Some of My Relevant Songs (from www.erickarlstrom.com)

by Eric T. Karlstrom, February, 2016

Introduction

Music has always been a central part of my life. Playing and singing, composing and jamming. I started on trombone at the age of 9, took up guitar at 13, banjo at 20, and piano at the age of the 30. In addition to playing these instruments, nowadays I’m also plunking away on a mandolin and dobro (resophonic guitar) occasionally, trying to discover the beauty of the sounds they can produce. A few months of lessons got me started on guitar and bluegrass banjo; I am completely self-taught on the piano. I have a website that features my vocal songs and instrumentals (www.erickarlstrom.com). To date, I’ve self-produced about 22 CDs that feature my originals as well as covers, and one full length movie. These days, I mostly enjoy improving my 5-string banjo skills by composing instrumentals for solo banjo.

I’ve heard it said that in terms of expression, music begins where words leave off. I agree with that. It is indeed the universal language. Music has the power to transport and transform the spirit…. it can elevate our spirits towards heaven and it can drag our spirits down to hell. Unfortunately, our controllers understand the power of music all too well. Thus, they do everything they can to control our musical “input,” just as they do everything they can to control our educational, media,and entertainment “inputs” as well. But more on that later. The last two lines from John Keat’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” express the profound, transformative power of beauty:

“beauty is truth, truth beauty,’- that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”

As an individual, I strive to express truth through my research and websites. And I strive to express beauty through my music. But as Keats suggests, the two intersect.

My (2004) Song Response to Operation 9/11: “White House Blues”:


I) “White House Blues” My song response to 9/11 was written with a musical friend/university colleague. This was our adaptation of a very old bluegrass standard called “The White House Blues.” In other words, we re-wrote the words to fit the new political realities. This entire website fills in the details of Operation 9/11 and proves that among other things, this was just the most dramatic of a whole series of state-sponsored, false-flag, synthetic terror events. And these synthetic terror events continue to this day in order to deceive and terrorize the domestic population.

White House Blues*

1) King George is in the White House pushin’ folks around
Cheney’s in the back seat, polishin’ up the crown
We’re goin’ down, we’re goin’ down

2) Bush II is in the White House, just passing tax reforms
Givin’ trillions to the rich and stealin’ from the poor
Don’t blink your eyes, he’ll sell the store

3) Corporations and the Pentagon cookin’ up the wars
Condi’s in the State House sayin’ fuck you to the world
We’ve been neo-conned, we been neo-conned.

4) Poppy Bush and Baby Bush and the party of God
That’s spelled G for guns and O for oil and D for drugs
They gave us 9-11, it was an inside job

5) Georgie Bush is in the White House, spreadin’ fear across the land
He’s tearin’ up our Bill of Rights ‘bout as fast as he can
This war on terror is just a scam

6) Collin’s at the UN just showin’ diagrams
can’t you see those weapons just scattered ‘cross the land
He’s makin’ deals, he’s shakin hands

7) Rummy’s in the desert, got blood on his hands
Wolfie’s at the World Bank makin’ new demands
We’ll take your oil, you can keep the sand

8) We got Abu Graib in the Middle East, Guantanamo down south
Congress got that Patriot Act just shoved on down its mouth T
hey took our constitution and threw it out

9) Karl Rove is in the White House, they say he’s Bush’s brain
with all his corporate buddies and their voting machines
We cast our votes, they wipe ‘em clean

10) Neo-Nazis stole the White House, now their shootin’ for the world
with torture and police states and pre-emptive war
the Fourth Reich’s here, in America

Ist verse

* This song is featured on the “Bluegrass Conspiracy” CD and is available by contacting the web host or www.erickarlstrom.com.

