Middle School "Confessions"

In light of my misplacing my autobiography – hopefully that situation is soon remedied – here are some tidbits of my elementary/middle school experience.

  1. I had a run in with my elementary school principal in the fifth grade because a third grader (I think) mistook my “I’m putting you on the list” reprimand for a more serious one than it really was. Actually, I was a safety patrol and had been ordered to write down the names of kids who behaved badly in my sector. 
  2. I used to walk to school every now and then, a mile long trek from my house near Downtown Miami to the Little Havana neighborhood. My mom wouldn’t let me ride my bicycle to school; in retrospect, though, that would’ve been much practical
  3. I had a girlfriend the entirety of eighth grade, the same year that the administration thought it necessary to install security cameras in the stairwells – our preferred make out spot. Nothing ever occurred in those stairwells since, for me at least. 
  4. The last day of eight grade, juice boxes were being used as weapons, to some extent, in the second floor hallway after lunchtime. Some ne’er do well started the “juice fight” by squirting punch at someone. Minutes later, the tiled floor was littered with sticky sucrose. 
  5. The only reason I joined the Art Club for a few months during my eighth grade year was to appease my girlfriend, who loved art. Needless to say, I didn’t really progress much in the way of my artistic capabilities. 
  6. I trace the beginnings of my relationship with journalism and TV Production to the seventh grade, where I developed and was given the permission to broadcast my own five-minute variety show, featuring the weather report, offbeat news, interviews and musical talent. To this day, I’m surprised why I never recorded any of the shows, and why I never fathomed how incredible of an opportunity that was given my age. 
  7. I used to think staying after school was No Man’s Land – hence, I cherished doing so whenever I got the chance. 
Yeah, nothing too crazy. 
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Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton

James Lipton at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.
James Lipton at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve gotten the chance, as of late, to watch some episodes of Bravo’sInside the Actors Studio“, an interview show that has been on the air for years, profiling big name actors and directors and comedians from Julia Roberts to Meryl Streep, to Steven Spielberg to Dave Chappelle.

The show is hosted by James Lipton, an American writer  composer, actor and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City. The show has an interesting history, beginning as a seminar given masters students at the University and blooming into an internationally syndicated show broadcast in over a hundred countries.

But what appeals to me, as an aspiring journalist with a developing knack for, and certainly a desire to, speak to and meet people and learn about as many human life stories as I can, is the show’s and Lipton’s style. The show uses a deliberately slow, natural pace; you feel like you’re watching a conversation fruiting on your television screen as opposed to a “cut-for-time” television interview. It’s relaxed, introspective and often emotional.

That’s why no episode spans shorter than 30 minutes time.

James Lipton with guest Angelina Jolie. The ma...
James Lipton with guest Angelina Jolie. The majority of the show is held as a one-on-one interview. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the kind of thing I’d like to do in the future with my professional career. Be they broadcast on TV, Internet, radio; be they not broadcast at all, these are the kind of conversations I want to have with people, whether famous, unknown or in-between.

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The Next Pee-Wee Herman

This entry was written by Christine Baez, a University of Miami freshman and good friend of mine.

You can find Tomás Lautaro Monzón – “Tom” – riding his pimped out bike to a class he’s not registered for at Florida International University. His illegal immigrant status makes it difficult for him to attend college – even as his high school’s valedictorian – while his New Balance shoes keep him from getting a girl.

Tom finds joy in learning even though he won’t get college credit for it, so he gracefully sits in on classes.

A milk crate hangs on the back of Tom’s bright blue bicycle filled with over-sized cameras and an outdated fanny pack. His bike inventions include double crates on the back and a stereo system using two computers speaker and a mini amplifier.

He even hopes to upgrade to a motor bicycle someday.

Although he was never the best at attracting girls, Tom was pretty famous at his high school. He wasn’t the most popular, but it was difficult to find someone who didn’t have a smile on their face when Tom was in the presence.

It’s hard not to smile when you see a tall, lanky kid wearing Old Navy shirts and accessorizing with thick-rimmed glasses, a half smile and ape-like legs.

Most people at his high school recognize him by his bicycle – a “1972 10-speed Free Spirit Brittany”. Tom rode to his homecoming dance on his bike and almost went to prom on it.

The only thing that stopped him was a flat tire.

Luckily his bike wanted him to have some dignity that day and prevented Tom from scaring his prom date away. Yes, he found one – in the form of his girl best friend, that is.

Tom may have left prom without a girl on his arm, but he had a large crown and sash with the words “Prom King” to make up for it.

He was selected as a “Senior of Distinction” at South Miami Senior High School, his alma mater. There was a photoshoot for these seniors in which each brought awards aond objects that made them, well, distinct. While everyone brought trophies and medals, Tom held his bulky video camera with one hand and his bright blue bicycle with the other.

While cruising down Miami’s Calle Ocho on his Free Spirit bicycle, with his long black hair blowing in the wind, Tom saw an attractive girl walking towards him. Looking at this girl caused him to steer off the sidewalk and into the grassy plot adjacent, landing directly in front of the bombshell. It was as if his Free Spirit had a mind of its own and strolled right up to the girl; something Tom was not capable of doing on his own.

One time he had told a girl he would pick her up at her house and they would go out somewhere. Expecting a car, “the girl’s face turned white” when she saw Tom pull up on his 70s 10-speed.

“There’s an innate aestheticism to the bicycle than can’t be matched,” Tom explained. That very appreciation for the two-wheeled vehicle cost Tom a kiss with an artsy type outside the museum. As Tom was leaning in, he got distracted by a beautiful road bicycle careening down the street at over twenty miles per hour.

By the time he came back to earth, the girl was in her car and down the street.

As an aspiring journalist, he wants to “be stuck in a cubicle poring over a news report”. Alternatively, he’d like to pursue teaching and park maintenance.

Tom’s also concerned with the sustainability of the environment, especially when it comes to transportation. In fact, as connected as Tom is to his bicycle, he fantasizes about being a bus driver. He’s even awaiting the purchase of a driving simulator, complete with a 900 degree steering wheel and force feedback – even though he’s never gotten behind the wheel of a car.

From looking at his resumé  you would think that Tomás Monzón would become a Harvard graduate, create his own newspaper, or become a famous news anchor. While those plans are in the works, for the moment, those who know him can picture Tom leading a different lifestyle: riding his Free Spirit bicycle around the streets of sunny Miami, Florida.