It came to (and, it should be noted, faded from) the national attention that San Diego resident John Corcoran taught high school in California for 17 years without being able to read, write, or spell. A college graduate, Corcoran’s secret illiteracy began in grade school and lasted for almost five decades. “I can remember when I was 8 years old saying my prayers at night saying, ‘Please, God, tomorrow when it’s my turn to read please let me read,'” says Corcoran. “You just pretend that you are invisible and when the teacher says, ‘Johnnie read,’ you just wait the teacher out because you know the teacher has to go away at some point.”
After cheating his way through high school while dating the valedictorian, Corcoran received an athletic scholarship to Texas Western College and continued cheating his way to a bachelor’s degree in education. Corcoran’s evaluation of his own pedagogical style is upbeat: “What I did was I created an oral and visual environment. There wasn’t the written word in there,” says Corcoran. “I always had two or three teacher’s assistants in each class to do board work or read the bulletin.”
After leaving teaching and working as a successful real estate developer, Corcoran finally chose to terminate his life in the grip of his handicap by studying with a tutor at a literacy center coordinated by the Carlsbad City Library. A year of tutelage allowed him to read at a sixth-grade level, and we can only hope that he has since exceeded that milestone. Of his triumph, Corcoran says: “I’m just an optimistic hopeful person that believes in the impossible and miracles.”
Corcoran now works as an education advocate, with an eponymous foundation and two books under his belt: “The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read” and “Bridge to Literacy.” “As a teacher, it really made me sick to think that I was a teacher who couldn’t read,” Corcoran said. “It is embarrassing for me, and it’s embarrassing for this nation and it’s embarrassing for schools that we’re failing to teach our children how to read, write and spell.”
This is the stuff of epic local news, the torment and humiliation of a man against his own inertia writ tiny. The story between the lines, the ones about which we can only speculate, takes on a certain micro-scale tragedy of its own: the John Corcoran who ordered meals at restaurants with dates, who bought Revolver in 1966 and couldn’t read the tracklist, who doled out knowledge to his students not in words and paragraphs, but in high-fives and colorful drawings, who obtained a driver’s license–these are the characters at the margins of the margins of national news toward whom we find ourselves strangely drawn.
The Corcoran story, the most popular story on the website of San Diego’s 10 News at the time the Nassau Weekly went to press, features a photo of Corcoran sporting a pair of reading glasses and hovering above what we are meant to believe is a meaty tome. There is also a video detailing Corcoran’s story, but it remains, among those present and interested in the Nassau Weekly office, unwatched.
Cinnamon Dolce Lattes will never be the same. Now, one can enjoy the sweet, silky taste of one’s favorite Starbucks beverage (yes, they are all sweet and silky) while accessing the US’s largest Wi-Fi network. A good cup of Starbucks’ slow-roasted “Organic Shade Grown Mexico” coffee with wireless Internet access was once a pleasure only afforded in the comfort of your own home, if that. Now, you can have it all! Due to a very recently announced deal between America’s largest wireless network, AT&T and the world’s largest coffeehouse, Starbucks, for the first two hours of one’s undoubtedly incredible Starbucks experience, wireless internet will be free of charge (if you have a Starbucks Card or are a qualifying AT&T customer)! However, after that, there will be a nominal fee – but not more than you paid for your Venti Caramel Macchiato.
Over 7,000 Starbucks-owned stores will be added to the AT&T Wi-FiSM network and over 100,000 Starbucks partners will receive free AT&T Wi-Fi accounts. This deal comes on the heels of a contract between Apple’s iTunes and Starbucks, in which Starbucks’ totally hip and popular Hear Music became available for preview, purchase and download on iTunes. However, wireless Internet is nothing new for this Goliath of the coffeehouse crowd. For a couple of years now, T-Mobile HotSpots have been available at most Starbucks locations – offering, as starbucks.com says, “blazing speeds […] from the comfort of your favorite chair.” However, with T-Mobile Hotspots, the relatively high cost for accessing the Internet (unless you are a T-Mobile customer) was often a deterrent for many customers.
“I mean, I love having a steaming cup of Decaf Komodo Dragon with my freshly baked Starbucks bagel – toasted, obvi. And I don’t mind paying the 15 dollars for it. But, to add another 12-dollar charge just access the Internet? I’ll just use my BlackBerry!” loyal Starbucks patron, Atsi S. Rab said.
Although other chain coffee shops and cafes like The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Costa Coffee have offered free Wi-Fi access for quite some time, Starbucks is still on the cutting edge!
“Uh – so?” a very high-up executive who wished to off the record said when asked about the competition’s use of free Wi-FI. “We’re still the coolest. Who else has chessboards built into their tables? Not Seattle’s Best. Oh wait, we own that, too!”
But, it’s not just the customers that are excited about this new deal with AT&T. Baristas across America have voiced their approval of the new Wi-Fi service. In addition to 2007’s nomination to the very esteemed Forbes Magazine list of The 100 Best Companies to Work For, Starbucks also received the “Huge Pat on the Back” Award from Baristas Union International for corporate responsibility and “partner” relations.
“I think it’s great that Starbucks has free Internet. I mean, life as a barista is difficult. You’re constantly standing, getting coffee, making espressos, you know, what baristas do. Although I won’t get to use the free Wi-Fi service as an employee, I still appreciate what Starbucks is doing for its customers holding Starbucks Cards and qualified AT&T customers,” Rica Tarrazu, a five-year barista in the Mendham, NJ Starbucks, said.
Service is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2008 in all Starbucks company-owned stores. Next on the docket – more wall-sockets for all the laptops people (well, people with Starbucks Cards and qualified AT&T customers) will be using to access their two free hours of Internet!
– Colin Pfeiffer