II. “Ode to Jimmy”:

Like a lot of my friends in Arlington, Virginia, I began playing guitar in about 1963 or 1964. My first song consisted of a tune I wrote to fit a poem I’d written as an assignment for an 8th grade English class. The teacher, Mrs. Bowen, I think, liked it so much she had me get up and read it to the class. It’s called “Why Should It Be?” (See lyrics on Song VII below). A more recent of my lyrical songs (2004) is entitled “Ode to Jimmy.” Jimmy Isenberg is actually featured in both of these songs. Jimmy was a childhood friend and, as I see it, one of the thousands and millions of victims of the 1960’s cultural chaos that was contrived and imposed on America by Britain’s Tavistock Institute and the CIA (See “White Out: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press” by Cockburn and St. Clair). When the folk craze hit, Jimmy and I formed little folk groups together, along with our friends, Ames Arnold and David DeHuff. Basically, we taught each other how to play along the way. Then, in the span of five years, from 1964 to 1969, the country slid into (contrived) cultural chaos. And, tracking right along with our pop culture, Jimmy “graduated” from singing folk songs to singing lead in a rock band. His new heroes were Jimmy Hendrix and Mick Jagger. He threw himself completely into the rock life style; and died of a heroin overdose in 1969 at the age of 20. Jimmy was an extremely talented and creative guy. And he was witty and funny! So, of all the songs I’ve ever written, “Ode to Jimmy” was the most difficult to write. It took me decades to even begin to understand what happened to our culture and nation during the 60’s! And I was a university professor! And how do you write a song about such a tragedy? I suppose Jimmy was just “collateral damage,” like my cousin, Lt. Reinhold Karlstrom, who was killed in Vietnam by a “stray bullet,” and so many thousands, perhaps millions, of others….

Following “Ode to Jimmy” lyrics (below), I also include my very first song; “Why Should It Be” (1964)…. because Jimmy, who was an excellent poet even as a very young teenager, wrote the middle verses of the song. Yes, Jimmy wrote the brilliantly precocious verses beginning with “I ask these questions to the world”… and concluding with “why can’t he find his God and begin a life again.” You see, his father was a Christian preacher. And yes, he was a far better poet than I would ever be. For our own government to destroy a life such as Jimmy Isenberg’s is so unconscionable, and so unconstitutional, it is unspeakable. But then THEY also killed JFK, RFK, and MLK in the 1960’s and went on to exterminate 3,000 innocents on 9/11/2001. So it MUST be spoken now. In order to try to fix it before it is too late.

Some previously unheralded effects (collateral damage) of the Tavistock/CIA contrived 60’s counterculture and drug revolution

Ode to Jimmy* (by Eric Karlstrom, July, 2004)

Well, Jimmy was a tall and a skinny, funny-lookin’ kid
He and I was best friends in the 2nd grade
We was always cuttin’ up and givin’ our teacher fits
But he was in that purple reader all the way*

By the time that we grew up to high school age
He’d read most of Steinbeck and was writing poetry
And he was playing’ on the football team
And pickin’ folk songs with Ames and Dave and me

Then one summer day my family moved out west
I had to say goodbye to all my childhood friends
But a few years later I set out to hitchhiking
From Flagstaff back to Arlington

There I found Jimmy lookin’ all pale and weak and drawn
He was singing’ lead now in a rock and roll band
And I watched him stick a needle in his arm
Like his hero, that other Jimmy, was doing’ then

Then I spent a few days at my aunt and uncle’s house
Re-visiting my second family
Seemed they were all health and busy and livin’ well
He was high up in the CIA

A little bit later I heard that Jimmy died
OD’ed on the bathroom floor
The word was that he’d really tried
To clean up and straighten out once more

Well, those crazy times never made much sense to me
The war, the drugs, and all the casualties
It’s only lookin’ back now that finally I begin to see
Things were not at all the way that they were said to be

It was war for drugs and drugs for war
It was all big profits for those Wall Street Banks
It was CIA agents dealin’ heroin
To our soldiers in Vietnam

It was stuffin’ white powder from Laos into body bags
They could hide 50 lbs inside each man
That’s how they shipped the stuff back to America
And how it ended up in Jimmy’s veins

Now I wonder if the ones who shipped those drugs
Ever had to spend a day in jail
Or if those Wall Street war lords
Ever lost a night of sleep or missed a meal

But it seems the justice system here is broken now
And it’s the criminals that rule
But I reckon they’ll still have to face a higher law
And a judge that can’t be bought or fooled

