Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Week in the Hamptons, Darling

At this point, I sense no one really cares about seeing the rest of the photos from my trip to NYC MORE THAN A MONTH AGO (not that you ever did), but my family will bitch and moan if I don't give them equal time. So here goes.

BW and I were supposed to spend two days at my parents' beach house in the Hamptons. We ended up staying an entire week.

Here are the pics:


Giving an airplane ride to my nephew, Leo. Leo just turned three, but he is the size of a normal, healthy, 8-year-old. Also, his voice is deeper than Vin Diesel's. So it's disturbing when he stumbles into a room and announces, "My diaper's full. You need to change it. NOW!"



Leo's mom, my gorgeous sister Anna, grating Parmesan. Anna recently had her hair professionally straightened using a treatment known as Keratin. She says it has changed her life and recommends it for all Jewish women.




Papa Lew and Mama Phy in the kitchen. Lew is so dark these days that he's often stopped by Airport Security.




My niece Hadley and me. The last time I saw Hadley, she looked like a little kid. Now she looks like a supermodel. And I look middle-aged. Oh, time -- you are truly a thief.




My brother-in-law, the bald and beautiful Guy, with Leo, Xander, who is almost six, and Anna at the end of the deck. We had perfect weather almost every day.




My inheritance, with any luck.




BW led my family in a boot camp-style workout on the beach. I soon crumpled in pain like the little girl I am, but Anna was a trooper to the end. Here BW relaxes while looking extremely cute.






Phy, resplendent in peach-colored schmata and straw hat, wrestles Lew for the last bottle of beer.





Me, and what I'll look like in 37 years.





Anna & Guy, all dolled up for their anniversary dinner.


Wish I were still out there.


Homo out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Therapy Video (At Last!)

As promised, please find below my Gay Pride set from Therapy, recorded on June 28, 2009. I must thank Keith Johnson for the video. (See, Robin, I didn't need yours after all!)

Except for Amy Slotnick, whom I've known since birth, Keith is my oldest continuous friend. We became best friends in 3rd grade after he invited me to see his mother, Susan, a gorgeous diva with an incredible singing voice, perform the part of Rose in a community theater production of "Showboat." I immediately fell in love with her and with the rest of the Johnson clan, and Susan became my stage mother for several years. (She was Sally Cato in "Mame" when I was Young Patrick.)

The Johnsons moved back to the South when Keith and I were in 7th grade, but I have kept in touch with Keith, his mom, and his amazing sisters, Candy and Amy, over the years. Keith happened to be in New York for a wedding the night of my Therapy set, so that's why he was able to catch it.


The fabulous Ms. Susan... circa 1981.




Keith and I at Therapy... 28 years after we first met.

The video and audio quality of this set is surprisingly good, given that it was recorded using a tiny digital camera in a noisy bar. Some of the material is brand spankin' new. It's in two parts, and there's a bit of overlap between them for continuity's sake.

Enjoy.


Part 1



Part 2

Homo recorded.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summertime Blahs

Ugh. I had intended weeks ago to post photos from NYC Pride, and I still haven't, and here it is post-San Diego Pride now! This whole Pride Season is frankly exhausting. It's like Christmas, if Christmas happened every single weekend in a different city for three months straight. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be), BW and I have neither the time off nor the resources to be proud anywhere else this summer.

I wish I could tell you my current sleep deprivation is related to such Pride-related revelry, but it's just plain old insomnia -- the same insomnia with which I've struggled intermittently my entire life. If you don't have this problem, you have no idea how debilitating it can be. For the last two weeks, I haven't been able to sleep more than five or six hours in a single stretch -- and that's on a good night. On a bad night, I hit the sheets around 10:30, read for a half hour, pretend I'm getting sleepy, turn off the light and close my eyes.

Then the racing thoughts hit:

When are they going to get the office copier fixed? I need to call Granny soon. It's weird that none of the "Friends" have had successful projects. Remember the episode when they played the trivia game to see who got to live in the girls' apartment? That was a funny one. "Big Fat Goalie." Ha. That show had great writers. I wonder if I'm good enough to ever write for a sitcom. How do I get into that? God, am I ever going to have a real job again? BW is grinding his teeth. He needs to see the dentist and get a bite-plate. I'm hungry. There's Lucky Charms in the cupboard. I have to stop eating carbs again. I have to start working out again, too. Oh God, it's midnight now. BW's alarm goes off in five and a half hours.

