Writer, editor, professor, etc. For more information, see jaygabler.com.
My sixth-grade music teacher Ms. Okoh was a white South African who pined for, who would actually weep for, her native country—which was understandable, given that she was teaching sixth-grade music class at a Catholic school in Duluth, Minnesota. I don’t know what set of circumstances caused Ms. Okoh and her husband to emigrate, but this would have been about 1987, so you have a lot of choices there.
Ms. Okoh would hold regular in-class talent shows, with each kid being invited to strut his/her stuff. In most cases, this meant halting renditions of “The Rose” on Ms. Okoh’s piano (once, accused of being uncool, Ms. Okoh herself sat down and pounded out the opening figure of “Walk Like an Egyptian”). With no false modesty, I pretty much won the talent shows with my Bill Cosby comedy routines. One girl, though, would perform her own original interpretive dances to big hits of the 80s. I don’t even remember her name, but she looked a lot like this girl in the video and had many of the same moves—though she preferred stretch pants and sweatshirts to tassels and lamé. On at least one occasion, she was actually laughed out of the room; while she cried in the hallway, Ms. Okoh lectured us on manners and respect.
That proved to be Ms. Okoh’s only year at Holy Rosary School. Her disciplinary methods were suspect: she’d force young children who misbehaved to sit alone in the dark closet. “But I won’t shut the door all the way,” Ms. Okoh would say. “I’ll leave it open just wide enough for the boogeyman to get in!” When Ms. Okoh physically threw a music stand at an eighth-grader, that was the last straw and she was fired. I still think of her every time I hear the Bangles.
One of the deepest YouTube holes I have fallen down was over clips of “Stairway to Stardom”, a public-access cable show from the early/mid eighties that showcased all manner of young talents and loud-singing people from the Staten Island area. You watch one, and you will not stop. Some dancers (the leotard-clad Lola Perazzo) are content to do a dance they memorized from a Michael Jackson video, but here, Michelle Sutlovich crafted her own original routine… with ferocity and fringe. Here is some inspiration to really give it your all in 2012.