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Inspired Contributor
deaver
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎02-04-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

Just got back after a long break.  I'm still saying 'really'.  And yes -- I remember 'cool beans' but I don't think I ever used that one.  lol
Inspired Correspondent
bookloverjb85
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎10-12-2007
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Re: The Heyday of Dag


rkubie wrote:

Benji comments that "the rock" on the beach near his house serves as a racial barrier. White people won't walk much past it. What similar examples can you think of that exist today, even in your own community? How have racial barriers changed in the last 20 years? How have they stayed the same?

 

Do you remember the most outrageous language from your adolescence?

 

Can you appreciate the "poetry" of the grammatically "acrobatic" insults that Benji and his friends hurl at each other? Benji says that they are most devastating because they "detonated between you and the mirror, between you and what you thought everybody was seeing." Why is this so powerful? How does this change (or not) as we get older?

 

Which of Benji's friends is most adept at the insult, and who is most susceptible to it?

 

What role does the handshake play in Benji's crowd?

 

What determines who gets to ride in Randy's car?


I remember using "cool beans" and "really".  Those were someof my big ones.

 

I definitely agree with everyone that NP was the best at throwing the insults and Marcus got the brunt of the insults thrown at him.

 

I believe that Randy does decide who rides in his car but everyone has a sort of say.  They all started giving reasons why they had to ride in the car and I think Randy made his decision based on the best excuses and Marcus' just wasn't a great one.  So therefore Randy made an excuse as to why Marcus couldn't ride in the car.  I think that it is telling that Benji mentioned "Even if there had been only five of us, he might have left Marcus behind."  Again Marcus gets the short end of the stick.

--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

When I was young, I was not allowed to go beyond Avenue "D". That was where the neighborhood changed and the "rough" kids lived. We called them "rocks" I think. The neighborhood I lived in was a ghetto, mostly Jews. Beyond Avenue "D" was mostly not Jews. Our neighborhood was mostly white. My friends had to be Jewish. When I got older, I was rebellious and I sneaked out to see my friends that were of different races, religions and backgrounds. I got into trouble when I got caught but such is life. I raised my kids without any restrictions. They had friends crossing all lines of color, religion, country, etc. Everyone was welcome in my home.
twj

rkubie wrote:

Benji comments that "the rock" on the beach near his house serves as a racial barrier. White people won't walk much past it. What similar examples can you think of that exist today, even in your own community? How have racial barriers changed in the last 20 years? How have they stayed the same?

Frequent Contributor
KCHaughawout
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎02-09-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I don't remember the term dag at all. Cool beans, Chill out, take a chill pill were used alot. I lived in white suburbia even though there was a section 8 housing area within a mile. We were used to seeing african americans at the local grocery store etc. It wasn't unusual where I lived in the 70s.
Karen


"Every burned book enlightens the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Inspired Contributor
fifenhorn
Posts: 36
Registered: ‎01-26-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I think that Dag was Dang, but just sounded like it. I know I get upset when my kiddos say dang (it sounds too close to cursing), and I can see how it might have been "revamped" to be able to say it with a "curse" meaning, yet it didn't sound so bad.  Does that make sense?
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fifenhorn
Posts: 36
Registered: ‎01-26-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I SO agree with this! I grew up in a small community where we had one black man living there, and it was an anomaly. I've also lived in the south, where *I* was the minority. It's hard to have that invisible barrier there. I used to be SURE I was being stared at in the grocery store "what's that white chick doing in here?"...and to be sure, I followed the stereotype...I locked my doors, was paranoid, etc. 

 

 

My outlook has changed on this, but I do see those "mind barriers" as a problem.

Inspired Contributor
fifenhorn
Posts: 36
Registered: ‎01-26-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

One of my issues is that I didn't think the racial barriers were so big back in the 80's. Maybe I'm just naive. I graduated in '85 and joined the Air Force, and I think my basic training group was split 50-50 with blacks and whites. And while we may have congregated to what we knew best, I know I was friendly with everyone, and they were friendly with me.

 

But maybe I just didn't see it. I suppose if I'd have come from a large city, the divide would have been there for me to see.