Then I get up and eat three bowls of Lucky Charms in the living room while watching late-night reruns of "Will & Grace" and "Frasier." My lids close periodically and I begin to miss two- and three-minute sections of the show. "Finally," I think, "I can sleep." I return to bed.

Then the racing thoughts start again.

It's bad.

When I'm as sleep deprived as I am now, news items begin to trouble me more than they should. I worry about what North Korea is up to and what will happen to Michael Jackson's kids. I am totally preoccupied lately with the whole "Obama is Not a U.S. Citizen" insanity. It makes me angry and sad that we live in such a stupid country filled with stupid people who are so easily called to arms over a totally fabricated non-issue and yet not the least bit concerned about the fact that they have no health insurance.

Speaking of Michael Jackson's kids, I was struck by a photo of Jackson's kids at his memorial service that ran in "Entertainment Weekly" and other media.




They're all beautiful children. But -- and I hate to even suggest this it's so awful -- does it look to anyone else like someone has put makeup on the unfortunately-named Prince Michael? A little white eye shadow? A bit of pink lip gloss? Even -- God don't make me say it -- a wig? Because that's how it looks to me. As if someone tried to dress up this 12-year-old child in Michael Jackson drag at his own father's memorial.

Here's another, larger photo:



God I pray for those children.

OK, enough darkness for today. I recently did a headline set at the Dirtbag, a short clip of which made its way to YouTube. The audio quality is pretty poor, but it's a nice example of the crowd work I like to do:






As promised, a clip of my entire NYC Pride set at Therapy is forthcoming... assuming technical problems can be worked out. Stay tuned.

And now, without further ado, some select NYC Pride pics:



Brad Loekle, Seth Gilmore, Amy Slotnick, Jeff Hardy, Moi.
Meson Sevilla, 46th Street.



Jeff and I at the Parade, circa 23rd Street.
(BW is once again behind the camera.)



One of the fabulous Latin American country floats.
No recuerdo cuál país.




Lynda Carter and Helen Slater made a surprise appearance.



Window Watchers.



Tall and Proud.



I don't know who this is, but for some reason it's my favorite picture from Pride.



Although this one doesn't suck, either.





Proud as a Peacock.


I wish it didn't take so long to format these photos on this fekakte program. I have a lot more -- including the pics from our Hamptons visit with my family -- but these will have to wait until tomorrow.

Homo out.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Petition (Part 10: Epilogue and Life Lessons)

Blogger's Note: And so it ends. I've decided to finish this tale once and for all tonight, rather than waiting until tomorrow; I fear my work day will get too busy, and I won't be able to wrap it all up in a neat little Friday bow. And wrap it up I must. It's time.

I have been touched and amazed by the number of people who have reached out to me in blog comments, emails and Facebook messages since I began writing this series. It seems to have hit close to home for many of you. Thank you for your feedback, which makes the grueling exercise of unearthing decades-old memories all the more worthwhile.

Some have suggested I turn this into something bigger -- a novel, a screenplay, or what have you. To that I say, bring it on. You're more than welcome to forward my story to any agent/producer types who may want to help me develop it. Lord knows I could use the career advancement, and I'll even give you a cut.

Apropos of that, I must give a special shout-out to my boss, Lisa. It's not every boss who would read this blog -- a blog I've been writing during work hours and on which I regularly rant about my "hideous day job" -- and tell me she can't wait to find out what happens next. Thank you, girl.

And now, finally, the conclusion:

Mr. Stubick and I ultimately did have our face-to-face sit-down to discuss the newspaper, though face-to-face would be an inaccurate way to describe it. It took place in his classroom during one of the last weeks of school. There was absolutely no point to the meeting, as I'd be graduating before any more issues of "The Tower" came out. But I think neither I nor Stubick felt we could back out.

I brought Rebecca with me for moral support. In Stubick's corner was Brian Kettenring, a very sweet junior who had become the paper's editor.

"OK, guys," said Brian after the four of us had taken our seats. "Why don't you give us your suggestions for how we can make the paper stronger?"

We rattled off some ideas. Brian nodded cheerfully. As for Stubick, he didn't say a word for the entire meeting. Instead, he kept his face buried in a notebook, scribbling furiously. I wouldn't be surprised if all he wrote was "Die, you little piece of shit!," or something to that effect, over and over again.

And that was that. I never saw or spoke to Mr. Stubick again.

