Monthly Archives: February 2014

Uncle Tony’s Charter School: Part 10

Illustration by Sean Wang

a satire by Christopher Paslay

When beloved high school principal Dominic Rossetti is forced to open a charter school so his uncle Tony, an organized crime boss, can embezzle the money to fund a strip club, Dom is thrown into a humorous yet tragic situation: he is compelled to run his uncle’s bogus charter school while trying to educate Philadelphia’s children.

Part 10 of 25

Willard Fairweather ended up calling the Kid about a month later, outta the blue. Dom was in his office dealing wit the accreditation folks from EAAS, going over school budget stuff, when his secretary popped her head in and said that the School Board president was on the phone; all this was detailed in his journal, too.  Dom told her to tell Fairweather that he’d call him back, just as soon as his meeting wit the accreditation team was over.  The secretary left, but like a minute later she was back, saying it was urgent that Dom talked to Fairweather, that it was a matter a funding for his World Peace Charter School.  All this was going on in front a the EAAS people, who was sitting right there wit Dom, trying to decide if they should give Eisenhower High School accreditation or not.  The Kid had already failed the audit in the winter . . . it was determined Eisenhower wasn’t fiscally stable cause there was a crazy unexpected $100,000 shift on the books . . . and Dom didn’t wanna fail the audit a second time. 

So he takes the call wit Fairweather, even though the Kid wasn’t ready to talk to him.  Dom still hadn’t bothered to find an address for World Peace Charter and figured he’d just end the charade by letting the whole thing go bust.  Course, when he got on the phone wit Willard Fairweather, the actual President a the School Board—who also controlled Eisenhower’s budget—the Kid lost his nerve.  I guess he realized it was a lot to lose . . . his job, his reputation, everything he had worked so hard for. 

The call wit Fairweather didn’t last long, and the guy was pretty polite, according to what the Kid wrote.  Fairweather was quick and right to the point, saying that he’d talked wit the State people, and that they was concerned about the address a Dom’s charter school.  There was no address, and although this might be a joke to some people, it was real serious business for the State.  Sure, paperwork mistakes could be overlooked, but it was now May and the State Department of Education wasn’t gonna release one cent to fund a charter wit no address. 

“Yeah, I meant to call you about that,” the Kid says, trying to smile in front a the accreditation folks.  “I’m very sorry.  I’m in the middle of this meeting now, with the Eastern Association of Academics and Schools, but I could—” 

“There’s no time,” Fairweather says.  “The people from the State aren’t too happy.  Now if you could just give me the correct address of the World Peace Charter School, I’ll be on my way.” 

“Funny you should mention that,” the Kid says, still smiling, and tells Fairweather that something had come up wit the building that he was gonna use for the charter school; the lease, he said, fell through.  It was an asbestos issue, as a matter a fact.  Dom thought the asbestos would be taking care of by now, but the owner was lazy and unreliable, a total letdown.    

“Asbestos?” Fairweather says.  “You’re kidding.”

“Not at all.”

“Which building is it?”

“It’s up in the Northeast,” the Kid says.  “Up a ways.  The Far Northeast.”

“Not the old St. Boniface building?”

“Yeah, that’s it, the old St. Boniface building.”

“Really?  You were gonna lease that?  Wow.  God bless you, son.”

“Yeah, I got a good deal.  Or, I thought I had one.  But you know . . . the asbestos . . .”

“Bummer,” Fairweather says, and tells Dom they can’t have a building wit asbestos in it, not around children, no way.  The students could get that lung cancer disease, that mesothelioma, and then the district could get sued, and wit the way the budget was, they couldn’t afford no lawsuit.  He would have to find a different building, then, Fairweather told Dom.  A clean one, where nobody could get sued.  Fairweather said he’d talk to the State people and explain about the asbestos, explain that Dom was looking for a new building.  The State folks might be put out, might be pissed about the change in the paperwork, but caner was cancer, and lawsuits was lawsuits.  But, Fairweather said, Dom had better get right on it.  Dom had better find a new building wit a real address soon, cause time was ticking and come July 1st, when the State budgets was due, charter schools filled wit asbestos—or ones that had addresses of Chinese restaurants—well, they got no money.  Not a penny, see.  Not a single penny.    

