So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Many are the times wherein the Fruit of My Loins have heard that hackneyed yet nonetheless dreaded query from friends & family. [1]

No, that's fruit of my loins.... 

No, that’s fruit of my LOINS….

And many are the reassurances K and Belle have received from me: they do not have to answer that question, nor should they be concerned if they haven’t the slightest idea how to answer that question:

Sure, some kids know at age five or nine that they want to be a firefighter/doctor/teacher/Amway distributor [2] when they grow up, but they are in the minority.  Besides, with today’s ever-changing, technology and innovation-driven economy, many of the jobs you and your friends will have are yet to be imagined.  Your dad couldn’t (and in fact didn’t) say, “I want to be one of the Pentium Processor Test Design Engineers when I grow up,” because there were no such creatures when he was growing up.

*   *   *

The previous and following segues are courtesy of my having recently read actor/director Diane Keaton’s memoir, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty.

REALLY

Really.

Keaton writes in a loose, candid, wittily self-deprecating, conversational style that I find enjoyable, if not, how you say, eruditely challenging.  Confession: my reasons for reading her current memoir (and previous memoir, Then Again) have little to do with my never-ending quest for literary stimulation…and everything to do with my being one of the few people on the planet who gets a kick out of reading her numerous Santa Ana references. [3]  Keaton’s family lived in Santa Ana; she graduated from Santa Ana High School, as I did.  But way before [4] I did.  Ahem.

Which brings me to yet another book by yet another SAHS alumnus.  I am currently reading Weedland by Peter HechtSubtitled Inside America’s Marijuana Epicenter and How Pot Went Legit, the book, as per one blurb, [5] documents “…the Wild West culture of California’s marijuana industry.”

WEEDLAND

The same enthusiastic blurb-writer hails Weedland as “essential reading for anyone who is a fan of California’s most lucrative agricultural product.”  Which, I am not. [6]  However, I am a fan of Peter Hecht. [7]

I’ve known (and admired and adored) Pete since junior high school.  He was one of my buddies from a group of friends and acquaintances I still think of as the high school journalism gang.

The Write Stuff

Neither K nor Belle have ever brought home (or even mentioned, sans my prompting) their high school’s newspaper. They both know I’d written for my school paper. [8]  They know it was a “real” newspaper, with separate pages (and editors and reporters) devoted to news stories, editorial/opinion pieces, entertainment/feature and sports writing. They know that when The Generator, Santa Ana High School’s award-winning biweekly newspaper, was distributed in the school’s classrooms, the teachers and students stopped what they were doing and read it, cover to cover.  They know that students’ parents also read the high school newspaper, and that The Generator ran stories with enough substance to garner parental interest… and complaints.

(“I can’t believe what your reporter/ smart aleck columnist ____ wrote about! That’s no subject fit for a high school newspaper!”) [9]

1975GEN

They know all of this because of the stories I’d told them.  And they could not bear to disappoint me when it came to their own school’s pitiful excuse for fishwrap newspaper.

Son K, ever the diplomat, laid it out for me after my third or fourth Why-don’t-you-ever-bring-your-school-newspaper-home? whine petition.

Mom, our school’s newspaper sucks.  It’s embarrassing…nothing in it but rah-rah stories…no one reads it and no one cares.”

Student newspaper fail.

Student newspaper fail.

*   *   *

Think back to your high school history, chemistry, English or PE classes:  how many of those classmates went on to become historians or chemists or English teachers or professional athletes?  It still amazes me to think of how many of my peers who wrote for The Generator went on to pursue careers in journalism in one form or another:

* Scott Harris, former Los Angeles Times and San Jose Mercury reporter/columnist, Scott is currently one of “The Expat Files” contributors, living in/freelancing from Hanoi;

* Janis Carr, longtime Orange County Register sportswriter;

* Tim Ferguson, – Wall St. Journal reporter and current Forbes editor;

* Victor Cota, reporter for the Orange County Register [10]

* Phil Blauer, So-Cal area news anchor;

* Deborah Franklin, “my” editor, [11] whom I greatly admire for finding a way to combine her two loves, science and journalism.  Instead of (as the dubious voices advised) dumping one to concentrate on the other, Franklin became a science and medical reporter. Her works appear in a variety of venues, from VIA to NPR to Scientific American.

