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THE WEBLOG ARCHIVE: The Early Years

April 18, 2006

The Early Years: Recommendation from a Friend | 01:50 PM

Recently unearthed: My good friend Dave Stern (more recently seen as "Buddy" in Buddy Cianci:The Musical) wrote this recommendation for me at the tender age of 18. I think I can aver, without hesitation, that it was these kind words that got me into college. (Poor quality of document can be attributed to its location for the intervening 14 years: attached, by magnet, to the refrigerator at my mother's apartment, directly above the stove.)


(click to enlarge)


February 21, 2006

The Early Years: Documents Relating to My Education | 12:07 PM

In the summer of 1992, I went to China. The group consisted of: HS Chinese teacher Guo YuMing, her daughter Nie Nie (Elizabeth), Shana Norberg-[McClain], David Stern, Iwao Kato, Yael Kropsky, Leslie [Lee] Bowe, Jean Lau Kee (a non-HS student who didn't quite know what she was getting into), and several other people whose names escape me at the moment.

As a result of a three-week intensive course in the Chinese language, in which I learned just how little Chinese I had managed to retain from my previous six years of study, I was awarded this certificate:

certificate.jpg

(Photo detail after the jump)

certificatedetail.jpg


shana comments: "oh hi there. I just googled peter leventhal, on an insomniac whim, and found myself. zhen qiguai."

corie comments: "did your neck get shorter with age?"

JVG comments: "I had a neck-shortening operation Junior year of college."

corie comments: "well, better than a head enlargement."

April 04, 2005

PS3 Rides Again | 11:51 AM

Hm. Turns out I went to Grade School with The Bachelor. He's not on this page of the yearbook, but does appear a few pages earlier. (Scan to follow when scanner becomes a working device. Won't that be fun?)


December 05, 2003

The Early Years: Old Friends | 06:05 PM

Going through the Van Gieson Archives (available to the public by appointment only), I happened across my 5th Grade yearbook which, on the autographs page, contained heartwarming messages from my closest grade school friends.

ps31985.gif

Such fond memories. Though I'm still in contact with some associates from that era, including Miranda, Sarah, and David (author of the note "Your weird" above — all these years later, has your opinion changed, David? HAS IT?) I have lost touch with most of these fond autographers. And yet I wonder, what are they up to these days? Have they fulfilled their childhood ambitions as outlined on the yearbook's "What I Want to Be When I Grow Up" page? Are they living out their 5th Grade dreams? Sadly, several minutes of Google searching reveals that the answer, most likely, is no.

Eben Davidson
Inscription: "[something crossed out] Shut up pee Eben"
WIWTBWIGU: Oscar-Winning Actor
If he's the same Eben Davidson who is an executive assistant to Scott Rudin, he seems to have settled for a life behind the camera. One wonders if he ever calls Mr. Rudin "pee."

Amilcar Dohrn-Melendez
Inscription: "Get the hell out of my life, piss-brain! Just kidding! Bye Amilcar"
WIWTBWIGU: Archaeologist
Far from digging in the dirt, Amilcar seems to be working at McCabe's guitar shop in LA, unless that's a different Amilcar Dohrn-Melendez.

Colin Dwyer
Inscription: "Go bye, bye, from me (Colin)"
WIWTBWIGU: A Writer
Sadly, despite his wishes, Colin was not able to go bye bye for very long, transferring to my middle school a scant 2 years later and staying in the vicinity through High School graduation. Though Google features many Colin Dwyers doing various things, word on the street (20th street, I think it was) puts Col-Col as a full-blown vet nowadays.

Molly Rubin
Inscription: "I now [sic] your [sic] hiperactive [sic] and your [sic] a jerk but I hope you plan on getting nicer from Molly"
WIWTBWIGU: Actress
Dude, Molly was totally hot for me. Now, she's either a "web surfer", a designer, a religious scholar, or sixty years old.

Jessica Sittner-Schwarting
Inscription: "Have a good summer weirdo, Jessica"
WIWTBWIGU: Veterinarian
The only "Jessica Schwarting" on the internet is working at the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Maryland. Don't be disappointed that you're not a vet, Jessica. Remember, people are animals, too.