_______

So the Kid hadda find a building, a real building, that the State and the School District could visit and walk around in.  Dom was so busy running Eisenhower and trying to get past that last EAAS audit that he asked me and the Gorilla to help him out wit this.  I was actually glad to help the Kid and do what I could for him.  Like I says before, he was kinda like a son to me, so I talked to my people and put the word out that we was looking for a building to lease for a beautiful new charter school, that anything they could do would be a great help to the children a Filthy-delphia, especially the coloreds.  It was crazy how nowadays everybody was falling over themselves to help the coloreds, when before, not even 30 or 40 years ago, most people could care less about the coloreds.  Not today.  It was also crazy how people all wanted to help out wit kids’ educations, that whenever somebody said the word education, people was all ready to donate and give money or buy what was being sold—never really asking what it was or how it could help. 

Me and the Gorilla tried to, um, take advantage a this attitude and use it to find a building for Dom’s new school.  But most a the people we talked to—landlords and real estate guys who knew Tony—they was already running other scams and bending rules for other folks and couldn’t help us none.  We kept at it, though.  Kept calling guys we knew who had buildings to lease or rent.  We called our union guys, too, to see if a local union hall had some extra room in it, a place to put a charter school.  Course, all those halls was filled, all booked up.  Yeah, forgetaboutit.  After a week a doing this, I’ll tell ya, me and the Gorilla was starting to get . . . what’s the word . . . agitated.  We had a little talk wit each other and decided it might be time to stop being nice and to start breaking heads to show these sonnavabitches we meant business.

And that’s what we did.  We took a ride around the city in the Gorilla’s Escalade and scoped out some places that might be good for Dom to put his charter school in.  Up in Northeast Philly, coincidently, we found the perfect spot for a school.  In this big old open field, across the street from this shopping center, was an empty office building that had a big sign on the front of it that said, Available for Rent.  When I saw this I just looked at the Gorilla and he looked at me and we both knew this was it, this was where the Kid was gonna put his charter school.

I called the number on the sign and some broad answered and said yes, the building was still vacant, that we could come to the rental office downtown wit the proper identification so they could run a credit check.  Me and the gorilla made an appointment and met the woman at the office the next day.  She went over all the details about the building, the space, the utility fees, the monthly rent and the deposit we was gonna have to leave.  I said it all sounded perfect, just wonderful, that’s we’d take it—where do we sign?  Course, we wasn’t gonna pay a penny for it, and if they got testy about collecting backed rent, they could meet me and the Gorilla in my office, could say hello to my power drill, or perhaps my good friend Mr. Vice Grip. 

There musta been something in this broad’s ears, cause when I told her we’d take the place, she didn’t give us no keys.  She started babbling about credit checks and $5,000 deposits and all kinda nonsense.  She said she needed to see me and the Gorilla’s drivers licenses and Social Security cards, and would maybe need a few references—names and numbers a people she could call to make sure we was okay and on the level.  I just waved my hand and told her this wasn’t necessary, that if she hadda problem she could talk to Tony Genitaglia and he’d gladly vouch for us.  She said she didn’t know who Tony was, and I told her that that was unfortunate, cause Tony was a good guy to know.  Tony was a very generous man, see, and he helped people, like wit the charter school he was opening up.  The charter was gonna be 100 percent whatdoyacallit—green, and it was gonna run on wind energy.  The students was gonna learn Egyptian Math and Israeli Science, and they was gonna join solar panel clubs and electric car teams so they could help the environment.  That’s why we wanted to rent the building, so we could put a school in there; it was all for the educations a the children.  Course, if you wasn’t Tony’s friend, if you got on his bad side, that could be a problem.  I asked this rental office broad if she wanted to get on Tony’s bad side and she said again that she didn’t know no Tony Genitaglia, and that if me and the Gorilla didn’t show her any ID and agree to put up a deposit, then we had better leave or she was gonna call the police. 

“Actually,” I says, “there’s somebody ya can call.  Why don’t ya get your manager on the phone so I can talk to him and straighten this whole thing out.” 

