Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Fast Times

I’m sitting here in my room trying to work on the wine weekend post. Despite (or maybe because of) liberal amounts of Holly Creek Merlot (and I DO drink fucking merlot as long as it’s good, thank you very much!), inspiration is in short supply. Instead of turning out literary Eagle’s Peak, I’m writing Two Buck Chuck. And NOT the first batch OR the Shiraz (which ain’t all that bad, if truth be told). Nah, I’ve got uninspired third run Charles Shaw Merlot going here. Not sure why, but every sentence I’ve written on Girls Gone Wine, Part Three, has been stilted, pretentious and boring. Pretentious AND boring. That just ain’t fair.

So tonight I’m watching Fast Times At Ridgemont High, a coming of age movie that most of you have probably seen, starring a chubby cheeked Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates (before she landed Kevin Kline, the lucky bitch!), Sean Penn (before he landed his first punch on a member of the paparazzi and made Shanghai Surprise with Madonna, the shmuck), Eric Stolz (before he spent most of Anaconda unconscious, smart guy), and assorted other now fairly well known actors playing students of Ridgemont High.

Ridgemont High. Known to some of us as Clairemont High. Clairemont High, on Ute Street in the San Diego neighborhood of Clairemont, my high school. And 1979, my junior year, was the year that 20 something writer Cameron Crow infiltrated the senior class of Clairemont High as a student.

I read the book before I saw the movie. Recognized 90 percent of people used as inspiration (singlely and composites) for the ‘fictional’ characters. This included ‘Brad, ‘ Stacy’s brother and fast food king. I dated ‘Brad.’ He had his sister ask me out on the date. I worked with ‘Stacy’ (well, I worked with at least half of Stacy since some speculate her character was a combination of two Clairemont students) at Hickory Farms in University Towne Center (played in the movie adaptation by the Encino/Van Nuys Galleria). My love life with her brother lasted for two dates; he got mad at me when I wouldn’t go out with him and his parents for Chinese food one night. I had the stomach flu (yes, I really did!), but this feeble excuse didn’t any ice with the fast food king.

My friend Judy (loosely disguised as ‘Jodie’ in the book) was annoyed because of a scene in a Jacuzzi at the ‘after prom’ in which she supposedly touched Damon’s dick underwater. If Judy says she didn’t do it, then she didn’t do it. She and I were both kinda geeky in Junior High, but I like to think that while we retain our inner geekiness (like a chewy nougat center in a chocolate), we both grew a glossy, more socially acceptable outer shell. I know that Judy did; she was exotically gorgeous without any self-conscious awareness of the fact. Her sister dated my brother. But that’s another story.

While many things about the book and subsequent movie are fairly accurate, most of the real kids that Crowe used as models for his characters were semi-geeky. They weren’t the popular kids, the ones with the prime spot in the lunch court. My personal theory is that Cameron Crowe was one of us (a geek) in high school and wanted a chance to do it all again as one of the ‘in’ crowd. So he wrote his admittedly hilarious book about the people that he hung out with during his year as a mole at Clairemont High, making those kids (and thereby himself,) popular.

I never really liked high school; graduated a semester early just to get on with the rest of my life. But watching Fast Times At Ridgemont High, while I would go so far as to say that they were the best years of my life (NOT even close), makes me think fondly about my years at Clairemont High.

13 Comments:

  • At 9:25 AM, Blogger FreeThinker said…

    That is so cool that you attended the high school that inspired "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" -- one of my favorite movies (and soundtracks)! Jeff Spicoli was the cool dude I always wanted to be. Did you know whoever inspired his character?

    All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine. -- Jeff Spicoli

     
  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    It always bugged me that they didn't film it in San Diego.

    I thought Sean Penn perfectly channeled the Modoc St. Gang...

     
  • At 11:25 AM, Anonymous karen said…

    Yes, I agree - the movie is much, much better than high school. But when I watch it, there's something about it which transports me back to that time - kind of like when you hear a song from a certain era.

    Cameron missed out, though, by not writing about the girl in the Blue Mustang. :)

     
  • At 12:29 PM, Blogger Dave Fitzgerald said…

    I love this movie -who doesn't? So many classic lines! It's also really amazing how many actors seem to have gotten their start from that movie. And isn't it weird that Sean Penn has never done another comedic role since?

     
  • At 8:08 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    FT, there were supposedly several people that inspired the Spicoli character - i'm gonna dig out one of my yearbooks and see if I can't find the dude that I remember as being my prime suspect for that...

    Karen...ah me, if you're who I THINK you are, and I think you are, remember the kamikaze rides down Ticonderoga hill in the blue mustang? Not to mention vodka and orange juice at UCSD...

    Other Lisa, they SHOULD have filmed it at UTC!

    Dave, we can just blame Madonna for everything!

    And one thing I don't miss? The irridescent eye shadow...

     
  • At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    I suspect that KD formed the bulk of the Spicoli character. Judging from his reaction when the book was published, I think he did too. :)

     
  • At 11:33 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    I suspect you're right, Debbie...

    And let's not forget Jay Roberts as...oh, what the heck was the character's name? Boyfriend of the cheerleader...

     
  • At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Karen said…

    the cheerleader = Mary Jo Zafis?

    Vodka & OJ - that's buried somewhere in the recesses but I'm too scared to look.

    Ticonderoga hill - my sister lives over there now and when I visited her this summer, I found myself humming Heart songs.

     
  • At 8:09 PM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    Okay, who's KD?

    "He's a Magic Maaaan....yeeaahyeaahyeahhh....."

     
  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    YUp, Mary Jo Zafis and Jay Roberts...

    Karen, a more appropriate song for Ticonderoga Hill would be Renegade.

    And how about that Wild West Party we held in my parent's back yard?...Gunslinger Mike?

    oooh, my head hurts now...

     
  • At 3:12 PM, Anonymous john mccullough said…

    I thought that Spicoli was based on the McCulloch brothers we went to school with.. Hi DANA John McCullough from high school.. I got, still in San Diego.. Im a personal chef..money is not bad.. tell Lisa.. I still think of her everytime I play a Pretenders tune..

     
  • At 3:13 PM, Anonymous john said…

    I got married.. that is.

     
  • At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I graduated from CHS 2002, I totally love that we have a movie based on our HIgh School, I didn't know it until Mr.C, that is Mr. Cravens told us about it back in 99.

     

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