Wednesday, January 4, 2006


"A little song, a little dance,
a little seltzer down my pants."

drove to Saddleback College this morning to attend the “Chancellor’s Opening Session,” which was held, as always, in the William McKinley Theater, just down wind from the Spiro T. Agnew Memorial Library.

“Where the hell is everybody?” thought I, as I drove into the nearly-empty parking lot and then trudged up to Fine Arts. I was relieved to find about sixty or seventy people drinking coffee and eating muffins. I spotted Dennis White and talked to him a bit. He said, “Where’s your camera?”


I spotted Howard Gensler too. I saw a rat turd.

After a while, we all took our coffee and muffins and walked past the “no food or drink” sign to enter the Theater and find a seat. I do believe that this was the most poorly attended “Chancellor’s Opening” ever—I don’t think there were even one hundred people in that big room. I shouted a coupla times to hear my echo. Walter spun around in confusion, and I snickered.

Soon, things got rolling. A woman named Cindy came up to the microphone to tell us that she was an IVC student and mother. Apparently, she was there just to introduce a speaker, and, judging by all her superlatives, I figured she was talking about somebody like the Pope or maybe Jesus. But no. Turns out she was talking about the Chancellor, an unaccomplished fellow who recently gave Trustee Lang a prize, evidently on the grounds that he, Lang, had spotted Raghu’s “excellence.”

It was a classic Raghu moment.

Right from the start there were technical snafus, e.g., somebody was shining a spotlight on Mr. Goo’s head, leaving everybody else in the pitch dark, but that was no good, ‘cause Raghu sought to identify all dignitaries in the audience, like he always does. He identified Trustees Lang, Padberg, and Milchiker, among others. Applause. Tedium. Raghuian baskage.

With Raghu, everything that seems to be about somebody else, is really about him. Remember all the fuss he made about the “One year tuition waiver” he would provide for victims of Hurricane Katrina? He was Johnny-on-the-spot, boy. In the district’s press release (Raghu rescues hurricane victims), Raghu proclaimed, “We are pledging to work with the Governor and legislators to make educational provisions for victims of this terrible disaster. The colleges want to make sure our fellow citizens can continue their education during the emergency.” Hmmm.

See me. Hear me. Feel me.

I made some inquiries. To date, a grand total of two students have applied for the waiver. But of course! This waiver thing wasn’t about them! It was about the Gooster!

Raghu next led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a pledge, he said, to “the flag of the greatest nation on earth.” Garsh. Anybody leading a pledge to that must be mighty important.

Dave Lang said a few words. He talked about the Board’s goals, especially “avoiding micromanagement.” He mentioned various spiffy construction projects, including the new IVC “Police Maintenance Annex” plus the Ronald C. Caspers memorial Mold Depository.

Lang briefly explained our district’s “basic aid” funding, which skims from local property taxes. The latter are kinda high, owing to high home prices (and County law-breaking) and so we’re swimmin’ in dough, but, said the Langster, we’ve gotta spend the extra moola on “one-time” projects. We don’t wanna grow dependent on this money, which might dry up real soon.

Dave was counting beans mostly, but he also talked about the need to avoid the “perception and instances” of micromanagement. He asked for our assistance in that regard. I think he said that we can call him any time. Or maybe he said we better not call him. It was one of those.

Raghu then popped up again in his spiffy new grey suit and snazzy tie. He did some more introductions. Apparently, Beth Mueller is now the district fiscal services person, replacing Katie Slavin.

Sheesh. Somebody better buy a calculator.

Raghu ploughed on. “I compensate for being short by giving long speeches,” he said, waiting for laughter. The audience laughed, but it laughed a tad too much, know what I mean? I spun around and looked at the people in the room. It was a friendly crowd all right. They glared at me. I glared back.

Do you remember when Raghu received 6.5% “confidence” from faculty back in 2004? Well, all 12 of those people were in the William McKinley Theater, laughing like hell.