The manager, as if he just heard us talking about him, comes walking through the front doors a the office.  He was a heavy set fella, wit wire glasses and a beard.  He saw me and the Gorilla making a fuss and asked what the problem was, and so I told him: we was gonna rent that place in the Northeast across from that shopping mall—we was opening up a charter school—and we needed the keys so we could get things moving.  But just like wit the woman, the guy said we needed all these documents and deposits and on and on, and I’ll tell ya the truth, it was making my friggin head hurt.  So I says to this prick, I says, “Me and this gentleman here is associates a Tony Genitaglia.  Now, I know we’re all very busy so I’m only gonna say this one time, see.  We’re renting out your freakin office property in the Northeast, and we came here to get the keys.  Now is you gonna give them to us, or are we gonna have to fold you up like a goddamn card table and stick you in the back a the Gorilla’s car?” 

All of a sudden the guy, the fat manager guy wit the glasses, he starts grabbing his chest and. . . what’s the word, hyperventilatin . . . gasping for air like a friggin beached fish.  He falls down and rolls around on the floor and his face gets all red and sweaty as he starts choking, and the broad gets all panicky and dials 911.  Not even two minutes later an ambulance comes barreling down the street and pulls into the parking lot a the rental office.

“Jesus friggin Christ,” I says to the Gorilla.  “Jesus friggin Christ.” 

_______

The fat guy didn’t die, but he did have a minor heart attack.  The next day, when all his famb’ly and relatives had left his bed at the hospital, me and the Gorilla went to see him and talk some business.  When he first saw us he started yelling for the nurses to come—he even tried to push that emergency button thing next to his bed—but I grabbed it from him and the Gorilla shoved a hand over his mouth.  We explained the situation to him a second time, that we needed the keys to the property ASAP.  If he didn’t give us the keys, well, we just might need to blow that office property sky high, see; we gave the guy 24 hours to, ah, comply.   

A day went by and no dice.  Two days went by, then three, and still nothing; neither the man nor the broad was at the rental office when we came by.  In fact, the rental office was closed for the week.  Finally, I told the Gorilla to get some dynamite from Tony’s demolition guy—a licensed wrecking crew foreman, actually—and to meet me at the rental property in the Northeast after midnight.  The Gorilla, cause he’s so frigged up in the head, he doesn’t care about blowing shit up.  He doesn’t care about handling bombs and dynamite and all that; he doesn’t care about killing people, neither.  Me, I don’t handle no bombs, no way.  I ain’t trying to blow myself up, see.  And I don’t kill people, not a chance.  I might torture and rough them up a bit . . . use heavy equipment like a power drill or hacksaw on a sorry sonnavabitch that’s late wit Tony’s money . . . but I don’t do murder, and I don’t do bombs. 

The Gorilla did bombs, like I says, and I gave him very specific instructions about what to use on that office property in the Northeast.  We didn’t wanna blow the whole place up, that would be a waste a time.  We just wanted to scare that fat shit rental manager, scare him into giving us the keys free a charge; and he’d better not even think a charging Tony or the Kid one single dollar.  The plan was, see, to just blow up the atrium, show these rental pricks we meant business.  Once we blew it up we’d make another visit to their office and find the broad or the fat guy wit the glasses and say something like, Next time it’s gonna be your house, got it!  And after the owner collected the insurance and rebuilt the atrium—which wouldn’t take but maybe a month, we’d make sure of it—we’d make that office property there in the Northeast home to Tony’s and the Kid’s beautiful new charter school.  In the mean time, course, we’d have the keys and the Kid would be able to give that Willard Fairweather a real address of a real building.

That was the plan, according to me and Petie.  But when I got there that night, when I was coming down the road approaching the property in the Northeast, I couldn’t believe my friggin eyes: the whole place was blowed up, the whole freakin thing—flames coming outta the windows and the roof, planks a wood in the field and broken glass in the street, and smoke, too, thick plumes a smoke.  There was cop cars and fire engines everywhere, sirens blasting and lights flashing, hoses running from the trucks and fire fighters trying to aim the hoses onto the office building, which was only left half standing.  The Gorilla was actually still there, the moron, walking around in circles like a friggin goon.  He was a real piece a work, the Gorilla.  IQ of maybe 75, maybe.  He was all of 44 years old—a little older than Dom—but I’d bet his real mental age was something like 12.  No bullshitting around. 

“Petie,” I says, rolling down the window a my car, “hey, idiot.  What the hell’s the matter wit you, ha?  You trying to get us locked up?  Let’s go.  Let’s get the hell outta here.” 