Well, friends, I hope you're all happy in your new careers, and not feeling too harshly the shame of having disappointed your 5th Grade selves. If you're ever in the neighborhood, drop a note in the comments.


Friend comments: "Shut up, pee."

miranda comments: "Oh, I am so going to have to dig up my 5th grade yearbook now. I remember Eben Davidson signing my yearbook in a big orange marker, and that weird x-shaped snake thingy looks shockingly familiar. Someone left a similar imprint on my yrbk. I don't remember if Amilcar signed mine, but I remember that pic of him & Eben at halloween, one of them in drag and the other lookin' like a biker boy... do you have that somewhere?"

JVG comments: "Photo is here. That wasn't Almicar, that was this guy. And do you recognize one of the clowns in the next photo over?"

m comments: "Oh yeah! Wow, we have a lot of actors in our alumni, huh. Eben looks fierce there, yo. Actually I recognize three out of four clowns :)"

Eben comments: "wow... I dont remember much. but it's cool that Amilcar is in LA since I live out here now, I will look him up. ... "

Colin comments: "Well imagine my surprise when I googled myself I found my 5th grade entry in your yearbook is the number one hit on my name/career. I knew my accomplishments peaked early."

Sarah Killeen comments: "I googled Jessica Schwarting, to track her down, and found this. I was in the same class but have blocked out many memories. remember your name but not your face. Hm. Will go look it up. Where are your comics syndicated? "

Jessica S comments: "What a blast from the past. Hey that's me, I'm one of the clowns! I think that's Antonia next to me. "

June 30, 2003

The Early Years: Press | 01:22 PM

At the tender of age of thirteen, my remarkable acting talent was already gracing the stages of one of the outer boroughs.

And, as always, the forth estate was there. The press photo for To Kill A Mockingbird, in this clipping from a local newspaper, hints at the passionate depths of my performance. In this one moment, captured forever only on paper, I am able to convey so many things — standing, looking, wearing overalls — that one cannot help but wish that one could travel back through time, if only to watch a few moments of my remarkable portrayal of "Jem" live.

I received, of course, a rave review:
• "Jon Van Gieson is totally winning..." [Advance, 6/15/87]


May 16, 2003

The Early Years: Works | 10:20 AM

In 1992, at the tender age of 18, I was required to submit a 25 page portfolio for my writing class. After much discussion, our teacher settled on this definition of a "page" of poetry: 10 lines.

The result: no less than five poems in my portfolio titled "filler," each one a masterpiece of lyrical avoidance, and all exactly 10 lines. Finally, three of these poems are available for public enjoyment.

Filler 4: the final straw
Power Books are kind of cool
they help me do my work for school
They are made by Macintosh
And do not look much like galosh
es. Macintosh is made by Apple
A fact that makes me very happle
I am typing on the keyboard
The Power Book is helping meboard
And though this poem is very fine
I end it now, on the tenth line.
Filler, Too
Now poor Jonny he felt like a sap
as he read the past work in his lap
He said "All this writing
I thought was exciting
is in truth unmistakable crap."

Poor Van Gieson discovered the date
was completely, unerringly late
"This portfolio mine
is due, in days, nine
and of the thing this is page eight."

The Ultimate Filler Poem
This
poem
is
filler,
filler,
filler,
and
nothing
but
filler.

April 22, 2003

The Early Years: Today in History | 10:26 AM

In this report, filed twenty-one years ago today, I carefully balance a number of disparate elements: news report, drawing of a castle, and math quiz. Needless to say, the effort is deemed "excellent" by the reviewers.

Notable:
• For mathematicians: a disappointment. Numbers in upper right hand corner ("2222121") show an incomplete grasp of binary.
• For researchers: a triumph! Document contains incontrovertible evidence that April 22, 1982 is the day I learned about homonyms.
• For historians: a puzzle. What is this "New York Experience" I claim to have "went to yesterday"? It seems to be some sort of museum, but a google search reveals only package tours and insipid travelogues.