…and oodles of others I’m probably forgetting.

Three of those previously mentioned: Back row: the striped shirt and boyish-grin belong to Tim Ferguson; front row: L, Pete get-a-load-of-that-1974-hair Hecht; R Scott Harris, who was engaged in a campaign to get me to leave student government ("The BOC") and join The Generator staff, which almost excuses explains his scribbled commentary; second from R, Janis Carr.

Three of those previously mentioned: Back row: the striped shirt and boyish-grin belong to Tim Ferguson; front row: L, Pete get-a-load-of-that-1974-hair Hecht; R Scott Harris, who was engaged in a campaign to get me to leave student government (“The BOC”) and join The Generator staff, which almost excuses his scribbled commentary; second from R, Janis Carr.

 

I wonder if any (or all) of them knew for certain, way back then, what they wanted to be when they grew up?  I also wonder if any of them, like moiself, keep wondering when the reality of being “grown up” will hit in a way that feels like something other than a breaking news flash.

Anyway, apologies for the digressions: I am giving Weedland my highest (sorry) endorsement: it’s so good you don’t even have to be stoned to enjoy it. [12]

*   *   *

The Tattooed Lady

Dateline: Monday morning. I accompanied Belle to her appointment to get her first [13] tattoo.  A picture of her “body art” will grace this blog when the tat is fully healed and ready for unveiling.

“How is my dear sister planning on breaking the news to her grandparents?” K wondered to me, during our most recent phone call. [14] No, those were not his exact words. (“Dear sister” is not in his vocabulary – just in my dreams).

Belle’s tattoo is in such a vicinity – below her neck and between her scapulae – that, depending on what she is wearing, its existence will not be noticed by most people.  I told Belle that when it comes to dealing with TRASH (Tattoo Revilers and Serious Haters), she might consider using the tried & true, it could be worse method of notification:

“I’m a valedictorian, graduating with National Honor Society, Presidential Education &Chancellor’s diploma awards; I’ve been accepted to the college of my choice, with a prestigious$ Tru$tee ScholarShip!  And oh, guess what?  I got a tattoo.”

 UGLY TAT

 “Don’t worry, it wasn’t this one.”

  *   *   *

“I want a tattoo over my heart that reads TRY HARDER YOU LAZY PARAMEDIC SHITBAG OR I WILL HAUNT YOUR BEDROOM FOREVER.”
Warren Ellis, British comic/graphic novelist

 

May your body art make everyone try harder, and may the hijinks ensue. [15]

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] But never from MH, nor moiself.

[2] There’s an app to counter that (Amway aspirations).  Or, there should be.

[3] Keaton worked at several of my childhood haunts, including the now defunct Newberry’s five-and-dime store!  In the now defunct Honer Plaza!

[4] Okay; twelve years equals way, eh?

[5] Author Dale Maharidge.

[6] Not, as in (yawn) not even remotely interested in the subject.  Or so I thought….

[7] And I’m glad that knowing Pete made me get Weedland (which is quite the absorbing read), a book I probably wouldn’t have given a second look had I not known the author.

[8] Primarily Parnal Knowledge, my regular op-ed column, plus miscellaneous reporting.

[9] The Generator’s faculty advisor (English teacher Ted Clucas, during my TG days), was never happier than when he’d received a parental complaint.  “It proves they’re paying attention – you made somebody think about something!”

[10] I lost touch with Victor; last I heard he was no longer in journalism.

[11] Franklin, The Generator’s Editor-in Chief my senior year, displayed support and discretion above and beyond the call of journalistic duty by allowing me free (mostly) range in writing my op-ed column, Parnal Knowledge.

[12] Which is more than I can say for a Grateful Dead concert.  Or album.  Or 30 second song excerpt.  Or….

[13] And hopefully last, as per the sentiments of her father, grandparents, brother….

[14] MH’s parents will be flying out from Florida next week, for a week-plus visit, to attend Belle’s graduation.

[15] And really, fifteen footnotes in one post?  Is this a record, for me?