And gazing now into these mysteries
How our lives are wagered, sold, and spent
But as these years go drifting by
I sometimes miss my childhood friend

Well, Jimmy was a tall and a skinny funny-lookin’ kid
He and I was best friends in the 2nd grade
We was always cuttin’ up and givin’ our teacher fits
But he was in that purple reader all the way.**

*This song is recorded on my “Reflections” CD and is available at www.erickarlstrom.com
**In elementary school at that time, students were assigned different colored reading materials, ranging from least to most advanced student abilities. Purple was the most advanced level.

III. Talkin’ RPT Blues Lite: This is the heavily edited (because it’s more politically correct) version of the much longer song I wrote originally entitled “Talkin’ RPT Blues” (below)

Talkin’ University Blues Lite

Eric T. Karlstrom

1) Back in the fall of 92
I’d been teachin’ my classes for a week or two
When this one green memo appears to me
explainin’ this thing they call RPT

Which is the process, you understand, by which decisions are made
concerning my retention, promotion, and tenure at the University

2) Man alive, right then I knew
I’d best forget the other stuff that I had to do (like teaching)……..
And it seems like it took me one hell of a while
but I finally crammed my entire academic career into one single file

That’s the Working Personnel Action File, to be precise… which in my case,
G C D
consisted of two big black binders, with white title pages, color coded dividers for the different sections, looked mighty spiffy.

3) And in this big ol’ file you see
I had to brag all about my abilities
to teach lots of classes, write two pubs a year
and participate in all them University Affairs

4) Then my file did make the rounds
to Deans and committees all over town
and after awhile a fancy letter came
it said, son, we have decided that you shall be retained

for another year, anyway, now don’t get too comfy, don’t buy a house just yet
_____________________________________________________

5) Well, I struggled through into ’95
happy just to be alive
when another memo announced a yet greater trial
it said, boy, it’s time to update your file

for RPT that is, swimming pools, movie stars, aw heck, that’s the wrong song

6) So I pulled out my laptop once again
and spruced up my file so as to win
the praise and approval of all my peers
heck, that shouldn’t be tough after all these years
of diligent scholarship, selfless commitee work, inspired teaching, and
participation in all them University affairs

So I turned in my file once again, and let the RPT process work it’s will,
thereby casting my fate into the hands of the powers that be- the first of which was the DRPTC, which is another one of them countless obscure academic acryonyms which stands for departmental RPT committee.

7) Then I returned to my real job, don’t you see,
of stamping out geograhic illiteracy………………….
when a few weeks later two more letters came down
and I had to put my teachin’ aside for another round
of RPT, paperwork and counterpaperwork

8) Cause they claimed my teaching wasn’t up to snuff
my service was weak, I hadn’t done enough
And all in all, I just hadn’t met
the academic standards which had been set
by my fellow professors at the University

9) And my colleauges listed several gripes
Seems I offended people of all colors and stripes
I discriminated against both women and men
and I was just plain too authoritarian

10) Well, to decode letters of this kind
sometimes you got to read between them lines
but what they were sayin’ was pretty plain to see
this white boy here just ain’t “pc”

politically correct, that is,

11) So though I was feelin’ frazzled and a bit shook up
I pulled out the ol’ lap top so as to rebut
these allegations by my peers
that I was just not competent after all these years

12) Then soon two fancy letters appear to me
from the Provost and the URPTC (that’s University RPT committee)……
and both these letters did tentatively recommend
that my University career should end
next year- in other words, they was agreein’ with the DRPTC’s recommendation

13) So then I had to take my case in person now
to the powers that be and tell ’em how……………
I’d been misjudged by my peers and I was really OK
And in truth I deserved to stay- at the University

14) Then another week later two more letters came
sayin’ boy you shall be retained
seems the powers that be had changed their minds
and decided to grant me a little more time- to improve my record for RPT, serve on more committees, improve my teaching evaluations.
______________________________________________________