“My Cadillac,” he says, and points down the street to his Escalade, which looked like it was on fire. 

“Forget your car,” I tell him.  “There’s cops all over the place.  Come on.  Let’s go.”    

The Gorilla gets in, and I make my way around the cop cars and fire trucks and back out onto the main road.  “Jesus Christmas.  You blow up the whole building?”  For the first time I get a good look at the Gorilla’s face, and see that his hair is all singed and his eyebrows is burnt off.

“The detonator,” the Gorilla says, and looks at his hands, which is black wit soot. 

“Huh?”

He starts coughing from the smoke, and can’t get the words out.  He makes these motions wit his hands, like he’s playing charades.  “Oops . . . kaboom,” he says.

“Oops, kaboom?”

“Yeah,” he says, and tries to explain that he made a mistake, that he didn’t mean to blow up the whole building.  It’s hard for the Gorilla to . . . what’s the word . . . articulate what he’s saying.  I’ve known the Gorilla his whole life . . . since he was 13 and started making deliveries for Tony . . . and part a me always felt bad for the guy, especially how Tony treated him.  It was Tony who named him “the Gorilla,” which ya have to admit, is pretty friggin rude.  The name came from a PBS nature special on primates that me and Tony was watching.  “Hey Manny,” Tony says, pointing to the television, “look, it’s Petie.  Petie the Italian Gorilla!”  The name caught on quick.  A few weeks later, at football practice, a buncha kids on Petie’s 8th grade team started breaking his balls about it. 

“Hey Gorilla!  You gonna climb up a tree and get a coconut?”

Yeah, forgetaboutit.  Petie went nuts, took off his helmet and smashed six guys over the head wit it, knocking them out.  When an assistant coach came running over to break it up, Petie grabbed the guy by the head and bit off both of his ears and spit them out on the ground.  There was blood everywhere, at least that’s what the other kids standing around watching told the cops.  I hadda go down and get Petie outta jail, and that’s when a detective told me that one a the kids Petie hit wit his helmet was in a coma, and that the assistant coach was in the hospital getting his ears sown back on. 

What did Petie learn from all this?  That you can’t be beating people wit the equipment; he was suspended for two whole games. 

All the cops and fire trucks was fading in my rear view mirror. 

“I guess we gotta find a new building for the kid,” the Gorilla says.

“No shit, Petie.  No shit.”

Part 11

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Uncle Tony’s Charter School: Part 9

Illustration by Sean Wang

a satire by Christopher Paslay

When beloved high school principal Dominic Rossetti is forced to open a charter school so his uncle Tony, an organized crime boss, can embezzle the money to fund a strip club, Dom is thrown into a humorous yet tragic situation: he is compelled to run his uncle’s bogus charter school while trying to educate Philadelphia’s children.

Part 9 of 25

The grand opening of Straight A’s just happened to be one day before the grand opening a the Kid’s World Peace Charter High School—Monday, September 3, 2012.  In case you’s guys don’t know it, that was Labor Day.  It was quite an opening, wit a live appearance by porn star Jenna Blu, the queen of on-screen double penetration.  But I don’t need to tell you’s guys about that, just like I don’t need to describe how friggin insane Tony’s strip club was; it’s all been written up in the newspapers.  Plus, I know for a fact the F.B.I. was running some kinda undercover sting in there, which means you pricks prob’ly got pictures and videos a the place, inside and out.  But cause I’m an older man who’s dying of friggin ass cancer and has only a few months to live, I’m gonna talk about it anyways; I put my fair share a work into the place, my fair share of elbow grease and worry, believe you me.

So once Tony made settlement, he went bananas trying to make the place the best gentleman’s club in Baltimore.  Straight A’s suddenly became his, ah, baby, and I swear to friggin God, watching him slave over its renovation I thought I was watching Dom, the Kid . . . only it wasn’t a school he was building, but a multimillion dollar knocker and beaver extravaganza.  Now, the name Straight A’s, that’s caused lots a confusion over the past year, made some people think the broads in their that was taking off all their clothes had small tits, A-cups and whatnot.  But that’s not what Tony was thinking when he named the club, see.  When Tony named the joint Straight A’s, what he meant was that the broads working there was all grade-A material, first rate T and A of the highest, whatdoyacallit, pedigree.  And this was true, just ask all the guys—and even a few a the girls—that came to the club on a regular basis, especially the folks wit money who were V.I.P. members.  Ask them about the girls and they’ll tell ya: they was some a the most beautiful women in the world.

