Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ten years ago.... (January, 2006)

The SOCCCD Match Game

Saturday, January 7, 2006

by Red Emma
he recent spectacle of a right-wing born-again Christian Indian-American former Chemistry professor turned community college district Chancellor dressing up as the whimsically racist Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” seer “Carnac the Magnificent” offers to the willing seat-warmer in our stuffy Theater of the Absurd yet another opportunity to mine previously unexplored strata of irony, mystery and horror. As if having a Holocaust denier on the board, Creationists and homophobes in positions of policy-making, and a low-level dean who proposed (all on his own, bless his tiny little head) construction of a 700 million dollar entertainment complex on the campus (See) were not, well, enough already.

One weeps with despair and delight, as if peeling the world’s largest onion, a fragrant and generous bulb of paradox and incongruity, an organic life force. It is an impossible and rotten fruit. While trying to find its center one laughs and cries at the same time, simply overwhelmed at the fecundity and awesome pungency of it even as it disappears in one’s hand.

Hell, it’s like watching those people who, genuinely awed by M.C. Escher drawings, can be tricked into giving you their credit cards, cars, and young children. “Neat,” they marvel, “the way the fish becomes the chicken and then a gull. Neat-o!”

o, kids, here’s a fun game. In light of Chancellor Raghu Mathur’s unlikely moment of inspired or simply insane vaudevillian performance art, we know you’ll enjoy playing a game of modest subliminal political association and speculation, all for entertainment and more of the jolly sado-masochism so darn available here at Dissent the Blog.

Match the real-life district personality with the fictional, literary, or historical character you’d expect them most likely (and by that we mean least likely) to dress up as in, say, an official college function, e.g., the Chancellor's Opening Session.

Choose as many as you can stand.

Extra points for an essay answer in which you use the phrase “laser beam” or “fiscal conservative.”

Oh, and remember to bring your camera!

Warning: Any resemblance to characters living, dead or in administration is simply a realistic audio-video simulacrum powered by the work of the little hamster. You know, the one trapped on that treadmill now installed in your head courtesy of Human Resources.

Steven Frogue: Franz Liebkind, Aloys Shicklgruber, Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, Marshal Philippe Petain, Vidkun Quisling.

Dave Lang: Inspector Clouseau, Elmer Fudd, Polonious, Super Mario.

Don Wagner: Hamilton Burger, Newt Gingrich, Whittaker Chambers, Donald Segretti.

John Williams: Officer Krupke, Major-General Stanley, Sergeant Joe Friday, J. Edgar Hoover, Barney Fife.

Howard Gensler: Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Speer, Howard Roark, Conrad Hilton, Dagwood Bumpstead, Alfred E. Neuman, or Randall from “Monster’s Inc.”

Thomas Fuentes: Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Roy Cohn, Spiro Agnew, Tom DeLay, Randy “Duke” Cunningham, Robert Schuller.

Dennis White: Betty White, Barry White, Macy’s parade balloon of Snow White, Dennis Mitchell.

Glenn Roquemore: Raghu Mathur, Thomas Fuentes, Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd, the Horta, Ruff the Dog, Jackie Battley Gingrich.

“Decomposed materials of organic origin”

Friday, January 13, 2006
by Roy Bauer

s you know, dear readers, Dissent has chronicled the IVC A200 “mold monster” story right from the start. When Mr. S was found hyperventilating in a pool of his own drool over by the A200 water cooler, Dissent was there. When some guys were spotted standing and pointing on the roof of A200, Dissent was there. When technicians showed up in A200 with what they called a “really expensive gizmo,” yes, Dissent was there.

Dissent has now secured a copy of a report, dated December 5 (hmmm, why is it circulating only now?), from The Machado Environmental Corporation, a company that, evidently, the college has hired to conduct “limited inspection and testing” of HVAC systems (I think they mean “air conditioning”).

The testing will be in two phases: one before and one after the HVAC systems are cleaned. This particular report concerns phase 1.

Here’s my report on the Machado report:


According to Mr. Huff, the author of the Machado report, “A number of sewer vents are all located between three and seven feet from an outside air intake of one or more of the A/C units.” “This situation,” he continues gravely, “could result in complaints from occupants of sewer odors due to sewer gases….”

