An Interview with My High School English Teacher

Nicholas Lograsso went back to the past to revisit one of his most influential figures. Mr. Lamerto, if you’re reading this, thank you!

Hi readers, listeners? KCRr’s? Never written a blog before but here goes. If you are wondering why I decided to write this now, there is little story behind it. I joined KCR four years ago and looking back I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I ended with such a positive experience and being connected to people through the music. My experience here reminded me of someone influential during my time in high school. My English teacher, Mr. Lamerato, who would always try to make our class more enjoyable by retelling stories of his time in college and exposing us to some of the music he holds dear. Also, I might have used the intro he began class with as the intro for our radio show. This was another reason I wanted to give him a visit as I felt that he had a right to know after four years. 

Nick: So, how are you? 

John: Doing well, sixteenth year at St. Augustine High School and yeah just wrapping up another school year.  

N: So, I have a confession to make…since I know the greeting you use for your classroom is so iconic. I might have, possibly, stolen that for a wonderful intro for our radio show.  

J: I love it that’s great. It’s the sincerest form of flattery.  

N: You’re not going to retract my grade? *laughing* 

J: No, I will not retract your grade *laughs* That’s awesome, I’m glad something I taught you is of use, years later. 

N: There’s definitely more than that*laughs* Cool, glad that didn’t go in a totally different direction. Alright first question, what are some of the artists that shaped your college experience? 

J: In college, I was finally on my own. So I had a little more free time to do what I wanted to do. Also I had friends in different colleges that allowed me to have a reason to road trip somewhere. So I’d say the band that probably defined my college experience would be the Dave Matthews Band and that was because when they released Before These Crowded Streets which I want to say was released in 1998. That became probably their highest grossing album and at that time they were touring and selling out places like Soldier Field, two night in a row. So that was the height of their career and that was the height of me having some money and having the freedom to actually follow a band for the first time. Still a huge Counting Crows fan, during my time that was a big deal and probably the start of Radiohead and Coldplay at that time. So I remember exchanging CD’s with people, which I know don’t really exist anymore, but I remember this girl sent me a package that had Coldplay’s first album Parachutes and Radiohead’s OK Computer and I had never heard of either band. So to get that in one package and be exposed to that was amazing. 

NDo you think you would have had the same college experience if you did not discover those artists? 

J: Um, that’s a good question. I’m probably the wrong guy to ask because to me music is completely intertwined with my life. So any major life moment that has a soundtrack to it, certain songs can immediately take you back to a place. So, as an example, Third Eye Blind’s first album Third Eye Blind that came out right when I stepped onto a college campus and they actually did their first tour and came to my university (Central Michigan University). So whenever I hear that album, I immediately think of studying for honors pre-calculus on a college campus, living with my roommates, getting use to that whole lifestyle. I remember vividly in my sophomore year we went to Dave Matthews in Gran Rapids, which is about two hours away. We were nerds so we were in these honors classes and actually came back the next morning for class. So the whole general connection we had, a lot of that centered on the music. So I think no, I think music intertwines and defines a lot of what we do and becomes a soundtrack.  

N: Has your music taste changed at all? Or do you still listen to the same artists and bands? 

J: I think one of my biggest challenges is being married, having kids, having more responsibilities, not being in college has been staying on the cutting edge of new bands that are coming out. So one of my favorite things is to go to The Casbah (a venue here in Downtown San Diego). The only way you are going to see a show at The Casbah of a band you like is that you have to be on the cutting edge, so it has to be their first tour. They have to be small enough but also big enough, they have to fall in a small niche that fits that. I unfortunately don’t have the time to be as invested in that. I do try to stay open to new bands. Probably my favorite “newish” band is a band is called Lord Huron. They are more of like a folk-type band, love them. The War On Drugs, their last album is when I finally got into them, which is an amazing album. I try to keep an open mind, but I still end up often going back to the bands as previously mentioned. I went to the Metric show on SDSU’s campus not too long ago and I was super impressed by Zoé, which is a Mexican band that opened for them. So still piecemealing a few bands but not necessarily cutting edge.  