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KCHaughawout
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎02-09-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

Funny, I joined the Army in 85 and didn't notice the racial barriers either. I was stationed in W. Germany and we were all Americans first. There was a barrier when it came to women and we were REALLY outnumbered then.
Karen


"Every burned book enlightens the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I feel that there are racial barriers or I might call them preferences more so than barriers. Such as religion, the way we worship, our music. And the food we enjoy are different because of the earlier barriers. And maybe that is why we are somewhat distance because of likes and dislikes that were in place back then and still are.  We do not need to be inferior to anyone, that is the reason I am so glad we have turned alot of pages in knowledge to release alot of this ignorance we had against certain races. And its still present, I never would deny that, but things are so very much better. I am thankful for our President who to me is remarkable when it comes to being decisive.  We should never see race as a hindrance but as a asset to be contributed with everyone else's expertise.
Correspondent
bud12
Posts: 52
Registered: ‎01-26-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I think that the best hope for racial barriers to break down is the election of Obama. The pride that so many of us felt, black and white together, that our country was ready for this president, has been truly fantastic. So many conversations have crossed over the  racial barriers since his election. I know that as a caucasian, I have reached out to so many more black Americans to talk about politics or whatever, and I feel that black americans have done the same.  We have celebrated together as could be seen in the crowds at the inauguration.
Jo
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cocospals
Posts: 115
Registered: ‎12-25-2007
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

The racial boundries is hard for me to imagine as I attended an all white high school. I did not associate with those of other ethnic backgrounds until I attended college and by then, that type of "boundry" did not exist. We were all adults (or we wanted to believe we were) and we were all thrown together for a common purpose, to get an education.  My children attended high school in the most ethnically mixed high school in our town, 33 % white, 33% black, 33% hispanic and 1% assorted other backgrounds. They did speak of certain hallways that were difficult to manuver because of people congregating but I don't think there were actual boundries drawn. When my daughter left for college, she called me the first week and thanked me for sending her to that high school because it prepared her for the melting pot that a college is.

 

Who gets to ride shotgun in Randy's car?  Randy gets to pick although in our house it is who "nose goes" first, and my kids are grown ups!

 

I agree NP is the insult king.

 

Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there - John Wooden
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ponkle
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-30-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I think racial barriers are still here but more hidden.  I remember moving from New York to Georgia and my daughter (caucasian) made a friend in school who she invited over to our house. The girl (black) told my daughter she could hang out in school but her parents would not allow her to a white girls house.

Wordsmith
kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag


DSaff wrote:

These are some very thought provoking questions! Racial barriers have changed a lot in the last twenty years, even more so in the last forty. Today there seems to be more room for everyone now. While I think we still have "rocks" to move, I think we are moving forward more often than backward. One of the things that seems to have stayed the same is music. As we read in this book, the boys own certain artists/styles as theirs and to disrespect them is a crime. I think that is the same today.

 

My teens were between the 60's and 70's, and yes, I remember some of our cool terms. <grin> "Bookin', boogie, groovy, right on!, wicked, you dig?, gnarly, and far out" come to mind. I think all teens need a language of their own.  :smileywink: It is the same with the handshake. These boys had a new one every summer and just when you thought someone knew it better than everyone else, you find that everyone is stumbling. (beach scene)

 

The insults seem to be a right of passage between the friends. If you couldn't take it, you weren't part of the group. It seems that NP was the most adept at the insult (maybe due to his nickname) while Marcus was the least adept. Kids pick on others to show how "bad" they are, and sometimes to prevent being picked on. These teens seemed to shower each other with insults to prove each other. I don't think the insults hurt less with age, rather we grow a thicker skin with which to handle them.

 

Randy determined who rode in his car, although the rest of the group jumped in to preserve their spot. Each hoped that Randy and the others would agree with his spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What determines who gets to ride in Randy's car?


 

 

I agreed with so much of what you had to say to these questions.  I appreciate Mr. Whitehead's descriptions/definitions throughout the book.  I especially like the definition of "dag" on page 35-"Dag was bitter acknowledgment of the brutish machinery of the world.  It was a glimpse into the cruel void, as evidenced by the fact that it was often followed by, "That was cold.'"  I just retired from a Minnesota suburban school district where much of the curriculum focus was on closing the achievement gap between black students and white students.  I would still call this a racial barrier.

 

I also agree as has been pointed out in many of these responses, that every generation has its slang and gestures (handshakes, thumbs up, etc.)  It is a way for the next generation to seperate itself and make themselves unique.  This was true for Benji's group in that they wanted to be different from the adults in Sag Harbor but also want to be different from whites and street blacks.

 

Good, thought provoking questions.