Nearly a decade later, when I was living in Brooklyn, I ran into Juliet Martin inside the F Subway station. Juliet had been "The Tower's" first editor and had graduated the year before me, before any of the petition business began. We rode the subway into Manhattan together, reminiscing and catching up on each other's post-high school lives. But I couldn't let her go without asking her a question.

"Just tell me this," I said. "Was Stubick the Unknown Sophomore?"

"Of course he was," she replied.

So that was one question answered.

Here are some that never were:

Was there an actual edict issued against my winning those Awards of Excellence? And if so, was Mr. Stubick behind it? Or was it Dr. Geddes? Or some combination of the two? Or somebody else altogether? Or did I simply not win because I didn't win? Because other students were honestly and sincerely deemed more worthy? Or were? Or because the very nature of awards is that they are subjective and arbitrary?

Did my not winning those awards have any impact on my not getting into Brown? Could there have been even darker forces at work, say a well-placed call to the right person that this kid's a bad egg and you don't want him at your school? Or was it simply the fact that I was not a particularly extraordinary candidate in the eyes of Brown's admissions officers? That I was one of thousands of white, Jewish males from North Jersey with a high class ranking, a lot of extracurriculars and respectable -- but not spectacular -- SAT scores who applied to Brown that year? And that that just wasn't enough to put me over the top at one of the most competitive universities in the country?

Does it even matter? Really? Given that I did get accepted to Northwestern and Michigan, ultimately choosing Michigan and enjoying four of the most exciting, enriching, rewarding years of my life in Ann Arbor?

No. None of it matters. Shit happens. Or it doesn't. You can't live your life wondering what might have been.

And the fact that I eventually learned that is what does matter. That, and a few other things:

1) When two sides go to war, the one with more power will usually win.

2) Choose your battles very carefully. (See No. 1.)

3) Revenge is never a noble objective.

And in the final analysis, that's what I was after with my petition: Revenge. I may have dressed it up as righteous indignation and a desire to benefit the greater good; but at the core, everything I did was meant to shame and embarrass Mr. Stubick after I felt he had wronged me. And if I suffered because of my actions, I deserved to suffer.

"I admire your activism," Mr. Akey had told me, "but not the way you've gone about this."

Indeed.

I never told anyone this story after high school. But I did once attempt a poem about it for a college writing class. I can recall the opening lines:

"If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, then what are the implications of a little power/Especially when coupled with a little mind?"

My instructor hated it. He said it was whiny and self-serving.

Indeed.

Before I began this series of recollections, I did a little Internet research on Mr. Stubick. He has written several more novels in the last 20 years, one of which was recently made into a film starring two of Hollywood's biggest young stars. And he is still teaching public school in New Jersey.

That's one reason I chose not to use his real name: I don't believe in outing public school teachers, either as closeted gays or as assholes. (Condoleezza Rice , she deserves to be outed, having toiled faithfully for that homophobic piece of shit over eight years. And I hereby out her. For real. I met her flamingly gay assistant in New York several years ago, and he confirmed it for me. Condi may as well be swinging a golf club and driving a UPS truck.)

But there's a bigger reason I chose not to name Mr. Stubick:


It's because 20 years after the fact, I no longer mean to shame and embarrass him.

Oprah says we must forgive the people in our lives -- not for their sake, but for our own. Otherwise we become bogged down by our own anger, bitterness and regret. And as usual Oprah is right.

So I forgive you, Mr. Stubick. I forgive you, Dr. Geddes. And I forgive everyone else from my days back in Summit High School for any wrongs you committed against me, real or imagined. I also apologize for the wrongs I did you. It's high time I let all of this go and look forward in my life... not as the 18-year-old boy I was but as the 38-year-old man I have become -- one who understands the power of forgiveness.

I am even able to forgive Josh.

Well, not really.

But I'm working on it.

Homo out for good.

The Petition (Part 9)

Mr. Stubick's petition to have Rebecca and me ousted from morning announcements duty went nowhere. I'm not sure it ever even made it out of the classroom in which it originated. Mr. Akey, our one mutual ally, later confided to me: "I told him he had to stop this."

In any case, Rebecca and I continued our daily chirpings, and Mr. Stubick continued putting out "The Tower."

But as the early spring season progressed, I had other things on my mind. I was busy with rehearsals for the school musical, "The Boyfriend," in which I played the romantic lead. I had taken a part-time job at the nearby Short Hills Mall, in a tiny store called The Tie Table. There I peddled 100% silk, hand-made, authentic Italian, truly hideous ties. I still have some.