Journalism: "A cloudy good morning to you." 4/22/82


March 27, 2003

The Early Years: Works | 01:37 PM

From the tender age of 18 to 22, my comic strip "Tales From The Established Norm" ran in the school paper, and garnered some criticism from my friends, who felt that the storylines ran a bit too close to their own lives for comfort. They claimed, for instance, that the main character, Norm, bore a striking resemblance to me. (This is, of course, ridiculous. I have long hair, Norm had a pompadour.) They alleged that certain events happening in the strip — love, breakups, facial hair, student elections, alcoholism, housing problems, bisexuality, failed classes, parole — occurred in conjunction with their own similar experiences.

A quick examination of the facts shows how farcical these accusations are:

– Honestly, I had no idea whatsoever that my ex-girlfriend was dating someone named "Kim" when the character "Kim" in the strip broke up with Norm to date his ex-girlfriend.
– Unlike Norm, at no point during college did I travel through time to battle evil clones of myself, nor was I ever kidnapped by an idiot who stripped me naked and strapped me to a table.
– There was never any scientific proof that the floor covering in my dorm room was a semi-sentient wall-to-wall carpet.

I'm pleased to have the chance to set the record straight. Looking back, though, I know what I may have done wrong, and how to correct it. Why bring this all up now? No particular reason...

• Tales From The Established Norm (1999, Pen & Ink on bristol, unpublished post-college sample strips.)


March 17, 2003

Employment History: VCIX (Oct 1999 - May 2000) | 10:07 AM

Gosh, it looks like my old VCIX bosses are in trouble again. I feel for them, I really do. After all, we parted on amicable terms: They said they weren't happy with my "commitment to the team" and that I had a week to "prove myself," and I responded by demanding unilateral control of my department and a $20,000 raise. We compromised at two weeks severance, leaving me with fonder feelings towards them than the folks who stuck it out to the end and got completely shafted.

• "A Top 100 Scheme", I-Street [via Alba B.]
• VCIX 4-year stock report


March 05, 2003

The Early Years: Today in History | 10:37 AM

An exciting discovery: this report, filed twenty-one years ago today, may just be the first journalistic effort ever by the author.

My talents as a reporter — a meticulous eye for detail ("a mildly cold good morning to you"), an unwavering devotion to accuracy ("On st Patricks day you can find four leaf clovers"), and a clever avoidance of unsubstantiated statements ("We might get our report cards") — are are already well demonstrated.

Notable:
• My editor at the time called the effort "Super Excellent." Those who have called into doubt the authenticity of this comment — based on the laughable theory that the words "super" and "excellent" are in vastly different handwriting, and the editor "Lynn" is unlikely to have referred to herself in the third person — are simply jealous of my early success.
• The elegant full color illustration. The image — a fat, unfashionable child finding a lopsided pot of gold outside his angry house — must surely stand as one of the great ironic parables of our time.
• Metajournalism, ("News Flash: Today we wrote a news flash...") a decade before "meta" entered the popular lexicon. Can this mean that, at the tender age of seven I invented meta? There is no evidence to the contrary.

Journalism: "A mildly cold good morning to you." 3/5/82


February 07, 2003

The Early Years: Today in History | 02:21 AM

After such blazing brilliance in previous news reports, this sample, filed nineteen years ago today, is – to say the least – somewhat disappointing.

Notable:
• The mysterious: I have just, for some reason, blacked out the first entry. Is this because, even at the tender age of nine, I was a killer for the CIA?
• The confusing: "The most famous letter was in a newspaper for fifteen." What the hell could I possibly have meant? How is this newsworthy?
• The risquι: "20 years ago the Beatles came." Is this really appropriate reportage for a fourth grader?

Journalism: "Some high school kids gave up drugs" 2/7/84


February 04, 2003

The Early Years: Awards & Honors | 09:57 AM

Many of you, I am sure, frequently wonder; "Sure, he's famous, but can he handle a sword?" Pontificate no longer. The answer resides in one of the most highly prized in my collection of awards: the Templars MVP Trophy, won at the tender age of eighteen years.

