Dan Kimber Archive Blogs
November/December 2011

 

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This article was written for the CV Weekly.

Welcome to my Blog:
I am your resident plagiarist who once worked for the Glendale News Press. I wrote over 400 columns for the paper and have been ousted for relatively rare moments of unoriginality. I now welcome an opportunity to come clean with any of you up this way who may have read what I’ve written for the last nine years. I would ask, though, for you to judge for yourselves whether my transgressions were serious enough to discredit the 99% of original work I did contribute (FOR THE RECORD, That’s an estimate. It may be closer to 99.5%) I’ve taken my lumps in the past month or so; I’ve kicked myself repeatedly, and I’ve wondered what took place in my mind that allowed me to occasionally get lazy in my writing.

I can say that it only happened when I strayed too far from what I knew. I should have listened to my old math teacher at CV, Ron Klint, who told me to stick to writing about my family. When I found myself looking to see what others had said about the topic I had chosen for the week, the internet put a world of ideas at my disposal along with the temptation to borrow a phrase or two from someone who said perfectly what I wanted to say. Just one or two tiles in the mosaic I was trying to piece together.

I didn’t see a problem, but I should have. People have a right to expect originality from public disseminators of information, be they from major networks or small town newspapers.

And yet……

Words and ideas are building blocks we use to tell a story, or to make our case. We barely own them, and attempts to do so are futile and counter to their purpose. That is what I thought in my own writing and that is what I thought in granting permission to others over the years to use my words. It did not, and does not, occur to me that I be given credit by another for having used words as I did in any particular combination.

I spent long hours on each and every one of my columns. The original piece that was flagged was about “Joe the Machinist” and was, ironically, one of my better efforts. The introductory paragraph said in a few sentences--veteran employees across the country being cut in salary to protect business bottom lines--what had just happened to all free lancers at the News Press (Therein lies a tale).

For a full reckoning and a more complete description of my “fall from grace” as one local commentator put it, I invite you to visit my new blog at:
www.parsec-santa.com/dankimber
I’ve been beaten down over this, and I think it’s time to pick myself up.

BLOGS START HERE

December 22, 2011

L.A. Unified’s attempt to offer up healthy food for its students is commendable but the mass rejection of that food by those students is predictable. Schools throughout the nation have for too long served up “what the kids like to eat”, including sodium, sugar and fat-laden foods and are, in the last few years. seeing the results of their daily offerings. Healthier foods don’t stand a chance.

I can’t help but wonder, though, when it became the responsibility of public schools to provide proper nutrition for its students. When did our children stop packing lunches from home where parents controlled what they ate during the day? When did they abandon that responsibility and decide to thrust a five dollar bill into their children’s hands to buy what they wanted from vending machines?

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December 14, 2011

My father-in-law had a favorite Christmas story that always brought tears to his eyes when he told it. It involved 10 of his army buddies from World War Ii, and it happened on December 24, 1943.

His company was part of a platoon of soldiers stationed in Alaska serving as forward sentinels against any movement by the Japanese in that remote, but vulnerable corner of our country. Aside from a family of bears these men adopted, they had only each other’s company for the better part of a year in a vast, frozen wilderness.

On this night before Christmas, the bitter cold and the remoteness of their outpost deepened their feelings of isolation from the rest of the world, and especially from their families. As they sat huddled in their snowy encampment, memories of Christmases past and family feasts and home fires were shared. At this end of the earth, and in a world torn by war, this was to be their Christmas.

A radio had been left on for the past week in hopes of hearing some news, any news, which might put them in touch with home. But the steady droning of static piercing the nighyt air was all they heard. In a way, the crackling of the radio was a connection, however faint, with the outside world, and it seemed to bring some comfort to these men.

On this night, however, as the snow fell and they were gathered around the campfire, the static cleared for a few precious minutes. The men stopped talking and couldn’t believe their ears. They settled back into their blankets and their private memories as an armed forces broadcast found its way into their northern latitude. Bing Cro9sby was singing to them, quite clearly, of a white Christmas.

Somehow, some way, this familiar voice and this beloved song had made its way to these very lonely soldiers in this desolate place.

