Posted by Mihal Levy
A shooting in Woodland Hills? Couldn’t be? Shootings don’t happen there. Don’t they only happen in bad neighborhoods like Brentwood, last time I checked? I was shocked to find out that there was a shooting in Woodland Hills, and of all places, my high school. Well, even though it has been a while, I can still call it MY highschool, can’t I?
In all the years I lived in Woodland Hills growing up, O.K., West Hills, on the outskirts of Woodland Hills, or as others called it, the other side of Victory (as in the street, not triumph), the most traumatic thing that ever happened in that neighborhood was that the McDonald’s playground was stolen by some hoodlums, also known as my senior class, and other than that, maybe the closing down of our favorite yogurt place Penguins in Platt Village, back when frozen yogurt was cool. (Oh, wait, it is cool again. Only now you get to fill up the containers and top them yourself. I missed out.) So, you can imagine how shocked I was to hear about a shooting there. ( I have since graduated and moved far away – another part of Los Angeles county.)
A few years after I graduated, they installed metal detectors. Even that was cause for concern. “Was my old high school becoming a satellite site for LAX passengers now?” I thought. In fact, it was to prevent children from bringing guns to school. Guns? The only things the students in my class ever brought to school were the brand new cars their father’s bought them or their frequent flyer cards to the local tanning salon. Apparently the suspect of this afternoon’s shooting was not after the students’ frequent flyer cards, but the cars in the lot. At least it wasn’t a fellow ECRian. (El Camino Real –ian). After fifteen years of winning academic decathlons, you know they had better things in mind than carrying guns to school, more like sharpened #2 pencils, instead.
All jokes aside, school police no longer wander the halls in hopes of catching teens with cigarettes. It’s now drugs and weapons, what a shame. I still have to blame it on lack of after school programs, uninvolved parents and early curfews (because caging in children after a certain hour should tame them, instead of making them want to purposely ransack neighborhoods or invest in weapons, right? Wrong!), but that is a whole other Oprah.
Perhaps LAUSD needs to think about what exactly is making teens tick, why are parents uninvolved and why would a suspect decide to steal a car from a high school parking lot in broad daylight when there are plenty of other choices. (Didn’t he know that chances are most of the cars probably belonged to the teachers. And last time I checked, teachers weren’t paid well enough to afford sassy wheels.)
So to my fellow Conquistadores (ECR’s mascot – a Conquistador, of course), I’m glad all of you are safe and were able to tweet information from inside the lockdown on your smart phones safely. (Times have really changed.) Stay safe, keep winning the academic decathlon, keep arriving early to school so that you can park your new cars on the upper lot where everyone can see them, and respect the authorities that keep you safe. Remember it is not so bad that there is an early curfew in Platt Village, there is not that much to do there anyway. Before you know it, you will be giving yourself an early curfew and in bed with your own children wishing you actually wanted to stay out late. I’m just sayin’…
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January 17, 2011 | 4:20 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I was back at Chuck E. Cheese’s again this past weekend. I guess I can not get enough of that place. (See recent story: Chuck E. Cheeses: Table For One) However, this time I was not alone. I was with my son, the paparazzi, and a famous family.
We were invited to a birthday party for one of my son’s friends. I had never been to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s before (even as a child). And since my son and I don’t eat there we were really there for the fun and games. So, while everyone was eating pizza and cake (at the party we were invited to and the five other parties happening simultaneiously), my son and I hit the games. Before I could cash in another $5 worth of tokens, my son would run off and spend it.
Just as we were running out of tokens and cash, I noticed a series of flashes going off everywhere. The birthday partying was overwhelming. Why were people running every which way with cameras? Wasn’t the place busy enough with the kids running around? Did we need the overzealous parents and grandparents adding to the chaos? As it turns out, I was wrong. Although the parents were indeed the ones taking the pictures, it was not of there kids, but a famous family, apparently. My son and I were too involved in Dance Dance Revolution to notice at the time.
Then just as my son inserted his umpteenth token into the next game - a flying popcorn adventure of sorts, another kid jumped in front of him and grabbed the controller out of his hands. Where was his mother? My son kindly (well, almost) grabbed the controller back and said to the boy, who appeared to be the same age. “I was here first, so you can play when I am done.” The boy was unhappy, but waited. Again, the mother was nowhere in sight. The boys began playing together instead of taking turns, and on our token nonetheless. The boy was clad in skinny rocker jeans, a mohawk and bright blue nail polish. “I like your nail polish,” my son commented, “my mommy doesn’t let me wear nailpolish.” (Although I was not opposed to blue nailpolish, as I had been wearing it myself, or guyliner for that matter. I just thought at four years old, it may not be a good idea. But that was just my opinion.) The boys played nicely together. They looked like they could form a mini rock band together. He, with a mohawk and skinny jeans. My son, with long (as my hubby and I call it - “Rob Thomas Hair”), a white tee, jeans and skateboarding shoes.
Finally the mom approached. We smiled at each other and said our hellos. Of course it took a moment for my brain to register who she actually was. (This always happens to me. For some reason I have a delayed response to knowing just who someone is right in front of me. I guess you could say I am kind of slow with these things.) But after my brain caught up, I realized that, in fact, it was not a Gwen Stefani look alike, but Gwen herself, duh! Of course now I did not know exactly what to say, but kept my cool somehow. She was pretty, nice and extremely down to earth. What do you say to someone who just makes moms everywhere look so cool? I wanted to say, “I have all of your CDs at home and kicked myself when my friend had an extra ticket to your Harajuku Lovers Tour in 2005, that I wasn’t able to attend.” There would have been uncomfortable silence, had it been silent at Chuck E’s. “Whatcha waiting for?”, I thought. And then it just came out, “I love your work.” I love your work? That was all I had? She smiled. We stood alongside our boys and chatted as they played. We commented on how nicely they were playing together and chatted a bit before my son was off to another game. The boys said goodbye to each other. They truly had a good time. As did I.
As we were leaving, I spotted Gwen again, (apparently her husband, Gavin Rossdale, younger son Zuma and nanny were there as well) Do I give her my number for a future play date at Chuck E.‘s? Before I could wrap my brain around it all or even hear myself think through all the noise. They were gone, dodging the real paparazzi outside. I felt bad for them since dodging the children indoors was chaotic enough.
Chuck E. Cheese’s now seemed just a bit better than the ho-hum generic brithday party factory that it actually was. Cool moms do go to Chuck E. Cheese’s. That just made me feel a little bit cooler.