The following was written the evening following Mubarak's final president's address to the Egyptian people. The people's reaction was desperate as a sense of defeat filled the air. I couldn't believe Mubarak's speech, I'm guessing most people couldn't. Hours later things dramatically changed as did our situation about returning back to Alex. Currently, we are at Chicago's O'Hare with our co-workers waiting to board the plane back home via Amman, Jordan. Hello chaos, we've missed you.
Bad new keeps coming down the pike. President Mubarak refuses to step down as Ana and I sat in close proximity of our laptop streaming Al Jazeera. A good 90 minutes went by only to hear more of his nonsense. The reminder of our day was roses in comparison to what the people in Egypt will face in months or years to come. I can only offer moral support and sympathy as Egypt isn’t our country when all is said and done. Sigh. I don’t need to tell you that there is no easy or quick solution.
Our night ended with a drive down to the historic Mayan Theater on Broadway to catch the last showing of The Illusionist. The Mayan holds a special place in my heart and is packed full of memories. The trip down Speer Blvd captures the essence of Denver…it is my history, my childhood, my teenage years. I think of visiting my grandpa and relatives who lived near 8th and Santa Fe, the Aztlan Theater and Dust Bowl for punk shows during the 80’s, and the Mayan-my exposure to foreign films that ushered me into an entirely different world and way of thinking.
The Illusionist written by the French filmmaker and actor Jacques Tati was perhaps indirectly related to his film Mon Oncle as it is referenced during the movie. The script for The Illusionist never saw the light of day until recently. The controversy surrounding it was said that it was written to reconcile Tati's relationship to his estranged daughter. For those of you unfamiliar with Mon Oncle; the late 50's film has minimal dialogue with subtle humor and heavy on the visuals of a simple man’s struggle with modernization. In short, it is a cleaver and profound glimpse into the future.
On the way back from the theatre we drove past one of the first schools I interviewed at 15 plus years ago. The position was for an Art/Home Economics teacher and being that I lacked certification and experience in the latter subject, the job went to a more qualified candidate. Talk about a non-existent curriculum these days…you might as well throw woodshop into the mix with Art on deck. If you are over the age of forty, you have some sort of a frame of reference for what I’m talking about. Art in several school districts across America has already been downgraded to a non-essential in an attempt phase out creativity and problem solving skills for future generations.
Ana and I recently gave a talk at my former middle school and her high school in San Diego to a couple of classes about the current situation in Egypt. We were attempting to shine some light on the matter telling students not to believe everything you see in the media and that Egyptians are good people as are most Muslims. The bottom line is from all of our travels; most people around the world are inherently good and just want to live their lives free. No epiphany here.
I learned that the person who took over my position is no longer with the district due to budget cuts. In fact the teacher is now a substitute. It would be easy to blame the principal for this shortsighted decision, but really it wasn’t his fault as he was most likely strong-armed into cutting art in place of preparing students for non-critical thinking skills akin to working in cubicles. Good scores on standardized tests are good for schools and for real estate. Like Egypt, quality isn’t important; it’s the illusion of how something looks.
The illusionist is a story of an older magician and a young girl who becomes enamored with him. She follows him around to his various gigs in Western Europe until she falls in love with a younger man. At the end of the film he sets his rabbit in the hat free and leaves a note for the girl stating that "magicians don't exist."
Mubarak, if you love your people as you say you do, please step aside. America, if you want your country to be creative and competitive with the rest of the world, invest in education and stop cutting essential programs.