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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Räuber Schuldengenital

Räuber Schuldengenital

The War Bloom happened in 1968 into 1969 under the hairy eyeball of handsome Lt. Commander Richard Homet, the Principal of Hobart Blvd Elementary School located at 980 South Hobart Blvd at Olympic in Mid City, Los Angeles.

Yes I had a crush on my principal. He was just a bland portly middle aged white man with a crew cut who always wore dark coloured suits with skinny ties, but there was something about him I found devilishly attractive. Was it his vaguely French sounding surname or his thick hands that were sprinkled with dark bits of hair on them. He was square jawed and had a deep voice that barked orders whenever he was on the yard at recess. His authoritarian quasi military stance enthralled me. I felt like I wanted to be held in his arms and tossed high into the air. Yes if only he could throw me up so high that I would never come down again.

The battle that was ranging at my primary school was between Yuka Takahashi and Dinah Bides two of the most popular girls in Mrs. Charlene Gates third grade class.

Yuka’s family had only immigrated to the US from Japan fairly recently and lived on Mariposa Avenue not far from my oldest sister Grace Lee.

Yuka was quite brilliant and spoke English well but quietly with a heavy Japanese accent and a bit of a lisp. Yuka like myself was part of the MGM program which stood for Mentally Gifted Minors. Her mathematics skills were unparalleled, I was the only Black child in the Gifted Program at my elementary school. Our gifted program consisted of mainly Japanese, Chinese and Korean Girls, one Latina Estella Lara, two Filipinas: Elisa Del Rosario and Dinah Bides. There were no boys in the gifted program.

Dinah lived in a large craftsmen house at Oxford and 15th Street three blocks from my dingbat apartment at 1239 South Hobart.

I lived only two blocks away from Hobart Blvd Elementary but because of my poor sense of direction my mother was still walking me to school every morning and picking me up in the afternoon.

I was friends with both Dinah and Yuka, but I felt more akin to Yuka since she was the underdog. Even the boys in the class got involved in the war. Mark Shimono was the most attractive boy in our class, he looked like an Asian Elvis Presley with the shinest black hair and full lips and high cheekbones. Mark convinced most of the other boys in our class like Kevin Uyemura his best friend, David Shima, Richard Cadabona, The Hirahara Twins--Robert and Michael, Glenn Uchida and Brian Cherry who was a Hapa(half white/half Japanese) to be in the Bides camp.

Dinah also had on her side all the boisterous Black girls in our class who everyone looked up to that included Pamela Davis who had a very handsome older teenage brother named Ruthie who was muscular and had a giant reddish hued Afro. The Davis' lived on Pico Blvd near Western Avenue in a giant Antebellum styled manor house turned into an apartment complex with a fascade of giant white columns just like Tara Plantation in Gone With the Wind that sat across the street from Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses which my family attended at the time.

Simone Williamson who everyone was afraid of because when she took off her earrings she was ready to throw down who once said to me,

"Don´t point your finger at me my mamma´s not dead."

Jackie Tomlinson, who was the tetherball champion of the third grade who looked just like Teresa Graves the black star of The Laugh-In Comedy Hour and later the first black TV drama star as an undercover policewoman in Get Christie Love.

Poor Yuka only had in her corner Estella Lara, Mazukazu Hirahara no relation to the twins, Edward Taylor
a white boy whose father looked just like Robert Redford.

Edward’s family lived not far from me in Harvard Heights which was a neighbourhood of stately manor houses. The Taylor’s were wealthy white liberals who didn’t send their children to private school and stayed in the neighbourhood countering white flight to the suburbs. There was actually three other white kids in our class Brian Bentall who was completely self absorbed in his own cosmos who constantly bragged about his families connection to Richard M. Nixon. Even the teachers didn’t like Brian who looked like the Republican senator Ted Cruz. Brian and his family wound up moving away half way through term.

Steven Underhill whose family were known to be supporters of the KKK. Steven had peaches and cream complexion and was quite beautiful with the stiffest golden blond hair I’ve ever seen and lips the colour of vermillion. Steven could be quite volatile if he couldn’t get his way, and didn’t back down in a fight. Once he jumped Xavier Coronado after school and beat the living excrement out of him for the simple reason he was mad dogging him.

For some strange reason Steven gravitated to me. We were never friends but he was friendly towards me as were his older sisters. The Underhill Family stayed in the neighbourhood about two more years then moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1971 after the big Sylmar earthquake.

The only white girl in our class was the lovely Audrey Kirkpatrick who was best friends with Yuka, Jenny Kanno and Lesbian in training Linda Wong. Linda lived on my street and was a handsome, proper butch. Linda looked like and acted very much like the young Jodie Foster who was the star of the Disney film Napolean & Samantha and starred in the TV version of the movie Paper Moon in the role that won Tatum O´Neal an Oscar.

Linda Wong's older sister Leslie was the complete opposite in that she was a total femme. Linda and I stayed good friends through elementary, middle and high school. In fact her parents owned the Chinese Dry Cleaner that my family frequented. Even when I went away to University I stayed in touch with Linda and her sister who in the early 80s worked as a receptionist for the trendy Japanese hair salon Yamashiros that was on Robertson and Beverly Blvd in West Hollywood. I think Yamashiros is still there.

1968 into 1969 was a very unique and turbulent time. In early 1968 things were still very much like the 1950s and early 1960s. A girl could not go to school wearing pants unless when she left the house it was raining. The male teachers and administrators all wore white shirts with ties and wing tip dress wear shoes, short hair, no beards and trimmed orderly moustaches. All the female teachers and staff wore dresses and skirts. When it turned 1969 almost overnight the young male teachers were wearing love beads, had long scraggly beards, wore sandals on their feet and mod clothing including bellbottoms and flared jean pants. The female teachers both old and young were suddenly clad in pant suits, maxi, mini and micro mini skirts.

(to be continued)


So sad to relay about the death of Ron Stringer of the experimental music group The Fibonaccis. The Fibonaccis were one of my favourite post punk bands. Ron also was one of my colleagues at the LA Weekly, writing about music and later taking over as Film Editor after Manhola Dargis left for the New York Times. RiP Ron you will be missed.