• Awards: Most Valuable Player 1991-1992


January 30, 2003

The Early Years: Today in History | 08:38 PM

In non-Lockhart news, regular jvg.com browser RhodeKill writes: "Put up more drawings on your Web site." Always happy to oblige my fans: This report, filed twenty years ago today, showcases my early breakthroughs in editorial cartooning.

Illustrations:
• Subtle and well-considered ethnic caricature
• Mischievous 'juvinile' ensconced in a bush
• Smallest midget wedding
• "Here is your food!"
• Notably missing: Michael Jackson on fire

Journalism: "The average in the U.S. watches 7 hours of TV a day" 1/30/83


January 26, 2003

The Early Years: Today in History | 06:30 PM

Another foray into the fourth estate, this one filed nineteen years ago today. Even the most cursory of glances makes it clear that I had developed considerably as a journalist – and, indeed, as a human being – in the one year and two days since the previous report.

Notables:
• I had by this point developed my trademark "rapier" wit and incisive eye for political commentary (then-President Reagan, for instance, is cleverly dubbed a "brat head")
• Also in evidence: a keen grasp of the subtleties of constitutional law
• Ducks are coming into fashion

Journalism: Current Events 1/26/84


January 24, 2003

The Early Years: Today in History | 01:56 AM

Like a vintage copy of the New York World, my early journalistic endeavors afford an invaluable glance into the pulse of a bygone era. This report, filed twenty years ago today, captures on paper a moment in time.

Top stories:
• In-depth analysis of early-80s copyright issues
• Scrupulously researched author profile
• Medical update: hospatial funding
• International: The latest news from Britland
• Tarzan died

Journalism: Current Events 1/24/83


January 21, 2003

The Early Years: Awards & Honors | 01:12 PM

As might be expected, my myriad abilities were worthy of recognition even in the very blush of youth. This highly-coveted award, bestowed upon me at the tender age of six years, celebrates not only my unparalleled athletic prowess, but also my artistic genius and love of the environment.

• Awards: Certificate of Achievement 8/22/1980

Bonus question: Which other celebrity, star of television and movies, received this award at the same time?


January 02, 2003

The Early Years: Early Works | 01:37 AM

SL likes to say "There's no 'off' button on the genius switch." Nowhere is that more evident than in this brilliant Star Wars Parody from my "Pop Art" period.

Highlights:
- Luke Skywalker = "Lou Airrunner", Han Solo = "Hum Soso"
- Bara Watt: "Die! Die! I've killed him." Nokey Two: "He did not kill me, but just cut off my cape."
- A careful examination of Panel 11 finds Nokey Two's nose and Van Dyke hidden in the scribbles of the "cave"

Points for discussion:
- Are the different color inks used to enhance the mood of the piece, or because the artist lost the black pen?
- Does panel 16 read "ZOOM" or "NOOM"? If "NOOM," does that make any sense?
- Why is Lou Airrunner fighting an asterisk with his blob? Why did they blow up that giant breast?



• Star Wars Parody (c. 1981, ballpoint pen on yellow legal paper, lined)


December 17, 2002

The Early Years: Press | 02:40 PM

A sharp-eyed Daily News photog catches me off-guard – at the tender age of 17 months – in a contemplative mood and a fashionable shirt. What brilliance was I in the process of creating? Sadly, lost in the sands of time.

• clipping: New York Daily News, 10/24/75


December 15, 2002

The Early Years: Press | 12:09 AM

One of the sad prices of fame is constant hounding by the paparazzi. Even at the tender age of two months, the fourth estate had already closed in.

• clipping: Augusta Chronicle, 5/27/74


December 14, 2002

The Early Years | 02:42 AM

Many celebrities are kind enough to share of themselves in the form of an autobiography. I shall endeavor to be no less magnanimous. To begin, I present these recently uncovered documents relating to my birth.

Notables:
• Yes, the name on my birth certificate is "Baby Boy Van Gieson"
• Shaky, all-caps style of collection letter makes it all the more intimidating
• Spinal column leakage appears to affect spelling ability
• In the mid-70s, "psychic damage" was worth a mere $200

relevant documents


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