More than anything, I was consumed with the question of where I'd be going to college. November had brought a wait-list letter from Brown, my first choice, where I'd applied early admission. In the meantime, I had been accepted at Boston University and was still waiting to hear from Tufts, Northwestern and the University of Michigan.

When I look back now, it's almost laughable how little I knew about any of these schools when I applied to them. I imagine teenagers these days must sit at their computers for days on end, googling countless facts and figures and browsing blogs about the colleges that interest them.

But in 1989, my computer was little more than a glorified typewriter. I had a three-foot high stack of catalogues in my bedroom representing every school from Arizona State to Washington and Lee, and I had barely glanced at them beyond the pictures on their covers.

When it came time to choose where my five applications would go, I essentially picked from a hat: Boston was a cool city, so I figured I would apply to one school there I knew I could get into --B.U. -- and one that was a bit of a reach --Tufts. Northwestern had a first-rate journalism school, so that made sense given my particular skill set. And Michigan was a sentimental favorite, beloved by our family friends, the Reinhardts, as well as a slew of other former Summit High grads.

But Brown, with its quirky, brainy, everyone-is-gay-or-may-as-well-be, Ivy League status, was hands-down where I most wanted to be. It felt like where I belonged.

Plus, I liked the pictures in the catalogue.


Ah, Sweet Providence.

"The Boyfriend" opened to thunderous acclaim. Which is to say the parents, siblings and friends of all the players attended under duress and dutifully told us how great we were afterwards. Now it was time for the cast party which, as tradition dictated, would take place at the home of my grandmother, Granny Lipton. Granny lived -- and still lives -- a short half-block from the school, and she was much cherished by me and my fellow thespians for her support for the arts, her warmth and her cream-cheese brownies.



'Have another! You're too skinny!'

As I marched with a throng of castmates toward Granny's, we passed Mr. Akey and Mr. Stubick on the edge of the school parking lot.

"Congratulations!," said Mr. Akey. "Outstanding job."

Stubick said nothing; just smiled meekly.

Maybe it was the immediate afterglow of my stage theatrics, but for whatever reason, I suddenly felt magnanimous and decided to bury the hatchet.

"Listen," I said, "you should come with us to my Granny's for the after-party. It's right there on Montrose." I looked directly at Stubick. "Both of you should come."

Silence.

Then Mr. Akey finally said, "We'll stop by in a bit."

Twenty minutes later, as we wolfed down cream-cheese brownies, there was a knock at Granny's door.

It was Mr. Akey.

Alone.

"I tried," he said. "I begged him. But he said he just couldn't go."

The Awards of Excellence were announced the following week. I didn't win any. Not for English, not for Vocal Music, not for World Language, not for Drama.

I don't entirely recall now who won in each of those categories. English may have gone to John Dunning. If so, it was well deserved. John had been in Honors English classes with me every year, and I knew him to be an amazing writer (as well as incredibly sexy). Mike Bultman probably won vocal music. He was a musical virtuoso and all-Eastern soloist who certainly deserved the award more than I.

But to lose out on both Drama and World Language as well felt like a huge slap in the face. I excelled at Spanish, never earning less than an A in that subject my entire high school career. I had spent the previous summer in a six-week language immersion program in Salamanca, Spain with Phillips Academy, Andover, from which I returned with total fluency. I used to help explain complicated rules of grammar to the kids in my class who spoke Spanish at home. My Spanish teachers adored me.

And Drama... well, come on. I was the fucking Drama department. The only other worthy recipient for that award would have been Rebecca, and she didn't win either. Instead, the award went to a girl named Liz who had appeared in one musical junior year and built some sets for another.

So who won the World Language award? That would be Josh -- yes, that Josh -- he of the false crotch-grabbing accusations and ham-sandwich tampering; my nemesis, and a B+ student in Spanish at best.

In the winner's profile of Josh that later ran in the "The Tower," he said he practiced speaking Spanish with his housekeeper.

I remember approaching Ms. Papio, the Spanish teacher, after the awards were announced to ask how Josh could have beaten me. I remember her sad, cow-like eyes staring back at me as I interrogated her.

"I get higher grades in Spanish than Josh."

"Yes," she said.

"And I spent a summer studying in Spain."

"Yes," she said.

"And I'm fluent."

"Yes," she said.

