seem to show up on television an awful lot for someone
who has no interest in acting; before I turned 18
I had been on local news broadcasts at least ten times,
and no, never for crime-related reasons.
went to a private junior high school for "gifted children"
so that seemed to make for pretty good TV, as in my
youth I was pretty much the dictionary definition
of "nerd": glasses, bowlcut, the works. But it wasn't
until high school when I started developing a different
sort of personality that the roving eye of the television
cameras would exact its ultimate punishment. In the
fall of 1991, I had, in a fit of pique, shaved the
left side of my head down to the scalp, leaving the
right side to grow down to my chin. This was all part
of my new punk rock image; I had got contact lenses
earlier that year, and I was sick of being the Goodwill-clothed
flinching nerd of my childhood. So a retarded haircut
seemed a perfectly acceptable answer.
in the winter of that year, as I was sitting in my
Ecology class, word started to spread through the
classroom that"The Compton Report," a local news/magazine/expose
program would be coming to our shithole ghetto school
to do one of those "won't somebody think of the children"
shows that they all seem to do every couple of years.
Since our high school was falling apart around us
(during my senior year, a hall ceiling collapsed,
amazingly not killing anybody) this seemed more than
appropriate. So a week or so later, once it had been
announced and made official, the cameras were roaming
through classes and Jim Compton, the host, was talking
to students and teachers. They came to my Technical
Drawing class and interviewed the teacher, who made
an ass of himself, and then made a quick sweep through
the room with the camera. I tried to act natural,
with my head close to my drawing, calmly ruling straight
a month passed until the announcement came that the
show would air next Saturday. Everybody in the school
knew about it; the adminstration was hopeful that
it would draw more attention to our school without
making it look like the collapsing gang-infested racist
hellhole it was. Tensions were high.
me and my Mom sat down to watch it on Saturday night.
It was uneventful for the first half hour or so, although
my Mom was pretty shocked to see the decrepitude of
the facilities. I had willfully kept her as ignorant
as possible about any of my school activities, given
my predilection for ditching out on school and flunking
classes, even so early in my career. But as Jim Compton
started talking about the various students that attend
the school, something humiliating happened.
screen showed a picture of one of our many African
American football players, diligently studying a Biology
book. The voiceover droned, "Someof these students
will go on to higher education..."
to a shot of me, head half-shaved, hunched over my
technical drawing, ignoring the camera.
"And some, obviously, will not."
total silence fell across the TV room for about a
half a second, and then I went apopleptic. The next
Monday at school I was a combination folk hero/village
that that was anything unusual, or anything.
I never did go to college,so maybe that fucker Jim
Compton was right. He was later elected to the Seattle
City Council, but I had moved far away by then.