write and you would be surprised or amazed at how creative and how thoughtful children even at that age are.” Ya got that right! I think “astonished and disbelieving” might be even more descriptive of my reaction. I have three kids and eight grandkids, all very bright and creative. Even if they had been brainwashed into thinking that rich people are evil, they still couldn’t have written this kind of propaganda at eight years of age. They were more likely to misremember the tune and words of If I Were A Rich Man from Fiddler On The Roof.

According to the school authorities, the song was actually written four months earlier when the Occupy movement was still getting good press and there hadn’t been any rapes, robberies or murders yet. I think that is somehow supposed to explain why the song is non-political and capable of being written by eight year olds. Color me doubtful. If the song celebrated the second coming of Christ, I would still wonder how it was written by third-graders.

The school does say that “the boys and girls worked with a facilitator to come up with a theme, tune and lyrics for a song.” That must be one hellacious facilitator. I’m picturing it right now. Facilitator: “Hi, kids! You’re going to write a song today about things that you think about every day. What would you like to do?” Kids: “We want to raise the consciousness of the community about the disparity between the lives of the robber barons and the desperation of the proletariat. We want to tell our community that we march in solidarity with the 99% of Americans who are forced to live like Neanderthals while the 1% live in their mansions and on their yachts on their dividends earned over the backs of poor women and minorities. We also want to make sure that the tune includes at least two semi-hemi-demi-quavers in order to emphasize the leitmotif of the non-political words.”

Once having thought that over, I see the school’s point. I’m sure you feel the same way. I just can’t wait to hear the song they’re writing about the glorious new Supreme Leader, Kim Jong- Un.


Joel Farnham said...


I will believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Barney the Purple dinosaur, Clinton didn't inhale, and a few others before I will believe that public schooled kids can create this song.

By the way, did anyone get a statement from the kids without a commun.... er school administrator standing around?

Tennessee Jed said...

couple thoughts here, Hawk.

first, there appears tobe a potential hint of racism in your implied criticism here.

second, I'd like to add a verse:

defecated on a cop car, it looked so fine,
i guess i'm just part of the 99.
barrack is with us in spirit-his spirit soars like a feather;
he be on the picket line wearin' out some shoe leather
Michelle be hangin out in Maui, she be lookin' so fine;
guess she's just not part of the 99

T-Rav said...

Yeah, creative and spontaneous the same way that "Mmm, mmm, mmm/Barack Hussein Obama" was creative and spontaneous. Bullcrap.

If I remember correctly, Albemarle County is home to the University of Virginia. Which probably has a little to do with this nonsense.

tryanmax said...

Why, I remember when I was in third grade, we sang songs about Perestroika, Iran-Contra and the IRA. (Guess what year!) Children are always very aware and deeply affected by current events. I certainly wasn't preoccupied with Super Mario, Weird Al, or Ninja Turtles. (Guess what year!)

Cronickain said...

Yeah I am with Joel. I am not so sure though that I believe that was written by an eight year old on his or her own accord.

Jed - hahahaha.

Following your prose.

I once looked up an saw sunshine
Now all I see is corporate crime
From my crib I used to pimp the beat
Now I can't get to Wall Street
Paying rent and paying my bills ain't a crime
Guess I'm just one of the 99.

Individualist said...


Let's use some analysis. The Poem has 7 10 & 10 lines.

The syllables break down as

6 9 5 5 4 4 5
8 5 7 5 5 6 5 3 3 8
8 7 7 7 5 6 5 4 4 12

Does not appear they are using any set structure such as a Ballad or an Ode.

Looking at the syllables I am really unable to tell if they are attempting to use Pentameter or Dactlyl foots. It appears the poem tends to have a meter at points but again their is no structure. Arm Chair General told me that it was evidently "sporadic pentameter". This is news to me, my meager study of poetry has not led me to understand that.

This seems to have no rules so it might be modern poetry but even mondern poetry is supposed to have some system to how it sounds. This seems to be a little sophomoric.

I do not think this poem would be written by eight year olds. Even an eight year old would have the sense to use a simple poetic structure such as a limerick.