 

Kathy 

Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems on both sides of the racial issue  their is more acceptance and respect

for each others opinions than before the election. It seems there is a calmer atmosphere when we pass one another on the street and usually always a smile is generated and received by the other with a return smile. I am caucasion but it just seems from the day of the election, the africian american person is saying "see we are all the same and the election just proved it"  And do I solemnly agree full heartly. I think Obama is great and is making an excellent leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


bud12 wrote:
I think that the best hope for racial barriers to break down is the election of Obama. The pride that so many of us felt, black and white together, that our country was ready for this president, has been truly fantastic. So many conversations have crossed over the  racial barriers since his election. I know that as a caucasian, I have reached out to so many more black Americans to talk about politics or whatever, and I feel that black americans have done the same.  We have celebrated together as could be seen in the crowds at the inauguration.

 

Inspired Correspondent
libralady
Posts: 159
Registered: ‎09-23-2008
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I think racial barriers still exist at some level, although I think they may be more perceived than real, but I feel they still exist.  I still hear people say things like, "black people can't live in that neighborhood", or "blacks don't go to that college", and "black people don't play that sport."  I think that the current generation is less concerned about race than past generations.
"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
Frequent Contributor
x-tempo
Posts: 102
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag


rkubie wrote:

Benji comments that "the rock" on the beach near his house serves as a racial barrier. White people won't walk much past it. What similar examples can you think of that exist today, even in your own community? How have racial barriers changed in the last 20 years? How have they stayed the same?

 



I can't find a place where Benji calls the rock a "racial barrier." Instead, I think I agree with "cocospals" that the rock seems to demarcate a boundary, albeit one with different meanings for different people. For example, to the parents the rock marks the limits for where the kids can play and still remain in sight. I don't consider the boys' opinions very reliable because they're acting out fantasy scenarios about outsiders or interlopers.
 
White people who sometimes wander away from the public beach turn back when they reach the rock, but why and who are they? Tourists who don't know "the rules"? I think the implication is that upon seeing only African Americans on the beach the strollers feel out of place and turn around. But what would happen if one day the "white" people (either foreigners or Hispanics from NYC) stopped turning around, would they be trespassing on private property? I don't understand if the unwanted visitors have been told beforehand about an African American section of the beach and that they should either respect people's privacy and turn around, or be afraid for some reason.
 
There is a generational change from the boomer parents, born in the late-1940s, early-1950s when many beaches and communities were overtly segregated, to the boys who've grown up attending integrated or even "predominantly white" (the author puts the phrase in quotation marks because it's an underestimation) schools. In other words, for the first time in their lives probably, they're experiencing living in a segregated community and they're feeling protective of it. Why?  
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

Distinguished Correspondent
lmpmn
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎11-08-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

"Dag" is definitely a word I remember from my youth.  I spent my middle school and junior high years in north Alabama.  I'm estimating that the population was 60% black/40% white in our school.  I also LOVED the lesson on insulting collages!  I remember kids who could come up with the best put-downs just like that, and I always wanted to be able to do it.  I was never creative enough!  lol  This chapter made me laugh a lot--it made me remember things from my adolescence (some fond memories, others not so fond).

Happiness is a warm blanket!
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Dances_through_Books
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I have to agree with the lift of consciousness and hope with the election of Obama. I was so happy when he was named the winner of the election.

I was born around the era that Ben was a teenager; but in the book through his experience and through my own experience I believe his generation and mine have become more and more "color-blind" exponentially as each generation comes into its own.  I am speaking mostly towards those in the generation (i.e. the children).  I was brought up in my generation that we are all deserving, all the same, and all deserve the American Dream though our own hard work and determination, regardless of your skin color, religion, or socio-economic background.  It seems the adults in the book tend to have the most problem with Ben's "race."  I know and have experience this, even though the area I grew up in and reside in, is pretty homogenous, small town, mostly caucasian.  College was so great, because there were so many different types of people I could meet and become friends with; and the environment was even more welcoming.

 

With the car situation, the driver always is in power. The driver decides who gets shotgun and who gets left out. 

 

I enjoyed the "car wars" because it brought up the "family/sibling" factor amongst the boys. They were friends, and not brothers by birth, but without parental supervision they did revert to sibling relationships dependent upon power roles.

 

In my generation slang: cool, dude, ......Not!, seriously, talk to the hand, awesome, whoa, no way!

Inspired Contributor
Coral50
Posts: 160
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

Benji seemed like a real nerdy type of kid to me.  Did anyone else get this impression.

 

Hi Mytwoblessings, Yes, I believe Benji is a bit nerdie but more of a follower.

 

Cora

New User
Tripp
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎02-04-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I agree that Benji is a nerd. he likes D&D and Fangoria, which puts him in the nerd camp, as it put me there back in the day.

 

I also agree that racial barriers exist, and they are all the more sad because the kids in the story aren't that different from the white kids on the other side of Sag Harbor.