Course, I know what you’s guys is prob’ly thinking right about now.  You’s is thinking, You and Tony is some real pigs, the way you talk about women and everything.  You and Tony is  . . . what the frig’s the word . . . misogynists, you and Tony is male chauvinists, I think it’s called.  I can see why you’s guys would think that.  But let me just say this: Uncle Tony—that’s what they all called him—loved the girls that worked at Straight A’s, and they loved Uncle Tony right back, my hand on a stack a Bibles.  There was no, um, glass ceilings wit Uncle Tony, see.  He took real good care a the girls, and they made a whole, whole lotta cash working at his club.  I’m talking six-figure incomes, and you can check the books to prove it.  It wasn’t no big thing for one a the more popular girls to make one or even two grand in tips in a single night, minus the nightly $150 stage fee, and that was just by giving legal private dances on the second floor; the girls could make even more cash when you added in what went on up on the third floor.  Some a the girls even met up wit talent agents and got contracts to be models—real models, not just porn stuff—and this one gorgeous green-eyed Irish chick even signed a deal wit a Hollywood agent and moved out to L.A. to do car commercials.  Oh yeah, and then you had what’s her name . . . the cute colored girl, Sidney something or other . . . who actually became a dance team member for the Washington Wizards.

Uncle Tony treated his girls right, believe you me.  And they loved him for it.  By the sixth month anniversary of the opening a Straight A’s, right before you jag-offs came along and shut the place down, there was a stack a applications on the desk in Tony’s office of gorgeous girls just waiting to work for him.  And some a these chicks, Jesus friggin Christ, they wanted to work bad.  They’d practically do anything to get a foot in the door at Straight A’s.  Could you blame them, though, wit the frigged up economy and all that?  Like I says, these girls was high class, smart and all that, and some even used the cash they made dancing to pay for their tuition at that one college down in Baltimore there . . . Johns Munchkins University or some such ridiculousness, you’s guys know the one I’m talking about.

Course, the place was a shit hole when Tony took it over.  First thing he did, after him and Sal took out a $250,000 home equity loan cause Tony’s charter school cash was in some other asshole’s bank account till July, was to call Frankie Jr. and his guys to come down and rehab the whole joint, redo the bars and the floors and to extend and remake the main stage on the first floor.  There was a nice big kitchen in the back, wit an oven and deep fryer and a walk-in refrigerator and freezer, and all this stuff was still in good working condition.  There was a dishwasher, too, and prep tables, and a buncha stainless steel pots and pans and slicers and mixers, all kinda stuff, just sitting there waiting to be used.  Frankie had his boys clean this up, and even called in this restaurant guy to help get the kitchen up and running, which would eventually serve-up some a the best steaks in the city, some a the best food in the city, like shrimp, lobster, calamari, Chilean sea bass, pork chops, crab ravioli . . . all kinda soups and salads . . . and even warm chocolate cake for dessert.

The second floor Frankie basically gutted, threw out all the nasty red velvet couches and ripped up the floor.  He put another bar in up there, and built a partition and divided the room into two—one side wit six couches for private lap dances and the other a whole lounge of its own, the Emerald Lounge, where there was a small private stage, a pole, and a coupla couches.  They installed mirrors on all the walls and put in a dozen 60 inch flat screen TVs on the first floor so the guys could watch their favorite sports in, um, high definition.  They put in two 20 foot brass poles on the main stage a the first floor, too, so the girls could swing on them and flip upside down and do that fancy maneuver where they stick their bare ass in the air and spread open their legs so you could see everything, the whole works, that beautiful pink pussycat wit perhaps a whatdoyacallit, clit ring or two; at Straight A’s, the dancers was totally nude, see.