"So you'd think I'd win the award over him."

"You'd think so," she said.

One month later, I finally heard from Brown.

I had been rejected.

Tomorrow: Epilogue & Life Lessons.

Homo out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Petition (Part 8)

My best friend throughout my high school years was Rebecca Landwehr. Rebecca and I were Will and Grace long before Will and Grace ever existed, the primary difference being that unlike Will, I was Jewish, and unlike Grace, Rebecca was not. We were incredibly loud and rambunctious and dramatic, and each thought the other was just about the most hilarious person on earth.

A couple quick stories about Rebecca and me:

There was a shy, very pretty girl in our school named Eleanor Guild (rhymes with "mild"). Every single time Rebecca and I saw her, we would start singing at the top of our lungs, "Born to be Eleanor Guiiiiiiiiiiiiiiild!"

We had songs for other people as well. For Kim Ward, we sang a little ditty to the tune of "Mahna Mahna" from "The Muppet Show." It went as follows:

I am Kim Ward
(Do doo do doo doo)
I am Kim Ward
(Do doo do doo)
I am Kim Ward
(Do doo do doo doo, do doo doo, do doo do doo do doo doo doo doo doo!)



Ever notice how highly disturbing-looking Mahna Mahna's backup singers are?

For Heather Golm, we sang a rendition of Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now," retitled "I Think We're Heather Golm Now."

You get the point.

Rebecca and I appeared in every Summit high school musical, usually in lead roles. We both sang in the school choir, and Rebecca played trumpet in SHS's orchestra, marching band and stage band. We were both the products of liberal Democratic households in an overwhelmingly Republican town, and we both thought we were right about everything.

Basically, we were the quintessential late 80s drama fags, right down to the bad hair experiments. So it was of little surprise when the administration -- perhaps Dr. Geddes himself, though I don't remember -- asked us to do the daily morning announcements. This was a simple, five-minute intercom broadcast aired throughout the school: "The G.O. bake sale takes place this afternoon in the hallway outside the cafeteria at 3 o' clock... Cheerleader try-outs are set for next Monday in the gym..." and so forth.

There wasn't much Rebecca and I could do to spice these ho-hum messages up, but we did add our own spin now and then. Mostly, these took the form of quick, barely audible asides:

Adam: The annual Summit High holiday concert is tomorrow night, so don't forget to get your tickets now!

Rebecca: Yes, they are selling like hotcakes.

Adam: (Hotcakes that nobody wants.)

Rebecca: (Exactly.)

Adam: (stifling a giggle) And don't forget the deadline for the Service Club's canned food drive for the homeless is this Tuesday...!

It occurs to me now that I still employ this "quick aside tag" style in my stand-up. There's something about the rhythm of it that just appeals to my ear.


Me and Rebecca before the senior prom, spring of 1989.

In order to read the morning announcements, Rebecca and I had to leave our respective homeroom classes at 11:00 a.m. and make our way down the administration's office, where a little sound booth was set up. My homeroom was Ms. Papio's Spanish class, during which I would eat my homemade lunch of ham and cheese on whole wheat with honey mustard. One morning while I was doing the announcements, Josh -- yes, the same Josh from the false crotch-grabbing accusation incident -- inserted a folded up piece of notebook paper into my sandwich, so that when I later bit into it I'd be chewing on paper. I'm telling you, he was a diabolical little shit.

Anyway, the day after my meeting with Dr. Geddes, as I made my way from Spanish class to the cafeteria for lunch hour, a sophomore stopped me in the hallway.

"Hey," she said. "You should know that Mr. Stubick started a petition against you and Rebecca. He wants you to be fired from the morning announcements."

I remember actually laughing out loud. "No way!" I said.

"Yes. He passed it around our English class today."

"On what grounds does he say we should be fired?" I wondered.

"Because you made fun of the homeless."

"When did we ever make fun of the homeless?!"

"When you were making announcement about a canned food drive, you were laughing. So he says you're insensitive to the homeless and should be fired."

The war was escalating.

T0 be continued.

Homo wishing he could continue now, but his assistant manager literally just dumped a pile of work on his desk.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Petition (Part 7)

Blogger's Note: Stay with me; the finish line is in sight.

About six weeks passed before I was finally summoned to the office of Dr. Geddes, our school principal. I don't know if Geddes had played football in college, but he had that look about him -- broad and blockheaded with menacing eyes that didn't match his forced smile. When I picture him now, he looks like someone who might have served in George W. Bush's administration. Tom Ridge, perhaps.