“A genuine Christmas miracle”, my father-in-law would always add at the end of his telling of this story, once he regained his composure. In the years since, these men never lost contact with each other, and this was their most cherished memory.

On this Christmas while we celebrate and come together as families, we might all pause to remember the young men and women who are many miles away from us serving our country in its present cause. Even those of us who respectfully, but fervently, disagree with our country’s present course can still honor and pray for the safe return of our soldiers.

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December 07, 2011

A few years back a directive was sent out to all teachers in Glendale schools to guard against endorsing any particular religion in “acknowledging the December holidays”. Our district, like so many others, is at pains to avoid any suggestion that instruction is tainted by religious proselytizing. The question is asked at this time of year whether a celebration of Christmas, any celebration, is necessarily a promotion of its religious origins?

On a personal and professional level, I’ve always felt capable of conveying the spirit of Christmas without asking someone to consider the status of his/her immortal soul. Another district memo stated how important that all students feel comfortable and accepted in their schools and that symbols of religious holidays may make some students feel uncomfortable and unwelcome".

I understand why a school district would prefer to play it safe on this issue, but I don't approach the subject in the same way. Christmas in school was, when I was a student, and was when I was teacher, a great time of the year when everyone seems to be in a better mood. I regard whatever, and whoever brings that into my life to be a good thing, and I'm going topromote it. If saying, "Merry Christmas" draws me closer to the people around me, then I'll say it all day long. If a non-Christian or atheist thinks that I am looking to recruit him/her into my personal theology, then I think he or she is thinking too much. (On the other side of this divide, ditto for all the fundamentalists who insist that there is a "war on Christmas" that is employing an army of secular humanists trying to take away the true
meaning of the holiday.)

In thirty-five years of teaching I never encountered or remotely detected, a single student who felt put upon or proselytized by references to the holiday that approached. What I did see, and what is imprinted on my mind every
December, are kids who are more receptive to giving than receiving, and just a little, maybe just a little, more loving.

That spirit, I humbly submit, is exclusive to no religion and has a place wherever people, regardless of their age, come together.

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December 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Several years back I got a call from Larry Zarian to appear on his t.v. show. One of my columns had generated some controversy in the Armenian community and he wanted to interview me. I braced myself for an adversarial hour but found instead a very kind man who asked fair questions and was a very good listener. Unlike the editor of the Glendale News Press I did not "kibbutz" regularly with Larry (note to Dan Evans: a kibbutz is an Israeli commune), but I did appear twice on his show and found him each time to be a perfect gentleman, a superb interviewer and a man truly devoted to the public good. All the accolades I've heard about him in the wake of his death are richly deserved.

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November 23, 2011

She was just seventeen. She came to me after class looking very distressed.
“Can I talk to you after school, Mr. Kimber?”
“Of course”, I said.
After school I heard her tale of woe.
Her cousin, age 25, had been sexually abusing her for the last two years, and she was afraid to tell anyone.

“He’s like a prince in our family”, she told me. “No one will believe me. If I say anything about this, it will split our family apart. You don’t understand our culture, Mr. Kimber.”
“Do you understand, now that you have told me this, that I must report it?”, I asked her.
“Please, please don’t do that Mr. Kimber. My father will kill him.
“I have no choice”, I told her. “By keeping this to myself I’d be breaking the law. You do want this to stop don’t you”, I asked.
“Yes, but …..
The next week was a tough one for my student and her family. The proper authorities had been contacted and a full investigation was launched. There were charges and counter-charges and there was indeed a rupture in the family, perhaps for years to come. My young student, now in the center of this storm, would not speak to me for having revealed what she considered to be confidential.

After a few weeks, though, she came to me after class to tell me that a black cloud had been lifted from her life, and she wanted to thank me.

I was glad that she had felt comfortable in coming to me; glad that there are forces to bear on troubled men (This is exclusively a “man” problem) ; glad that I did not hesitate and glad that this girl’s nightmare was over; hopeful that whatever wound was inflicted on the family would pass with time; hopeful that our young girls and boys learn early the difference between loving affection and sexual advance. And finally, hopeful that more “troubled” members of my gender will see clearly that stealing the innocence and betraying the trust of a child is a crime worse than all others for the lifetime of misery it may inflict.

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Dan Kimber