15) Well, that brings us round to spring of ’96
And I put aside my teachin’ so as to fix…… -up
my personnel file once again
in the hopes that I might finally win
promotion and tenure at the University

16) I was sure that that my peers would be impressed
my recent teaching evals were the highest yet………
and I was servin’ on lots of committees these days
So I’d more than addressed the “concerns” that were raised
by my departmental colleagues, in previous RPT reviews

17) So you can imagine my surprise
when them DPRTC letters arrived
sayin’ this boy is doin’ pretty well
but don’t promote him yet cause we still can’t tell
if he’s competent enough to be one of us

18) So when I picked myself up off the floor
I pulled out my laptop and as before
I patiently explained in this last rebuttal
that my departmental colleagues was a bit befuddled-
and they was ignorin’ the facts and bendin’ the rules once again
as seems to be their wont-

19) Then soon as per the RPT calendar dates
the letters appeared that would seal my fate……
They said, boy, now that your life’s a wreck
we gonna give you tenure at Turkey Tech.

how about that, now that I couldn’t care less

20) So come all you young scholars so smart and so fine
and seek not your fortune in the swamp of this mine- field
of backstabbin’ politics and such
you’d be better off just drivin’ a truck,
workin’ for industry, deliverin’ the mail, tendin’ bar, growin’ vegetables, sellin’ drugs, anything, ANYTHING- but stay away from that RPT.

IV. “Sexual Harassment Rap”….. Alas, like all of these songs, this is a true story.

V. Svenska Studies

SVENSKA STUDIES

ERIC KARLSTROM (SEPTEMBER, 1997)

1) Vall, I vork for a big corporation
vhere da ting vhat ve sell’s education
some factories churn out de cheese
dis factory sells college degrees

2) I vork on de outside grounds crew
sometimes I move furniture too
someday I might go back to school
and get my dipoloma too

3) Vall, a degree is a mighty svall ting
it could help you get a yob and everyting
or you could frame it and put it up on your vall
ya, you’d never regret it at all

4) I tink da students love dis place
and vhy not cause dey all get good grades
dese days da customer always is right
no need to study or read and write

5) Dere’s yust vun problem vit dis svall program here
vun ting dat to me don’t seem fair
how come ve got all dese special studies
for yust a select few minorities

6) Ve got hispanic and vommen’s studies for you
African and Native American too
dat’s svall for dem and I don’t vant to be rude
but ve Svedish-Americans are a minority too

Chorus:

Vall, I’m a tird yeneration Svedish American
and I yust can’t find my roots
Vall, I been to the Skandi-fest
and I’ve tasted ludefisk
but dose grand Viking days are true
Vall, my Svedish is terrible
my English unbearable
and my Svenglish is yust a spoof
seems no vun vants to hire me
cause I’m in the wrong minority
I’ve got the Svedish American blues

7) So I put a suggestion in the suggestion box
I asked da President to call me up and talk
I said if you vant etnic diversity
ve need to offer Svenska Studies

8) And I got idears about curriculum
da courses should be easy and fun
ve could sample da Svedish cuisine
pickled herring and lufsa and meade

9) And ve could vatch Svedish movies too
dat Ingrid Bergman makes me come unglued
and den before ve get settled down
ve make like Vikings and pillage da town

10) Vall I didna hear from da President
so I sat down and wrote her again
and dis time in my letter I stressed
dat ve Svedes have been oppressed

11) I said ve Swedes have had it tough
dem Minnesota vinters can be rough
and no matter how far our ancestors came
ve still live near Norvegians and Danes

12) Annuder ting dat really gets me inflamed
dough you know, I don’t like to complain
it’s a shame how our vommen folks
got to put up vit all dem blonde yokes

Chorus:

And I’m a tird yeneration Svedish American
and I yust can’t find my roots
dough I’ve been to the Skandi-fest
and I’ve eaten ludefisk
and found it tastes like glue
Vall I know sex Sven and Ole yokes
dat I tell to Norvegian folks
to keep dem all amused
and Notten gar tunga fjet
and kring jordens sol forlat
Even Santa Lucia’s confused

13) Vall da President didna call me back
so I figured I’d take a new tack
and dis time I appealed to da vun ting she cares for
it’s da ting dat she yust can’t ignore

14) I said my sick, rich Uncle Sven
vill bequeat all his fortune to dem
vall she called me back da very same day
and said- Ya sure, you betcha, by yiminy- you’ll get your Institute of Svenska Studies right avay

15) Vall, I vork in a big corporation
vhere da ting vhat ve sell’s education
now dat ve got Svenska studies here
I tink I go back to school next year

VI. “Talkin’ RPT Blues” This is the 30 minute original version that pretty much tells the whole sordid, ridiculous story.