Pretty soon, Raghu said something about Johnnny Carson and “Carnac the Magnificent.” Huh? What?

He then disappeared behind the curtain, and then, all of a sudden, the big screen displayed the opening of the old Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson. (Remember that music?) Then we saw a minute of Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent” routine—you know, the one in which he held an envelope to his head and divined the answer to the question the envelope contains. The joke came when he read the question in the envelope:

Carnac (holding the envelope by his head, divining the answer to its question): “Piggly Wiggly.”

Ed McMahon: “Piggly Wiggly!”

(Carnac now opens the envelope and reads the question:) “Describe Kermit the Frog’s wedding night.”

Har har har!

OK, while that was projected on the screen, some guy—Ken Patton, I think—came out and proceeded to make like Ed McMahon, addressing the audience with his best “announcer” voice. Only there was a problem: his mike wasn’t turned on. (D’oh!) Plus: the volume of the video was too high. (D’oh!!) I cringed.

After Ken was clued in to all that, he spouted his lines again. “Welcome to the Tonight Show,” he boomed. He then introduced the “all-seeing, all-knowing…Carnac the Raghubansh!” (That flashed on the screen.)

With that, Raghu, wearing a fey powder-blue cape and some kind of swami headdress, emerged from behind the drapes and danced across the stage! I couldn’t believe my eyes.

But wait! It gets better! I was, like, the only guy in the room who wasn’t sitting up against the back wall. There I was, by myself, in front, near the right side of the stage. And so, to the accompaniment of hip hop music, Raghu danced across the stage and right up to me and—I swear—the fellow proceeded to flirt!

Good Lord!

I think he was waiting for me to stick a $5 bill in his pants, but I wasn’t goin’ there nohow. I very nearly bolted. Luckily, he soon turned around and headed for a chair behind a desk, while “Ed” sat over to his right, a la Ed McMahon. “You have come to the right place!” announced Carnac the Raghubansh.

Now, the idea was that Ed/Ken would introduce each of the district’s goals and then he and Carnac/Goo would go through one of these “Carnac” routines, and hilarity would ensue. That was the plan, anyway.

Raghu Carnac held the first envelope to his head. He pondered it and then gave the answer: “Just say ‘yes.’”

“Just say yes,” repeated Ed.

Carnac then tore open the envelope and read the question: “How can the board avoid micromanagement?”

Har har!

They continued:

The Answer: “Who knows? Who cares?

The Question (rip, rip): “Who will be the first ATEP president to greet the students?”

Hardy har har har!

The answer: “Limit TV to watching Board of Trustee reruns.”

The question (rip, tear): “What is the most effective behavior modification for children?”

D’oh! You’re killing me!

The answer: “At least two.”

The question (rip, rip, tear, tear): “How many Vice Chancellors does it take to plug in a light bulb?”

Stop it, I’m dyin’! Guffaw!!!

—Well, this went on for a while, and, like I said, the audience was pretty friendly, so there was laughter, but mostly, I think, people laughed ‘cause they couldn’t believe their friggin’ eyes and ears.

To Raghu’s credit (I guess), one of the routines poked fun at his inability to pronounce some letters. (It’s a good thing I’ve never attempted such pokage. Imagine!) Another one alluded to high employee salaries, and another spoofed the Board’s disinterest in planning. Plus, the envelopes were sealed, said Raghu Carnac, by “the Faculty Association.” Yuk Yuk.

Raghu and Ken did their best, but the jokes were lame, and, on several occasions, the order of questions and answers was reversed, or an answer went without a question. Sometimes, both the question and the answer were flashed on the screen before the routine started. And so on.

It was pretty bad. It was strictly stinkeroo.

As soon as that became clear, Tracy jumped up to take a snap! Then, with music blaring, Raghu danced back behind the curtain, and hilarity again ensued.