No this was written by an young adult who certainly has the maturity level of an eight year old but is hampered by self doubt, a bitter class hatred of those who achieve, a narcissistic need to justify why they have not excelled as others have and maybe residual brain damage from drug abuse.

Not being a doctor I can't tell. I do think it is insulting to attribute this work to the eight year olds. I think the eight year olds version unhampered would be a more nuanced and sophisticated work.

Just some thoughts!

Tennessee Jed said...

ACG and tryanmax - l.m.a.o.!

speaking of tweaks, the moochelle verse. would work out better if I changed it to "hangin' out in Maui on the the taxpayer's dime" instead of "she be lookin' so fine." I'm really not trying to disparage the first lady's looks, only the first couple's pretense of being "of the people."
and the clear fairy tale that this was done by 8 year olds without prompting (Barrack Hussein Obama . . . umm, umm, umm.)

Unknown said...

Joel: The kids were obviously well-coached, so there's a good chance they wouldn't intentionally rat on their handlers. But as we know, kids will say whatever comes to mind as often as what they're told to say. But I don't know of any separate chats with the kiddies.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: I know that there's always that possibility, since I'm just another typical white person.

I assume your new verse was written by a third-grader? LOL

Unknown said...

T-Rav: Are you suggesting that the Barack Hussein Obama song wasn't spontaneous? How dare you?

You're right about the location of the U of Virginia, and it may have had just a teensy-tiny influence on the whiz kids.

Unknown said...

tryanmax: I know you're right. When I was in kindergarten, we fingerpainted, modeled clay, and wrote sad dirges about the death of Joseph Stalin.

Unknown said...

ACG: Wonderful stuff. Which of your eight-year old relatives wrote it? I know that has to be true, because an adult isn't creative enough to write it.

Unknown said...

tryanmax: By the time you've done the other 98, I'm sure it will be on a par with Traviata.

BevfromNYC said...

There once was a group of OWS’ers
Who camped out in parks with their heaters
The cops came one day,
And took them away,
Without heaters, the groups quickly petered.

There once was a group of OWS'ers
Who camp out in parks as protesters
When the donations rolled in,
the infighting began,
Which then tested the protesters investors (The Dems).

Unknown said...

Tennessee: I've eliminated Michelle as a possible author. Having read her master's thesis, it's obvious she couldn't have written anything as sophisticated as what the third-graders have composed.

Unknown said...

Indi: I guess "dime" could work, but shouldn't it be riyals or dinars?

tryanmax said...

One quick serious thought before we return to ridicule (which is the best way to respond to this nonsense).

When I was a kid, I fancied myself quite the poet. Thanks to my mother, most of my "early works" survive today and she pulled them out for me lately. I believe in zeitgeist because it just seems too coincidental that I would have been mulling over my own childish poetry so near this conversation. So here are my observations:

Kids are much more rule-bound than adults, and I was no exception. Wouldn't you know it, for the most part lil tryanmax's poems adhere very strictly to simple rules of meter and rhyme. It's almost as though my childish mind couldn't even grasp the concept of breaking the rules. Other than and odd extra or short syllable, my only (and apparently favorite) deviation was to include a singe, unrhymed line at the end of some poems. I imagine I thought I was quite clever.

The point is, I posit that an adult influence is almost required to get kids to construct such a haphazard "song" as the one we're looking at. That is to say nothing of the subject matter, which seems like it would be uninteresting if not inconceivable to a child. Even eight year olds are still in the "mine" phase to an extent. Such notions of selflessness and contentment in the absence of creature comforts would surely have to be imposed upon them before they could express them in song. I could go even further, perhaps to point out the frequent use of metaphoric turns of phrase that are common among adults, but strange to literal-minded youngsters.

Yes, children can be amazingly creative, in particular because they do not think like adults. They approach things naïvely and without experience. This "song," however, demonstrates cynicism, (faulty) knowledge, and (limited) ability. I think it is rather plain that kids did NOT write this song.

Unknown said...

ACG: Funny you should mention it. My eight year old grandson (with the help of a facilitator) wrote:

There was a young king named Obama

Who ruled o'er his realm with low drama

He conquered his foes

With opium prose

And crushed them with dreams from his mama.

Unknown said...