Now the third floor . . . I ain’t trying to get into all that.  But like I says, I’m dying, so I guess I’ll have a little fun talking about it.  The third floor was the V.I.P. lounge, and you couldn’t get near it unless you was a card carrying member.  The membership fees . . . jeez, what was Tony charging . . . I think it was like five grand to join and then five hundred a month after that.  Course, unless you knew Tony or was somebody important, forgetaboutit—you wasn’t getting a card or setting foot in the V.I.P. lounge.  A whole buncha stuff went on up there, drugs, sex, gambling, all kinds a crazy stuff.  Besides the oak bar in the middle a the room, Frankie built four private bedrooms up there, one at each corner a the room, but these costed extra for people to use.  They was like about 300 square feet each, something like that, wit a queen sized bed, a minibar, flat screen TV, and mirrors on all the walls and ceiling.  Some a the girls, I ain’t gonna lie, they would spend the night wit you and screw ya if you met their price, or if you gave them the drug a their choice, or both.  I heard stories about people, important people, who was public officials, paying Tony for one a those rooms.  One time, during a certain political campaign, this one politician . . . I ain’t gonna say who, not just now . . . supposedly paid for not one, not two, but three girls to spend the night wit him in one a the rooms in the V.I.P. lounge.  After giving the manager this big pile a crisp hundred dollar bills in a rubber band, this particular politician took the girls into the room and did this, ah, role playing thing, where he dressed up like a little baby in a diaper and bonnet and sucked on a pacifier and held a rattle in his hand and made these baby noises like goo-goo, ga-ga, I swear on my friggin mother’s grave.

That was just the beginning, though.  See, he had arranged wit the manager before hand to go through this whole script wit the girls, to do this whole . . . infantilism scene, I guess it was called . . . and the girls all agreed, cause they was getting paid from that big pile a cash.  So this particular politician—he was naked except for the diaper and the bonnet—he supposedly said something like, “baby needs to be fed” or “baby needs his ba-ba,” and then the three chicks gathered round him and one-by-one breast fed the guy and also let him play “motorboat” wit their tits, and then after he was done having his fun, he grunted and made this ugly face and says, “baby needs to be changed,” and then the chicks came over and hadda take off his dirty diaper and put on a clean one.  Now, who the frig really knows if this guy really took an actual dump in his pants or not, if there was really a load a shit in his diaper for the strippers to clean up; this is, whatdoyacallit, mere speculation.  But the point is this: lots a people, real important people, was visiting Tony’s club, making his dream come true.

_______

After the Kid gave Tony the $100,000 for the deposit, Tony left the Kid be for a while.  The Kid put all his time into being the principal a Eisenhower, not really caring much for Uncle Tony’s charter school, which was a total scam anyways.  Secretly, the Kid hoped the whole thing would fall apart and his uncle would get busted, and he was continuing to keep a journal—this journal—so if the cops came to him, the Kid could prove he really didn’t have nothing to do wit it, that cause a his slip up in A.C., his uncle had been strong arming him and committing, ah, extortion.  Course, if things started going bad first before the cops busted Tony, the Kid could be in some real trouble, cause Tony was hell bent on getting that million bucks.  Which is what made the whole fiasco surrounding the fake address on the charter school application the Kid submitted to the State and School District a big goddamn deal to say the least.

Right around April, right around the time when Tony and little Frankie was rolling up their sleeves and rehabbing Straight A’s, there was a glitch wit World Peace Charter High School that almost brought the whole scam to a screeching halt, as they say.  But before I tell you’s guys about the glitch, I gotta give you’s some background information first.  Now, to make it look like there was really a charter school, the Kid hadda have a real building to serve as the headquarters, and he hadda start accepting student applications for enrollment.  To accept the “official” applications, the Kid got a buddy from his college fraternity who was a web designer to put up a phony World Peace Charter High School website, complete wit the school’s mission statement, a description a the teachers and faculty staff, a breakdown a the whatdoyacallit . . . curriculum, and the school’s contact information, which was completely made up, see.  The after school clubs was listed on there, too . . . the Wind Farm Awareness Club, the Solar Panel Awareness Team, and the Electric Car Awareness Association . . . all this extracurricular stuff was included.  The Kid even wrote a blurb about World Peace’s cutting edge Egyptian Math and Israeli Science, and how this was gonna bring together the folks in the Middle East who was always fighting and trying to kill each other over a little piece a land.