Talkin’ RPT* Blues- Version 4.0

(* retention, promotion and tenure)

Eric Karlstrom, springs of 1995 and 1996, editted again, Feb. 1997

1) Back in the fall of 92
I’d been teachin’ my classes for a week or two
When this one green memo appears to me
explainin’ this thing they call RPT

Which is the process, you understand, by which decisions are made
concerning my retention, promotion, and tenure at the University

2) Man alive, right then I knew
I’d best forget the other stuff that I had to do (like teaching)…….
And it seems like it took me one hell of a while
but I finally crammed my entire academic career into one single file

That’s the Working Personnel Action File, to be precise… which in my case,
G C D
consisted of two big black binders, with white title pages, color coded dividers for the different sections…. looked mighty spiffy.

3) And in this big ol’ file you see
I had to brag all about my abilities…….
to teach lots of classes, write two pubs a year
and participate in all them University Affairs

So therein, I compiled all evidence that I had met the four criteria for RPT, (them bein’ teachin’ proficiency, scholarship, preparation, and participation)-and I stuffed that file chock full of positive student evaluations, glowing letters of recommendation from esteemed colleagues, lots of orginal publications in top-flight scholarly journals in my field of expertise, and evidence of my participation in all kinds of University affairs (though I didn’t mention any names)

4) Then my file did make the rounds
to Deans and committees all over town
and after awhile a fancy letter came
it said, son, we have decided that you shall be retained

for another year, anyway, now don’t get too comfy, don’t buy a house just yet
———————————————————————————————————–

5) Well, I struggled through into ’95
happy just to be alive
when another memo announced a yet greater trial
it said, boy, it’s time to update your file

for RPT that is, swimming pools, movie stars, aw heck, that’s the wrong song

6) So I pulled out my laptop once again
and spruced up my file so as to win……
the praise and approval of all my peers
heck, that shouldn’t be tough after all these years
of diligent scholarship, selfless commitee work, inspired teaching, and
participation in all them University affairs

So I turned in my file once again, and let the RPT process work it’s will,
thereby casting my fate into the hands of the powers that be- the first of which was the DRPTC, which is another one of them countless obscure academic acryonyms which stands for departmental RPT committee.

7) Then I returned to my real job, don’t you see,
of stamping out geograhic illiteracy……..
when a few weeks later two more letters came down
and I had to put my teachin’ aside for another round of RPT,
paperwork and counterpaperwork

Cause the first letter said:

“We the majority of the DRPTC recommend with regret that due to significant weaknesses on two of the four criteria, the candidate be accorded the terminal year that is his right after which he shall have no further expectation of appointment.” (end quote) It wasn’t a good letter.

8) They claimed my teaching wasn’t up to snuff
my service was weak, I hadn’t done enough
And all in all, I just hadn’t met
the academic standards which had been set
by my fellow professors at the University

And they justified this recommendation mainly on the basis of a small number of unsigned and rather negative letters from students- which they had soliticited for this very purpose, I suppose, by sending out 200 letters to my former students askin’ ’em to pass judgement upon my teaching style, expertise, fairness, accessibility, concern, helpfulness, and general warm and fuzziness as a professor- which is a procedure not carried out by any other departments on our campus and which most of them never had to go through. Even so, it’s kind of funny how they just ignored the much larger number of students letters which was highly complimentary- I guess that’s what you call selective interpretation of the data.