Soon, an almost sullen Raghu reemerged, sans costume. “I hope you liked that,” he said, sounding exactly like Elmer Fudd.

Well, speaking for myself, I’ve just gotta say “yes!” --CW


Anonymous said...

I didn't see the one event show but I did hear from two district folk that it was an embarrassment of the worst sort. Tracy cannot change what the man is not--a person devoid of humor.

the buzz

Anonymous said...

and where was your trusty camera Chunk?

or were you too flabbergasted to aim and click?

Anonymous said...

Surely this is just another satiritical send-up, right?

Chunk Wheeler said...

Dear Anonymous:

We at Dissent do not make things up. Ask around. It's all true.

(Pretty soon, I bet, Tracy will post her photo! I can't wait!)

rodentophile said...

Holy Hootenany, Chunk! This is the first time I've been confused by one of your tales: "Does he mean it?" "Naaaaaahh......" "But he SOUNDS like he means it..." "NAAAAAAAH!" " I tell you, I' think he's serious!" "Naaa.... COULDN'T be...." "Good LORD, he IS serious!" "Holy Bat-guano, you might be right!" Thus ran the debate within my befuddled head. Truth is so, SO much stranger than fiction, in the District. Thank you for at least capturing this surreal episode in prose!

Chunk Wheeler said...


The account is entirely accurate. Just call Tracy Daly, the director of PR.

"Tracy, is it true that Raghu dressed up like 'Carnac'?"


Anonymous said...

Perhaps with vivid reportage like this one attendance will increase at next Chancellor's opening remarks session...

Maybe if they announce that they'll have a dunking booth...

But really now - how embarrassing, how infantile (yes, I DO have a sense of humor) but really - Carnac the Rahgubansh doesn't seem to be able to see just how that indulgent, sophmoric foolishness plays in other parts of the distict, say where those legions of part-timers whose classes are being threatened with cancellation if they don't "make" 22 dwell.

It's not enough to drive students away - now their policies are driving our faculty away too.

It's bad enough what the P-Ters get paid but now their classes are threatened with cancellation or - my very favorite wrinkle - , in the Spring, for teaching say the EXACT SAME CLASS WITH THE EXACT SAME NUMBER OF STUDENTS (yes, I'm yelling at the top of my voice now - maybe Carnac will hear--)as they did in the fall -- P-Ters will be paid less! Or else the class will be CANCELLED!

What management whiz thought that up?

Tell me Carnac, I really want to know.

Anonymous said...

In Chunk's defense, at oiur school meeting his account was confirmed by sveral.

Anonymous said...

You gotta love a guy who will wear a turban and shimmy like that.

Anonymous said...

This is a hoax.

leafmold said...

I've been thinking about this Carnac thing, and the comment by Anonymous #6 confirms my conclusion. The Carnac act (note, however, that Raghu and/or his agent got it all wrong; "Carnac" was based on the root word "Carson," as in Johnny; following this line of thinking, then, Raghu's act should have been entitled "Ragac") crawls out of the same PR advice bag as the argyle sweater. And darned if #6 doesn't take the bait and say "gotta love a guy who will wear a turban." I don't. I don't even feel sorry for him. And you know, he sort of deserves pity.

Anonymous said...

So...Raghu is lookin' for love in all the wrong places? Argyle sweaters and turbans?

I take leafmold's point.

Anonymous said...

Come on. Someone fess up. this is actually too good to be true, right?

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Daughter woouldn't believe the big stinkeroo until I sent it. "This is just horrible!!!" said she.

Anonymous said...

Come on. It's been over a week now and there are no PHOTOS of Raghu sent by Tracy as promised.

This WAS a hoax, right?

Chunk Wheeler said...

Dear everybody:

I contacted Tracy and asked why we haven't seen the photos. She wrote back to explain that the indoor shots turned out badly, owing to the stage lights, and so only outdoor shots will be posted re the chancellor's welcome.

I tend to believe her.

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