class, part two. When the National High School Journalism
Association announced that it was going to have it's
annual conference in Portland, OR, a mere four hours
drive from Seattle, we were hyped to go and whip some
hick ass with our freaky ghetto paper. So, a fearless
posse consisting of our crack photographer, a completely
ignorant "reporter," an editor, and of course myself
piled into the Garfield High School biology van and
hit the highway.
got to the house we were staying at; kindly put up
by a relative of a staff member and her incredibly
degeneratively retarded home-care patient. I have
an innate fear of the retarded, stemming in part from
attending a Lutheran camp in which there were a disproportionate
number of them and partially from being beaten up
by a particularily mongoloid boy at the West Seattle
YMCA as a youth. Anyway, there she was, wheelchair-bound
and salivating. I inwardly shuddered. So we spent
the night, four high-school kids and a balding ex-college
radio DJ journalism teacher. I hid in a small nook
in the attic, sleeping with my Walkman headphones
was scheduled to attend a series of six seminars taught
by some cartoon freak named Chip Beck, "the official
cartoonist of Operation Desert Storm." All my fears
were justified - Chip made Ziggy look edgy, with incredibly
lame, crapulous advice about "hitting it big" in the
exciting world of cartooning. He had many of his gloriously
inept paintings of military machinery on display,
to demonstrate to us that you could draw cartoons
and be a "fine artist" too. I hated him on sight.
asked for a volunteer to draw a cartoon to be critiqued
by him. The herd of sheeplike art nerds in the room
sat there, silenced. I raised my hand and ina sickening
ass-kiss voice said "Sure, Mr. Beck - I'lldraw something
sidled up to the newsprint and whipped off a shitty
gag sketch with the caption "Jesus & Butt-Head." The
desired reaction was achieved. It was too bad I hadn't
the guts to do something really pornographic, but
Chip retained his composure. He just said he didn't
"get" it, tore of the newsprint, and asked for another
volunteer. I had a couple other seminars on my list,
but decided to skip all of them and focus exclusively
on tormenting Chip. I was particularily excited to
discover that he'd be conducting portfolio reviews
on the last day of the conference.
spent most of the rest of the conference wandering
the streets of Portland, shoplifting. I stole tapes
from a record store, pens and paper from a stationery
store, and grazed the bulk bins at Safeway. As a crowning
touch, I swiped a magnetic Men's Warehouse sign in
front of theother members of the class, nonchalantly
stuffing it into my backpack. Chip gave us a lecture
during the third seminar about persistance. He went
into this big long schpeil about sending stuff to
art directors constantly, never taking no for an answer,
what if you suck?" I piped in. "I mean, what if you're
just not a very good cartoonist? Like - there's some
kids in this room - I'm not naming names, mind you
- who arejust not that good, and to tell them to constantly
send stuff to art directors is just cruel to them.
Don't you have an obligation to teach us right?"
didn't like me. Most of the other cartoonist kids
didn't like me either, but the ones who did I talked
into giving me money for copies of my 'zine that I'd
never send them.
I stole books from a bookstore, towels and signs from
the hotel the conference was in, and the heart of
the retarded woman - just kidding.
the time came for our portfolio reviews. I had mine
scheduled for 4:30, and I had a whole bunch of vile,
sick cartoons with names like "Herb, the Hollywood
Colostomy Bag," "Fuckin' Deformed Freak," and "Fred,
the Real Estate Agent with Tourette's Syndrome," all
drawn in the spastic kindergartener style that I had
made so famous. I couldn't wait to watch Chip freak
out at me. Life was good. I spent the day in a bubbling
fog, even consenting to go to Niketown with my classmates.
4:30 came, and I was in front of the room clicking
my heels in delight. I was finally going to get Chip
Beck face-to-face with my work, and to the victor
go the spoils. And Chip never showed up. From what
I heard, he left Portland at 4:00 that day.
I suppose I could infer a victory in my campaign from
his craven retreat, but I wasn't having any of it.
My opportunity for a face-off was gone. He'd obviously
seen what I'd been up to and was a step ahead of me
the whole time. I'd been suckered by the offical cartoonist
of Operation Desert Storm. And our paper came in fourth
place, after a whole bunch of hicks.