On second though, Ridge has a kinder face.

I never had many dealings with Dr. Geddes; I wasn't the sort of kid who gets sent to the principal's office, at least not in high school. Ironically, the only other time I recall Dr. Geddes approaching me was after my pizza survey had been published in "The Tower" the previous year.

"Mr. Sank," he had said as I passed him in the hallway after a drama club meeting. "I read your pizza article. What about Luigi's?"

I explained to him that I had tried to survey Luigi's but they were closed.

"Mm hm," he said, staring at me with those cold, dead eyes.

Now here I was sitting across from him in his office, my petition in his hand.

"Now what, exactly, is your problem with the newspaper?" he asked.

I've never understood when somebody poses a question to which he already knows the answer.


"Well," I said, "as it's clearly spelled out in my petition, I have a number of problems with it." I went on to basically detail the points outlined on the photocopied pages in front of him. "And if you notice," I added, "there are about 20 names highlighted of students who are leaders in this school and who share my feelings."

"Yeah," he replied. "As far as I'm concerned, those are the only names that matter."

Silence here as we stared at each other. Then I said, "I'm sorry?"

"The rest of these kids don't count. They probably didn't even know what they were signing."

More silence. "I think maybe you're underestimating your student body."

"Trust me, they didn't know. Now, how would you make the newspaper better?"

I began to offer him a number of suggestions, but he soon interrupted.

"Tell me this," he queried, "what did you think of the Awards of Excellence issue last year?"

The Awards of Excellence were Summit High's version of the Golden Globes. Each year they were handed out in a dozen or so categories to seniors who were deemed to exemplify various skills or talents -- in mathematics, visual arts, instrumental music, etc. A dinner ceremony was held, and "The Tower" had come out with an issue solely profiling the winners the previous year.


"Well, I don't know that I would have done an entire issue with nothing but profiles, but at least it drew attention to student achievements, and not just gossip or..."

He interrupted again: "What grade would you give that issue?"

"Um," I thought for a moment. "I guess I'd give it a C+."

He smiled menacingly. "That issue was my idea. I was the one who told Mr. Stubick to do it."

I assume Dr. Geddes intended this to be a checkmate moment, one in which I would crumple to the floor and slink out of his office, defeated, my tail between my legs. But the only thing I felt was baffled. I frankly didn't understand what the Awards of Excellence issue from a year ago had to do with my petition, which specifically criticized not what "The Tower" had been but what it had become.

And that's exactly what I told Dr. Geddes.

"Look," he said, waving his hand in front of him as if to slap a mosquito that just wouldn't die, "why don't I set up a meeting with you and Mr. Stubick? You can give him your ideas in person, and maybe you can work together on making it a better paper."

I shook my head. "I'd be happy to do that, Dr. Geddes, but I don't think Mr. Stubick wants to meet with me. I'm pretty sure he hates me now."

"Oh, I don't think he hates you," he said.

"Really?" I said. "Because he cut me out of a photo in the last issue."

He leaned forward in his chair, his dark eyes glowing. "But he had to do that," he explained. "You told him you didn't want to be associated with the paper anymore."

It was at that moment that I realized maybe I was in over my head. But I also realized that there was no turning back.

"You tell Mr. Stubick I'd be happy to meet with him anytime," I said, shaking hands with Dr. Geddes. "And thanks for all your time and consideration."

It wasn't until the next day that I learned Mr. Stubick had started his own petition as well.

To be continued.

Homo coming down the home stretch.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Petition (Part 6)

Blogger's Note: What?! Two chapters posted on the same day? Shut up!! What can I tell you folks, other than that I want more than anything to be done with the telling of this tale. So while it's slow for a moment at my desk, I'll add what I can:

Among the 233 signatures at the bottom of my newspaper petition were those of the president and vice-president of the student government (known as the General Organization or G.O.), a number of prominent athletes and a veritable smorgasbord of brains, geeks, drama fags, musicians, socially conscious hippies and other high-achieving types.

I didn't work particularly hard to get people to sign; I just attached the petition to a clipboard and passed it around the cafeteria and gymnasium and in the classes I attended. Few students were overly passionate about the substance of what I had written, but everyone seemed to agree with it.

"Oh, yeah, I hate that fucking Unknown Junior" was the most common reaction as people reached for their pen.

