Inspection- Short and Weird: the Story of Glenn Carella

by Ken Carman

I don’t remember how we first met, but it was in Junior High. I know: now they call it Middle School. Maybe we were in the same homeroom? Not sure. My first best friend, Dell, and I were kind of drifting apart and then here was this short guy with a devilish grin, darkish, yet, sandy hair. I could tell from the very first moment he was all hot and heavy for me.

I’m kidding!

No, somehow we just naturally slid into being friends, sandwiching our lives together: two equally weird, lightly toasted, pieces of bread. By the time the friendship was solid I think my Dad was more his Dad than mine, which was OK: they were more alike in some ways than Bill Carman and I were. And, oh, I tried being a ham radio operator too, like them, but my mind has never been all that technical. In fact, even now when I start to think about it I begin to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Why did you wake me?

Oh, to tell you more about Glenn.

My first impression was: “short and weird.” Of course no one ever called me a normal kinda guy, and I’ve never been what women call “a tall sip.” More like, “Who’s that ugly, short toad?”

“Short and weird” was a high recommendation to young Ken. Still is.

I think Glenn and I shared a mutual sense of befriending that geeks do, long before there was ever anything called we called a “geek.” No, we were called far worse, but we were just oddballs, that’s all. Like one of our mutual friends I met in elementary: Richard Suydam. Did I spell it right? Been so long. Richard was black, dressed up in Nazi memorabilia, and goosestepped through the halls, saluting ala’ Adolph everywhere he went. As I told him, “You do realize you’d be one of the first to go to the ovens?” He agreed.

Yes, our “gang;” if you could call it that, was the geek gang of its time, washed: drenched with weirdness. But then again… I did mention this was Junior High School, right? Isn’t “weird” pretty much the definition of that age bracket?

I think Glenn was part of the AV club, like me, and we would go around delivering projectors to different classrooms; even running them from time to time.

Hey, it got us out of some real boring classes.

He lived in Valley Cottage, and used to live not too far from my cousin Joyce. Upstairs apartment, if I remember right? Maybe not… Anyway, I visited there a few times, and he came over to my place too, in Nyack… for guitar lessons once, actually twice. He really wanted to learn Tommy and the Who. I obliged, as best I could being a folkie at heart, but eventually he realized I was not worthy.

Still not, even though I make my living, in part, off of music.

Glenn and I were heavily into the new Conservative movement of the 60s, and he may have even helped with my father’s campaign for trustee over in Nyack: one step down from mayor and important enough that Dad and I met Nixon across the Hudson, in Westchester, when he was just getting ready to run for the 68 campaign, though it may have actually been 66 or 67.

He too was short and had delusions of grandeur. So you better keep that in mind, Mr. Glenn.

Yes, he too was short and had delusions of grandeur. So you better keep that in mind, Mr. Ken.

Though not all that stage-y at the time, Glenn did appear with me in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. I think he played Charlie and I played Linus, as a foil to my no where near as bratty as Lucy: Cousin Joyce. Maybe Schroeder?

For someone whose memory gets so specific I can remember the color and makeup of what covered the drop down tables in the cafeteria at Liberty Street Elementary, a lot of this is more vague than I would have liked when I wrote this. And why is it I didn’t remember it was “Glenn,” and not “Glen?” Just before publication I went to send him a message at Facebook and I screamed, “Hold the presses!” …to the thousands of gerbils who run the digital presses at Our End of the Net, the first stop on the Inspection train.

What each individual mind remembers, what each individual mind forgets, is so odd… just like Junior High students.

I think we started to drift when I got to the point I simply hated living so damn close to “the City.” Not his fault. Who wants to hear constant slams against where one lives? I obsessed: true, as teens tend to do. I became even more of a way over the top fanatic for the Central Adirondacks; a siren call for many Carmans from that era. I also admit, as a naturally repressed teen; who was repressing myself even more so there was nothing I wanted to hang around for, I probably wasn’t the best companion at the time. I’m even forgotten how to fetch or rollover. I did work at a cemetery for a while, so maybe I could play dead.

As Bart Simpson once said, “Depressing teenagers: like shooting fish in a barrel.” I think you can also replace the “D” with an “R,” except maybe the “in” crowd. Ever notice how the kids the parents want us to emulate always did the same damn things we did and worse, they just got glossed over and ignored?

Don’t think Glenn or I ever could have claimed to be a member of any “in”-crowd, and nothing we did was as bad as what some of the “in” crowd got away with.

But since this is mostly a commentary blog, why the hell am I telling you all this?

I wrote a column a while back that mentioned Glenn. I know my Conservative/National Review driven heart, influenced him. I met him many years ago in Nyack when I was visiting. He just happened to see me driving through with my wife Millie.

“Is that? Could it be.”

Yup. Twere moi’.

We chatted quite a while and, ham radio op he was, he signed off his goodbye with a Limbaugh-ish “Dittoes.”

I cringed. What had I done?

I’m going to be honest here: I find most super dedicated Limbaugh listeners deaf, blind and often dumb in all senses of the word. How can any go so nuts over a man who spends most of his time praising himself? I know: supposed to be funny, be satire. But long ago it went into worship at the altar of self. Oh, he fakes the humble act, on air, but moments later he’s blathering about how wonderful he thinks he art.

I find the more one does that, the less wonderful one is, even if they play that cheap trick, when caught, “Oh, I was just ‘joking.'”

And I don’t find him all that accurate. In fact the 99% stat he spouted for so long for his proven “accuracy” might as well stand: only flipped to inaccurate.

Recently Glenn and I got together again on the net. Glad to see he’s still tech savvy. My father would be proud. Wish I had had the schnock to make him as happy and proud as he was of you, Glenn. Did you know his interest in radio started during WWII in the Philippines when he was the guy in charge of the radio who helped report Japanese positions? That was a dangerous job to have: you were a big target.

I was also glad he had changed, and mellowed, some, politically. I have always said, “One doesn’t necessarily become more Conservative or Liberal with age: we just change.”

I also think if we don’t change we become more bitter, more unpleasant to be around, and closer to the final curtain. So I was glad to find Glen too has grown, changed, and found new and interesting perspectives.

So life’s adventure continues and we are becoming reacquainted. Maybe you can help fill in some of the gaps, Glenn. But somehow I just can’t forget that devilish grin I saw when we first met.

From pictures you’ve posted, I can tell it’s still there.

Somethings don’t change, and that’s a good thing.

-30-

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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