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Chaparral 2022-2023: 31.2 Senate Update

Senate Update

by Roger Dickes
Academic Senate President


I am totally not counting down the number of Chaparral articles I have to write. Totally not. It has taken positively zero effort writing things professors across the spectrum of college disciplines might enjoy reading, that same zero effort finding a balanced position on issues facing the college, zero effort to keep my throngs of readers in the psychological “big tent.” I know these articles are short, and definitely overcooked at times; but, for some Chaparral issues, it’s taken me over 20 hours of writing a few sentences, walking away to re-evaluate what I was writing, coming back, eking out a few more sentences, and repeating until I felt there was enough there. I really, really haven’t not cared; and I still DO care. But I decided I just cannot ache over these entries anymore – and I have to let whatever is in my mind when I sit down flow out.

vinyl record

I suppose that underneath whatever motivation I am feeling to write in the way that I am about to is a kind of resentment toward what I feel is a forced single-mindedness about what we do. I believe it’s ultra-American to think and say “the laws are bad,” and I actually really do think the past decade of thinktank-brewed, action-committee-sponsored, narrow-mindedly elitist legislation has been tremendously damaging to community colleges. I am not saying there’s been no upside, and hooray for all the completers and stuff, but I believe there is a direct link between the law, its application, and the near halving of enrollment at our college over a ten-year period. I don’t want to argue about it and I don’t want to write any more about it here. I will close this kvetchy paragraph by saying I think we should have more professional development sessions about, say, the lifecycle and daily life of the Lumpsucker E. Orbis or why dragonflies look so darn happy.

What I would rather share is links to a few songs I’ve been listening to. This is what happens when I am not given an assignment by my amazing Chaparral editor! I have no idea if these songs will appeal to any of you, but I listen to music obsessively and I’ve had these on serious rotation as I’ve driven to the college, which I enjoy doing Monday through Thursday most weeks this term. I listen to these songs and imagine my rare trips of recent to underground events where I watch people younger than I am lightheartedly bop around the dance floor in bright shirts and cheesy sunglasses.

The first is “Right Here, Right Now” by Shinichiro Yokota, an innocent, retro, in-genre, mid-tempo house track that charms, relying on the authenticity and warmth of genuine analog synthesizer and drum sounds and a brilliantly trite vocal soul hook. His story as a producer is interesting and worth the little hop to Wikipedia, in that you’ll read that he abandoned and then rediscovered his music, as any artist might when inspiration wanes, or when something big gets in the way.

The second song is “Double Spire” by Soichi Terada (also worth the jump), a longtime colleague of Yokota’s, and it’s also squarely in the house genre, but more up-tempo, and draws a little more from classical music than Yokota’s song. It benefits from a similar commitment to using warm, genuine analog sounds, and leans more toward a smooth, technological, flowing form than toward disco-soul. Pointedly, neither of these composers are particularly young, both born in the 60’s; and Terada’s career began auspiciously, with a song of his being remixed by Larry Levan, one of the progenitors of what has come to be known as house music.

I won’t go more than three songs in on my list, knowing I am already asking a lot; just one more: “Move” by Demuja, a younger, very much up-and-coming Austrian producer who is helping keep this often-pronounced-dead musical form alive thirty years after Yokota and Terada began working. This up-tempo track arranges side-by-side a classic Roland TB-303 Acid House mid-bass synth theme and a moody electric piano chord sequence, but, most compellingly, builds in a few vocal bits that I find very germane to my daily grind. Anyway, here he is, composing a song with his cat.

If you've gotten this far into my article, let's assume you actually listened to the songs I linked to and visited some of the links I shared. If you're here and you haven't listened, that's fine, a bit odd, maybe – but I guess I should explain the apparent sharp break between themes in the above. It's not a sharp break to me; I turn to multi-modality and difference as a way of redeeming myself from our moment/era of tendentiousness at work and in our culture – to enjoy myself, rather – as I am determined to do in the classroom and in my remaining time at the helm of the Senate.

That’s all for this month – and, yes, I am also indirectly expressing excitement for Halloween parties. “Move so you can grow!” (<--- It's a sample in the last song.) See you in November, you turkeys.

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