So this one day, when the Kid is showing me and Tony the new website and such, I says to the Kid, “So what’s this Egyptian Math and Israeli Science stuff, exactly?” and the Kid says “Uncle Manny, they are real cutting edge instructional programs.”

And I says, “Yeah, I get that, but what is it?”

And the Kid says, “Here, it’s real simple: One pyramid plus two pyramids equals three pyramids . . . that’s Egyptian math.”

“Oh,” I says, “I get it.  But what’s this Israeli Science?”

So the Kid says, “Well, you do Israeli Science by taking two dreidels . . . one plastic, one wooden . . . and holding them up and dropping them, using a stopwatch to time each one to see how long it takes for them to fall through the air and hit the ground.  It’s a lab, Uncle Manny, a science lab.”

“That’s Israeli Science?” I says.

“Yep,” the Kid says.

“You’s pretty smart, kid,” I says, and I actually thought he was; remember, I dropped outta school in I think it was ninth grade.  Now, the joke was on me cause later I read in the Kid’s journal that it was all a buncha bullshit, just a stunt so Tony would get caught and the charter school would get shut down.  The crazy part was, though, this stuff the Kid wrote about on the website, the Egyptian Math and Israeli Science stuff, it somehow got the attention of Education World Magazine, who was doing a special report on charter schools in Philadelphia.  A coupla weeks later after the Kid put up the World Peace Charter School website—in the beginning a May, I think—Education World writes this front page article about the Kid’s charter, how its gonna be 100 percent green, how it’s gonna have all these fancy clubs promoting electric cars and solar panels and whatnot, and how it’s big on, howdoyasayit . . . social justice.  They called the Kid up on his phone and interviewed him and everything.  Here, I got a copy a the article right here.  Let me read the beginning of it:

Environmentally Friendly Charter Uses Math and Science to Teach Tolerance

World Peace Charter High School in Philadelphia is not only 100 percent green, importing all their electricity from a nearby wind farm, but is also offering students an innovative, cutting edge curriculum that uses math and science to teach nonviolence and tolerance for diversity. 

The heart of this curriculum? Something called Egyptian Math and Israeli Science.  Dominic Rossetti, the principal and founder of WPCHS, said the new instructional program sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. 

“The program actually uses things like pyramids as counters,” Rossetti said.  “We also use dreidels to do experiments during physical science labs.” 

Although WPCHS is a cyber charter, some learning will take place with instructional staff in person at the school, which is where the new curriculum will be rolled out.  WPCHS is set to open during the 2012-13 school year, and is currently accepting applications for its freshmen class . . . 

Now you’s guys tell me: is that friggin beautiful, or what?  The Kid showed me and Tony this article the week it came out and I’ll tell ya, my brother Tony nearly shit on the friggin floor, I ain’t making this up.  Tony grabbed the article real proud and started bragging and saying that he knew they could do it, he knew they could open a world class charter school that would help all the kids learn and be real smart, especially the coloreds.  To this day I don’t know if Tony even knew the whole thing was just made up—that there wasn’t even a school to begin wit—but it sure seemed like Tony thought there was a real school, somewhere, somehow.

Anyways, the word was now out about the Kid’s charter school, and everybody and their freakin mother wanted to go to it.  When the article came out, so many people went on to the World Peace website that it whatdoyacallit . . . crashed, and the email address that the Kid had set up to accept the admissions applications was friggin flooded wit emails.  The crazy part was, the Kid purposely made the application form—which was on the website, too—real complicated and long and whatnot, so not as many eighth graders and their parents would apply.  I think he made the application like ten pages long, wit all these real tough essay questions, and also asking for all these copies a grades and transcripts from the kids that went back to first grade.  The applications asked for behavior records and discipline referrals, and even for state test results and copies a something called individualized education plans; the stuff the Kid was asking for on the application was, according to his journal, breaking privacy laws.

Still, lots a people was applying, and lots a people was also getting angry cause they was having trouble wit the application, getting all the paperwork and whatnot.  Eventually, there was this big friggin protest about the applications outside the Kid’s house during little Sherri’s Christening, which I talked about before.  Now I wanna get back to the part I was saying about the glitch in the address a the charter school, the thing that almost stopped the charter from moving forward.  In May, right after the article came out in Education World, a buncha people not only sent the Kid a buncha emails, but they also tried to call the school and go down there in person.  There was no phone number listed on the website, though, but there was an address.  Course, at the time there was no building, the Kid simply made up an address and put it on the original charter school application that he submitted to the State and School Board; like I says, the Kid didn’t think the charter would ever get approved.  But it did get approved, and so the Kid hadda put down the fake address on the World Peace website, which was something like 12345 Clark Street . . . I forget exactly what it was . . . and left it at that.