N: Would you say music defines who you are? 

J: I wouldn’t say music defines who I am. I think what you say, how you act, what you do, defines who you are as a person. I do say that music influences me, influences my mood, influences what I’m doing. I would say it also provides me the atmosphere I live in. So I wouldn’t say it defines me as a person, but defines the world I live in.  

NIf you had a chance to experience college one more time what would you do differently? 

J: To me one of the biggest bummers of college, but when you’re living it, it’s hard to understand how unique that situation is. What I mean by that is living with your friends most likely or some of the time. You most likely don’t have a full-time job so you’re doing these classes which are challenging and keep you busy, but you’re not obligated to be up at 6:00 am every day. What would I do differently? Not much to be honest, I went to a college where it was a college-town compared to SDSU which is in a major city. The people who enjoy college are the ones that stay over the weekends, who involve themselves. Whether that means going to a football game, whether that means seeing a speaker on campus, whether that means going to a show on campus. The ones who hated college or just didn’t like were the ones that got their cars packed and headed home each weekend. So I think the immersion of it, which is what I did, is something that I think is the key to enjoying or not enjoying it and I really wouldn’t change it. I had an awesome, unbelievable 5 years of college and would love to do it again. At the same time I’m very blessed and happy with where I am in life right now.  

N: Ok, one last question, what is music to you? 

J: To me, music sets the mood. So if I’m in the gym, I have a specific playlist. If I am relaxing in the evening, I have a certain playlist. If I’m on a road trip, I have a certain playlist. So to me it is a mood setter and accentuates the situation that I’m in.  

Written by: Nicholas Lograsso 

Soundtrack to Dating: Best and Worst Date Stories

Soundtrack to Dating

Sound serves as one of the most important aspects to memory. In particular, songs help mark memorable moments in our lives, especially when it comes to dating.

The idea of songs and love together isn’t a new one. For as far as we can remember, after we had all started putting our tendrils into the sticky situation otherwise known as love, we would oftentimes ask each other “what’s your song?” Even today, couples put significance on the song most representative of a particular moment within their relationship. A “Soundtrack to Dating” if you will. And sometimes, after the relationship has soured, or after a particularly nasty incident, that song is forever ruined in the person’s mind. With that being said, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we asked members of KCR what songs they would include in their soundtrack to dating. Or, more specifically, we asked them what songs represent their best and worst dates, and why. Below are their stories.

The Best of the Soundtrack to Dating:

The Sound – The 1975

This song takes me back to my high school days, driving around downtown Seattle with my friends. The 1975 connected me with friends that I will have for a lifetime, and every time I re-listen to their first album, I am transported to my grunge days in the rainy city. This song, however, is off their second album and I will always remember the first time I heard it. I won a concert through a local radio station to meet the entire band, ask them questions, and hear a preview of their second album. As I sat next to my best friend (whom I had met at the very first 1975 concert), with the band sitting directly in front of me, I remember feeling euphoric in ways I can’t describe.

-Brittany Roache

Cherry Wine – Born Ruffians

This song takes me back to hanging out in my boyfriend’s bedroom, staring into each other’s eyes. I’m so serious. We do that sometimes. No talking, just staring. Uber romantic. 10/10 would recommend. And this is the perfect background song when you want to feel young and in love, but not sappy and tender.

-Monica Vigil

In My Dreams – Kali Uchis

I went on a date with a close friend of mine and while we did not end up dating, it felt like such a perfect date with no problems. This song comes to mind whenever I look back at how nice it felt having that date & remembering the friendship I have with that person now.

