no dark sarcasm
My father was a teacher for as long as I knew him. An inner-city horrible kids pulling knives and guns on him kind of school. No wonder he died early. Most of the time hed have to spend his own money to copy tests because the one aged copier was out of toner or paper or just plain broken. They had to go to a temporary building for earthquake renovations for Eight Years! This was not a good school. But apparently my dad was a kick-ass teacher, despite his mostly unruly troubled shitty students.
I was a pretty good student, I like to think. I got kicked out quite often for talking or passing notes. But I generally got good grades and only cut every so often and usually did the homework. I did cheat on nearly every test though. I wrote all the answers on my shoes. And I was all about Cliffs Notes.
And looking back, while I resented being there in the way every kid does, I enjoyed school. And besides the fact that most of my attention was on variably girls, weed, and dodgeball, I can look back and say I had some really great teachers
Kindergarten: Mrs. Soo. I brought a snowglobe for show and tell, and found that it had broken on the walk from home. I sat in her lap and cried.
1st and 2nd: Mrs. Houck. Shocking red-hair. (Maybe thats why I love red-heads!) We raised Monarch butterflies in class. Cool.
3rd: Mrs. Wong. Dont remember much. Our kickball team kicked-ass, though.
4th: Ah. Mrs. Levy. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Canadian. Young. Big breasts. Wacky. Shed lead us in aerobics for some reason. Damon Wong was in front one day during jumping jacks: "I saw her pahnties!!! I saw her pahnties!!!" She made us learn the Provinces of Canada. One day handed out xerox drawings of the female reproductive system. Robert Nolden asked her if its possible for a man to pee inside a woman during sex. Its a question that I still wonder about to this day. Rumor had it she was fucking the principal, Mr. Caligary.
5th & 6th: Mrs. Levin/Susmeyer. She got married mid-year. Smoked like a chimney. Like a house afire. Like me this Saturday night (Im quitting Sunday).
(Switched to Period System. Most memorable )
7th: Mrs. Szafranski. English. Made us write in a personal journal every day. I still have it. Hey, I think: I can write a little! Mr. Terranova. Music teacher. Made me play tuba instead of trumpet for 2 years because I was the only kid big enough. Devin and I worked as his helpers for a period. He illegally sent us off campus to buy him coffee and cigarettes every day. Vaguely afraid he wanted to molest us.
8th: Mr. Moore. Tennis teacher. Sounded like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. Great tennis player. Butchered our names daily:
"Hey, you boy! Riles. Giles. Jiles. Gidle
Mr. Hamilton. Jazz teacher/Ensemble leader. The word "Cat" was meant for this guy. Looked like the lead singer of Cameo. "Word up!" Took every chart at around 190 beats. Even the ballads. Whipped our 19 poor asses into a top notch ensemble. Second best in the nation, baby. We traveled in our own cars to festivals, showed up wearing sweatpants and hangovers, and kicked everyones asses. And that was "Hams" doing. (Plus the fact that Berkeley had a great elementary school music program. Had.)
Mr. Sayles. English, and a class called World Of Media. Looked just like Charles Manson it was a bit frightening. Showed us King Of Comedy, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation. Played us Ella Fitzgerald and Charles Mingus. When Sara Vaughn died we did nothing but listen to her for a week. When someone brushed against poet Langston Hughes name on the blackboard by mistake, he took it as a huge offense against humanity and sent us all home. I made a short video for him which he still shows to his students each year.
Mr. Rose. English and Short Story. He turned me on to Twin Peaks, Raymond Carver, and Shakespeare. He did this, not my drama teacher, who was a little troll who can go fuck herself for never giving me more than a small part until Senior year when I got to turn her down. Ha ha ha. This troll of a woman backed over her own dog 3 different Times!!! Ha ha ha. She almost single-handedly killed my early dreams of becoming an actor. Almost
Mr. Gurland. War and Morality. Looked like Pete Rose. Talked like Gilbert Gotfried. Brilliant class. Remember nothing from it, but I know it was a brilliant class.
Elizabeth Browning. Acting. Taught me 70% of what I know. Taught me to be a better person. Dont want to over-glamorize my experiences in New York with her, but last time I went back, I visited her, and immediately got teary.
Andrea Haring. Voice. Opened my voice in a most profound way. It is now one of my most powerful weapons.
Todd London. Big afro. Opened me to contemporary playwrights in a way Id never been before. Taught me that while the past is important, watch the Now, baby. Because of him, I pretty much know at all times whats going on in New York Theatre, though I am in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, some 3000 miles away.
The Larry King Happy