“Could result in complaints”? Well, yeah, that could happen. But the situation could result in complaints because the situation could result in wafting stinkage.


We now know what those guys were doing on the roof. “The roof was quite clean,” reports Mr. Huff. One wonders what he expected to find up there. Zoroastrian bone yards?


In a section of the report entitled, “Inspection of building interior,” Huff writes that “the [A200] building consists of numerous classrooms and a variety of offices. The office area, apparently for professors and instructors, consists of a number of relatively small offices.”

I’m glad he noticed the smallness of our offices. He is pleased by the "variety" of office configurations. That's nice.

Huff says that, in the few offices he could enter—many, he says, were “locked”; apparently, no one had bothered to arrange for Huff’s crew to actually enter anything—things looked pretty good.

“No unpleasant odor,” writes Mr. Huff. Evidently, at least one hallway was stink-free. Oh good.


On the other hand, “The supply vents in some of the offices were closed or nearly closed.” Huff seems to focus on one hell hole in particular: “In the Kaufman [sic] /Frets office the supply vent was almost completely closed. There were three desks in this office, suggesting three occupants. [Nope. Just two.] The supply vent appeared to have mold growth on the exposed surface.”

Um, what's the point of noting that three people occupy this space? Can somebody explain that to me? Is Huff thinking that, if toxins are gonna fill the room it's best to keep the number down to two?

Further, writes Huff, “We inspected the supply vents in a number of classrooms. Each of the supply vents we inspected was dirty inside….”

Well, to make a long story short, a “surface sample” was taken from the supply vent in the “Kaufman office.” This and some air samples were sent to a laboratory for “analysis by direct microscopy.”

That sounds pretty technical. It's science.


The result: “Analysis of…[air samples throughout the building] revealed only background or normal mold spore levels….”

Mostly, the samples didn’t show much, but then there's the hell hole sample: “Kaufman’s supply vent had very high levels of fungal hyphae and fungal spores, which is consistent with the mold growth detected there.”

That can’t be good.

So you’ll probably want to avoid going inside Jeff and David’s office—an office that, incidentally, opens up to the infamously uninviting “faculty lounge” (which sports one ratty sofa and a fake tree) and that is right across from Mr. S’s notoriously mold-infested office. (Have I mentioned that Mr. S has evacuated his office? He now resides down the hall, far from the madding spore, seething in peevitude.)


What about dust? Mr. Huff helpfully notes that “inhaling dust is unhealthy….” But he and his gizmo-wielding crew didn’t find much dust, except in the case of some “Fabric chairs.”

I think he means to say that when you bang on the cushion of that ratty sofa in the faculty lounge, a dust cloud forms and a great fetid stink envelops the building, choking all life.

In the “discussion” part of the report, Huff declares that, in general, the air conditioning supply ducts were “dirty.” He refers to the “growth of Cladosporium on the supply vent in the Kaufman office….”

Huff suddenly gets clinical (and grammatical): "Cladosporium is capable of eliciting allergic responses in certain individuals. This mold type can also produce toxins that are potentially harmful to humans.”


In the “Recommendations” portion of the report, Huff opines that the “ductwork of all 15 A/C systems should be thoroughly cleaned.” Plus stuff should be vacuumed once a month. Not once a decade, Glenn. Once a month.

Appended to the report are lab reports for each of the samples. One air sample was typical. It showed a

~ 38% concentration of dander, i.e., “animal epidermal cell remnants” [rat dandruff],
~ 12% concentration of “organic detritus,” i.e., “partially decomposed materials of organic origin” [rat turds]
~ (less than) 1% “fungal spores,” “insect body parts,” “spider webs,” and so on.


Also appended to the report are “photographic documentation.” These photos look like Nineteenth Century daguerreotypes of pipes and walls. Huff or somebody even squiggled over some of them, further obscuring their nature.

What does it all mean? Hell if I know. But we certainly are looking forward to “phase 2”!

Rebel Girl Has a Dream: The Girl Can't Help It

Monday, January 16, 2006
by Rebel Girl

nce again, Rebel Girl is humbled by the thoughtful, inspired programming commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered by the college.

