Some things need to be referenced, even if they’re trivial, or somewhat trivial, or substantial. I’m completely going off of the board here and about to tell a story that has almost no gravity to it.

With my birthday being in January, I turned 18 in the 2nd half of my senior year in high school, with the end of the year and hopefully a diploma waiting. High school was somewhat of a troubled time (not complaining, just saying I got behind w/my credits, etc. and that was a LOT to try and clean up by school’s end) and after spending the 2nd semester of 10th grade-all of 11th grade at continuation school, I returned to the main campus to try and graduate w/the majority of chums I’d been growing up w/the past 5-6 years.

I wasn’t failing anything, I just wasn’t knocking off enough of the classes at the same pace as everyone else was across the fence at Venice Hi, so when I returned I had to do all 6 periods AND night school. Whatevs, see if I can make it happen,…

Well, I WAS making it happen, until one day it all completely disintegrated in the matter of ONE face-face w/the assistant principal that I knew had ZERO interest in what the fuck ever was going on w/me personally, OR my attempt at grinding myself back on track to graduate like planned.

Mr. Ed Russell was black, and I was a mohawked punker w/plenty of salty intentions whenever confronted by ANY adult, regardless of topic, or who/what their skin color was. Part of my attempted grind had me taking 3 commercial art classes w/1 in the morning, and the final two of the day 5th & 6th period. I got along quite well w/Mr. Elliot, swimmingly at times, but there was occasional friction since we were both fiery personalities but in almost completely opposite capacities. He was an aged French beatnik and understood (& even liked) the punker attitude I was too consumed with, and allowed for a LOT of wiggle room whenever it came to assignments/projects I wasn’t inclined to do as long as he heard the right reasons for my lack of inspiration. Also, I wasn’t a bad artist back then, and he was ok to see my energies work to my strengths on other assignments..

Anyways, he went on vacation for a week and was replaced be a real limp wristed, bitter, and failed art teacher who looked for ANY sign of dissention so he could send you out of class. By day three he was fed up w/me not doing the current task and came over to my desk to have some words. I told him about me & Mr. Elliot’s arrangement and he balked.

“Mr. Elliot’s not here” he said to me dryly, “And you need to start on this assignment now or you’ll get an F on the project & I’m sending you to the assistant principals office.”

“Mr. Elliot’s not here but it IS his class. When he gets back he’ll understand and you’ll be somewhere else. I’m not doing it.” Completely dismissing anything else he had to say about this impasse,….

“Ok, well then I’m writing you up and sending you to the Asst Principals office. Meet me at my desk.”

I instructed him to send me to Jacobs or Gebhardt, NOT Russel, which he did write on the referral, but to no avail, as they were not in the office, and Russel was…

Mr. Russel didn’t want to hear anything I had to say. I was white and was in a city where black youth were heavily involved in violent gangs, drugs, and high risk behavior far worse than I could ever dream of. And, he was somewhat right, I can say that black teenagers were prone to SO much more violence than I was due to the Oakwood/Ghost Town neighborhood and the VSLC gang that was NO joke, even if the set was small.. So cool, I get it, but go looking to make an example out of me to my face,.. I’m not taking that shit from ANYONE, regardless of me being 18 & he being like 45-50..

It boiled down to him insisting I do EVERY art assignment that passed thru my hands, and I said ‘no way’. He said that was ‘suspendible’. I said ‘are you an artist, have you EVER done any artwork in your life?’ Of course his answer was no, but this was my first REAL experience with me vs. the ‘Man’. Mr. Russel was the power that be, and I was the un-agreeable object that was completely unwilling to see his need to enforce and constrict me. But, he had to bring the hammer down in his eyes,.. and when you decide that IS the right decision, then you don’t bring it down lightly…

Now, he didn’t actually suspend me, but that’s because I wouldn’t give him the pleasure as I reminded him of my age and that I was going to straight up walk out of that school and leave him, and ALL of my hard work to try and better myself thru sticking w/my 6 periods AND night school hanging if he didn’t budge and returned me to my class free to do, or not do whatever fucking art assignment I chose being so close to the finish line (this was in April-almost May, and school ended in June.)

He refused, and said I was free to go home for the day after the bell rang(as there was only 6th period left).

The bell rang and I left,.. for the 2nd to last time, but the last time as an attending student, since I returned to ‘sign out’ of all of my classes and say one last farewell to my teachers and staff that were actually halfway decent to me that last year I tried to make it happen.

My report card was 5 F’s and 1 D-. Not sure what that adds up to numerically, but….

Now there’s still a hint or tinge of racial tension in the air on this one, and I’m not denying that. I wanted Mr. Russel to see my problems as a white kid to be just as valid as all of those high risk black youth he coveted so fucking much(and that were my friends), but he wouldn’t. He didn’t care about my mom’s cancer battles and ensuing/ongoing drug addiction from the methadone, etc. He didn’t care that I got hit by a car in 10th grade which sent me off the rails and into continuation school because I was paralyzed w/pain from my spine (literally) being bent out of shape for 3 months, and wasn’t even ABLE to walk to school anymore. I had fainting spells and would walk home after 2nd period since I was BLIND w/pain. It was gnarly..

And I wouldn’t see him either,.. But then I wasn’t supposed to, I was the student that HE was supposed to help irregardless, so fuck him. This is an axe I will ALWAYS grind even if it’s 30 years later and just showed that I’ve always been somewhat impossible to deal with whenever I get irate or feel entitled. Which can be quite regularly… lol.

Anyways, I signed out of high school on ‘principle’ because the assistant principal was a complete dick at the worst time for me and all of my hard work that ended up dashed onto the rocks of stubbornness.  Cliché is not cliché whenever it’s accurate, but I have to say; story of my life.

Look, I prolly made a HUGE mistake in flaming the substitute teacher AND Mr. Russel both, whereas who knows what upside would’ve come from me calming down, lying to them about the assignment, or just mailing it in and taking a low grade, etc.. I might’ve actually fucking graduated on time…

But I didn’t because that’s NOT me… I’m aggressive and contentious and extremely volatile whenever challenged on an issue where I feel I have a leg to stand on, so again, fuck those guys. I grew up in Venice and got infected with that ‘war all the time/survival mode’ mindset to a degree that has caused MANY things in my life to blow up in my face. Now, I’ve also blown up in other peoples faces too, and leveraged many people who where/are miles above me in terms of success, wealth, status, etc., which I couldn’t have done if I didn’t stay true to these aggressive bones in my body.

What did we learn here?

  1. I’m not a high school dropout, I’m a high school sign

2. Ed Russel can(STILL) go fuck himself.

3. I will argue and fight tooth & nail, and to the absolute bitter end if I feel I’m being wronged, even if it sets me back enormously.

4. I’m from Venice, Ca. From a special time that will never be the same there, or any of the other unique parts of L.A., Hollywood, San Pedro, Long Beach, Inglewood, etc. There was a different risk to being on and around the streets back then, and it was for SURE waay more grimy and wide open..

5. I went to night school as a teenager. ~O_o~

It’s pretty apparent I was never meant to tackle higher scholastics, as I don’t possess the attention span, I.Q., nor disposition to tolerate those in the position of teaching and or,assistance in ANY type of head-head disagreement. So therefore I became a lifelong alcoholic en route to a 15 year tenure making dirty movies, which (and I say this in ALL earnest) is WAAY more suited to my temperament and inherent shortcomings.

This has been a(sort of) nice trip down memory lane, and has done wonders to remind me what a complete bastard I am whenever I get really riled up, ornery. Perniciousness as a virtue I say…. and say it loudly. Goodnight,  ~ von S.