9) And in these letters they noted were several gripes
seems I offended people of all colors and stripes
I discriminated against both women and men
and I was just plain too authoritarian

And my colleagues charged that I had made “disparaging remarks about women, feminists, and minorities” (though they never mentioned any actual instances of that), that I had utilized a “extremely authoritarian “top-down” pedagogical style”- (I guess they wanted me to have the students teach themselves), and that I had achieved a “imperious tone” (and all this time I thought I was a baritone).

10) Well, to decode letters of this kind
sometimes you got to read between the lines……
but what they were sayin’ was pretty plain to see
this white boy here just ain’t “pc”

politically correct, that is,

And these charges they was a-levelin’ against me was all the more interestin’ considerin’ just who was a’doin’ the chargin’. As it turns out, the chairperson of the department RPT committee happens to be a devout feminist and the co-author of this here letter happens to be a native of a Third World country who was brought onto our campus by the aforementioned feminist – and therefore these two is good buddies, and they was definitely collaboratin’ partners in this particular caper.

So there I was, after all these years of jumpin’ hoops, playing the game, bustin’ my butt, doing scientific research for years upon end without any grant money just for the pure love of contributing to the intellectual progress of our species, I guess- there I was- yours truly- facing an officially sanctioned firing squad comprised of the rainbow coalition.

And here was my colleagues a-doin’ their damnedest to exterpate my career and they was a-sayin’ night was day and day was night and right was wrong and wrong was right and there was nothin’ I could do about it except write silly little rebuttal letters in which I patiently and rationally tried to set the record straight. Aside from bein’ a complete waste of time, it was a thoroughly disgustin’ and humiliatin’ experience.

12) But as it turns out the news was not completely bad
the minority letter was kinder by just a tad….

(Remember, there were two letters, one from the DRPTC majority and one from the DRPTC minority)
….
and she said give that boy another year
before we sock him again with the dread and fear of RPT-
hazing, harrassment, and humiliation.

But nevertheless, I grasped straitaway that in the ensuing weeks and months of letter writing, I was a-going to be a-struggling to save my very academic neck. I was a’treadin’ water in a choppy sea of mendacity and perfidy, so to speak, without a life preserver, amdist snake-infested waters, and the surf was a-comin’ up.

13) So though I was feelin’ frazzled and bit shook up
I pulled out the ol’ laptop so as to rebut….
these allegations by my peers
that I was just not competent after all these years
of teaching widely across the curriculum, advancing the frontiers of knowledge in my field of expertise, participatin’ in all them University affairs, etc., etc., ad nauseum

14) And in this letter I pointed out that
my colleagues had overlooked several facts……
my teaching evals were above the norm
and when it came to scholarship, why in the past 5 years alone,
I’d published over three times more than the other 8 members of my department combined-

Now this could be the crux of the issue right here
Maybe this is about academic standards after all- with the real problem bein’: I’ve still got some. Maybe this whole pc and racism and sexism bit is just a smokescreen for something else- which could well be related- like my classes was a little too demandin’ or I’d done too dang much genuine research for my colleague’s collective comfort.

It’s true, I do have a slightly different philosphy of education than some of my colleagues. My idea of empowering students is to actually expect ’em to learn something about the subject matter I’m supposed to be a-teachin’. Whereas some of my colleagues’ idea of empowering students seems to be to make their courses real friendly and easy and touchy feely, indoctrinate their students with their personal philosophies, political agendas, ideologies, etc., and then give out high grades like Christmas candy so as to help the students feel real good about themselves- which, I must admit, is a pedogical style that can pay big dividends when it comes time to getting evaluated by the students— for RPT.

15) So it seems like there’s a conspiracy
between the teachers and the students in the RPT
where they all grade high so they all can get
tenure and diplomas and what the heck,
if nothin’ gets taught and nothin’ gets learned
cause no one gets hurt and no one gets burned
and everybody’s happy, don’t you see
at the post-academic University

I didn’t say any of that stuff in the rebuttal letter though- you got to be real careful what you put in them letters- the plain truth usually don’t go over too well here at the academy. So as per the advise of some of friends, I stuck to the facts, was real rational, and just slipped this stuff in between lines- kind of sly and devious like, seems I’m learnin’ to conform to the cultural norms here at the Mendaciversity after all.

