Discovery of the Ancient Aztec City, "Cocciaquotes."
my teachers were all fairly decent people, contributing to the betterment of society and putting up with my smart ass. but they were all interchangeable cogs; with the charisma of exam proctors and the wit of receptionists. There was however Mr. Jim Coccia. falling far short of changing my life, he took a miserable career peddling US History onto 11th graders and turned it into a 9-month long running gag of absurdist historical critique. You were either in on the joke or you weren't. And the back row of the class; matt spence, nick mcdowell, bryan o'connor, and (i'll need a conformation on this one) eric schroeck, were definitely in on the joke.
the joke was, "you listen to what your teachers say and believe its true. well guess what, kiddies, i can say all kinds of weird ass shit." at some point far too late in the school year (i say october, admittedly missing a month or so of priceless gems) i began creating a list of his best pronouncements. when i would miss school, bryan would be my substitute scribe. the list grew by the months, as Coccia became aware we were doing it, to a dozen pages. it seemed every day he would let at least three politically incorrect napalm raids rain down on our impressionable minds.
there was a running gag where he swore there was a man living in his file cabinet. that if he opened it to show us something in there (usually an ancient newspaper clipping proving one of his wild assertions) the man would escape. there was one class where he announced his address, telephone number, and social security number, just to challenge us to do something with it. he would sit and do crosswords on days he didn't want to teach; never bothering to give us the historical background of the film he would put in unless it contained brief glimpses of nudity. by the time i got to his class, all hope for my high school teaching staff and my fellow classmates had been washed down the drain. fortunately, Mr. Coccia felt the exact same way.
compiled on 02.26.1997, this is the only relic i have of the original quote list. long before my class with Coccia was over and long before I stopped scratching down his beautiful altruisms, this was all i'd managed to type out. a brief taste of his madness. i remember when i went through my old packard bell six months ago and transferred the file to the new computer. my first reaction was, "it couldn't have aged well." i was wrong. this is still a mighty stiff drink to swallow. hailing from an era when the teachers beat you if you misbehaved, or at least claiming to be from such an era, Coccia beat the living shit out of us with his acidic wit. I share with you now the remaining twenty off-the-cuff, out of context (although I try on some) "Cocciaquotes."
20. [on girl scout cookies]
"Does anybody want to do my ironing? When the girl scouts come to my door, I tell them I don't want any of their cookies, but if they'd like to make some real money, there are some shirts down in the basement waiting for them."
19. [to two sisters, twins, whose parents he found out were from the Ukraine]
"Do you speak Ukranian? Really? Are you going to teach your kids Ukrainian? You don't know. You don't know if you're even going to have kids. (aside) At least for 9 months you don't."
18. [after handing in our 20-page month-long research project]
"Here's how I'm going to grade your papers. I'm going to set them down on my desk with a bottle of red wine. I'm going to grade three papers and have a glass of wine, grade three papers and have a glass of wine. You better hope you're on the bottom of the pile."
17. [on retirement]
"I retire in three years, goddamnit. Three years you won't even have jobs yet. Three years there won't even be any jobs."
16. [about the harper's ferry uprising]
“John Brown ran out of rifles so he gave the freed slaves spears. John Brown and his spear chuckers! Made ‘em a bunch of spear chuckers!”
15. [ no idea, but in 97 i wrote 'reference to gone with the wind']
“They wanted one who could drop 8 or 10 kids. And she’d say, ‘I ain’t know how to birth-a no babies!’”
14. [on our goverment's policies toward native americans]
“There all dead anyway. Hell with the Indians!”
13. [on his cat]
“Hate my cat, can’t wait for it to die.”
12. [on the furnace in his childhood home]
“Have you ever seen one of those really old wood stoves? Of course you haven't. The way they used to make em, the furnace would blow apart and kill your mother. Every day I'd come home from school and wonder if my mother was dead.”
11. [on a day nick mcdowell was absent]
“We scared him away, sent him back to Iowa. Good!”
10. [after a pointless rant about spiderplants, a dialogue between nick and coccia]
Mr. Coccia: I love spiderplants because you just chop up the mother and replant it. That's how nature works."
McDowell: “Mr. Coccia, how are babies made?”
Mr. Coccia: “Chop up the mother, put her in the ground.”
9. [to mcdowell, because he was 6'4" and from Iowa]
"Your mom sure fed you your corn. Look at you."
8. [on his 18th birthday]
“For my eighteenth birthday, my old man slipped me a 5 dollar bill. I went out and bought a pack of Parliament’s and a Playboy.”
7. [to michelle barber, a petite girl who needed to use the bathroom. the bathroom pass was an old stovetop clothes-iron] “Like that pass, weighs more than you. (to class) On windy days she carries rock in her pockets!”
6. [claiming to have cut wood treated with arsenic, that made his hand swell up, requiring a trip to the emergency room]
5. [on the civil war]
4. [winter vacations]
“What did you do on your winter vacations? I remember my winter vacations. Mostly just ended up drinking beer.”
3. [on the job he had one vacation, changing lightbulbs at a state-owned warehouse]
“We were only allowed to change six lightbulbs an hour, that was the quota. So we'd change em all in 20 minutes, and spend the rest of the day screwing over the taxpayers and the government.”
2. [on his career choice]
“Retire at age 42 and get 10% more working for the state, or get 10% less and retire at 55 teaching at Queensbury. And guess which one I picked!” (Smacks himself in the head)
1. [on coal mines and labor laws]
“Miners? Ever heard of miners!?! You know, they'd mine the ore, die.”