Some colleges are satisfied with a day of events or even a single event, but not IVC. No. Only an entire week of activities will do.

This surely demonstrates the college’s commitment to inclusion, civil rights and all that is good and just in the world. It shows our community that this little sector of Orange County is committed, nay, dedicated to living the legacy of Dr. King. It makes her proud.

One glance at the heft of the Schedule of Events booklet shows the depth of our respect.

The week begins with a free pancake breakfast on Tuesday morning, with all the trustees taking their turns behind the griddle, clutching spatulas. Performing will be a local interfaith chorus. Representatives of local peace and justice, community and environmental organizations will be present. Irvine Valley College will announce its institutional adoption of an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and unveil plans for a Peace and Justice Center adjacent the (former) Terry Burgess Greenhouse. Chancellor Mathur will cut the ribbon. President Roquemore does the honors with the shovel.

Throughout the week, district administrators will visit classes, encouraging involvement in service projects both on and off campus, toward helping provide for the needs of those without. Furthermore, each administrator has made a personal pledge to tithe amounts equivalent to the unprecedented raises each received last year: the monies will go to local groups battling poverty, including the Catholic Worker. Rebel Girl was told that the meeting where this decision was made was very, very emotional.

Noontime events on the lawn in front of the Student Services Center include college trustees giving the King speech of their own choosing. The event is free, and community members are welcome. While reports suggest there was indeed a friendly tussle for the honor to recite the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Trustee Fuentes, former chair of the Orange County Republican Party, prevailed and will offer the landmark speech--from memory--on Tuesday. Wednesday’s presentation has been claimed by Trustee John Williams who will read, not a speech but instead King’s 1963 “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.” On Wednesday, Don Wagner will recreate King’s classic anti-war speech given at Riverside Church a year before his death: “Beyond Vietnam.” In accepting the responsibility of this controversial address, for which Dr. King was attacked at the time as a “demagogue” by Time magazine, Wagner quoted King: “Our lives begin to end on the day we refuse to speak.” Thursday’s schedule includes a “Civil Rights” recreation event, the 1965 nonviolent confrontation at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, facilitated by Dave Lang, Nancy Padberg, Marcia Milchiker and Bill Jay.

Throughout the week, the Orange County Lego League will honor Dr. King by staging various interactive scenes from his life in the A-quad. The centerpiece is their distinctive and award-winning recreation of the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The OCLL is particularly proud of, not only its ability to re-create the mall, Washington Monument and reflecting pool, the Lincoln Memorial, but also its construction of uncanny models of historical figures who took the stage that day alongside King: Peter Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, SNCC’s John Lewis and Mahalia Jackson.

Finally, in honor of King’s commitment to labor justice, the district has announced that it will settle the contract dispute with the Classified Union. It will be, indeed, a “fair contract.”

As you can probably tell by now, Rebel Girl dreams too.

Now some may gripe that Rebel Girl is simply eating a plate of sour grapes. That she, given lemons, lacks the vision to make lemonade. That she is one of those who sees a glass of water for what it isn’t, not for what it is: wet.

It’s true that when she was newly hired and full of all sorts of ideas and full of the energy that comes from working at an institution that seeks to nurture rather than oppress, that she and her colleagues had the temerity to put together a modest but singular King Day offering for a number of years: a showing of the award-winning documentary: "From Montgomery to Memphis." It was an effort that sought to fill a need. It did. Of course, she secretly hoped that the institution would take on what is obviously an institutional obligation.

Years passed, the college underwent its “changes” and so-called “multicultural programming” was taken over by people who imagined Yul Brynner’s “The King and I” offered relevant lessons in assimilation for college students. Say no more, though Rebel Girl could say plenty.

But Rebel Girl can’t help to add that the deafening silence by which King Day is celebrated on this campus is a sharp contrast to another day that she still remembers: on April 27, 1994, our district distinguished itself by becoming the only college district in the nation to close in an official day of mourning in honor of the passing of Richard Milhouse Nixon.

Say no more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done, Roy. Enjoyed the trip back over some rough terrain for faculty especially, but also for many classified and some really decent administrators.

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