16) Soon two fancy letters appear to me
from the Provost and the URPTC (that’s University RPT committee)….
and both these letters did tentatively recommend
that my University career should end
next year- in other words, they was agreein’ with the DRPTC’s recommendation

It seems like the facts and the data hadn’t carried the day
So right then and there I figured I better get me a brand new strategy.

17) So I consulted the rule book just to see
if there had been any illegalities….
and there I found just what I sought
In Appendix C of the Faculty Handbook

There, in section VI.C, it states, in no uncertain terms: (and I quote)

Only input in written form and signed by the source of the input is admissible (end quote).

Ha, right then and there I knew I had ’em. I had caught ’em redhanded in a baldfaced procedural violation. And I knew that whereas faculty may be able to get away with all kinds of lies and fabrications and slanderous statements- if you catch ’em in a procedural error, why, they’re done for. They’d lose this case in court.

Upon reflection, I still think it’s kind of strange that here I was an untenured faculty and I was havin’ to point out the basic rules of the RPT process to all them Deans and Provosts and departmental chairs and DRPTC and URPTC committee members who was doin’ all the RPT judgin’ and who was supposed to be the RPT experts. And I still can’t figure whether they knew about this rule and just didn’t care (in which case they is one cynical and nasty bunch of folks) or whether they didn’t know about the rule- in which case you’d have to conclude they was just ignorant and incompetent. I reckon it’s probably a little of each.

18) So in my rebuttal to them I pointed out
you got to throw them unsigned letters out………
now my teaching looks even better than before
the percentage of positive letters jumps from 71-it was always 71- to 94.
Which is an A in the grading scheme of most professors I know.

19) Then I had to take my case in person now
to the powers that be and tell ’em how……..
I’d been misjudged by my peers and I was really OK
And in truth I deserved to stay-
at the University

So there I was, after 6 years of bustin’ my ass, livin’ on starvation wages at graduate school, and then 12 more years of working like a slave as an Assistant Professor at three universities during which time I had taught 23 different courses, served on umpteen committees, and cranked out 56 publications (countin’ abstracts), there I was with my hat in my hand, pleadin’ my case to a bunch of poker-faced, full, tenured professors who was sittin’ there, sittin’ there on the University RPT Committee actin’ like God and supreme court justices all rolled into one. This was the most humiliatin’ part of the whole humiliatin’ damn thing.

20) Then another week later two more letters came
sayin’ boy, you shall be retained
seems the powers that be had changed their minds
and decided to grant me a little more time-
to improve my record for RPT, serve on more committees, improve my teaching evaluations.
————————————————————————————————————
21) Well, that brings us to spring of ’96
And I put aside my teachin’ so as to fix……. -up…………..
my personnel file once again
in the hopes that I might finally win
promotion and tenure at the University

And I was confident that after all the shenannigans they pulled last year, things was a-gonna go better this year

22) I was sure that that my peers would be impressed
my recent teaching evals were the highest yet……………
and I was servin’ on lots of committees these days
So I’d more than addressed the “concerns” that were raised
by my departmental colleagues, in previous RPT reviews

23) So you can imagine my surprise
when them DPRTC letters arrived
sayin’ this boy is doin’ pretty well
but don’t promote him yet cause we still can’t tell
if he’s competent enough to be one of us

Well, once again, I could not believe what I was a-seein’. Bein’ as how this was my 6th year, my up or out year, by sayin’ retain him my departmental colleagues was actually sayin’ out. Pretty slick and devious. I was beginnin’ to feel like I was in the movie the Terminator- remember that one- and I was the good guy and they was the Terminator- – and everytime I thought that ol’ Terminator was finally done for- he’d find a way to pick hisself up, put hisself together again and try to waste me again.

24) So I’ll tell you all right then and there
I gave up on my colleagues ever bein’ fair
I knew these folks I could never please
With friends like this who needs enemies?

