goodbye, Mr. Laudick

Two lines in a paper from the next town over. I guess that’s what happens when you teach other people’s children instead of having your own.

David Laudick was my junior and senior English teacher, my forensics and debate coach, my drama director, and my quiz bowl coach at Scott City High School. He was well read, cultured, formal, slightly imperious. You didn’t screw around in his class — lazy kids hated him. He was sarcastic, difficult, prickly, and fond of terrible puns. He didn’t hesitate to humiliate the unprepared, myself included. God, I loved him for it.

My junior year two seniors from our debate squad took State and my senior year I took State in Forensics in “Prose Interpretation,” something that perhaps you’d have to be a nerdy kid from a small town to appreciate.  Certainly no one will be remaking Hoosiers to commemorate it. Yet it was the first time anyone from SCHS (strictly division 1A, student body: 200? maybe?) had achieved such a thing. That’s because Mr. Laudick drove us the way perhaps only a small-town coach of a small-time activity can. He taped our speeches, delivered exhaustive critiques; ran evening work sessions and paid for the pizza to fuel them out of his pocket; had gatherings at holidays at his home where he showed off his excellent stereo and prog rock collection — oh Mr. Laudick, you weren’t a demonstrative man but I wish I’d hugged you for all of that, at least once.

The last time I visited him he was walking with a cane; diabetes had taken one of his lower legs and when I couldn’t hide my surprise or sadness he brushed them away with his customary dignity. Did he know what he meant to me? I tried to say, but for all the beautiful words he gave me it was never easy to find the ones to tell him that I loved him. I am so sorry for that. He deserves better than some shitty two-line obituary. At the very least, it should have included the word “teacher.” He was one of the toughest — and best — I ever had.

— Melissa


I was raised nominally Jewish in a mostly Catholic neighborhood. I fell in love with the trappings of Catholicism: my friends’ ashed foreheads, their pretty rosary beads. Most of all, it was Mary who got to me. My mother was ill most of my childhood, and I loved the idea of a mother in the sky looking out for me. We had a lovely book on Michaelangelo filled with large plates of the Pieta from every angle, and her beauty and sadness, her love for her child, filled me with a responsive, innocent child’s love. I went to church a few times with friends, but mostly, I just kept Mary in the back of my head as a benevolent protector. I don’t remember ever praying to her, just loving her with a passionate heart.

As I grew up, I learned about other gods, and went to other churches and temples; I always kept an open mind, and frustrated many a would-be spiritual mentor by listening very carefully to what they had to say, then passing on. I’ve attended every kind of service, from tongues-talking Evangelicals to earnest Jehovah’s Witness meetings to Wicca rites. What moves me are people, and the cultures and arts they create in their quest to define the world’s mysteries. I also studied science, and it became very natural to roughly assign experience in a Venn diagram where X was better understood through the lens of science and logic, and Y, through the lens of feeling and art, with quite a bit of overlap on a subject like my mother’s illness. I needed both science and feeling to cope — to understand clearly what was happening to my mother in her biology, and to grieve for it with art and music and human sympathy. I think of my love for Mary as my first faltering steps towards understanding the pain of being human. That’s why the perpetual war between religious and scientific thought, between deism and humanism, is so frustrating. The best of it all is rooted in the impulse to understand, and the worst of it in ego, fear, and shame — and if I have a religious fervor, it’s for those moments when the best wins out — whether because a theory brings sense or a song brings peace into the world where none was before.

— Melissa

olympia, tacoma, seattle (4 shows in 3 days)

it’s like we’re black flag or something.

thg will be doing a weekender up north, so come see us if you can:

April 10, Friday, Olympia Le Voyeur w/ Couer Machant, live active culturz, cool scool, and estocar

April 11, Tacoma KUPS live on the radio, 1 PM PST

April 11, Tacoma Bob’s Java Jive w/ Couer Machant, Tune-yards and Quinn. $5

April 12, Seattle Volcano Fun Box For Winners 8 PM/$3 / Other bands TBA and I have no idea of the cost.

We hope to see ya there. And by “we” we mean Hiram, who will have a show only album for your buying/listening pleasure for $2.

love, thg