Bev: Did you get that from an eight year old niece or nephew?

AndrewPrice said...

This is what I've come to expect from our politicized education system.

BevfromNYC said...

Tryan - you make the assumption that children could not have written this because they adhere to rules that they are taught which was true. But, am not sure children are taught about structrual rules that they must follow anymore. It might hinder their creativity like coloring inside the lines does. If they were taught structure, how can one account for the poor writing skills of recent college grads?

I for one, think this was written by the facilitator with the children input like:
fade in: drum circle in classroom]
Facilitator: So what do you want our song to be about?
Children: I don't know...
Facilitator: Well, how about all those protesters in the news?
Children: Okay, who are they?
Facilitator: They represent all the poor children in the country who can't buy stuff like you can.
Children: Okay, why?
Facilitator: Because there are evil rich people in the world who want all the stuff for themselves!
Children: Okay, is that why my Mom won't get me have a DS?
Facilitator: Exactly! The evil rich people have made your parents too poor to buy you a DS...oh, why don't you all go out and free associate on the grass. I'll draft something and you can tell me what you think! Don't forget your safety helmets!
[Scene fades]

Unknown said...

Andrew: Aha! Another skeptic who doesn't think this was purely original thought on the part of third graders with no outside influence.

Unknown said...

Bev: Would that be before or after they kids were required to watch the Tides Foundation video The Story of Stuff?

Unknown said...

tryanmax: I share your experience as a kid. I was known as "the walking encyclopedia" as a kid, and it wasn't a compliment. But I knew words, and put them together fairly well for a kid. But complicated concepts and social commentary would have flummoxed me entirely.

Individualist said...

(with homage to the protesters that matter)

We March! We March! We travel in lock step
We Chant! We Chat! What Soros says to Say
We Cheer We Cheer! To prop our Leader’s rep
We Jeer! We Jeer! Misers who seek to earn

Praise as kind and humane
The politician on the Take
Mark as philanthropy
The tax the bureaucrat will take

We canter ‘round the Wall
where they sell the fruits of dreamers
we grouse those who build tall
for their wealth must be mendacious

Our derision, you who have earned plenty
Because secretly we have not
Tell tales of the emptiness of success
To ease the feeling our souls are bought

By our own Narcissism

Unknown said...

tryanmax: And I think that's why kids "get" limericks at an early age. They have a rhyming pattern that kids can "feel." Good thing they don't know that most of the good limerick are not fit for polite company. LOL

Unknown said...

Indi: The only thing that could improve on that rhyme would be for the participants to be dressed up as the Seven Dwarfs (Disney version, of course).

Unknown said...

T-Rav: That's better. Hmmmmm.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: That's easy. Just quote Emerson: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." That's the faux intellectual's way of explaining away his logical inconsistencies. Of course most of the Occupiers think Emerson is a cheap radio.

tryanmax said...

Yeah, a lot of lascivious activity goes on in Nantucket!

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, I think I was well into college before I figured that Nantucket one out. Shows how sharp I am.

Unknown said...

tryanmax: I learned a good one about Khartoum too. Of course at the time, I didn't know what "queer" or "lesbian" meant, but the rhyme was catchy. LOL

Unknown said...

T-Rav: And then there's the one about Den Daas. I got the limerick, but I didn't have a clue where Den Daas was.

tryanmax said...

LawHawk, I'd never heard of it before, but you gave me just enough to find the limerick with Google. Hilarious!

T-Rav, I can only guess about Den Daas, but I think I have a good idea.

Unknown said...

tryanmax: One of my associates gave me the Big Book of Limericks for my birthday about ten years ago. Somebody else stole it off my desk shortly after I had gotten about halfway through it. Some day I'm going to have to replace it. I need the laughs.

Joel Farnham said...


Here is your proof that song was written by an adult.

I just couldn't believe some kiddies could write it. ;-)

Unknown said...

Joel: I had read about Kid Pan Alley's involvement but didn't include it in the article. That's because I didn't yet have the quote Hot Air had: “He should have avoided phrases like ‘I’m part of the 99’ and ‘they’re the one percent’ when facilitating the songwriting process.” That does pretty much nail it as having been written by an adult. Thanks.

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