25) So when I picked myself up off the floor
I pulled out my laptop and as before……
I patiently explained in this last rebuttal
that my departmental colleagues was a bit befuddled-
and they was misrepresentin’ the facts and bendin’ the rules once again
as seems to be their wont-

26) Then soon as per the RPT calendar dates
the letters appeared that would seal my fate…..
They said, boy, now that your life’s a wreck
we gonna give you tenure at Turkey Tech.

How about that. I guess some rational heads prevailed after all and reversed the recommendation of my departmental colleagues. – now that I couldn’t care less.

27) Well, I suppose a saner man would have left by now
and found friendlier fields in which to plow
I was a-gettin’ pretty tired of bein’ jerked around
and the nastiness was kind of gettin me down

But I had decided to draw the line- I just wasn’t going to let a few miserable, mean-spirited professors intimidate me with their lies and backstabbin’- cause hey, that’s just part of human nature everywhere, right? And for every college professor like that, why, there’s at least two or three kind, decent, generous, honest folks, I think, I hope- cause if there ain’t then we might just as well nuke this place right now.

But it is amazing how sometimes smart people who’ve been in school all their lives often start actin’ like complete fools and imbeciles- or else turn into some of the nastiest, most mean-spirited folks around. Henry Kissinger said that academic politics are the most viscious kind of politics because so little is at stake.

28) So when the dust had cleared I faced my foes
and I told ’em both where they could go
so they ran to their phones with lighnting speed
and complained to campus security- even though I never even so much as raised my voice at ’em.

which precipitated an official investigation with a policeman in a blue uniform who was a-questionin’ all parties concerned regarding the exact verbage which was exchanged, and when and where, etc. Then I got to have a private audience with the Vice President and the Dean and then they sent me an official, certified letter of reprimand reprimandin’ me for behavin’ in an unprofessional manner, creatin’ a hostile workin’ environment, harrassing my colleagues, and makin’ em feel bad. You talk about your pot callin’ your kettle black. Seems this here theatre of the absurd just never lets up here at the modern Multicultur-versity, does it? But from my colleagues point of view, I suppose all’s right again with the world now that they can finally reclaim their official status as “victims”.

29) But I suppose that all in all the process works
my courses are easier now and I’ve stopped doin’ research
At writin’ them memos I’ve gotten pretty good
And I’m on the way to becomin’ dead wood, at the University

Where you can do unto others like they done unto me.

30) Now when Jesus walked this world so long ago
he was a teacher too now don’t you know
and when scribes and the pharisees gave him fits
he called ’em vipers and hypocrites-

The scribes and the pharasees were the scholars and teachers of the law-
perhaps not unlike some of the careerists and beaurocrats who inhabit our modern Universities- Seems human nature hasn’t changed much in the last 2000 years.

31) And if I wonder if Christ came back today
would we treat him in a very different way
If he tried to teach at a University
would we crucify him with RPT

But I don’t reckon he’d fall for that-he might even perform a few miracles around the University- like bringing (some of this here) dead wood back to life.

32) So come all you young scholars so smart and so fine
and seek not your fortune in the swamp of this mine- field
of backstabbin’ politics and such
you’d be better off just drivin’ a truck,
workin’ for industry, deliverin’ the mail, tendin’ bar, growin’ vegetables, sellin’ drugs, joinin’ an ashram, anything, ANYTHING- but stay away from that RPT.

VII. Why Should It Be?* (Eric Karlstrom, 1964, ninth grade, with Jimmy Isenburg)


Why should it be that all men die?
what is the reason that life goes by?
Is it to find the purpose of life?
Or to help others in times of strife?
Is it to find the meaning of truth?
Or just to exist beyond our youth?

I ask these questions to the world
to parent and priest and king
They seem to know and not to know
They seem to know but answer not a thing.

Why should it be that man must hate man?
Why must one’s nation wage war on another’s land?
Why should it be that man must sin?
Why can’t he find his God and begin a life again?

The answers escape me at least at this time
but maybe by living some clues will be mine.

* This song is also recorded on my “Reflections” CD and is available from www.erickarlstrom.com.