I met Terence in Junior High School, Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High to be exact. I would often see him sitting on the portable stairs practicing his intimidation skills. He looked like he might be a bully, but once we began to talk, we quickly found common ground. Our mutual appreciation of Stan Freberg and Tom Lehrer lead to many hours of singing parodies and satirical songs, or coming up with our own lyrics to popular songs.
It was Terence who introduced me to Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and Joni Mitchell. And I introduced Terence to my collection of old radio shows on reel-to-reel tape. We spent many hours in the dark listening to Arch Oboler’s Lights Out, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and The Shadow. During the High School years, besides making movies, we improvised horror stories and end of the world scenarios that we preserved on tape. I spent many weekends at Terence’s suburban home, conceiving and executing media projects or discussing the philosophies of Jules Feiffer and Walt Kelly.
During my weekend vacations from drive-in life, we experimented with vices including stinky cigars, Kahlua, and Crème de coco or read passages from Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask. We were not afraid.
There were field trips the UC Davis campus where we would see Marx Brothers movies at Freborn Hall. Best of all movie-wise was an all night movie marathon that included Mack Sennett shorts, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, The Bride of Frankenstein, and College Swing.
With so many clubs springing up at Davis Senior High School, I decided that I would start a radio club and invited my classmates to hear my collection of old radio programs. I found an empty classroom, set up a tape recorder that I borrowed from the library, and we listened to X-Minus One and other programs in unsupervised bliss.
My math teacher had written his own textbook and was using the Algebra class students as guinea pigs for what he thought was an innovative new system based on forming groups made up of different personality types. The only problem with this concept is that it’s difficult to divide any group of students into even numbers by category. I suppose it makes it even more difficult when students like me slept through class or cut class to read Pauline Kael’s reviews in The New Yorker in the school library.
And so, there we were, a small group of High School kids sitting in a dark classroom, in the 1970s, listening to a radio show from the 1950s, while we ate lunch, and in bursts the math teacher, accusing us, one and all, of smoking dope. And what a dope he was.