This turned out to be a major screw-up, cause these friggin eighth graders and their parents wanted to get into the Kid’s charter so bad that they tracked down the freakin address and actually went there . . . drove their cars and took buses to 12345 Clark Street or wherever the frig it was . . . application in hand, hoping to talk to the Kid about possible admission to the school.  Well, turns out 12345 Clark Street was a goddamn Chinese takeout restaurant—called Chung Lee’s or some shit—and this Chung Lee guy wasn’t very happy about it.  I guess I wouldn’t be, neither, not if all these kids and their parents kept coming in and asking where World Peace Charter High School was, and if I knew Dominic Rossetti, and if I knew where the other 12345 Clark Street was.

He was getting phone calls about it, too.  That’s what they said in the newspaper, that people took the address and did that Internet search to find the phone number.  I wasn’t there to hear the guy answering the phone, but I could imagine how it went:

“Hello, can I help you?”

“Hi, my daughter is interested in attending your charter school next fall, and I have a few questions I need to ask.”

“Scuze me?”

“Yeah, hi.  It says here on your application that she needs to provide a copy of her discipline records all the way back to kindergarten.”

“You!  Why you keep calling my store!”

“Is this World Peace Charter School?”

“No!  This Chung Lee’s!  I call police if you call store again!”

“This isn’t the charter school?”

“No!  Very busy now!  People waiting for order!”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

If this happened once or twice, it wouldn’t be a big deal, see.  But it kept happening to the guy, over and over for like two weeks, people calling and coming in looking for World Peace Charter School, and the Chinaman finally went crazy.  This one time during the dinner rush, an off-duty Philadelphia police officer, who had a son who wanted to get into Dom’s school, started giving Chung Lee shit about one a the essay questions on the application.  Chung Lee apparently snapped, saw red and just snapped, jumped over the counter and went up to the cop and started trying to push him outta the place.  The cop ended up smashing the Chinese guy in the face wit a forearm and knocking out three a his teeth . . . in self defense, he told the newspaper, and the reporter from Action News.  Oh, and by the way, where in the frig is this World Peace Charter High School, anyways?  Does this school even freakin exist?

The next day, after these maggot reporters started sticking there nose into the Kid’s and Tony’s business, word got out that World Peace was really a Chinese restaurant.  The, whatdoyacallit, media, was all over it like white on rice, no offense to Mr. Chung Lee.  The Philadelphia Post wrote a story about it . . . I got it right here, I think, wit the headline reading: Egyptian Math, or Wonton Soup?

Tony heard about—saw it on the news—and actually thought it was friggin hilarious.

“A Chinese takeout joint,” he says, smoking his cigar at his desk.  “Have you ever ordered food from there?  Are they any good?”

The Kid thought he was home free, he wrote in his journal, thought the jig was up.  They was busted, and Tony was prob’ly going down.  Course, that’s not what happened at all.  The chairman of the Philadelphia Unified School District School Board, this guy named Willard Fairweather, calls the Post and says it was prob’ly a paperwork error, that Dom Rossetti had a great reputation and just simply got the address wrong.

“A paperwork glitch,” he said in a follow-up story the next day.  “It’s just an honest mistake.  Obviously, World Peace Charter High School really exists.”  Why did he do it?  Well, maybe cause he owed Tony, but my guess is that he prob’ly thought it really was a mistake by Dom, cause who in their right mind would do something like this on purpose?  And the newspapers believed him, and so did Action News.  They was all just poking fun, after all.  Course there was really a charter school, course there was.  Nobody knew where it was—not even Willard Fairweather—but that was a small fix.  Fairweather would prob’ly make it a point to contact Dom, find out the real address, so the comedian news media folks would stop making them the butt a their jokes.  He would most likely call Dom soon, maybe even this week, or next week, if he was really busy.  They’d get the address, and everything would be fine and dandy.

Part 10  

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