It had only been a week since I began my crusade, but I felt like 233 names was more than sufficient to make my point. So I produced three photocopies of the petition, signatures and all, along with a cover letter and delivered the complete packet to the principal, the vice-principal, and the school superintendent.

At first, not much happened. A few teachers pulled me aside and told me they applauded my actions. But the vice-principal, Mr. Akey, a man much beloved by me and my older sisters before me who happened also to be Mr. Stubick's closest friend, had a slightly different take: "I admire your activism," he said after spotting me in the cafeteria one day, "but not the way you've gone about this."

Yet there was no immediate reaction from either the principal or superintendent. Nor was there any from Stubick himself. That is, until the next issue of "The Tower" came out the following month.

There appeared on page three a large photo of three students with the caption, "SHS Students Tour the Capitol as Part of the National Close Up Program in February," followed by the names of the students pictured. The shoulder of a fourth student was also visible, but his face had been cropped out.

Guess who.

It was Mr. Stubick's first attempt at retribution. It would hardly be his last.

To be continued.

Homo really and truly done for today.

The Petition (Part 5)

Blogger's Note: A rather long break from the story, as I had feared, but it was for good reason: BW and I extended our vacation at the last minute and stayed with my family in the Hamptons through Friday before flying back to San Diego Saturday. We had beautiful sunny weather and terrific times out there, and I'll be posting photos of our trip once I finish this rambling epic once and for all.

I will also recount my public humiliation by a lunatic U.S. Airways flight crew.

And finally, I'll soon be posting new video of my Gay Pride set at Therapy last Sunday night, which was a blast and a half.

That's a hell of a lot to promise on my first Monday morning back from vacation (and one in which I'm flying solo at the front desk of my office) but I'll do my very best.

At the very least, Part 5 is when the titular petition finally appears.

On with the show.

It wasn't just that Mr. Stubick killed my "Lori in Wonderland" piece which led to my writing the petition against him and his newspaper; it was what he ran instead.

For in the year since its redesign, "The Tower" had grown increasingly insipid. The erstwhile Unknown Sophomore, now calling himself the Unknown Junior, still employed his poison pen monthly. Fluffy profiles of Mr. Stubick's favorite students abounded, as did a Walter Winchell-esque gossip column filled with breathless details of who in the school was dating whom. And while there was absolutely no mention of any legitimate student activities -- sporting events, drama club productions, community service projects or what have you -- "The Tower" did find the time and space to review Mr. Stubick's latest teen romance novel, "Darlene at 14.*"

Shockingly, the review was a rave.

In retrospect, it would have been mighty strange for a hard-hitting piece on racism and the state of modern education to appear amid such twaddle, but that was small consolation to me at the time. I went to confront Stubick after class on the afternoon of the new issue's publication.

"Where" I demanded, "is 'Lori in Wonderland?'"

Stubick reacted in his usual mild, passive-aggressive way. "Oh, yeah, sorry, we just couldn't fit it in this month. It'll run next month."

"But Close Up happened last month," I protested, my anger starting to build. "It'll be old news by then. It'll be too late!"

He gave me a thin smile. "No, it'll be fine."

Our conversation was over for good.

What happened next may have transpired over several days or even weeks. But that's not how I recall it. My memory is of marching out of Stubick's classroom and into an empty adjacent one and putting pen to paper that very moment, without hesitation or reflection.

First I wrote a note:

Dear Mr. Stubick:

Please do not run my "Lori in Wonderland" article next month or at any time. I no longer wish to be associated with "The Tower" in any way.

Sincerely,
Adam Sank

Then I wrote the petition:

We, the undersigned, are concerned students at Summit High School. Our concern is with the state of the school newspaper, "The Tower," and with the newspaper's advisor, who seems unable or unwilling to meet the needs and concerns of the students.

We note that in the current issue of "The Tower" there is no mention of organized student activities or upcoming events of any student clubs or organizations -- including the student government -- or of any school sporting events. In fact, there is not even a sports editor.

Instead, we are given numerous student profiles, a gossip column, a review of the newspaper advisor's new novel, and a column by The Unknown Junior (who is most certainly not a student at all).

We ask that the newspaper immediately be improved to reflect the interests of SHS students, and not simply of its advisor.

There were 600 students at Summit High School during the 1988-89 academic year. Within a week of writing my petition, more than a third of them had signed it.

To be continued.

Homo finally getting to the point.

*Not the actual title, but a damn fine one, if I may say so myself.