-Sofia Gomez

Baby I’m Bleeding – JPEGMAFIA

Okay, this one is a bit unconventional, so bear with me. One of my favorite dates was with someone who I never saw again. We met up for tacos and it felt like we really hit it off. As I’m walking her to her car, we decide let’s go to Target “for fun.” And so, we raced each other to the closest Target (for the sake of integrity, I’ll just say that I won), and then explored. After we finished, I jokingly said, “you know there’s more than one Target we can go to.” We drove probably 15 miles going to three different Targets, just wandering around and laughing. When we finally tired of that, I suggested tea from a place I loved. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the spot, and took us to a spot I’d never been before. The tea was good at least, and we spent another couple hours talking. Afterwards, we decided to walk around. I revealed that I like to (badly) rap/sing, and for whatever reason, chose this song to demonstrate to her. I don’t think she was impressed, but I at least had the decency to censor myself throughout. She (a very pasty white girl), on the other hand, didn’t have that same filter, and instead dropped the N-word a couple of times in whatever song she decided to sing. When I kissed her goodbye, that was it. No sparks, no chemistry. It was awkward, and we never saw each other again. But in all honesty, ignoring that random act of racism and just lackluster ending, the rest of that date was really nice.

-Peter Swan

The Worst of the Soundtrack to Dating:

Cocaine – FIDLAR

The worst date I’ve ever been on was a second date that occurred two months after the first. Maybe that should’ve been a red flag. It started off okay at a karaoke bar in North Park, so we decided to head down the street to Coin Op. As we sat among the retro arcade games, things began to rapidly deteriorate. It all stemmed from me jokingly calling myself boring. That’s when he asked if I wanted to do cocaine. At Coin Op. On a Tuesday. I declined and it was all downhill from there. He said I seemed like the cliché of a girl who needs to get out of her shell. He said I should act more interested in people if I want to be interesting. He said it didn’t seem like I was having a good time. Shockingly, I wasn’t having a good time. Despite all of this mildly traumatizing psychoanalysis, I stuck around and even let him drive me home. Sometimes you just don’t want to pay for a Lyft.

-Andrea Renney

The Climb Miley Cyrus

I went hiking with a guy and it was a very intense hike. I was out of breath the whole time and it was almost impossible to keep a conversation, so I associate that song with that date.

-Nina Capuani

Paralyzer – Finger Eleven

If there is one piece of advice you take from this piece of modern literature, it’s to NEVER date a girl who works at a Harley Davidson dealership. About a year ago I was in a relationship with one of these aforementioned dames and on this particular occasion she decided to invite me to a party at her work. I was really excited at the time because I thought it would be a great chance to meet some of the people who were close to her, but as I was soon to find out, these were not the kind of people I was going to be fond of. Due to the nature of the dealership, the party was filled to the brim with biker gangs who all found my girlfriend pretty attractive. While this is usually a positive scenario, it seems to me that being in a gang sort of means the boundaries of being a decent human being get a bit blurry. The whole night I was walking around with my date, these kind gentlemen would stop by to slap her ass and flirt with her, right in front of me, the worst part being she was laughing and flirting back all the while. I even brought up to her how strange it all was and she said this behavior was commonplace at Harley parties. She had a great time. I did not. Worst date ever.

-Anonymous

Just a Friend – Biz Markie

We had only been on a few dates, but just by hearing the title of the song, you can probably guess where our relationship headed. The way the song is performed through vocals and instrumental as well as the lyrics brings me back exactly to when I hung out with this girl before and during college. Meanwhile, the chorus of the song is something I, and likely many others, can chant for days. Because of how relatable this song is, and how well performed it is, this remains one of my favorite songs to this day, even if it reminds me of a really lame time in my life.

-Christian Scognamillo

Kiss Me Thru the Phone – Soulja Boy

Once I was on a date at a bar with a guy I thought was too straight laced and boring, like a bran muffin in human form. And then this song came on and he said “oh this is that song by super boy.” SUPER BOY! Needless to say, I got out of there ASAP.

-Sarah Anderson

4 Your Eyez Only – J Cole

I know this is cheating but I once had sex to J Cole’s “4 Your Eyez Only” album. I was given the options of that or Led Zepplin (I love led Zepplin and I was not trying sully that love) so I chose J Cole. That was the one and only time I ever listened to that album. The only good thing I could say about that album is that it lasted longer than the guy, but trust me, before I left the album hadn’t finished, and neither had I.

-Julie Cappiello

Written by: Peter Swan